Some postgraduate courses are essential if you want to become a lawyer, others are extras that you might want to take to boost your career or pursue an academic interest. We’ve put together a whistle-stop tour of postgraduate law courses, but for more detailed information, it’s worth heading over to our dedicated courses section.
The LLM (or masters in law) isn’t essential to qualify as a barrister or solicitor, but if you want to pursue the academic study of law beyond your undergraduate law degree, then it could be the course for you.
These yearlong postgraduate courses are a chance to gain expertise in a particular area of law. Course fees can range from around £4,000 to £13,000. Like anything that requires significant investment, it is well worth doing your research before you leap into an LLM programme. It sounds obvious, but you really need to make sure that it’s the right option for you and your career. If you head over to our LLM section, you’ll find more information on the LLM; we also have a dedicated site, AllAboutLLMs.com.
If you haven’t got a qualifying undergraduate law degree, then the GDL or law conversion course is your ticket into the legal profession. Basically, it’s a three-year law degree squeezed into just nine months.
Confusingly, there’s both the GDL and the CPE knocking about, both billed as law conversion courses. There’s not really a huge amount of difference between the two. The CPE, or common professional examination (common as it’s applicable to both barristers and solicitors), came before the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), but that’s about it.
The GDL/CPE can cost anywhere between around £5,000 and £10,000 studied full-time. The price depends on the institution and, usually, location, with the more expensive courses being found in London. A good spread of institutions offer the GDL, from private providers to public universities. To find out more about the GDL and the providers offering the course, take yourself over to our GDL homepage.
The Graduate LLB or Senior Status LLB is a two-year LLB for graduates, a qualifying law degree that means you’ll be able to take the BPTC or LPC depending on whether you plan on donning a wig as a barrister or a snazzy suit as a solicitor. Graduates interested in reading law as a second academic degree might also take the course.
If you think of the GDL as a super-concentrated version of the LLB, the graduate LLB is an accelerated version – shaving off a year as opposed to two years. As the name would imply, usually it’s a graduate entry course and intended for those who haven’t studied law previously (obviously!)
There’s not enough space to go into it all here, which is why we’ve created a graduate LLB homepage with courses and further advice.
Lasting a year, the LPC (also known as the Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice) aims to give you grounding in the relevant skills and knowledge needed to enter legal practice. Course fees range from around £7,900 to £13,000.
Again, if you want to check out some LPC courses and get further advice, take yourself over to the LPC homepage.
LLM in Legal Practice
Many providers offer LPC graduates the chance to top up their LPC to an LLM in Legal Practice. It’s also open to BPTC/BVC graduates. The LLM is usually achieved through the completion of a dissertation, or one or two research projects. It comprises of self-directed learning and research into a particular aspect of legal professional practice.
Some providers give you the option to complete an action learning project based in the workplace in lieu of a dissertation; others might require students to complete a research project and a module from one of their taught LLMs. It’s usually a highly flexible course, so length tends to vary.
The legal sector really love their acronyms. The BPTC (apart from being more of a mouthful than the other course acronyms) is the only course specifically for aspiring barristers. It’s a yearlong vocational postgraduate course aiming to equip students with the basic skills needed to start their career at the bar.
Fees for the Bar Professional Training Course weigh in at between around £12,000 and £17,000 fulltime. The minimum entry requirement for the BPTC is a 2:1 at undergraduate level and competition is tough for places. Candidates will now have to pass the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT) before an offer of a place on the course can be confirmed.