stack of books

GDL – Textbooks, study notes and casebooks

For those of you starting the GDL, a large box of books may be one of the first things turning up on your doorstep after you’ve accepted your place. This post will give you an overview of all those books and give you a clearer idea of which books you’ll want to keep at the top of the pile.

This post is based on experiences at BPP Law School,your experience may differ depending on your course provider.
Before I began my GDL, I was sent a large box of textbooks, study notes and case books from BPP.

In short, here is what it contained:

  • Textbooks for each module (x7)
  • Casebooks for each module (x7)
  • Study notes for each module
  • Core Statute Book (x1)
  • Learning Legal Rules


Personally, I rarely touched the textbooks, but for those of you who learn better from reading external sources, they might prove to be very useful. Of all the materials that you are provided with, these will go into the most depth. As these are not written by the course provider, they might not perfectly mirror the structure of the lectures/course. You might therefore need to skip around to find the information that you want. I found the Constitutional & Administrative Law textbook the most useful since the module is less problem-based. Instead, it’s based around critical analysis and essay writing and the textbook help you approach essays at a more in-depth level.


The casebook for each module will provide a summary of key cases that you will encounter throughout the course. They provide a brief description of the facts of the case and summarise the key comments from each of judges.

I found the casebook useful for getting to grips with why and how the judges came to their decisions. This is useful because this level of analysis which may only be touched upon in the study notes/lectures.

Whilst the casebooks do summarise the case reports, they can still be a couple of pages long. In the casebooks that I was given, key points/quotes from the judges were highlighted. You may want to read through these first before attempting to read through the whole summary.

Study notes

The study notes which BPP provided were structured so that each chapter corresponded to a particular lecture week for each module. I found that most of what was said in the lectures would be covered in the study notes.

The study notes go into more depth than the lectures and for me, they were my main source of learning. They also contain references to cases which you might want to have a look at for a more in-depth understanding. Study notes are akin to a detailed revision guide and contain all the information that you will need to pass the exams.

Be aware that they also contain “Activity Points” throughout and some tutors may expect you to go through these and refer to them in tutorials.

Core Statute Book

Everybody gets a Core Statute book which will probably be one of the most important books you get. The Core Statute Book is the one book you will probably be using each week. It contains much of the ‘law’ that you’ll need to apply to problem questions and tutorials.

You’re allowed to highlight and tab different sections, but make sure that you do NOT write any words in it. You won’t be able to use it in the exam if you breach any of the annotation rules! Make sure you check your course provider’s annotation rules just to make sure your annotation method is permitted.

Learning Legal Rules

Learning Legal Rules is a helpful book if you want slightly more information and guidance for interpreting statute and reading cases. I found it most useful for preparing for the English Legal System (ELS) test at the beginning of the course, as well as the Statute and Case Analysis Tests at the end of the year. 

If right now, you’re thinking, all these books seem like an awful lot of paper to carry around, don’t worry; I was provided with .pdf copies of all the casebooks, study notes and the statute book. I tended to bring in my laptop to the tutorials and have the relevant .pdf files opened.

With regards to the textbooks, I was given online access to read them, so you won’t need to be bringing them to each lecture and tutorial. The one book that you might want to consider bringing in with you is the Core Statute Book. It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with navigating to different sections to find what you need, since that’s what you’ll have to do in the exam. 

So hopefully, you’re now a little less overwhelmed by what you’ve just received in the post and can get on with preparing for how to actually study during the GDL…

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