Introduction

Welcome message from the Director

Welcome to the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice.  I am delighted that you have chosen to study here at the University of Glasgow’s School of Law. 

I hope that you will enjoy what, for many of you, will be your last year of study.  The Diploma is effectively the link between academia and practice, and the ultimate aim of the Diploma is to produce “day-one ready” trainees in accordance with the Law Society of Scotland (LSS)’s requirements.  To achieve this aim, our courses are highly practical and taught by tutors with a wealth of experience. 

As you will be aware, the pandemic led to many changes in how Universities taught students last year, and you may be wondering what to expect this year.  I’m delighted to say that we are planning to welcome students back on to campus at the start of the new academic session.  Whilst Diploma lectures will remain online throughout the year, we are now able to deliver small group teaching (tutorials) in classrooms again.  Teaching formally begins again on Monday 20th September and you are expected to join classes then.  

We remain as committed as ever to making this year a valuable experience for you.  If you are looking for a traineeship, we will provide you with as much help and support as we can.  The University’s Careers Service and the LSS are on hand with lots of practical advice, and the Diploma team will be happy to assist with your CV and interview skills.  In addition, you will have the opportunity to take part in numerous extra-curricular activities, including networking sessions with members of the profession, and competitions on client consultation and negotiation.   

That said, the safety and wellbeing of our student and staff community is our key priority.  The University has been putting in place plans to make the campus a safe place to be and, as always, personal conduct and respect for others plays a huge part in achieving this.  The School is guided by the University and, in turn, the Scottish Government rules and advice around coronavirus, and we will adapt and comply accordingly as required.  You can keep up to date by looking at University information and updates related to coronavirus. 

We very much look forward to seeing you at the start of the new semester.  However, if you are concerned that you cannot join in classes on campus at the start of the new academic session, either or medical reasons or because you cannot get here from an overseas location due to coronavirus, then please let the Diploma team know as soon as you can by emailing law-dip-legal-practice@glasgow.ac.uk.  In these exceptional circumstances, the School is committed to doing our best to ensure that any disruption for our students does not detrimentally impact your overall learning experience, and that you are able to access content and resources to enable you to meet course intended learning outcomes.  We do expect and hope that this will be a rare exception to the general position that we will be learning together in classrooms from the start of the next session, with all the benefits that brings.  

On behalf of the Diploma team, I look forward to welcoming you on campus in September. 

Kerry Trewern (Director, Diploma in Professional Legal Practice)

Structure

The full-time Diploma is delivered over two semesters between September and June.

Due to the nature of teaching and assessment (outlined below), a laptop or similar is essential for the programme. If you have any difficulties accessing a laptop or similar, then please let the Diploma team know.

The requirement for the award of the Diploma is 120 credits, with candidates required to achieve:

(a) a grade D3 or better in all courses;

(b) a grade D3 or better in each component assessment of each course; and

(c) a Pass, where a component assessment is graded Pass or Fail.

The 120 credits comprise:

75 credits in core courses namely:

  • Civil Litigation (15 credits)
  • Commercial Awareness (15 credits)
  • Conveyancing (15 credits)
  • Criminal Litigation (15 credits)
  • Private Client (15 credits)
  • Assessed Writing Skills (non-credit bearing)

45 credits in optional courses, obtained by selecting three from the following list:

  • Advanced Civil Litigation (15 credits)
  • Advanced Criminal Litigation (15 credits)
  • Commercial Contracts (15 credits)
  • Commercial Conveyancing (15 credits)
  • Corporate (15 credits)
  • Employment Law (15 credits)
  • Family Law (15 credits)
  • Human Rights (15 credits)
  • Introduction to Legal Innovation and Technology (15 credits)
  • Public Law (15 credits)

Planning your curriculum

Semester 1

The Diploma commences with a compulsory online programme, the "Diploma Induction", which takes place during the week commencing Monday 13 September 2021.

