Course information for 2019/20

  120 spaces on the Diploma course available

   Full-time study option only

   Full-time course fees: £7,875 (including cost of 5 textbooks)

   Cost for additional materials: Discounts offered on additional recommended textbooks

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Open day

There is no formal open day but we are holding an information session in early 2019

Further details are available by contacting the Programme Secretary, Jackie Ewen

What will I study at the University of Aberdeen?

Our focus is on ensuring our students leave Aberdeen ‘fit for purpose’ as a legal trainee and prepared for the challenges of their traineeship from day one. Aberdeen DPLP graduates have a very high level of success in securing traineeships. A significant number of our students are offered positions in Edinburgh and Glasgow as well as with local firms and we are confident that firms are impressed by the high quality of training and preparation we deliver on the DPLP course. Our vocational postgraduate programme is designed to meet the aims and outcomes of Professional Education and Training 1 (PEAT 1) as prescribed by the Law Society of Scotland as required for admission to the solicitor and advocate branches of the legal profession in Scotland.

All our core and elective courses adopt a transaction based approach to learning. The course content is centred on activities which are undertaken by the students in interactive seminars, including role play and group activities. 

The programme consists of eight 15 credit courses divided into core and electives. The core comprises four compulsory courses taught in the first semester. The electives are taught in the second semester and students are required to take four from a selection of ten courses. Students may only progress to the electives when they have passed all of the core courses. Classes are conducted during business hours between 9.00am and 6.00 pm. and are taught in 2/3 hour seminars with some additional hour long lectures to complement course content. The course programme is supplemented by presentations from external speakers from across the profession and also additional workshops

A sample first semester timetable showing the schedule of the four core elective courses is attached. A further timetable attached highlights that in some (but not all weeks) teaching is complemented with presentations and lectures. A weekly timetable is posted in advance to assist students. A sample second semester timetable showing all the elective courses is attached. Students select only 4 courses so each timetable is individual.

The courses are mainly taught by local solicitors who are both experienced practitioners and tutors. Assessment is based on a combination of written summative assignments, skills-based oral assignments (e.g. advocacy skills assessed in litigation and interview skills assessed in Private Client) and multiple choice and online tests. Assessment submission dates are staggered throughout the week to encourage good time management skills

There are no written exams on the course.

There is a strong focus on developing team working and presentation skills across all core and elective courses.

Reflective Diary 

An important feature of the Diploma is learning from experience. This involves a process of self-appraisal and reflection which is a skill that is developed through the reflective diary. Assignments and tasks will be assigned each week that will involve some analysis and critical self-appraisal linked to a topic covered in one of the core courses each week. The reflective diary is completed online and is assessed each week with constructive feedback.


The course will cover: registration of title system in general and specific aspects of registration of title in particular; the steps involved in selected types of conveyancing transaction; particular issues raised by specific types of conveyancing transaction; selected aspects of leases and related matters including tax, ethical, practice management and client care aspects of conveyancing. Key conveyancing skills will also be covered such as communication with clients, drafting, negotiation, and transaction based research.

Private Client

The course will cover: taking instructions for a will; drafting testamentary documentation; practical issues concerning intestacy; executry administration; trusts; incapacity; investment and tax planning advice; and related matters including tax, ethical, practice management and client care aspects of Private Client. Key Private Client skills will also be covered such as communication with clients, drafting and transaction based research.


The course will introduce both Criminal and Civil Litigation and will cover: the Criminal Legal Aid scheme, the rules of criminal procedure and appeal routes, the conduct of pleas in mitigation, intermediate diets and trials, the funding of civil procedure, the concepts of specification and relevancy in civil procedure, Court of Session procedure and processes, actions competent in the sheriff court and appeal routes, client interviews, drafting pleadings, the conduct of an options hearing and a proof, settlement issues and related matters including client care aspects of litigation. Key litigation skills will also be covered such as communication with clients, drafting, advocacy, and transaction based research.

Business Environment and Ethics

The course is divided into two parts. Part 1 will cover: business structures and investment; the regulatory and fiscal framework within which business operates; a team working exercise which involves the set-up of a virtual law firm and construction of key business and practice policies and documentation; management of time and risk capability in legal transactions/matters; company accounts analysis; loan finance; financial advice for companies and individuals including the tax implications; financial services such as mortgages, insurance and pensions. An Investment Game runs throughout the first part of the course where each student manages a share portfolio. Part 2 will cover: the ethics of creating and managing a client relationship; confidentiality and conflict; and duties and discipline. Key skills will also be covered such as communication with clients, team working, drafting, and transaction based research.

Students must study four elective courses in the second semester. At a presentation session in November attended by the senior tutor from each course offers students an opportunity to find out more about the elective courses before making their final choice.

Advanced Civil Litigation

The course will build on the knowledge and experience students gained from the core Litigation course. The course will cover: the conduct of two case scenarios which will involve preparation and conduct of both a debate and a proof; client interviews; precognition taking; preparation of different types of civil pleadings; students will practice by role play the skills required to prepare and conduct civil cases in the sheriff court; summary cause and small claims procedures.

