Qualifying Law Degree

Qualifying Law Degree

Prior to the introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), students who intended to become a solicitor in England and Wales must study for a Qualifying Law Degree (QLD) or Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) recognised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) before they could enrol in the Legal Practice Course (LPC) which is the vocational stage of training for intending solicitors. Following the introduction of the SQE in 2021, students are no longer required to complete a QLD or GDL and then the LPC to qualify as solicitors. University graduates with a bachelor's degree in any discipline are eligible to sit the SQE directly to qualify.

Prior to the introduction of the Bar Training Course (BTC), students who intended to become a barrister in England and Wales must study for a QLD or GDL recognised by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) before they could enrol in the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC). Following the introduction of the BTC in 2019, students are only required to complete the academic component of bar training before they can move on to the BTC which is the vocational stage of bar training. The academic component consists of seven foundations of legal knowledge that must be studied for the law degree or GDL.

The changes implemented by the SRA and BSB have removed the need for obtaining a QLD for entry into the vocational stage of training. However, the term QLD continues to be used by universities and recognised by students and employers as the gold standard for the academic training of intending lawyers. For a law degree to be recognised by the SRA as a QLD, it must satisfy specific requirements, including the modules that must be studied, the maximum number of assessment attempts, and the amount of credits that must be allocated to the study of law.

Currently, a QLD is a law degree that is obtained from an institution recognised by the SRA and satisfies the academic component of bar training as required by the BSB. For this reason, you must study seven modules in order for your law degree to be considered as a QLD. Here is an overview of these modules:

Contract Law
This module is concerned with the formation, interpretation, and enforcement of legally binding agreements. You learn about the essential elements of a contract, such as offer and acceptance, consideration, and intention to create legal relations. You also study the terms of a contract, including express terms and implied terms. The module covers topics such as breach of contract, remedies for breach (including damages, specific performance and injunction), and the principles of contract interpretation.

Criminal Law
This module deals with offences against the state or society and the principles of punishment and deterrence. You learn about different types of crimes, such as murder, theft, assault, and fraud. You also study the elements required to establish guilt, including the actus reus (the guilty act) and mens rea (the guilty mind). The module also covers defences to criminal charges, such as self-defence or insanity, and the principles of sentencing and punishment.

Public Law
This module focuses on the fundamental principles and rules that govern the organisation and powers of the government and the relationship between the state and its citizens. You explore topics such as the rule of law, parliamentary sovereignty, separation of powers, and protection of human rights. The module may also cover concepts like judicial review and the impact of constitutional law on the legal system.

Tort Law
This module deals with civil wrongs and provides remedies for individuals who have suffered harm or injury due to the actions of others. You learn about various types of torts, including negligence, nuisance , defamation, product liability, and more. You also study the elements of each tort, the standards of liability, defences available, and the remedies that can be sought, such as compensation or injunctions.

Equity and Trusts
This module explores the principles and rules related to trusts. A trust is legal arrangements where one party holds property for the benefit of another and equitable remedies. You learn about different types of trust, including express trusts, implied trusts, charitable trusts, secret trusts, private purpose trusts, and more. You also study fiduciary duties, variation of trusts, supervision of trustees, and the role of equity in balancing legal principles with fairness.

Land Law
This module focuses on the legal principles surrounding property ownership and transactions. You learn about the nature of land as a unique form of property, including the concept of freehold and leasehold. You also study the principles of land registration, the creation and enforcement of property rights, mortgages, easements, and landlord-tenant relationships. Land law also covers topics such as adverse possession and the impact of human rights on property law.

EU Law
This module examines the legal framework of the European Union. You study the institutions of the EU and the sources of EU law. The module covers the relationship between EU law and national law, the principles of the internal market, and the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the EU, such as the free movement of goods, services, capital, and persons. You also study the process of EU law-making, the role of EU institutions in enforcing and interpreting EU law, and the impact of EU law on member states and their legal systems.

These modules form the academic component of bar training and are assessed in the SQE. It is important to note that the names of the modules may vary slightly between universities, but the core topics remain consistent across most LLB programmes in the UK.

It should be noted that some of these seven foundation modules may not be compulsory but optional modules in your law school, so you may select other modules for your LLB, PGDL, or GDL, but doing so will bar you from entry into the vocational stage of bar training or affect your progress of SQE preparation. You are therefore strongly advised to consult our LLB Module List when selecting optional modules.
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