Course information for 2023/24

  84 spaces on the Diploma course available

   Full-time study option only

   Full-time course fees: £9,400 (including course materials)

   Cost for additional materials: N/A

What will I study at the University of Aberdeen?

Our focus is on ensuring our students leave Aberdeen ‘fit of purpose’ as a legal trainee and prepared for the challenges for 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. 

As a programme of professional study and performance the learning and teaching methods employed ensure active engagement with 'real life ' tasks and professional issues within a secure and supportive, yet challenging environment. Transaction based learning is at the centre of learning and teaching on the Diploma. Each course has been designed to include scenarios which mirror situations that students are likely to encounter as trainees. The teaching approach is to coach rather than to provide direct instruction. Throughout the Diploma a variety of teaching and learning methods are used which have been chosen as the most appropriate to achieve the relevant learning outcome.The majority of classes will take the form of small group seminars. 'Learning by doing' is key to acquiring professional skills. Much of the learning on the DPLP centres around student preparation which usually involves preparing material related to a scenario designed to mirror a real-life situation.

  • Role play exercises are used to allow students to develop and practise key professional skills such as interviewing a client or taking part in a criminal trial.
  • Courses are designed to encourage interactive discussions and presentations.
  • Podcasts are used to promote flexibility in teaching.

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.


Students must study the four compulsory courses in the first semester. 



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. 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. After making an initial choice when they enrol, students will be given an opportunity to find out more about the elective courses before making their final choice in November. 


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. 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 Acquisitions 

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. 


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. 


Mediation and Negotiation 

The course will adopt a transaction based approach to negotiation and mediation. The course will develop knowledge and skills in both theory and practice on aspects of negotiation and mediation. The course will cover preparation for a negotiation, including conducting an assessment of the client's position; reviewing typical negotiation strategies; and assessing the range of potential outcomes. Students will conduct negotiations across a range of disciplines. The course will also cover preparation for mediation, including understanding what mediation entails, examining mediation skills and strategies, processing conflicting information, and client care. 


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 

Timetable for 2022/23

Duration of course is 24 weeks (2 x 12-week terms) plus an induction week (which takes place over 3 days). 


Induction week 

The course starts in September with a three-day induction programme of events that includes a wide range of presentations and interactive workshops. 


Semester Timetables: TBC 


Further information

Full time fees: £9,400 (including course materials).

More information about payment options can be found on the university website here.

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. 


Student Visas: 

Aberdeen DPLP-Professional Legal Practice 


International Students | Visas 


Find out more information here 


Induction – TBC
Teaching commences – TBC

Information can be found on the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice page on the Aberdeen University webpage: 

Aberdeen DPLP-Professional Legal Practice  

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