Diploma in Legal Studies

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 28, 2021


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 the most imminent lawyers, members of the judiciary and legal practitioners, specialising in legal education.


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 undertake 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.

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. The Diploma equips students for study on the degree of Barrister–at–Law. 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 course. 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 professional course itself.

The course demands a significant time commitment from the students concerned 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.

“The course, although intense at times, is engaging and evocative. There is always a lively debate in the class room which aids your understanding. No one ever falls behind due to the supportive nature of the course…I would highly recommend it to anyone who had any sort of interest in law. Whether it’s for your career or as a past time, this course will offer you everything you could want, without the commitment of a four–year degree.”

Graduate of 2019


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 at 5.45 pm – 8.00 pm on five evenings during the first two weeks of September. 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 – 8.00 pm on the following dates during the first two weeks of September: September 1, 2, 6, 7, and 8.


Lectures and tutorials take place on Monday–Thursday evenings (a small number take place on Friday evenings). Tutorials also take place at 9.30 am – 4.45 pm on the following Saturdays spread throughout the academic year: September 18, October 2 and 30, November 27, January 15, February 12, March 12, and April 9Because these class times suit students in employment, most students continue working while doing the course.

Course Start Date: Monday, 14 September 2021


King’s Inns cannot at this stage commit to resuming in–person teaching in September 2021.

For Diploma–I students in 2021, there will be an option to do the course entirely online. So if we return to in–person teaching, students will be able to attend live classes online, listen back to lecture recordings and attend tutorials online if they prefer.

If we do not resume in–person teaching, lecturers would deliver lectures live on Zoom. This would allow students to ask and answer questions at the end of lectures and retain an element of interaction for lecturers and students. We will record lectures – whether delivered in person or on Zoom – and publish the recordings on Moodle, our Virtual Learning Environment. 

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 have to miss lectures. But It is also of tremendous assistance for revision purposes, enabling students to revisit lectures when preparing for the exams. 

Because lecturers will deliver lectures live in–person or on Zoom on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, we might have to deliver tutorials to some groups on Thursday evening and the rest on Friday evening. Whether we will have to spread tutorials over two evenings will depend on the number of students in Diploma I. Keeping tutorials small allows us to offer the necessary support to each student and assist them with their study schedule.

At this time, we can say it is a requirement that all Diploma candidates have an up–to–date laptop with a microphone and webcam, good internet access, typing and IT skills. 


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 fictitious 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.


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


Students must pass both an examination and coursework in each subject. Examinations are closed book, whereas coursework requires students to conduct research. Coursework – which accounts for 20% of the mark in each subject – requires students to identify the legal issue(s) in the question, conduct 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.


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 known as 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 fun fitness challenge we run during the first term of the academic year.


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.


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.

The 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 King’s Inns’ Education Committee may remit course fees payable by Diploma students who face exceptional hardship. Further information about and the application form for the scholarship is here.

COURSE FEES 2021 – 2022

Total cost of course: €9,950. plus a non–refundable application fee of €200.

  • Year 1 fee: €4,975 – can be paid in two instalments.
  • Year 2 fee: €4,975 – can be paid in two instalments.

View fee structure and other charges here.


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 2021, click the button (I’m sitting my exams this year). You must provide this transcript on or before 31 July 2021.
  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 2nd 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 Saturday, 31 July 2021. 

In order to verify your personal details, you must first create an account on the Application Portal through the ‘apply here’ button below. Once you verify your email address in the Portal, you can then proceed with your application.

Register and apply here

Application fee before midnight on Saturday, 31 July is €200.

Mature Application Form

How to submit an electronic signature


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

What do Previous Student Say?

Graduate of 2018

“If you ever thought that studying law might be boring, be prepared to have your eyes opened. If you decide to do the Diploma in Legal Studies, be prepared to have your mind opened as well. The course would expose you to new ways of thinking about why the law is so important – not only in business but also in society generally. The course is challenging but very enjoyable. It is managed by Ireland’s finest legal minds and is delivered by lecturers who are second to none – I know that being a science lecturer myself. The course is structured to meet the needs of students who are otherwise busy with work etc. It provides a solid foundation for anyone considering a legal, business, educational, or public–service career. I have met and made friends with people of many and varied professions, both young and older. All of them would agree with me when I say that you would be much better off having completed the Diploma in Legal Studies.”

Graduate of 2019

“The Diploma in Legal Studies is an excellent, well–structured, very worthwhile course. The course provided me with a comprehensive understanding of and insight to the law. The standard and quality of the lectures is first class, with lectures being delivered by practising barristers, who share their invaluable practical knowledge and experience. The course notes are excellent. The format of the Diploma is also very compatible with full–time employment, with lectures being recorded enabling one to listen back to the lecture online in the event one misses a lecture. The learning environment is very friendly, and a bonus is the firm friendships that are formed over the two years. I would highly recommend this course to anyone seeking a firm foundation in law – it is an excellent platform from which to launch a career as a barrister, or alternatively, it is a superb base for anyone who wishes to develop their own careers. The course has been a brilliant and rewarding experience.”