Course specification and structure
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UDTOPLAW - LLB Law (Top-up) (Distance Learning)

Course Specification

Validation status Validated
Highest award Bachelor of Laws Level Honours
Possible interim awards Bachelor of Laws, Diploma of Higher Education, Certificate of Higher Education
Total credits for course 30
Awarding institution London Metropolitan University
Teaching institutions London Metropolitan University
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Subject Area Law
Attendance options
Option Minimum duration Maximum duration
Part-time Distance Learning 1 YEARS  
Course leader  

About the course and its strategy towards teaching and learning and towards blended learning/e-learning

The course, which is delivered by distance learning by highly qualified academics and practitioners, has been devised with reference to the subject benchmark statement for Law developed by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.

The course is designed to enable students who have already achieved the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) to achieve the degree of LLB (Bachelor of Laws) by writing a research-based dissertation on an approved topic of their own choice.

Relationship of the Graduate LLB to the Graduate Diploma in Law

The Common Professional Examination (which is the course leading to the award of the Graduate Diploma in Law) is a postgraduate course which is taught and assessed at Level 6, and which provides a rigorous programme, including the foundation core modules needed for a qualifying law degree. It is recognised by the Joint Academic Stage Board of the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Bar Standards Board as providing the academic stage of legal training for both solicitors and barristers, in the same way as a Qualifying Law Degree (typically the LLB) would do.

The GDL conferred on passing the CPE is equivalent to a qualifying LLB for all law sector professional and academic purposes within the UK, and indeed is often a preferred route to the profession for the top law firms and chambers. However, the CPE course does not, of itself, confer the degree title of LLB, as it does not technically provide graduating students with sufficient credits. This can be an issue for students who wish to use their qualification other than to progress onto either the LPC or BPTC, as the GDL (unlike the LLB) is not a universally/internationally recognised qualification.

The purpose of this top-up course is to enable students who have already obtained the GDL to gain the Graduate LLB degree as well, by taking a single research-based module that will give them the necessary additional credits.

The credit scheme will be as follows:

Credits for previous learning from first degree: 60 credits

The CPE/GDL is a postgraduate course which requires a student to have a completed degree or equivalent in any subject in order to enrol. Such a degree would normally be based on 360 credits, with 120 credits at level 6. The top-up course gives 60 credits for prior learning to account for this achievement in Higher Education, where students will have learned and been assessed in a range of transferable, degree-level skills, albeit not necessarily in a law-related area. This complies with the usual requirement for an LLB, where students may take up to 120 non-law credits and still achieve a qualifying law degree.

Credits for the Graduate Diploma in Law: 240 credits

The GDL itself requires students to have taken and passed law modules – including all the JASB Foundation Subjects – totalling 240 credits at Level 6.

Top-Up Credits

Students will thus start the top-up course with a total of 300 credits for prior learning. The top-up Dissertation Module will be worth 60 credits at Level 6, giving a total of 360 credits, as required for an LLB (Hons) degree.


The Teaching and Learning strategy of the Graduate LLB is designed to ensure that the following key outcomes are achieved:
• To comply with – or improve on - the benchmarks set out by the Joint Academic Stage Board of the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Bar Standards Board, and by the Quality Assurance Agency;
• To encourage the acquisition and understanding of knowledge by students, engendering an enthusiasm for the subject and life-skills learning, including the progression from surface learning to deep learning;
• To facilitate students in developing independent skills and responsibilities for their own learning;

• Incrementally to strengthen the subject specific knowledge and practical legal skills gained by students, to ensure that they are equipped successfully to thrive in the professional workplace, whether they enter the legal profession, or any other graduate sector where their transferable skills would be a transformative asset.

This single-module top-up course will be taught entirely by distance learning.
In the first part of the course, students will be asked to engage with online e-materials to enable them, through guided independent study, to draft a research proposal, with particular reference to:

• The importance of legal research
• The choice of topic
• Writing a research proposal
• Primary and secondary source research
• Writing a literature review
• The choice of the right methodology
• OSCOLA referencing
• Structure and planning of the writing up

In the second part of the course, students will write their dissertation under the supervision of a named member of staff, who will guide them through the process and provide feedback and feedforward on drafts.

This will enable the students to:
• Develop skills in research and analysis of primary and secondary sources, using both the traditional library, the e-library and the professional legal databases;
• Develop self-management skills, personal study discipline and entrepreneurship;
• Develop critical reflection and self-assessment skills.

As this is a distance learning programme, students will be heavily reliant on web-based resources. They will be able to access the major legal internet primary sources through the university library intranet, including:

1. Westlaw database online
2. Lexis Library online
3. iLaw online
4. OSCOLA (Oxford Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities)
5. The Oxford Handbook of Empirical Legal Research edited by Peter Cane & Herbert M Kritzer, Oxford University Press 2012

Course aims

The course aims:

• To deliver an academically rigorous legal education.

