Diploma in Legal Studies

Page last updated: Thursday, June 9, 2022

WHAT IS THE DIPLOMA IN LEGAL STUDIES?

The Diploma in Legal Studies is a two–year law course leading to:

This qualification is awarded independently by The Honorable Society of King’s Inns. The skills and competence gained in studying in this institution are transferable, portable, and recognised internationally. The Diploma in Legal Studies is a valuable qualification delivered by expert legal practitioners, specialising in legal education.

Students have the option of attending all lectures and tutorials online as well as in–person at King’s Inns. Delivering the entire course online allows people to undertake the course regardless of their geographical location. 

WHO IS THE COURSE FOR?

Many Diploma graduates have found the qualification to be of benefit in their current career or have gone on to use the qualification to open new career opportunities for them in the public service, private sector, or in the provision of legal services. 

Some Diploma graduates have progressed to further study of law by doing taught or research masters or PhDs. Others chose to do the course simply because they were interested in learning the law. Every year, a diverse group of individuals with different backgrounds do this course such as nurses, teachers, taxi drivers, civil servants, communication and HR professionals, and people who are retired or in the middle of changing careers.

“The Diploma’s student body is diverse. Students come from different social, educational, professional, and geographical backgrounds and quickly realise how conducive this diversity is to their learning. Many have a third–level non–law qualification. But some do not. Indeed, the Diploma is open to people with no formal education whatsoever.”

Ciarán Patton BL, Academic Coordinator / Course Leader, Diploma in Legal Studies

As Diploma graduates are eligible to sit the Entrance Examination for the degree of Barrister–at–Law, the course also attracts students who want to qualify as a barrister. As far as qualifying as a barrister is concerned, Diploma graduates are as well–placed as those who have a recognised law degree from a third–level institution in Ireland. Diploma graduates report that the course prepares them well for the Degree. This is reflected in the fact that Diploma graduates have traditionally done as well as, and frequently better than, law–degree graduates in the Entrance Examination and on the degree of Barrister–at–Law professional course itself.

The course demands a significant time commitment from students, who cover the same core subjects as undergraduate law students but over a shorter period of time. Successful completion of the course requires students to demonstrate an impressive breadth of legal knowledge, as well as legal reasoning, problem–solving, communication and research skills.

“Doing King’s Inns’ Diploma in Legal Studies would give you an in–depth knowledge of and new–found confidence in the law. My work as a member of An Garda Síochána exposes me to the application of the law in nearly every aspect of society and the Diploma gave me a solid foundation in these areas of the law and helped my personal and professional advancement. 

The lectures are delivered by experienced lecturers in a flexible, understandable, accessible, and friendly manner.”

Diploma Graduate 2021

THE STUDY–SKILLS COURSE

Diploma students come from a variety of educational and professional backgrounds. Many have a non–law degree or other third–level qualification. But some do not. Indeed, the Diploma is open to people with no formal education whatsoever. Mindful that some Diploma students have been away from formal education for a long time or have no formal education whatsoever, we deliver a Study–Skills Course on five evenings during the two weeks before the Diploma starts. Topics include:

  • Types of Learning;
  • Time management on an academic course;
  • Note–taking;
  • Academic Research;
  • Reading academic (and specifically legal) texts;
  • Academic writing;
  • Giving oral presentations;
  • Making use of feedback; and
  • Revising for and writing examinations.

The Study–Skills Course is scheduled for 5.45 pm to 8 pm on the following dates during the first two weeks before the Diploma starts: August 31 and September 1, 5, 6, and 7.

WHEN DO CLASSES TAKE PLACE?

Lectures are at 5.45 pm to 8 pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Tutorials are at 5.45 pm to 9 pm on Thursdays (a small number of classes take place on Friday evenings). Tutorials also take place at 9.30 am to 4.45 pm on the following Saturdays spread throughout the academic year: September 17, October 1 and 29, November 26, January 14, February 11, March 11, and April 22. Because these times suit students in employment, most students continue working while doing the course.

