The BPTC has now been replaced by Bar courses

  • Final enrolment on the BPTC took place in September 2019. In September 2020 the BPTC was replaced by new Bar courses.
  • Transitional arrangements are in place, ensuring that those currently studying for a BPTC will have until 2022 to complete it.
  • According to the Bar Standards Board (BSB) the new qualification rules make training to become a barrister more flexible, accessible and affordable than ever before. What's more the changes will also provide the Bar with a more diverse pool of talent while giving students the power to choose between different routes to qualification.

The BPTC used to make up the vocational component of qualification, equipping students with the skills they needed to become pupils and then fully-fledged barristers. However, the route to the Bar has changed

What was the BPTC?

The Bar Professional Training Course was the required vocational element for students wanting to qualify as a barrister. It was traditionally taken after your law degree (or after the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) for non-law students).

However, in September 2020 the BPTC was replaced by a number of new Bar courses.

To qualify as a barrister you'll still need to complete an academic component (typically a law degree or an unrelated degree and the Graduate Diploma in Law), vocational component (a Bar course) and a work-based learning component (usually pupillage). However, the main difference is there's now four routes to qualification instead of just one.

Under the new qualification route you'll be able to take the:

  • Three-step pathway - academic component, followed by vocational, followed by pupillage or work-based component.
  • Four-step pathway - academic component, followed by vocational component in two parts, followed by pupillage or work-based component.
  • Integrated academic and vocational pathway - combined academic component and vocational component followed by pupillage or work-based component.
  • Apprenticeship pathway - combined academic component, vocational component and pupillage or work-based component.

Courses that have replaced the BPTC include the Bar Course, the Bar/Barrister Training Course (BTC), the Bar Practice Course (BPC), the Bar Vocational Course (BVC) and Bar Vocational Studies (BVS). Approved course providers include:

  • BPP University
  • Cardiff University
  • Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Northumbria University
  • Nottingham Trent University
  • The City Law School, City, University of London
  • The Inns of Court College of Advocacy
  • The University of Law
  • The University of the West of England.

How long did the BPTC take?

It took one year to complete full time, two-years part-time.

The amount of time spent in the classroom varied, but full-time courses usually demanded between 10 and 16 hours a week. Many institutions left one day a week free for pro bono work, court visits and networking events.

What did courses involve?

The emphasis was on learning through practical work, with many exercises based on briefs similar to those that barristers receive in the early stages of their career.

The course covered a number of compulsory subjects including:

  • advocacy
  • civil litigation evidence and remedies
  • conference skills
  • criminal litigation, evidence and sentencing
  • drafting
  • resolution of disputes out of court
  • opinion writing
  • professional ethics.

In advocacy classes, students researched the law in relation to a case, as well as court procedure to enable them to make their submissions. They then presented their cases in mock courtrooms where they were expected to think quickly on their feet and respond to the opposing arguments.

How were they assessed?

Assessment varied between BPTC providers but all providers tested knowledge through written exams. Advocacy and conference skills were tested through practical exercises often involving actors and both seen and unseen elements.

The BPTC was graded on three levels - 'Outstanding', 'Very competent' or 'Competent'.

Who provided the BPTC?

You could study the BPTC at the following locations in England and Wales:

  • Cardiff Law School
  • The City Law School, City, University of London
  • Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Northumbria University, Newcastle
  • Nottingham Law School, Nottingham Trent University
  • The University of Law (Birmingham, Leeds, London)
  • University of the West of England, Bristol.

What were the entry requirements?

The BPTC required a minimum 2:2 law degree or for a student to have completed the GDL to convert an unrelated undergraduate degree. However, some providers set their own minimum entry requirements.

All students also needed to be fluent in English and had to apply to join an Inn of Court by 31 May of the year they intended to start the BPTC.

Prospective students also needed to pass the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT). The test assesses applicants' critical thinking and reasoning but not their legal knowledge. It consists of 60 multiple-choice questions and takes 55 minutes to complete. All students wishing to take a new Bar course will still need to pass the BCAT before their programme begins. It costs £150 for UK and European Union (EU) applicants and £170 for international students. More information and a practice test is available at TalentLens - The Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT).

When was the application deadline?

All applications had to be made online at the Bar Student Application Service (BarSAS). If students wanted to do the BPTC immediately after their course ended, they had to apply in the autumn of their final year on a law degree or the first term of their conversion course.

How much did the BPTC cost?

Course fees varied depending on the institution. For example, The University of Law charged £18,735 for the full-time BPTC at its London Bloomsbury campus, including the BSB registration fee of £585, course materials, and assessment fees and learning resources.

Meanwhile Nottingham Law School, at Nottingham Trent University, charged £15,200 for its full-time BPTC, inclusive of course materials, assessment fees and learning resources.

There was also a non-refundable £36 fee when applying for the BPTC through the BarSAS.

Was funding available?

Would-be barristers have the support of the Inns of Court. These barristers' clubs provided approximately £4million each year to BPTC students. A few barristers' chambers also offered money towards the cost of the BPTC.

You could also fund yourself or take advantage of the scholarships and bursaries that were offered by universities. Search for funding opportunities and find out more about funding postgraduate study.

Find out more

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