Jan 04, 2024

Written By Lawrence Topley

Is an LLM a conversion Course?

Jan 04, 2024

Written By Lawrence Topley

A Master of Laws otherwise known as a LLM, is a postgraduate course for individuals who have already completed a law degree. However, the Postgraduate Diploma in Law or a PGDL is a conversion course offering pathways into practice for non-law graduates. Despite the fact that both the LLM and PGDL are postgraduate law degrees, they have key differences which separate them. The most important of which is that an LLM is not a qualifying law degree.

What is a ‘qualifying law degree’?

A qualifying law degree allows students to continue their journey to practising as a solicitor or barrister once having completed the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) or without the need for further education. Although it is no longer mandatory to complete a qualifying law degree to become a solicitor, these degrees still provide individuals with the skills needed to pass the SQE.

A qualifying law degree must contain seven core modules that provide students with a foundation for a legal career. These seven modules are as follows; Contract law, Land law, EU law, Constitutional and Administrative law, Criminal law, Equity and Trusts and Law of Torts.

The LLM does not cover all of these modules and is therefore not a qualifying law degree but instead allows students to specialise in an area of law.

Content & Cost

As the PGDL (replaced the GDL but has the same content) is a qualifying law degree that covers the seven key modules listed above, these seven modules will be consistent across all institutions that offer the PGDL.

It should be noted that as the PGDL is an accelerated law degree, the seven areas covered are not covered in great depth, but form the foundational legal knowledge you need before you commence further training or exams.

Meanwhile, the LLM has a different focus. Instead of providing an array of legal topics, it aims to allow students to pay particular attention to certain aspects of the law. As LLM students will have typically already covered aspects of the previously stated seven modules, whilst completing a Bachelor of law degree (LLB) or a PGDL, this course allows these individuals to specialise in particular areas.

For example, if a student really enjoyed Administrative and Constitutional Law, they may want to explore this further by studying a LLM in Human Rights Law.

It is important to note that the cost of both courses differs. The LLM will cost around £10,000 whilst the PGDL costs around £6,500. This cost can vary based on where you study and whether you’re a home or international student.

Should I do an LLM or PGDL?

The answer to this question is based on your own personal circumstances but there are some important things you should consider. Primarily, if you are a non-law student and want a career in law, undergoing the PGDL is most appropriate for this transition. This will give you a foundation in law, and help you decide if law is right for you. Then, if you then want to specialise in a specific area the LLM should be considered.

However it is important that you know that this is an area of law you are interested in and would like to pursue in either a teaching context or one that involves the practice of law.

Moreover, if you are unsure what area of law you want to go into, but want a career in law as a solicitor, it is important to know an LLM is not vital to gaining a training contract. In fact, training contracts will allow you to work in different areas of law, and most trainees can choose to specialise. This is not to say that an LLM would not be beneficial to obtaining a training contract, as showing expertise and interest in a specific area will help you stand out from the crowd.


A LLM is not a conversion course because it is not a qualifying law degree. If you are a non-law student and want a career in law, then the PGDL would be most appropriate. This will cover an array of seven core legal modules and give you a foundation for the next steps.

A LLM will allow you the chance to specialise in an area of the law and open avenues into teaching. Since it does not cover the seven core legal modules it is not a qualifying law degree. Whilst it is not vital to obtaining a contract, it will help you stand out.



Law Conversion Course