Term and Examination Dates 2022 –2023

  • Michaelmas Term: Monday, September 12 to Thursday, December 15 (14 weeks)
  • Hilary Term: Monday, January 9 to Thursday, March 30 (12 weeks)
  • Easter Term: Monday, April 17 to Thursday, April 27 (2 weeks)
  • Annual Examination: Monday, May 8 to Friday, May 19

COURSE DELIVERY 2022 – 2024

Students have the option of:

  1. attending all lectures and tutorials in–person at King’s Inns; or
  2. attending all lectures and tutorials online (on Zoom), with the option of attending lectures in–person when they wish.

Lectures: Lectures are information–delivery sessions in which the lecturer explains a topic related to the subject. We record lectures and publish the recordings on Moodle, our virtual learning environment. Students attending lectures can ask and answer questions at the end of them. This ensures interaction between students and lecturers. We don’t record the question–and–answer section. Recordings can be streamed on a range of devices and an unlimited number of times but cannot be downloaded. Students can access the recordings remotely at anytime from anywhere provided they have an internet connection. The availability of lecture recordings online obviously facilitates students who miss lectures. But it is also of tremendous assistance for revision purposes, enabling students to revisit lectures when preparing for the exams.

Tutorials: Tutorials are small–group, interactive sessions. We don’t record them. Tutorials are a key aspect of the course. They are a shared space to apply what you have learned in lectures and from reading and to make and correct mistakes. We organise students into small groups to optimise their learning experience.

Although attendance at lectures and tutorials is not compulsory, we encourage regular attendance at them.

Materials: For each subject, we publish a Course Map, a Course Manual, and Tutorial Session Plans on Moodle. The Course Map is a syllabus with additional information about how topics are covered. Topics are covered in lectures, in tutorials, by independent study, or a combination thereof. The Course Manual allows students to read ahead before lectures, prepare for tutorials, and read over material after classes to consolidate their knowledge. It reduces the need to take notes and helps with revision, too. Tutorial Session Plans contain information about the tutorials in each subject, e.g., learning outcomes, guidelines about preparation for the tutorial, and the tutorial exercises.

WHAT HAPPENS IN CLASS?

Classes, especially tutorials, are interactive–student engagement is encouraged. Tutorials are small–group sessions during which students must complete diverse tasks like problem–solving, mooting, advising fictional clients, consultations, and presenting and opposing legal arguments. Our emphasis on small–group teaching and learning fosters student engagement and active learning and makes the course especially rewarding.

WHAT SUBJECTS ARE COVERED ON THE COURSE?

The course provides a very broad legal education and covers the core law subjects which are essential to further study of law and practising law in Ireland. During their first year on the course, students study the following subjects:

  • Constitutional Law
  • Contract Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Family Law
  • Introduction to the Legal System (including Legal Research and Writing)
  • Land Law (Property Law)
  • Tort Law

During their second year, students study the following subjects:

  • Administrative Law
  • Company Law
  • Equity and the Law of Trusts
  • European Union Law
  • Law of Evidence
  • Human Rights Law
  • Jurisprudence

HOW ARE STUDENTS ASSESSED?

Students must pass both an examination and an assignment in each subject. Examinations are closed book. Assignments – which account for 20% of the mark in each subject – require students to identify the legal issue(s) in the question, do independent research using online legal databases and a law library, use and reference relevant sources of law, and write an answer that summarises relevant law in a clear, cogent, and complete manner before arriving at a conclusion.

EXTRA–CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES

Students can also attend optional court visits and take part in mooting and debating competitions inside the School of Law and at national and international level. Please see our Mooting and Debating page for further information.

King’s Inns has a student society called the LSDSI. Diploma students are welcome to participate in its yearly activities and help organise events throughout the year. Students can also take part in sporting events and other activities like our online book club, AND BREATHE wellness activities, and a fun ON THE MOVE fitness challenge we run during the first term of the academic year.

THE TEACHING TEAM

All lecturers and tutors have impressive qualifications (including LLMs from colleges like Harvard, Oxbridge, and the London School of Economics, as well as PhDs from reputable Irish and UK universities). 