Advanced Criminal Litigation

As an elective choice the course will attract students wishing to pursue a legal career in this area of specialism either in private legal practice, in public legal services or the Crown Prosecution Service. The design of the course is to deliver teaching in a small interactive group where participation, role play and verbal feedback are key features. Video recording will be used as a key teaching tool. There will be opportunities for students to observe and critique demonstrations of advocacy skills.


The course will cover: contractual drafting; contracts of sale; consumer contracts; Heads of Terms and offers; common law and implied terms; Share Purchase Agreement and Boilerplate clauses: Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006; intellectual property; warranties and indemnities; Bribery Act 2010; assignation, assignment, novation and variations; exiting commercial contracts. Key skills will also be covered such as communication with clients, analysing key risk areas in relation to technical and legal matters, drafting, negotiation, and transaction based research.

Corporate Finance and Acquisition

The course will cover: a role play scenario where students will work in groups acting for the purchaser and seller throughout the key stages of an acquisition transaction; drafting preliminary documentation; creation of a company as an acquisition vehicle; financial aspects of the deal; diligence and disclosure; the Share Purchase Agreement; the completion process including a mock completion meeting and post completion matters. Key skills will also be covered such as communication with clients, drafting, negotiation, and transaction based research.

Dispute Resolution

The course will develop knowledge and understanding of a range of available approaches to dispute resolution and consider the strengths and weaknesses of the different forms of dispute resolution in practice; scoping the dispute and the client’s attitudes to its resolution; development of a planned style and strategy for negotiation; conduct of a negotiation; mediation; expert referral; arbitration; enforcement in dispute resolution. Key skills will also be covered such as interviewing, listening, advising, persuading, processing conflicting information, client care, drafting and transaction based research.

Employment Law

The course will cover preparing and representing clients at Employment tribunals, and to develop advocacy and communication skills in dealing with and representing clients involved in employment disputes.  Key skills will also be covered such as communication with clients; client and witness interviews; advocacy skills; drafting, negotiation, and transaction based research.

Energy Law

The course will cover: the oil and gas licensing regime; the broader context within which the oil and gas industry operates; Joint Operating Agreements; exclusivity agreements; Joint Bidding Agreements; exclusion/indemnity clauses and risk allocation; access to infrastructure; renewable and planning issues; servitudes; health & safety and the environment qualifying disclosures and protected disclosures; the legal framework concerning decommissioning; the role of the media with particular reference to the Brent Spar incident; the regulatory issues and responsibilities in the event of an oil rig disaster. Key skills will also be covered such as communication with clients, drafting, negotiation, and transaction based research.

Family Law

The course will cover: taking part in role play scenarios relating to disputes involving divorce, cohabitation and parental rights; taking instructions in a family law dispute; writing positional letters; drafting appropriate court documentation; negotiations which involve the parties and solicitors; interim interdict hearing; and child welfare hearing. Key skills will also be covered such as communication with clients, client care, drafting, negotiation, and transaction based research.


The course is centred around practical exercises which are undertaken by the students with feedback being provided in interactive seminars. The course will offer an in depth examination of the processes and procedures of a range of negotiation strategies and processes. Key negotiation skills required are preparing and conducting a negotiation process on behalf of a client and the ability to prepare and disseminate information and share as appropriate in advance of a negotiation will be addressed.

Public Law and Administration

The course will cover the course an overview of the institutions of Public Law; an examination of planning law; issues dealing with education, housing and social work; an examination of Equality and Human Rights law. The course will include a themed case study (e.g. Gypsy Travellers) which will be reviewed throughout the duration of the course. Key skills will also be covered such as communication with clients, drafting, negotiation, advocacy skills and transaction based research

*Please note there may be some changes to course content. We constantly review the course content and introduce new materials to address topical issues where appropriate. In particular, the following course may run for the first time.

Clinical Legal Practice

This course is a practical adjunct to the provision of pro bono publico ("for the public good") legal advice by DPLP students. It builds on voluntary activity already undertaken by students by encouraging them to reflect on those experiences and engage with work on a quasi-professional level to allow them to prepare a portfolio to showcase their live-client or outreach work for Aberdeen Law Project or another approved pro bono activity. This course can only be taken by students who volunteer for such pro bono work during the first semester of the DPLP.

Timetable for 2019/20 course
Duration of course

24 weeks (2 x 12 week terms) plus an induction week.

Start date: 2 September 2019 (with teaching to commence on 9 September 2019)

Induction week

The course starts in September with a week-long induction programme of events that includes a wide range of presentations and interactive workshops with a strong emphasis on skills based exercises including negotiation, communication interviewing and team working. The week includes a visit to Aberdeen Sheriff Court with talks by a Sheriff, Fiscal and members of the profession as well as the opportunity to attend court proceedings.

Further information

Full time fees: £7,875

This is usually paid as one payment, but there are payment options available centrally with the University.

Students may be eligible for certain postgraduate scholarships, as detailed on the Aberdeen University website.

International students must satisfy entry requirements and ensure that they have taken advice on and are fully aware of the position regarding Tier 2 visa requirements if they intend to seek employment as a trainee solicitor.

Find out more information here.

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Virtual Diploma Fair

Before applying for the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice, it's essential for you to be as informed as possible about your options. That's why we run the Virtual Diploma Fair every year.