The Course in Legislative Drafting was first offered in 1964, under the name of “The Government Legal Advisers Course”. Since then it has been attended by more than 5,000 legal officials from 100 countries, mostly from within the Commonwealth. Many of these officers have attained posts of great distinction either in the service of their Governments or in international organisations. From its modest beginnings in the 1960s, the Course in Legislative Drafting has grown to become the most renowned training programme in legislative drafting. The Legislative Drafting Course was directed by Sir William Dale until 1999. Between 1999 and 2015 the Course Director was Professor Helen Xanthaki who was the former Director of the Sir William Dale Centre for Legislative Studies. Since 2016 the Course Director is Dr Constantin Stefanou who is the new Director of the Sir William Dale Centre for Legislative Studies. The Course is taught by prominent members of the drafting and academic professions over a period of four weeks of intensive daily lectures and tutorials/seminars.
A good indication of the Course's excellence has been the growing numbers of students, mainly from Commonwealth countries. During the thirty years since the Course has been in existence, it has not been found necessary to make any major changes. However, recent developments in teaching standards applicable to all University courses and recent developments in the field of drafting have made some change in the course necessary.
The Course now includes some theoretical examination of the legal and political framework of legislative drafting in addition to, rather than instead of, the core of practical issues examined in the course so far. The syllabus is determined before the beginning of each course and is distributed to all students. Course materials (lecture hand-outs, tutorial, drafting exercises and extracts of the main reading materials covering each topic) are also available. The curriculum is devised in a way which allows students first to familiarise themselves with the basic concepts of drafting from a theoretical point of view so as to enable them when they subsequently come into contact with professional drafters to understand the practical aspects of drafting and specific types of legislative texts.
Moreover, in view of the international lack of training courses on drafting EU legal texts and other international agreements, such topics have been added to the curriculum. Insofar as drafting exercises are concerned, these are marked by the lecturers and returned to the students with feedback on their progress, so as to allow students to learn from past mistakes and gain an informed opinion as to their progress in the course. It also enables eligibility for postgraduate degrees within the Centre.
Last but not least, course and lecturers' evaluation forms are distributed to students at the end of the teaching. This allows the Director to make an informed choice on future guest lecturers and topics. As required by the University teaching standards, an annual report on the course, including all of the above, is kept in the Centre for the purpose of quality teaching inspections.
In order to facilitate course participants, governments and sponsors, it is possible to arrange for the payment of a single sum including tuition fees, accommodation, breakfast and evening meals at the University of London Intercollegiate Halls of Residence. This has been a popular option with many participants in view of the central location of the halls of residence, their proximity to the IALS and their reasonable rates. It must be noted that the halls of residence cater mainly for students and are, therefore, spartan but comfortable. Participants requiring hotel standard accommodation must make their own arrangements.