Introduction

Introduction

Welcome message from the Director

Welcome to the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice, part of the School of Law at the University of Glasgow.

The legal profession in Scotland is regulated by the Law Society of Scotland (the “LSS”), which sets out a programme of legal education that all students must take in order to be qualified to practice law. Having undertaken the Foundation stage (the undergraduate degree), you progress to Professional Education and Training 1 (“PEAT1”), otherwise referred to as the Diploma. Obtaining the Diploma leads on to Professional Education and Training 2 (“PEAT2”), the two year work-based period of training known as the traineeship. This educational programme is therefore a holistic process, with shared outcomes of professional behaviour, communication, standards and ethics across all stages.

Our aim is that the Diploma at the University of Glasgow comes to be regarded as the trademark of excellence, ensuring that our graduates are not just employable but actively sought after by employers.

Building on the reputation of the University of Glasgow and the School of Law, we use our strong links with the legal profession to provide a programme that will enhance your professional skills and properly equip you for a future in an exciting, demanding and rewarding profession.

Our highly practical courses are designed by practitioners for practitioners, and we choose our courses and tutors with care. In addition to our formal timetable of lectures and tutorials, we aim to foster student involvement with peers and professionals, as well as an interest in issues and organisations relevant to a future in the profession. This year is, to a certain extent, a conversion process from successful academic student into a professional trainee lawyer who is competent from day one.

The Diploma team looks forward to welcoming you and supporting you in preparing for your traineeship and beyond.

Structure

The Diploma, as a compulsory element of the professional training programme for solicitors in Scotland, is designed to prepare you for your traineeship, as well as other professional roles.

The Diploma is delivered over 2 semesters between September and June.

Due to the nature of teaching and assessment (outlined below), a laptop or similar is essential for the programme.

The requirement for the award of the Diploma is 120 credits, wherein candidates must:

(a) achieve a grade D3 or better in all courses;
(b) achieve a grade D3 or better in each component assessment of each course; and
(c) achieve 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)
  • Criminal Litigation (15 credits)
  • Conveyancing (15 credits)
  • Private Client (15 credits)
  • Commercial Awareness (15 credits)
  • Aacademic Writing Skills (Non Credit Bearing, Pass/Fail)


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

  • Family Law (15 credits)
  • Human Rights (15 credits)
  • Advanced Criminal Litigation (15 credits)
  • Advanced Civil Litigation (15 credits)
  • Commercial Contracts (15 credits)
  • Commercial Conveyancing (15 credits)
  • Contemporary Scottish Public Law (15 credits)
  • Corporate (15 credits)

Planning your curriculum

Semester 1

The Diploma commences with a compulsory three-day programme, the "Introduction to Professional Practice", which runs from Tuesday 12th September to Thursday 14th September 2017.

The events and information sessions offered during this week 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 lectures on all semester one courses, as well as take part in one-off activities that will stand you in good stead for your career as a lawyer.  You will also find out about the various extra-curricular activities we have on offer throughout the academic year. The timetable for this week can be found here: Introduction to Professional Practice Timetable 2017

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

Semester 2

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

As well as information about optional courses being available in the online course catalogue and via Moodle, we will also be running an optional course “roadshow” in the first few weeks of 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 the middle of October. If you do decide to change, please let your Adviser of Studies know.

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 (Undergraduate Level 1) and International Private Law (Undergraduate Level 2). These courses can be studied at the University of Glasgow and accommodated within the DPLP timetable at no additional cost. However, please make an appointment to discuss with your Adviser of Studies before enrolling on these courses.


Teaching and assessment

The Diploma is delivered over two semesters through face to face lectures and e-modules, tutorials (with a maximum of 12 students per tutorial group) and e-learning materials delivered via our intranet site, Moodle.

Attendance at lectures and tutorials is compulsory. You are also expected to prepare adequately for tutorials and assessments, actively participate in tutorials and revise what you have learned.

