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Changes to policy and curriculum

Law qualifications (Q79 and Q80) - Regulations amendment

The University has made an amendment to the regulations for the Bachelor of Law (Honours) (LLB) degrees (Q79 and Q80). Students will now be able to apply to extend the time limit for achieving a Qualifying Law Degree (QLD) during their studies.

Achieving a QLD will exempt students from the academic stage of training if they wish to become a solicitor or barrister in England and Wales, or a solicitor in Northern Ireland. Please note that those wishing to become a solicitor in Northern Ireland are required to additionally pass an examination in the law of evidence. The LLB qualifications that The Open University offer are both qualifying law degrees, so long as they are completed within 6 years (for students studying Q79), or 5 years (for students studying Q80).

The Open University has discretion to allow students who exceed the time limits set by the professional bodies to still be awarded a QLD. This discretion can only be applied when there have been exceptional circumstances affecting a student’s studies. This discretion will normally cover one year beyond the time limit, and in limited circumstances two years. Previously, The Open University only permitted these applications to be made once the degree was completed.

With immediate effect, students can apply to The Open University Law School to extend the time limit for their QLD at any stage during their studies. If requesting an extension, students will normally only make one application during their studies, but in exceptional circumstances, where new issues arise after the first application has been made, they may make a second or subsequent application. In any subsequent application, they cannot rely upon circumstances mentioned in their first application.

What this means for students

If a student wishes to make an application to extend the time limit for their QLD, they can now do so at any time during their studies. They should contact their Student Support Team who will be able to support them further.

If a student is expecting to complete their law degree within the standard 6 years (for students registered on Q79) or 5 years (for students registered on Q80), they do not need to apply to extend the time limit.

If they don't intend to continue to vocational training as a solicitor or barrister, there is no need for their LLB degree to be a qualifying law degree. However, to be awarded our LLB, they must complete their studies within 16 years (for students registered on Q79) or 12 years (for students registered on Q80).

Why this is happening

This change was made following student feedback requesting that applications could be made during study for the LLB. This change will allow students to plan their studies and future career better by letting them know earlier on in their studies whether their law degree will exempt them from the academic stage of their solicitor or barrister training.

Please talk to your Student Support Team if you need any further information. You can find out how to contact them on Contact the OU.