ULaw first year student Cameron Si is an international student based in London and currently in his first year studying the Online GDL (iGDL) course. Here Cameron shares his experience studying online, touching on everything from wellness strategies to top revision tips.
By Elena Carruthers. Published 14 February 2022. Last updated 11 January 2023.
I am currently studying the Online Graduate Diploma in Law (Online GDL) and I chose to study at The University of Law as it is widely known for providing courses like the LPC and GDL. These courses are known to be both intellectually challenging, practical and having trained and prepared innumerable lawyers to tackle complex legal issues in their future careers.
In 2021, when it was approaching the end of my law degree in Hong Kong, I decided to kickstart my career in the UK, and had to figure out the best route to bridge my qualifications into the British education system.
The online study mode was the flexible and more efficient method of study, in my opinion. Especially for international students like me who have decided to settle in the UK on short notice, flexibility was key.
Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic, I have been mostly studying online, while occasionally having F2F invigilated exams on campus. I prefer the flexibility of online seminars and having the option to customise my own timetable to study and tackle the courses at my own pace. A more personalised timetable has always proven to be more successful and efficient for me, in terms of understanding and preparing well for the exams.
Online learning is challenging, requiring a lot of commitment and initiative. However, there are live student support sessions weekly for every subject, hosted by tutors. I attend these sessions so I can ask the tutors about any problems I have encountered during the week and they would quickly guide me in the right direction, providing me with the correct structure and content to look out for.
This mode of teaching simulates workplace conditions, where weekly meetings are hosted to address issues after preparation, and more complex questions are often addressed in writing afterwards, which is great professional training.
I normally have a flexible schedule depending on the workload for the week. I treat the GDL like a full-time home office job with a flexible start time. I plan extensively and set internal deadlines for myself and try my best to meet them. The GDL is quite content-heavy, hence this is my preferred approach.
During my free time, I enjoy talking to other prospective students as a Unibuddy Student Ambassador and it is always exciting and fun to meet other students from around the world with diverse backgrounds.
There are many student associations available to help feel connected to other students and I have joined the Beyond Human Rights Club, which hosts weekly meetings, and club members can share their thoughts on the latest issues in human rights. It has always been fun and engaging to share and debate on different inspiring ideas with other students at ULaw.
I believe the key to success when studying online is to understand the materials thoroughly and leave plenty of time to recap unfamiliar topics. It is unlikely and often difficult to understand complex concepts completely and accurately immediately after the first reading, so I recommend ULaw’s PEC (1. Prepare; 2. Engage; 3. Consolidate) study method to tackle this problem. This strategic method of studying has proved to be more effective and efficient for me to understand and apply new topics accurately.
Finally, it’s important to participate in mock exams. I find the mock exams to be extremely helpful for understanding the marking criteria and answer structures. Mistakes I made in mock exams were great indicators for me to improvise on my answering techniques for final exams without consequences.
The best thing about studying online is that the flexibility of the course trains me to study independently, transforming me into a better student academically and prepares me early on to become a more competitive candidate in the future workplace.
The online GDL course has greatly enhanced my active planning ability, which bolstered the consistency of my productivity. Furthermore, since most law exams have a stringent assessment criteria, it amplifies the importance to reserve “buffer periods” ahead of exams, for adapting learned content according to different assessment criteria in different subjects. These improvements have also enabled me to work better under pressure with a systematic approach, actively prioritising outstanding work and tackling issues progressively.
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