The Law Conversion Course – Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PGDL) is an intensive course that covers the core legal curriculum required for a qualifying UK law degree. It is offered to students who have graduated with a non-law degree and want to convert to law.

It is a requirement for non-law graduates that want to pursue the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and qualify as solicitors. It is also mandatory for aspiring barristers to complete PGDL/Common Professional Examination (CPE) before pursuing the Bar course.

It is not a requirement for non-law graduates to take PGDL/CPE before starting Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) preparation courses or SQE exams.

The PGDL Course Structure

The PGDL covers the following modules and areas of law:

  • Law & Constitution (including EU Law)
  • Tort Law
  • Contract Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Public & Administrative Law (including Human Rights)
  • Land Law
  • Trusts
  • Law of Organisations or Company Law
  • Skills & Behaviours (non-credit-bearing)

Law Conversion Course Entry Requirements

To be eligible to apply for a PGDL course, you must:

  • have a UK degree (usually a 2:2 or above) in any discipline or equivalent qualification, or
  • be an overseas graduate who has had your degree award verified by UK Naric, and
  • have a good command of both spoken and written English
  • If you are a mature non-graduate applicant, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and Bar Standards Board (BSB) provide further guidance on becoming a solicitor or barrister

Course Fees

The PGDL course costs in total £8,000- £12,500 depending on location (London courses usually being the most expensive) and may sometimes depend on the form of study (online or in-person). You should also take into account additional costs like accommodations, travel, food, and any extra study materials.


The PGDL assessments come in the form of examinations with written elements and multiple-choice questions, oral assessments and written coursework. Some of the examinations will be part-seen, involving the advanced release of assessment material. For every module, students may be examined on different forms of assessment, but the written examination form is the most common form of assessment.

Usually, the pass mark for all assessments is 50%.

What’s After PGDL

You have many options after completing the PGDL. The most common ones are to pursue the solicitor or barrister qualification routes. Aspiring solicitors would have to complete the LPC or the SQE along with the necessary period of work experience. Aspiring barristers would have to complete the Bar Vocational Course along with a pupillage.

The PGDL provides a good foundation of legal knowledge for either of the qualification routes but not much in terms of legal practice. You will have enough understanding of the law to start the SQE prep courses, LPC modules, or the Bar Vocational Course. However, after the PGDL you will still need to develop practical legal skills in your future legal training. It is recommended that you achieve at least a 2:2 in your PGDL to further progress in your legal studies.

It is worth noting that PGDL is not a requirement to take the SQE exams or SQE prep courses.

SQE and Law Conversion Courses – PGDL

The relationship between PGDL and SQE is that the former would give you enough knowledge to complete part of the latter. Non-law grads that want to become solicitors but don’t want to take the LPC have the SQE route as their other option.

Difference between GDL and PGDL

The PGDL is essentially an updated version of the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL). Before the announcement of the SQE the conversion course for non-law students used to be called GDL. After the announcement of the SQE, many universities adjusted their GDL courses to reflect the new academic requirements of the SQE. As a result, many universities rebranded their GDL courses to PGDL in order to showcase their change in the curriculum.

Where to Study PGDL

Many universities and education providers offer PGDL courses across England and Wales. You should take advantage of open days and become familiar with the institution and the curriculum. These conversion courses are available at:

Why Convert to Law?

You may have many reasons why you’d want to convert to law through a PGDL course.

  1. You may have discovered your passion for the subject because you were exposed to it during your undergraduate studies.
  2. Or perhaps you are passionate about social and legal issues and want to contribute to making a difference.
  3. Or maybe you have worked in the legal field before and you are looking to make a permanent change.

Regardless of your reasons, if you are planning on becoming a barrister or a solicitor and do not have an LLB, you must complete the PGDL.

PGDL and Employability

Some students are unsure whether completing the conversion course will increase their chances of securing a legal job and entering the world of legal practice. The legal jobs market is extremely competitive for aspiring solicitors and barristers.

Finishing the PGDL however will show law firms and chambers that you are committing to a legal career, which is important to show for non-law grads. Completing the PGDL along with gaining some legal work experience can significantly increase your chances of securing your dream legal job.

How to Apply for the PGDL

Below is a general application process for a PGDL course.