• To develop a detailed understanding of legal rules, their contexts and application, as well as developing transferable skills in research, analysis and written communication

• To enhance the employability of students, including those who do not intend to practise as a barrister or solicitor, but who wish to enter other employment where legal knowledge is useful.

• To acquaint students with a range of employment avenues both in the legal profession and in those professions into which legal qualifications and skills are transferable.

• To develop the students’ skills of independent legal research, analysis and presentation.

• To develop students’ facility of critical thinking through independent research

• To develop and instil ways of thinking that are intrinsic to the study of law. These include an appreciation of the complexity of legal concepts, ethics, rules and an awareness of the importance of principles of justice and the rule of law.

• To assist students in evaluating their learning and embedding personal development in their professional practice in research/project activities.

• To offer the course in a mode of study that accommodates students’ other commitments and career development.

Course learning outcomes


On successful completion of this course, students will be able to conduct independent legal research and to organise, assemble and synthesise large amounts of legal material in order to identify legal problems.


On successful completion of this course, students will be able critically to appraise, analyse and compose a commentary on issues in the area of law that they have chosen.


By researching and presenting the research proposal, students will develop the ability to:

• Identify an area/topic for the dissertation

• Identify and analyse the available literature in the field

• Identify and analyse the relevant primary and secondary sources

• Justify the title in terms of its relevance, topicality and originality

• Compose appropriate research questions and supporting evidenced material and examples suitable to address critical academic and professional issues in the area of law.

In writing the dissertation, students will:

• Develop a capacity for independent evaluated research at postgraduate level

• Become able to develop a methodologically sound critical discussion which is presented as a critically discursive analysis of the dissertation topic achieved by supervised dissertation writing.

• Have adopted an appropriate research strategy and techniques to support a sustained academic and professional argument on critical issues within the area of Maritime Law.

• Appropriately constructed academic and professional argument, including supported contextual and critical material suitable for inclusion and completion of a piece of academic research on a subject related to the area of law.

Course learning outcomes / Module cross reference

Module Title Module Code

Law Dissertation for Graduate LLB (GDL top-up) LL3P01 LO 1 and LO 2

Principle QAA benchmark statements


Assessment strategy

There will be summative assessment of the Research Proposal of 1,500 – 2,000 words, which will precede the substantive research for the dissertation, and be presented in week 13.

There will be summative assessment of the Dissertation of between 8,000 – 10,000 words, which will be presented in week 29 or 30.

Formative feedback will be continual throughout the course between supervisor and supervisee.

Organised work experience, work based learning, sandwich year or year abroad


Modules required for interim awards

Students must take LL3P01 to gain the award of Graduate LLB (Hons)

There are no interim awards.

Arrangements for promoting reflective learning and personal development

Reflective learning and personal development are embedded in this course, where the research, analysis and time-management are all entirely student led and focused.

Students will be encouraged to engage positively with all feedback opportunities and to reflect and learn, resulting in the developing of further learning strategies.

Career, employability and opportunities for continuing professional development

Students will already have completed the academic stage of legal training by passing the GDL, which will have given them access to both further professional and academic study within England and Wales.

However, the Graduate LLB may enable them to apply to universities, law schools and law firms outside England and Wales, both to further their studies and to enhance their career prospects in international jurisdictions. The LLB (as opposed to the GDL) may enhance a student’s employment prospects both within and outside the legal sector as it is a universally recognised, and highly esteemed qualification.

It will be particularly useful for students who wish to gain employment outside England and Wales, but it will also enhance their graduate employment opportunities within England and Wales as employers outside the legal sector are more likely to appreciate the status of the LLB than the GDL.

London Metropolitan University Student Services (Careers) has Careers Consultants who are available to see LLB students for advice and guidance about securing legal experience to help develop their professional career.

The Careers Department delivers employability skills training workshops and guest speaker sessions that LLB students can attend in skills such as communication, teamwork, meetings, and project management amongst a range of others.

Careers Consultants also hold individual appointments to discuss individual careers guidance supporting career planning, researching firms for legal experience and training contracts, legal focussed CVs, applications in particular also addressing the needs of firms that require competency based evidence, mock interviews for legal experience and training contracts, networking to make an impact including online and so forth.

Students can register with Careers to receive relevant legal and other vacancies, as well as volunteering and pro bono opportunities, through our online vacancy system, Prospects Net.

Professional Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) accreditations & exemptions

This course is recognised as a Qualifying Law Degree for progression to the Legal Practice Course (solicitors) or the Bar Professional Training Course (barristers).

Career opportunities

Many LLB graduates go on to train as a solicitor or barrister. As well as qualifying you for this next stage of training, the course also opens the door to many other graduate careers, including roles in business, media, voluntary organisations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Entry requirements

In addition to the University's standard entry requirements you should have:

  • successfully completed your Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), also known as the Common Professional Exam (CPE), within the last six years.

Official use and codes

Approved to run from 2019/20 Specification version 1 Specification status Validated
Original validation date 06 Apr 2020 Last validation date 06 Apr 2020  
JACS codes
Route code TOPLAW