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The different types of law courses explained
Before you even think about looking at university, colleges and learning providers, you will need to research the different law courses in depth. The course you opt for will be shaped by your circumstances and your career aims.
To help you with the tricky decision, we’ve put together a brief guide to the main law courses and schemes in the UK.
The Bachelor of Law or LLB is an undergraduate degree. This course lasts for three years and covers seven core modules: criminal law, contract law, constitutional or administrative law, equity and trusts, land law, tort law, and EU law; as well as other optional units or modules.
The LLB is the qualifying law degree for England and Wales. If you already have a law degree from your home country, you may be exempt from the LLB and/or GDL (see below), although this is not always the case.
Some LLB courses are combined with other subjects and take one extra year to complete. For example, you can take a combined degree of law and politics, or law and human rights. It is also possible to spend one year of your degree abroad as part of the Erasmus programme.
The graduate LLB is a two-year version of the LLB. This course is only open to graduates, e.g. students that already have a non-law degree.
The LLM or Master of Laws is a postgraduate course. This course is only available for students that already have a degree, usually in law, or substantial professional experience.
The LLM usually lasts for one year and is used to specialise in an area of law. Some courses involve just coursework (essays) or just exams, whilst other combine the two. You can do either a taught LLM or a research-based LLM. We have lots of information about this path over at AllAboutLLMs.com.
The Graduate Diploma in Law or GDL is the law conversion course, otherwise known as the CPE. This course lasts for one year and is only open to graduates. It is designed for students who would like to pursue a career in law.
If you haven’t got a degree from a UK institution but you are a graduate, you will most likely need to obtain a certificate of academic standing from the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) before you apply to the course.
The Law Practice Course or LPC is the penultimate stage to becoming a solicitor. It lasts for one year and students learn about the practical application of law.
It is a difficult course and you should remember there are not enough training contracts (e.g. the final stage of training for aspiring solicitors) for everyone who completes it.
The Bar Professional Training Course or BPTC (formerly the Bar Vocational Course or BVC) is the penultimate stage to becoming a barrister.
This course lasts for one year and less than a quarter of people who successfully complete it will get a job as a barrister. It’s an incredibly competitive career choice, so only the most capable should apply.
The Qualified Lawyer Transfer Scheme or QLTS is for legal professionals from other jurisdictions outside of England and Wales and allows successful applicants to work in England and Wales as a solicitor. It is also for barristers trained in England and Wales who would like to become a solicitor.
Please note that not every qualified lawyer will be eligible for this test. The SRA provides a list of recognised jurisdictions.
Now that you’ve got to grips with the basics, it’s time to take a look into UK law schools and the courses they have to offer…