1) Register on LawCAB

2) Pick the PGDL course and an online application form is created for you

3) Complete the form, which includes the following sections:

  • Basic personal details including contact details, nationality, languages, and any special requirements
  • Career path (be it solicitor, barrister, or undecided)
  • Institution selection (you can select up to 3)
  • Qualifications from A-Levels upward. If you have an LLB from abroad or if your undergraduate degree was over four years ago, you need to provide your transcript
  • Employment history
  • Personal statement

4) Nominate a referee, usually an academic tutor if you are a student or a current or recent employer if you are employed. Otherwise, a regulated professional (for example, a teacher, doctor, lawyer, accountant) who knows you well enough can provide a reference in support of your application

5) Pay the application fee (£25) via Stripe secure online payment processing

6) Submit the form

7) Reference request. When you have submitted your form, the person you have nominated as a referee will receive an automated reference request. Your form is NOT released to the institutions until your referee has submitted a reference. It is your responsibility to check that the referee has received the reference request.

8) Reference submitted

The personal statement forms part of the criteria and assessment when universities decide whether or not to offer you a place on their course. It is a motivational statement/short essay that gives you the opportunity to tell the universities about yourself. It should be generic as the same one will be sent to all of the institutions that you have selected on your form.

You may want to cover the following in your personal statement:

  • The reasons for which you are applying for the course
  • What interests you about the course
  • What motivates you
  • Your future career
  • Your skills and achievements and how your personality is suitable for a career in law
  • Your hobbies
  • Your work experience

Although you are allowed up to 10,000 characters (including all punctuation, paragraph breaks etc), you are not expected to reach this cap. Most submitted personal statements are approximately 500-1000 words (3000-4000 characters).

When using examples of experience or skills in your personal statement, you may find it useful to use the STAR technique to structure your example, as you might do so in a cover letter or interview.

STAR stands for:

Situation (one sentence describing the context of your example)

Task (one sentence to describe your individual role)

Action (2-3 sentences on exactly what you did)

Result (one sentence describing the outcome)

The application window for courses will be open from October. You can apply anytime from then if you are in your final year student or if you already have your degree. Applications are usually reviewed on a rolling basis and the application window will remain open until August/September depending on which institution you are applying to and the number of places still available.

If you don’t need a visa, we recommend that you complete your application by the end of July. If you are applying from outside of the UK and need a visa, you should aim to complete your application by the end of May/early June. Applicants for courses starting in January should have their applications completed before Christmas if possible.

International Students Taking the PGDL

Depending on the university international students taking the PGDL may be subject to international tuition fees and English language requirements. It is also worth noting that some international students who have completed their previous education elsewhere choose the PGDL over the two-year accelerated LLB course because it is only one year long.

If you are an international student who is continuing their education in the UK by taking the PGDL, then you need to make sure that your immigration paperwork is up to date as you are likely will need a renewal of your visa.

If you are an international student who is planning on taking the PGDL and then returning back to your home country to practice law, you need to make sure with your domestic law society whether the PGDL courses are recognized as legal education.

PGDL Online

Not everyone can take an in-person PGDL course and for those, the distance learning version of the course is much preferred. Many universities offer online PGDL courses including the University of Law and BPP University. The online course doesn’t differ from its in-person version. You will learn the same subjects and cover the same topics.

This option is great for students who need more of a flexible learning schedule or for students that prefer to study off-campus.

Contact Hours

The full-time course is taught over two 15-week terms (4 modules per term) and you will typically receive between 8-10 contact hours per week in small group workshops. PGDL students will typically be required to complete approximately 30 hours of independent study per week.

The part-time PGDL programme is taught over four terms (each of which is 15 weeks with 2 modules per term). The universities offer a variety of part-time options including evening, weekend, day and online study.

Extracurricular Activities

While undertaking your PGDL course, you can complement your studies with the activities that are available for students in the normal LLB programme. Most PGDL providers offer opportunities to join pro bono projects (though most are usually only open to LPC students), access to sports clubs, and law-related organisations, such as the Bar Society, ELSA, Mooting etc. You can usually find these opportunities advertised on the student union page and the university career page.


By Elissa Abbara