Because lecturers and tutors are also qualified barristers, they have a keen understanding of how the law works in the real world. All members of the teaching team have extensive teaching experience. Learn more about our teaching team here.

ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS

Those falling into the following categories are eligible to apply for a place on the course:

Graduate Applicant: A graduate applicant has an approved non–law degree from a third–level educational institution. Degrees conferred by foreign educational institutions may also suffice. The Education Committee decides whether a foreign degree is acceptable.

Mature Applicant: A mature applicant doesn’t have an approved non–law degree but is at least 23 years of age on May 1 in the year when they would sit the Diploma–I examinations.

King’s Inns’ Education Committee allocates places to mature applicants. Although the Committee considers academic and professional qualifications, the Diploma is – as mentioned above – open to people with no formal education whatsoever. The Committee also considers a mature applicant’s work experience and other information provided by the applicant which demonstrates their ability to do a course of this level. An interview may be required.

International Applicants: International students are eligible to apply for a place on the course, either as a graduate or mature applicant. There is no extra fee for international applicants.

THE MAURICE GAFFNEY SCHOLARSHIP

Funded by King’s Inns, the Maurice Gaffney Scholarship assists students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds who wish to do the Diploma in Legal Studies course.

Find further information here.

COURSE FEES

There is a non–refundable application fee of €200.

Payment of the total tuition fee is over the two years. Two payment options for each year of the course are set out below. The part–payment option incurs a facilitation fee. If you choose the part–payment option, the facilitation fee is automatically added to your fee–payment schedule on the Application Portal.

  • Tuition Fee Option 1 (Payment in Full): €4,975 a year (total tuition fee – €9,950)
  • Tuition Fee Option 2 (Part Payments): €3,200 and €2,000 a year (total tuition fee – €10,400)

You should view the fee structure, payment terms, and other charges here.

HOW DO I APPLY?

When making an application through the below Application Portal, you will be asked for the following supporting documents. 

  1. Transcript (graduate application only): Please upload the transcript of your undergraduate primary degree and the overall degree grade. If you are sitting your final degree examination in summer 2022, click the button “I’m sitting my exams this year”. You must provide this transcript on or before Sunday, July 31, 2022.
  2. CV (mature application only): Please upload your CV using the mature application form below. Ensure it is up–to–date and includes details of any second–level academic qualifications, leaving certificates or matriculation results.
  3. Passport/Driving Licence Scan: Either (a) details page with photograph from current passport, (b) Irish or other EU passport card, or (c) valid EU driving license with photograph showing details.
  4. Photo for Student Card: Please upload an image file containing a recent passport–sized photo.
  5. Special Requirements (optional): Any supporting documents for a request for Reasonable Accommodations.

Closing Date for Applications: midnight on Sunday, July 31, 2022. 

To verify your personal details, you must first create an account on the Application Portal through the “register and apply here” button below. Once you verify your email address in the Portal, you can then proceed with your application.

CLOSED – 2023 applications will open in March

The application fee before midnight on Sunday, July 31, is €200.

Mature Application Form

Disability Support

How to submit an electronic signature

ENQUIRIES

If you have questions about the course, please contact the Course Coordinator, Ciarán Patton, at ciaran.patton@kingsinns.ie.

RECEIVE NOTIFICATION WHEN MORE INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE 

What do Previous Student Say?

Diploma in Legal Studies Graduate 2021

“The Diploma is well structured, and the materials provided are very good and contain the most up–to–date information. King’s Inns’ staff are very caring and approachable, especially the Course Coordinator, Ciarán Patton BL. There is a real sense of community at King’s Inns.”

Class of 2019–2021

Diploma in Legal Studies Graduate 2021

“I’d highly recommend King’s Inns’ Diploma in Legal Studies to anybody interested in studying law. If you are not sure law is for you, attend one of King’s Inns’ Open Days as it would give you a great insight into the Diploma.”

Class of 2019–2021