The online events and information sessions offered during the Diploma Induction are central to ensuring that you have a solid foundation for the work that you will be undertaking during the Diploma and will allow you to make the most of the year ahead.  You will receive introductory e-lectures on all semester one courses and find out more about the various extra-curricular activities we have on offer throughout the academic year.  The timetable for this programme will be provided nearer the time. 

Thereafter, all students undertake the following core courses during semester 1: Civil Litigation, Commercial Awareness, Conveyancing and Criminal Litigation.

Semester 2

All students undertake the fifth core course, Private Client, in addition to three optional courses from a choice of ten (see above).

As well as information about optional courses being available in the online course catalogue and via Moodle, our virtual learning environment, we will also be running an optional course virtual roadshow in semester 1. This will provide the Senior Tutors for each course an opportunity to explain what their courses involve and to answer any questions you may have. Your selection of optional courses may reflect areas of law in which you have a particular interest and/or that you or your training organisation consider to be relevant to your traineeship.

You can change your mind about which optional courses you choose until late October.  If you do decide to change, please let your Adviser of Studies know before this time. 

If you intend to become an advocate in Scotland, entry to the Faculty of Advocates requires not only completion of the Diploma, but also a pass in Roman Law of Property and Obligations and International Private Law. These courses can be studied at the University of Glasgow and accommodated within the Diploma timetable at no additional cost. However, please make an appointment to discuss with your Adviser of Studies before enrolling on these courses, as the additional workload can be considerable.


Teaching and assessment

This year, the Diploma will be delivered through a combination of recorded lectures, e-modules, tutorials (with a maximum of 12 students per tutorial group) and e-learning materials delivered via our virtual learning environment, Moodle.

Tutorial times are set out in the Diploma timetable (please view 'Quick Links' for full details). 

Lectures

Lectures usually last for fifty minutes, and will be delivered online, either live or as an e-module - allowing you to access them wherever, whenever and as often as you wish Viewing all lecture recordings is strongly encouraged as the notes that you take will be a vital resource in preparing for tutorials and assessments. 

Tutorials

Tutorials are generally two hours long (with a number of short breaks throughout) and will be delivered to small groups (a maximum of 12 students per group) by highly experienced legal practitioners. Tutorials are based around practical, scenario-based learning and allow you to practise professional skills and ask questions to clarify understanding in a safe, non-judgmental environment.

Preparation is essential, as every tutorial prepares you for life as a trainee solicitor. In addition, your preparation for tutorials, as well as your performance and participation during them, is assessed and contributes towards your final grade in each course.

Please note that should you fail to attend tutorials, credit for the relevant course may be refused. This is because we are not able to confirm to the LSS that you have met the relevant educational outcomes if you are not in class to demonstrate that you have met them. This would mean that you would not be awarded the Diploma in the same academic session and would be required to retake and pay for the course, including assessments, in a subsequent academic session.  

Forms of assessment

As this is a professional legal practice course, every effort is made to ensure that assessments replicate the type of work which will be undertaken in practice. Assessments therefore generally take the form of very practical exercises, which may be quizzes, oral, written and/or combined oral/written and may be recorded for marking purposes. Information on assessments in individual courses can be found in the relevant course page on Moodle.

Formative and summative assessment

A formative (or diagnostic) assessment is designed to measure your understanding of a subject and to allow an opportunity for you to receive valuable feedback without the grade you obtain counting towards your overall course grade.

All Diploma courses offer formative assessment. In some courses, such assessment is compulsory; in others, it is up to you to decide whether to take the offered formative assessment. We strongly encourage you to take advantage of these formative assessments.

A summative assessment is marked as set out below and contributes to the overall grade awarded for a course.

Examination diets

Assessments are ongoing throughout the first and second semesters. Re-sit diets are held in January and in April/May. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are available for the re-sit diets.

Feedback policy

We aim to return feedback to students within three weeks of assessment submission. However, please note that this is a target, not a guarantee, due to class sizes and the fact that our tutors are working solicitors and advocates. If the course team cannot return grades within three weeks, then we will let you know and explain why there has been a delay.