Lecture and tutorial times, which are fixed, are set out in the Diploma timetable: University of Glasgow Diploma Programme Timetable 2017

Lectures

A lecture usually lasts for fifty minutes. Attendance is compulsory and the notes that you take at lectures will be an important resource in preparing for tutorials and assessments.  Many lectures are also delivered via e-modules allowing you to access them wherever, whenever and as often as you wish.

Tutorials

Tutorials are generally two hours long and are delivered to small groups (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, performance during and participation in tutorials is assessed and contribute towards your final grade in each course.

It is very important to note that should you fail to attend tutorials, credit for the course may be refused. This would mean that you would not be awarded the Diploma in the same academic session and you 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 practise. Assessments therefore generally take the form of very practical exercises, which may be oral and/or written and may be audio and DVD recorded. 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 an assessment designed to measure your understanding of a subject and to allow an opportunity for you to receive valuable feedback. 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. You are strongly recommended to take formative assessment seriously and, where it is optional, to take advantage of it.

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.  Resit diets are held in January and in April/May.  It is your responsibility to ensure that you are available for the resit diets, particularly the resit diet in April/May which you should never assume may not apply to you. 

Feedback policy

We aim to return feedback to students within three weeks of submission of a formative assessment.

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

Summative assessments are marked and a sample of them is moderated by our Senior Tutors to ensure consistency. If an assessment is submitted online using Moodle, your grade is also returned to you online via Moodle. The marking and moderation process normally takes four weeks from the date of assessment hand-in. However, in larger classes (such as our core courses), we cannot always guarantee that grades will be returned within that timescale. If the course team cannot return grades within four weeks, they will let you know and tell you why there has been a delay.

Please note that all grades are provisional until approved by the Diploma Exam Board.

Prior to each meeting of the Board of Examiners, a further sample (including all papers assessed below a grade D3) 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, following which the grades are published. 

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 relevant Senior Tutor and the Diploma team within seven days of the submission date for coursework or the examination date. You must then provide supporting evidence prior to the meeting of the Diploma Exam Board so that the Board can consider that evidence. You must also submit a Good Cause claim and evidence through MyCampus. Specific information relating to the consequences of absence from lectures and tutorials during the Diploma can be found in the student handbook.  


Support and Advice

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

Each student will be assigned either the Director or the Deputy Director of the Diploma as their Adviser of Studies.  Both operate an open door policy, but to be sure of seeing them at a convenient time, you are welcome to schedule an appointment through Moodle.

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 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 Student web page.

Finance

As well as postgraduate funding from SAAS (a tuition fee loan of £5,500 and a “living cost” loan of £4,500), Diploma students are eligible to apply for a Professional and Career Development Loan from relevant banks.

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 at the Fraser Building.

Please also see the section on the Diploma website on “Fees and Funding”.

Part-time employment

The Diploma is a professional qualification and the programme is challenging. Attendance at lectures and tutorials is compulsory, with an element of your final grade linked to attendance. However, many students have successfully combined employment with the Diploma programme. If you have good time management skills, 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 members of staff and tutors who wish to pass on notices and other information about useful courses and 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. 

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 Dr Kyela Leakey, the School of Law’s Disability Officer, to help us support you in the best way possible. Please email Kyela at: law-disability-coordinator@glasgow.ac.uk

Absence policy

If you are absent with “Good Cause” 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 and submit a Good Cause form and evidence to them.  

If you are unable to submit coursework on time due to “Good Cause”, please contact the Course Convenor as well as the Diploma team. Specific information on the consequences of absence from Diploma lectures and tutorials in this Programme can be found earlier on this page and in your student handbook.   

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 Behaviours

We expect students to treat each other, and our staff 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. All students undertaking the Diploma are subject to a Code of Professional Conduct and Fitness to Practise. In accordance with the accreditation criteria and conditions of the LSS for the Diploma, 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.