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Athabasca University is focused on the future of learning. Our open learning model has made us the nation’s leading online distance education university. We’re proud to serve more than 40,000 students across Canada and in 95 foreign countries worldwide.

We offer more than 850 courses in more than 55 undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificate programs in a range of arts, science and professional disciplines.

The flexibility of our online distance learning programs allows you to achieve a quality university education on your own terms. It’s the perfect way to experience all the advantages of a traditional university in a non-traditional setting. No matter where you find yourself in the world, AU is there with you.

The Graduate diploma in legislative drafting (GDLD)

The Graduate diploma in legislative drafting is an innovative online program offering an in-depth analysis of the principles of legislative drafting in common law jurisdictions. The program will provide you with thorough instruction in sound drafting practice, permitting you to gain or enhance your knowledge and skills in this highly specialized area and to undertake diverse and challenging drafting responsibilities with proficiency and confidence.

The program will be of interest if you are a resident of any Commonwealth country or the United States and your present or future work involves writing laws, bylaws, policies or similar documents; for example, if you are a lawyer or other professional involved in such work and interested in obtaining a specialized qualification in the field.

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The Program

The Graduate diploma in legislative drafting program was pioneered by the Commonwealth of Learning, a leading international educational organization, and provides a qualification recognized worldwide. It is designed to serve your needs, whether you are

  • hoping to enter a career in drafting
  • early in a drafting career
  • a seasoned professional wishing to enhance or refresh your skills

The program consists of five courses, each designed to be completed within six months with the exception being the final course of LGST 600 being one year. If you take one course at a time and complete each in six months (without obtaining any extensions), you can complete the program in two-and-a- half years.

However, because the courses are offered through individualized study, you can work at your own pace and complete the program faster if you are able to devote more time to the work.

The final course in the program (LGST 600) is an integrated project that will challenge you to bring your newly acquired skills and knowledge to bear on an original legislative drafting project. Completing this project allows you to demonstrate that you have consolidated and integrated the knowledge that you brought to and gained during your course of studies.

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Course Descriptions

LGST 551 - Introduction to Legislative Drafting
This course focuses on the nature of legislation and on the steps in preparing legislation in common law jurisdictions, using legislative punctuation and grammar, and drafting legislative sentences. Students will develop drafting skills and become familiar with approaches to legislative drafting that are typical in common law jurisdictions.

LGST 553 - Legislative Structure, Style and Limits
Students will continue to develop their drafting skills and familiarity with approaches to legislative drafting typical in common law jurisdictions. This course considers the structure and organization of legislative texts, good legislative style and the legal context in which legislation operates in terms of its interpretation and constitutional limits, including fundamental rights and freedoms.

LGST 555 - Drafting Preliminary, Amending, and Final Provisions
Students will apply their developing drafting skills in more complex tasks. This course will focus on provisions that appear at the beginning or end of a legislative text to perform mainly technical functions. Most of these do not contain substantive rules of law. But they play important functions in establishing the authenticity of the legislation, in supporting its operation and use and in ensuring that new legislation is compatible with existing legislation. These provisions include titles, preambles, commencement and duration provisions, interpretation provisions, purpose clauses, application provisions and schedules.

LGST 557 - Implementation Provisions and Drafting Processes
Students will rely upon the foundation of drafting skills they have developed in previous courses and will pursue more complex studies linking various elements of legislative drafting into a more holistic legislative framework. This course will focus upon the drafting of compliance and other implementation provisions; delegating powers; and subsidiary legislation. It also considers how the drafter works with clients in the legislative process

LGST 600 - Major Legislative Drafting Project
Students will pursue a significant drafting project relying upon the foundation of drafting skills they have developed in all previous courses. This course will focus upon independent research and legislative drafting. In consultation with the Program Directors and the Instructor Supervisor the student will select a project; review instructions for a new piece of legislation; prepare an effective legislative plan; and prepare an original piece of legislation.

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Individualized Study

You will complete the Graduate diploma in legislative drafting online in an independent and self-directed learning environment, using online resources and other electronic material. Senior expert drafters will guide and assist you through one-on-one interaction. You will communicate with your instructors through internal course mail and submit assignments over the Internet. You will need a basic Internet connection to access course material and for communication.

Individualized study courses are offered throughout the year, beginning on the first of each month. Please note that you must register for your courses at least one month in advance of your intended start date.

The flexibility of individualized study through online and distance education allows you to continue your post-secondary education and professional development while maintaining your employment and remaining in your home community.

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Admission Requirements

To enter the Graduate diploma in legislative drafting (GDLD) program, you must meet one of the following qualifications:

  • hold a recognized law degree, equivalent to an LLB or JD, taught in English, that entitles you to practice law in the jurisdiction in which the degree was granted
  • obtain the consent of the program co-ordinator, based on an assessment of other approved or recognized university or college degree and a minimum of three years related work experience in drafting laws, policies, bylaws, regulations, collective agreements or comparable drafting duties

If you wish to start a course before you receive confirmation of your admission, you may apply as a non-program student. You may take up to two courses as a non- program student and transfer them into the program upon admission.

If you do not require the diploma qualification but wish simply to enhance your professional skills, you may take up to two courses as refreshers.


Telephone: 1-780-675-6792
Toll Free: 1-800-788-9041, ext. 6792 (Canada and the U.S.)
Fax: 1-780-675-6921


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Athabasca University, Canada’s leading online and distance education university, serves more than 40,000 students in 95 countries worldwide. Our flexible program delivery methods allow you to obtain a quality post-secondary education without sacrificing professional, community or family commitments. Study anywhere and at any time. Receive all of the benefits of a traditional university education on your own terms.

Opportunities for Graduates

Opportunities for GDLD graduates arise in:

  • provincial and federal legislative drafting offices
  • legislative drafting counsel for parliamentary offices
  • urban municipalities city solicitor's offices
  • private practice contract drafting work
  • legislative planning offices
  • civil service departments
  • city and rural municipality departments
  • unions
  • corporation offices involved in policy drafting and implementation
  • Indigenous self-government

Training in legislative drafting helps candidates distinguish themselves in an increasingly competitive staffing environment.

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Updated September 01 2021 by Student & Academic Services

AU, CANADA'S OPEN UNIVERSITY, is an internationally recognized leader in online and distance learning.