Diploma in Legal Studies

The Diploma in Legal Studies is a two–year course involving the study of substantive law. It is primarily a course for people who do not hold a law degree but who want to become barristers. However, the diploma also attracts students who do not wish to pursue the Barrister–at–Law qualification but are interested in the law. Many graduates find the course to be of benefit in their existing career.

Holders of the diploma are in the same position as persons who have completed a law degree in Ireland as far as entry to the Bar is concerned. Students who enter the professional course via the diploma route have traditionally done as well as and frequently better than students with other law qualifications in the Entrance Examination and on the professional course, and Diploma graduates report that their experience on the diploma prepares them well for the demands of the professional course.

When do classes take place?

Students attend lectures and tutorials in the evenings, with classes beginning at 5.45pm on weeknights and at 9.30am on Saturday mornings. Classes generally run on Monday–Thursday and on alternate Saturday mornings, with a limited number of classes taking place on Fridays. These class times facilitate people who are in employment, and most students continue to work while taking the course.

What happens in class?

Classes involve lectures and tutorials and are highly interactive. Tutorials are small group sessions during which students are required to undertake a range of difficult tasks, including problem–solving in a group or as an individual, mooting, advising fictitious clients, conducting “consultations”, and presenting and opposing legal arguments. The large proportion of hours devoted to small group teaching makes the course particularly demanding but rewarding, and requires students to be able to participate regularly and engage in active learning.

What subjects are covered on the course?

During the first year of the diploma course, students take the following subjects: 

  • Introduction to the Legal System
  • Criminal Law
  • Law of Contract
  • Law of Torts
  • Family Law
  • Land Law (Property Law)
  • and Constitutional Law. 

In the second year of the course, the subjects covered are:

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

Students are also required to sit classes in Legal Research and Writing. The course provides a very broad legal education and covers the core law subjects which are essential to the practice of law in Ireland.

Attendance at class is compulsory.

How is the course examined?

Students must pass both an examination and coursework in order to pass each subject. Examinations are closed book whereas coursework requires students to conduct research. Coursework counts for 20% of the overall grade in each subject, and requires the student to identify the legal issues at stake in the question, conduct independent research using legal databases and a law library, use and reference appropriate legal sources, and write an answer that summarises the relevant law in a clear, complete and cogent manner before arriving at a conclusion.

Extra–curricular activities

Students can also attend optional court visits to sitting courts and take part in mooting and debating competitions inside the School of Law and at national and international level. Students of King’s Inns also take part in sporting events throughout the year. Please see our LSDSI (The Law Students’ Debating Society of Ireland) page for more information.

The teaching team

All tutors and lecturers on the course have impressive qualifications (including many LLMs from colleges including Harvard, Oxbridge and the London School of Economics, as well as several PhDs from reputable Irish and UK universities). Tutors and lecturers are also qualified barristers, and therefore have a keen understanding of how the law works in the real world. All members of the team have extensive teaching experience. Please click here for more information about our teaching team.

The Diploma in Legal Studies is a challenging but enjoyable course and one which is intended to equip students for study on the professional course and/or for further study of law.

Many graduates of the diploma course have gone on to further their study of law by undertaking taught or research masters courses and/or PhDs. 

Fellowships and Bursaries

Fellowship and Bursary details plus application forms can be viewed here.  

Requirements for Admission

The following categories of applicants are eligible to apply for entrance to the diploma course:

Graduate Applicant
Holder of an approved degree (other than an approved degree in law) from a third–level educational institution.
Degrees conferred by foreign educational institutions may also suffice. The Education Committee, in each case, determines whether a particular foreign degree is acceptable.

Mature Applicant
Applicant who does not hold an approved degree and is a least 23 years of age on 1 May in the year in which he/she would sit the examination for Diploma – part 1. Consideration is given to (a) academic and professional qualifications and (b) occupation and work experience. Places are allocated by the Education Committee. An interview may be required.

The Application Process

Application for the Diploma in Legal Studies are made through our online application area. Click here to access. The closing date for receipt of applications is May 31.

NOTE: However, we are accepting late applications until midnight on July 1 subject to payment of the late application fee of €200.

Course payments are made through our secure online payment area. Click here to access.

Testimonials from past students 

Vanessa McManus

”The Diploma in Legal Studies instils in students the tools to seek, identify and understand the legal principles that underpin Irish law. The course material is delivered through lectures and small group tutorials with each allowing for an active and engaging interaction between students and lecturers. The course provides an excellent base in law for those who wish to pursue a career as a barrister and for those who seek to enhance their current career path.” (Class of 2014–2016)

Donnchadh Morgan

”The Diploma in Legal Studies gave me the opportunity to learn about the law from exceptional and dedicated lecturers and study with highly motivated, talented, and interesting people; working with them in a supportive environment, I gained not only an understanding of the law, but also enhanced my critical thinking and analytical skills, which can be applied to many different professional contexts. Moreover, it was a lot of fun and I made great friends. I cannot recommend this course highly enough.” (Class of 2014–2016)