Feedback can be generic, individual or both. Sometimes a lecture might be given going over the main points of an assessment and pointing out common errors. The feedback that you receive should be used to help you understand how you might improve your performance in future.

The marking process

The Diploma has a rigorous marking process: summative assessments are marked by our tutors and a sample of them is then moderated by our Senior Tutors to ensure consistency, with grades then returned to you via Moodle.   All grades are provisional until approved by the Diploma Exam Board.

Prior to each meeting of the Diploma Exam Board, a further sample (including all papers assessed below a D grade) is sent to a third party expert in the relevant course subject, known as an external examiner. This is normally an experienced legal practitioner or respected academic in another UK educational institution. The role of the external examiner is to ensure that the marking scale has been applied fairly and consistently. Once the external examiner has examined the sample assessments or exam papers, they are returned to the School of Law. The final decision on grades is then made at the meeting of the Diploma Exam Board.

Circumstances affecting examination or coursework performance

If you have been affected by personal circumstances, including illness, and think that this has affected your performance in an assessment (including tutorial preparation and participation), then you are entitled to submit a note of these circumstances as “Good Cause” for setting aside the relevant result. The University’s Code of Assessment governs this procedure and how these circumstances will be treated.

You must raise the circumstances with the Diploma team within seven days of the submission date for the coursework or the assessment date in question. You must then submit your Good Cause claim and provide supporting evidence formally through MyCampus prior to the meeting of the Diploma Exam Board, so that the Board can consider that evidence. Specific information relating to the consequences of absence from lectures and tutorials during the Diploma can be found on the Diploma Homepage on Moodle.

Part-time Diploma

The above programme and assessment structure applies to our part-time Diploma as well. The part-time Diploma structure is slightly different, as follows:

In year 1 you will take:

Semester 1 – Commercial Awareness and Criminal Litigation; and

Semester 2 – Private Client and one optional course.

In year 2 you will take:

Semester 1 – Conveyancing and Civil Litigation; and

Semester 2 – two optional courses.


Support and Advice

We hope that your experience of life at the University of Glasgow, and your taste of life as a trainee solicitor on the Diploma, will be positive and rewarding. However, new experiences often require adjustment and there may be occasions when the reality is not as you had anticipated. If you find yourself in this position, please do not make hasty decisions without talking to us first. The Diploma team is here to assist you if you are unsure of your course choices or if you experience any difficulties that affect your studies.

Adviser Meetings

You will be assigned either the Director or the Deputy Director of the Diploma as your Adviser of Studies.  Both operate an open-door policy when in the office (subject to Scottish Government rules and advice around coronavirus), or you can make an appointment via Zoom at a mutually convenient time. 

Common worries affecting students might include:

Getting to grips with study

It is important to manage your time effectively and to establish a study routine that will enable you to prepare for classes, to complete coursework on time and to ensure that you understand things as you go along. This is especially the case on the Diploma, where we are teaching practical skills that may be new to you in ways that may be new to you, and where we require active participation from all of our students on all courses. If you are experiencing difficulty with study habits, you may find it helpful to consult one of our advisers in the Student Learning Service. Information about the other student support services may be seen on the Current Students web page.

Finance

There is Postgraduate funding available from the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS), in the form of a tuition fee loan of £5,500 and a “living costs” loan of £4,500. 

However, managing on a student loan is never easy and many students have to consider carefully how to balance their budget. If you find yourself with serious financial problems, please consult your Adviser of Studies who may be able to direct you towards possible sources of help in the university such as the HEI hardship fund or the University’s hardship fund. Details of these are available from Student Services.

Please also see the section on the Diploma programme webpage on Fees and Funding.

Part-time employment

The Diploma is a professional qualification and the programme is challenging.  Attendance at tutorials is compulsory, with an element of your final grade linked to attendance.  However, many students have successfully combined employment with the Diploma.  If you have good time management skills, and are well-organised and hardworking, it is possible to combine paid employment with the preparation and attendance required for tutorials, lectures and assessments. 


