Monday, 14 July 2008

One or two year conversion?

There are many different reasons why most potential students of law choose the one year CPE/GDL over the two year conversion, but there are pros and cons for both:

One year conversion - CPE/GDL

  • Completion of the academic stage of one's legal career in one year is the quickest choice available to a non-law graduate.
  • As such, it is also the cheapest way to gain a qualifying law degree.
  • One can choose to study it at either a university, or one of the franchised institutions across the country, meaning there is plenty of choice regarding location.
  • If needed, the course can also be taken over two years if studied part time.


  • Having to condense three years of study into one means that the course is extremely intensive in terms of both time needed to devote to attending, and study outside of class.
  • Due to the time constraints, teaching is strictly on a 'must know' basis, meaning that applicants who are interested in broadening their legal horizons beyond the minimum may be disappointed. Hence, there is not the range of scope within legal study that is available to a two or three year undergraduate.
  • Similarly, teaching quality may be affected as the aim of the course is to impart the knowledge needed to students, with little or no discussion outside of the guidelines.

Two year conversions - Affiliated or Senior Status


  • There is more time than the GDL to study around the basics of the law, as well as the opportunity to develop legal skills and critical thinking further.
  • Due to the extra year, there is far more time to relax into both your course and where you are studying.
  • There may also be the option of choosing additional modules in your second year, meaning you are able to investigate specific areas of law you have a personal interest in.
  • Two years of study affords candidates extra time to consider whether they actually want to practice law, and if they do, then to arrange work experience, training-contracts or admission to an Inns of Court.
  • As all two year courses are taken at universities, it is likely that the student will benefit from whatever reputation the institution has when seeking training contracts or pupillages.


  • The largest factor is that tuiton fees and living expenses for two years is likely to substantially more than the GDL, unless the student is living at home whilst studying.
  • No student loans or public funding are available for Home students, so the only extra money one could attain would come from postgraduate bursaries or awards offered by the individual universities.
  • Depending on where the course is taken, it can be as intensive as the one year GDL, except this is drawn out over two years.
  • For people eager to begin the vocational part of their legal careers, it is an extra year they have to spend studying.
  • The course is only offered at 17 university locations across the country, so choice is restricted compared to the GDL.

One would ascertain that the reason most candidates decide to take the CPE over a Senior Status degree is chiefly over the issues of money. Most people will already have accrued a debt of their student loan, and so are keen to minimise the time they have to spend in further study.

For students on a CPE/GDL they are awarded the LLB, as are students on a two year course anywhere apart fom Bristol, Cambridge or Sheffield. These three award an MA in Legal Studies, a BA (which is eligible for the Cambridge MA) and a MA (Law) respectively.

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