ULaw to launch ‘MA Law’ alternative to the GDL

Because it’s a masters, UK students will qualify for a £10,000 government loan

The University of Law (ULaw) has this morning announced it’s hoping to launch a “career enhancing” MA Law course for non-law graduates who want to become solicitors and barristers.

The course, currently subject to regulatory approval, is a nine-month “intensive” masters degree which will run at the university’s Birmingham and London Moorgate centres. It will cost £9,980 to take in the former, and £12,140 in the latter.

Interestingly, ULaw has also confirmed the course satisfies the requirements laid down by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and Bar Standards Board (BSB) for entrants to the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC).

This means aspiring lawyers with non-law undergraduate degrees, who until now had few choices but to do the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), can now punt for this course instead. But the MA Law will cost considerably more than the GDL, which is currently priced at £8,730 at ULaw’s Birmingham centre and £10,890 in London Moorgate.

There’s at least one good reason for doing it, though. Because MA Law is a postgraduate masters course, UK and EU students will, subject to the course being approved by the regulator, be eligible to borrow up to £10,000 in government money to fund it. Legal Cheek wonders whether this could sound the death knell for the GDL, which is currently not amenable to government funding.

ULaw’s vic chancellor and CEO, Professor Andrea Nollent, emphasised the commercial slant of the course, commenting:

The MA Law is an ideal qualification for those students who want to learn important business skills that lawyers are renowned for. The professional development offered by legal training will enhance students’ career progression and personal development whatever career path they choose to follow.

ULaw’s new postgraduate law course announcement comes just weeks after BPP Law School unveiled two new programmes of its own. LLM Legal Practice (Solicitors) and LLM Legal Practice (Barristers) will allow students to focus on the area of law they wish to practise. Though students on BPP’s new LLMs will be able to apply for money from the Student Loans Company, neither are alternatives to the LPC or the BPTC.

It’s both an exciting and uncertain time for legal education at the moment.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is currently considering the introduction of a brand new solicitor super-exam, which it says will make qualification cheaper. However, many are concerned the SRA’s plans are not as rigorous as more traditional routes, and may lead to a dumbing down of the country’s solicitors. The SRA is continuing to consider these concerns.

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26 Comments

Anonymous

I am glad to see that these private-equity backed legal vocational education providers found yet another way to increase their profits. This time, it’s funded by a joint venture between Student Loans Company, owned by HM GOV, which is itself backed by tax-payers’ money; and tones of delusional people willing to take out further loans, on top of their already shocking undergrad student debt.

Where are the SRA / Law Society? Where’s the HM Department of Education?

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Anonymous

Quite a few good red bricks do this sort of course. I did one instead of the GDL, though in hindsight would probably have done that instead

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Anonymous

Cambridge/Oxford both also do one as a senior status LLB.

As far as i can tell the only difference is that you do it in two years instead of one. Maybe there’s some benefit to having it more spaced out? Maybe people who choose this option can experience more of the academic side of law? Who knows.

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Anonymous

Yes, I think the 2-year graduate law degrees offered by Oxbridge/RG unis are much more academic. More like a curtailed LLB, rather than an extended GDL.

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Anonymous

Hi all,
I am a Bath University Politics student considering going down the solicitor path. Yet, Bath is not in RG and I am really worried that it would put a barrier on my applications… Do I stand in a good position graduating from Bath (I meet the academic requirements for both uni and A-levels).

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Anonymous

Of course you’re in a good position, Bath is a very good university. People from London Metropolitan and Westminster are able to get TC’s at magic circle law firms, so I wouldn’t worry.

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Anonymous

Thanks, I tried to assess the situation from the positive side – there is no student law society in Bath, so I might establish during my final year next year.

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Anonymous

Under the current SRA proposals, the GDL won’t exist after September 2019. Keep that in mind and check for updates once the SRA have finalised their recommendations/regulatory changes on the qualification process, and especially before you sign up to a course that could be redundant a short time after you finish it.

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Anonymous

Much better off getting a 1st in solid subject at a respected university than watse money on these dressed up vocational qualifications. I did the GDL and the BBC and was given an LLB (hons) automatically – then it seemed if you wrote an additional essay you got an LLM. I really dont think they are perceived as significant qualifications by the professions.

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Anonymous

Just stop. It’s the GDL, the LPC, and the BPTC. Everything else – all this ‘turn it into a masters’ nonsense – is total guff. No one cares in practice.

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Disgrace

This is criminal! Same length of time as intensive GDL therefore intensive ‘MA’ can’t include much more than a plastic masters stamp. It is another example of UoL/BPP raping the vulnerable, determined misguided.

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Pubman

You only get one masters loan. If you’re brave enough to take one out without a TC don’t waste it on the GDL. Even though blowing it on the LPC may be a questionable call, at least you’re then cheap and more attractive for the smaller firms who don’t fancy funding law school

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