How much time should I spend on each SQE1 Module?

Feb 12, 2023

Tackling the SQE1 Blackletter Law

It’s one of the most common questions we get: how much time should I spend learning the blackletter law foundational topics (English legal system, trusts, land, contract, tort, criminal and constitutional and administrative law), before moving onto practice topics like business and disputes?

The foundational legal topics are a good place to start when beginning your SQE journey. They form what was the Graduate Diploma in Law and make up most university LLB topics. You can’t fully understand practice topics like civil litigation without first understanding what forms disputes: contract and tort.

But how long does a person need to study these foundational topics? This of course depends on your background: whether you have already done a law degree, work in practice, have completed the PGDL, or are qualified abroad.

But even if you do have legal experience, you should still spend time on these foundational topics. The SQE1 syllabus is unique; as we set out in the STUDY GUIDE, you need to make sure you go through each module and understand it before ticking it off.

So, what do we recommend? We had a look at the SRA’s REPORT on the last cohort’s results in the exam, and it makes for interesting reading. Land law and trusts appeared to be difficult topics for students, and this is unsurprising: both have tricky legal concepts that take time to master. Criminal law also had a high failure rate. Overall, the picture is that students did no better in the foundational law topics than they did in the practice modules, and that those students that failed were equally weak in both. This tells us that those who get a firm grip on the blackletter law are far more likely to succeed in their exam.

You should make sure that you spend at least 40% of your study time on these foundational topics, even if you feel confident in them. It is a given that, for example, contract questions will come up, so make sure you can navigate all the stages of a contract, from acceptance to breach to remedies.

What about a revision approach? Should you spend your time on the foundational legal topics, master them, then move on? As we explain in our STUDY GUIDE, this is not the most effective learning technique. You should make sure that, before fully completing the legal practice topics (like business law or wills), you have mastered the foundational legal topics.

But interleaving your studies is critical. You should cover practice topics while you cover the foundations: this technique both re-enforces the material you have learnt and forces your brain to make those connections between the law, making you that legal mechanic that you need to be to smash the SQE1.

Ultimately, you need to be careful. Of course, if you think you are confident in the foundational law, adjust your study plan to spend less time on these topics and more time on the practice modules.

But don’t take for granted the SQE1 syllabus, and how tough the SQE1 can be: make sure you cover everything so you do not jeopardise your chances in the exam.