A week in the life of a GDL student
It doesn't matter how much research you do into the course content and aims of the GDL, you won't really know what it feels like to be studying for one until you're doing it. Luckily for you, we have Ashley Connick, a former GDL student at the University of Law, to tell you what it's like.
I’ve “only” got three workshops this coming week, so there’s not quite as much preparation for me to do as most weeks when I have four sessions. I finish taking notes on criminal law, which is on theft and fraud this week and complete the prep activities.
Preparation for workshops can take anywhere from an hour to a couple of days, depending on how many pages there are and how many cases you’re asked to read. My criminal workshop isn’t until Thursday, but I have a busy week and I’m trying to get ahead of the game.
I get ready and go out to a party in the evening. The workload is heavy, but if you organise your time well enough, you can still have a life too!
We’re only timetabled to be in college for four days every week, and Monday is my day off. I spend the day doing prep for my Tuesday workshop, which is tort law. We had our second set of mock exams last week, so I spend some time reorganising my files, which became marginally neglected whilst the revision period was in full swing.
We also recently had to choose our topics for our second assessed coursework essay, which is due in seven weeks’ time. I chose one on how loans are secured, so I start to think about how I’m going to go about writing it.
In the evening, I head out to meet a couple of friends and go to a talk put on by a group that I’m a member of. It’s not a late night though, as I have my tort law workshop at 9 am the following day.
Some people’s college days begin after lunch and go on until 5 pm or so. Our set’s timetable runs from 9 am until 1 pm usually, although sometimes there may be no workshop or an extra lecture, which will alter the timings slightly.
Today is a standard nine-to-one day, beginning with the tort workshop I prepared for yesterday. It’s on occupiers’ liability for injuries sustained on their premises, and we’re given some scenarios to work through in small groups.
There are 20 of us in the class and everyone works well together, so workshops are good fun. It’s more like school than university, insofar as you spend your time with the same group of people rather than having workshops and seminars with different people depending on your timetable. This means that you get the chance to develop proper relationships with your classmates.
After the workshop, which lasts two hours, there’s an hour’s break before our lecture. The class often spends this break sitting in the college canteen, and today is no different. The lectures, which are on public law, last an hour.
After the lecture, I travel home (which takes about an hour) and start my prep for Friday’s land law workshop. It’s my girlfriend’s brother’s birthday, so we go out for dinner to celebrate. It’s a busy week for me, so I have to find time to do my work whenever I can. That means doing an hour’s work after coming home from dinner.
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Since there are only three workshops this week, there’s no 9 am start today. I take advantage of the lie-in, write and publish a new blog post and make my way to college in a more leisurely fashion than normal. We have two lectures today, both on EU law. They run from 12-1 pm and 1.15-2.15 pm, after which I go to the library to do some more prep for Friday’s land law workshop.
At five o’clock, I travel across town to listen to Stuart Popham, the former senior partner of Clifford Chance, give a talk at LSE. After that, I go and meet up with some friends in a nearby bar, before coming home slightly later than expected. This won’t make tomorrow’s 9 am start easy!
Today is the criminal law workshop I prepared for on Sunday. Despite there being quite a lot of reading, I really enjoyed the prep work and the workshop is good fun. Today, we are given some practise exam questions and are asked to prepare a plan, spotting potential criminal offences.
Most people spot six or seven and are pleased with themselves, that is, until the tutor tells us we should have found 16! We’re given some help on exam technique, and end up overrunning our two hour session by ten minutes or so. Nobody minds though, as we all feel much more confident about the material after the session. The afternoon lecture is on equity and trusts, after which I go home to start next week’s workshop prep.
Another 9 am workshop this time for land law. The subject is not too taxing, although in a similar fashion to all land law it’s not as simple as it could be. Having got to grips with the intricacies of the new topic, we do some revision of the previous topic. People are a bit rusty, as we’ve had exams in the meantime, so it’s a worthwhile exercise to just refresh our memories.
After land law, we spend our hour’s break down in the canteen again, before heading up to our final lecture of the week, on contract law. Once this is over, I head home to carry on with next week’s workshop prep. I have the house to myself this evening and spend some time relaxing after a long and busy week.
Having finished the prep for Tuesday’s contract law workshop yesterday, I make a start on Wednesday’s EU law prep. There’s always something to do for the GDL; it really is a lot of work. However, it’s manageable if you can keep up-to-date. If you get behind, it’s very tough to catch up.