Other important information

As a student at the University of Glasgow, you come under the authority of the University and must respect its rules. As you progress through your studies, you will gradually become aware of the more important University policies that apply to academic and disciplinary matters. What follows is a brief overview of some key things you should be aware of at the outset of your studies.

Email Communication

The address for email communication with any and all members of the Diploma team is law-dip-legal-practice@glasgow.ac.uk. Staff will respond to your email as soon as possible, so please be patient if there seems to be a delay and remember that staff are dealing with a high volume of students and tutors. When you email, please ensure you always use your University allocated email address rather than your personal account.

Moodle

Moodle is the University’s virtual learning environment.  It is a key means of communicating with students for Diploma team members and tutors who wish to pass on notices and other information about courses and useful events going on within the School of Law and beyond. 

Moodle is a public forum, which is monitored by staff, including tutors who are legal practitioners, so please bear this in mind when posting.

Diploma Homepage

The Diploma Homepage on Moodle contains a variety of useful information. If you have a query for the Diploma team, please consult the Diploma Homepage before emailing us, as the answer may well be there!

Course Documents

Every Diploma course has its own course page on Moodle. This identifies the course convenor (the member of staff responsible for course organisation) and sets out details of the course, including information about assessments and suggested reading. You are strongly advised to read all course documents and, if you have any questions, to consult the course documents before contacting the course convenor as they may already deal with your question.

Disability

If you have or develop a disability and may need adjustments put in place, please contact the University's Disability Service as soon as possible. This is the case even if you have studied previously at the University of Glasgow, as any information the Disability Service had in relation to another course (even the LLB) will not be passed to the Diploma team and adjustments will not be implemented.

You are also welcome to contact Linsey Fender, the School of Law’s Disability Officer, to help us support you in the best way possible. Please email Linsey at: law-disability-coordinator@glasgow.ac.uk.

Absence Policy

If you are absent with Good Cause (see above) from a scheduled class you must complete an online absence form and upload supporting evidence via MyCampus. If you are ill, this will normally take the form of medical evidence from your doctor. The rules are set out in the University Code of Assessment. You must also email the Diploma team at law-dip-legal-practice@glasgow.ac.uk as soon as possible.

If you are unable to submit coursework on time due to Good Cause, please contact the Diploma team. Specific information on the consequences of absence from Diploma tutorials can be found earlier on this page and on the Diploma Homepage.  

Appeals

Students who have grounds to do so may appeal against an academic decision. The University has a published procedure for dealing with appeals. Without prejudice to this procedure, generally the grounds of appeal must relate to unfair procedure or the failure to take into account circumstances which, for good reason, were not raised timeously. It is not possible to appeal against a grade awarded simply because you disagree with it as this is a matter of academic judgement.

The Students' Representative Council has produced guidance on appeals for students.

Unacceptable Behaviour

We expect students to treat each other, and the Diploma team and tutors, with courtesy, consideration and fairness at all times and to avoid all forms of abusive behaviour. There is a University Code of Practice on unacceptable behaviour, which is binding on staff and students alike, and action is taken to enforce it. Students may be disciplined for misconduct or inappropriate behaviour, whether or not that conduct or behaviour takes place on campus.

There is an extra dimension for Diploma students here, since anyone who aspires to join the legal profession must be regarded as a fit and proper person to do so. You are therefore subject to the LSS requirements on professional conduct and fitness to practice.

In addition, and in accordance with the terms of our accreditation by the LSS, the University is required to share your personal data with the LSS and disclose all and any incidents of academic or non-academic misconduct and/or professional lapses by you occurring while enrolled on or graduating with the Diploma.

Plagiarism

We cannot emphasise enough the importance of avoiding plagiarism and inappropriate collaboration at all stages of University study, particularly in light of the LSS requirements on professional conduct and fitness to practice outlined above. You are deemed to have read and understood the University’s statement on plagiarism.