GDL Modules – What Will I Study On The Course?

GDL Modules – What Will I Study On The Course?

studying GDL modules

The Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL/CPE) course aims to give you the foundations of legal knowledge required to prepare you for the next stage of legal education, or simply give you an insight into the British legal system.

But what is the GDL course layout & structure like? We’ll attempt to answer this here however your own course may differ slightly as not all institutions teach the course in exactly the same way.

GDL learning methods

You will study the modules by undertaking a mixture of lectures and tutorials. There will usually be 2-4 lectures per week on each module, and these lectures will be reinforced with a tutorial where you will discuss the key issues talked about in the lectures. However most of your learning will be done by yourself in your own time. The tutors at most reputable institutions will be happy to go over a module area with you if you’re having trouble understanding.

But the majority of work needs to be done by you.

GDL assessments

There will probably be a requirement to write a few essays on the course. These could be assessed as part of your final grade, or simply a formal requirement for completion of a module. You may even be allowed to pick your own module of  legal study on your GDL course. The assessment method for this will likely be an essay or piece of coursework 2000-4000 words in length. The other modules will be assessed by a 3 hour exam. This exam may be open book or closed  book depending on the institution.

Your final result is dictated by the scoring method used at institution you study at so may vary slightly. If you get an average of at least 50% you will get a pass, 60% a commendation and 70% a distinction. However there are other way to achieve these grades too; you don’t need to get a commendation in all of your modules to achieve a commendation overall for example.

You will be informed of the scoring methods at the start of your course.

GDL modules

The following modules will be studied on the course. These modules are defined by the SRA as necessary for any qualifying law degree.

Contract Law

This module covers all types of legal agreement. You look at what exactly makes a binding contract, various terms of a contract, fair and unfair contract terms, what makes a contract voidable and more. These sorts of contract influence all sorts of agreements, from a simple transaction in a shop, to big commercial deals.

Land Law

Land law looks at everything to do with buying, owning, managing and acquiring property. It goes into various formalities needed for land acquisition along with some of the complex formalities to establish ownership. Also looked at is non permanent ownership like renting and the rights of property owners in regards to what they can do with their land.

Equity and Trusts

Equity and trust is very closely related to land law. It’s quite a wide area of law and looks at tangible and intangible property which can be held on behalf of others. This may include charity law, the duties of trusties and the creation of trusts in the first place. It also goes into the concepts of the law of equity with its historical development and its current form and uses.

Criminal Law

Criminal Law covers a range of offences. They could be offences against people, such as assault, offences against property such as criminal damage, or even fatal offences like murder and manslaughter. Criminal liability and various defences will also be looked at in this module. This includes some philosophical elements in regards to blame.

Administrative Law

This section of law is to do with broader concepts of the British legal system. It looks at the flow of power from Westminster and deals with questions to do with the sovereignty of Parliament in regards to both EU and domestic legislation. It also looks at judicial review, human rights, and the supremacy of  Parliament.

EU Law

In this module the legal foundations of the European Union are looked at. The treaties are examined and key areas such as the free movement of goods, workers and services are looked at. The different institutions of the EU are also examined  along with internal processes for judicial review, and possible criticisms of the EU.


Tort involves non contractual relationships with others. These relationships in the law of tort mean you can owe others a duty of care, and therefore be liable to them for damages through your own actions or omissions. This is even though you don’t have a contract with them. This covers area covers negligence, slander and libel.

Optional legal area of interest

In this module you can choose to study in further detail any legal area you want. This could be jurisprudence, legal history, commercial law, family law; as long as there is a lecturer who knows about the area, you should be able to study it. For this module you will probably write your own essay question to answer on the topic. Think of it as a mini dissertation.

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