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  1. Bar Professional Training Course
    1. 2019
Courses

Postgrad Diploma Bar Professional Training Course

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Entry Year:
Prepare for the Bar with City’s Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) and study in London’s prime legal location.

Key Information

Start date

September 2019

Academic year dates

Duration

Full-time: one year

Postgraduate Diploma:

Full-time: One year (September – June)

LLM:

Full-time: One year (September – September)

See more about duration

UK/EU

Full-time: £18,500 *

Non-EU

Full-time: £18,500 *

Campus

Northampton Square

Who is it for?

The BPTC is designed for aspiring barristers. It attracts students from around the world and from all parts of the UK. Students will have already completed a qualifying law degree or a non-law degree plus a Graduate Diploma in Law.

From recent graduates to doctors and front bench opposition MPs, the programme caters both for those who have always been dedicated to a professional legal career as well as people seeking a career change, and those who are able to make use of the training together with a professional legal qualification in business, management or administration.

In particular, the course is designed for students who want to develop their skills as advocates, and those who want to research and apply the law to help clients in presenting legal cases in court. Bar students often have a deep commitment to helping those who need assistance in protecting their legal rights.

The course offers two possible routes:

1) Postgraduate Diploma in Bar Professional Training (the BPTC) - If you successfully complete the compulsory taught elements (150 credits) you will be awarded the Postgraduate Diploma and will be certified as having completed the Bar Professional Training Course. This is the compulsory vocational qualification required to be eligible to be Called to the Bar of England and Wales.

2) LLM in Bar Professional Training - This is the BPTC together with either an additional 30-credit practice-focused dissertation or (for full-time students only) a 30-credit reflective journal based on supervised Pro Bono work. If you choose this route the submission deadline for the dissertation/journal will be in September. You will need to do research and preparatory work on your dissertation and /or undertake Pro Bono work during the taught part of the BPTC. There is no extra fee for this route.

Objectives

The Bar Professional Training Course is a rigorous programme designed to reflect the modern working Bar. We replicate life in chambers, so you learn how to represent a range of clients and to prepare for the demands of court.

Studying at Gray's Inn Place, in the heart of legal London, City Law School students achieve impressive academic success. In 2015, our students represented half of the national BPTC cohort achieving a grade of ‘outstanding’* – the most prominent indicator of success in securing future pupillage.

* Bar Standards Board BPTC Key Statistics report 2016

The programme is taught by a team of professionally-qualified experts who are the authors of the BPTC manuals  in use across the country. Internationally renowned and highly skills focused, City’s BPTC provides a bridge between academic legal study and professional practice and covers three essential areas:

  1. Advocacy
  2. Written and oral advisory skills
  3. Drafting skills.

Underpinning all of these areas is a foundation of analysis and legal research, combined with the need to set priorities and organise your work in order to meet deadlines.

Our BPTC offers:

  • An exciting programme of additional lectures given by senior members of the legal profession, and other opportunities to network with practitioners.
  • An integrated skills focused course, which follows cases from initial contact with the client through to trial and any appeal, and over twice as much Advocacy as required by the Bar Standards Board.
  • A highly successful Pupillage Advisory Service – about 56% of our Home/EU students are successful in obtaining pupillage.
  • Teaching staff who have wide experience of practice at the Bar including published authors whose books and manuals are used across the country on BPTC programmes
  • A substantial scholarship programme including up to 10 full fee scholarships and up to 100 £5,000 scholarships awarded annually, along with an automatic £1500 scholarship for any student holding a first class undergraduate degree.
  • Access to City’s extensive library and IT Facilities (including two dedicated law libraries), accommodation, healthcare & counselling, sport & leisure facilities.

The LLM in Bar Professional Training satisfies all the requirements of a traditional LLM but has a primary focus on practice. In addition to the taught classes on the BPTC, the LLM gives you the chance to focus on a specific area of professional legal practice related to the BPTC and to strengthen your knowledge and understanding of that area. This can be linked to pupillage applications, to underline a commitment to a particular area, or can be used more generally to enhance your CV.

Accreditation

Bar Standards Board

City’s BPTC is accredited by the Bar Standards Board (BSB). The BSB sets out the education and training requirements for becoming a barrister, which means once you graduate, and provided you complete the Inns qualifying sessions, you are qualified for Call to the Bar.

Requirements and how to apply

Entry requirements

The BPTC is a postgraduate course with basic entry requirements prescribed by the BSB. Most applicants should have a UK honours degree in law, normally with a minimum standard upper second-class award. However, it is possible to apply with a degree in another subject and a further qualification in law, such as the Common Professional Examination, the Graduate Diploma in Law, or the Graduate Entry LLB. The Bar Standards Board can advise on non-standard qualifications.

Additional requirements laid down by the BSB are:

  • Lower second-class honours degree
  • Passing the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT)
  • Membership of one of the four Inns of Court (the application deadline is normally by the last working day of May; 2019 (you should check with your chosen Inn to confirm this).

Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT)

The Bar Course Aptitude Test is designed to assess your critical reasoning skills, which are an essential attribute to success as a lawyer. It is taken before the BPTC, and is a pre-condition to starting the BPTC.

It is administered by the Bar Standards Board. Details of the opening and closing dates of the test are set by the Bar Standards Board and vary from year to year but please note that it usually closes in late August and you must have passed it in order to start the BPTC. Places to take the test also fill up so it is important to register to take it as early as possible.

For further details and to sign-up for the BCAT, please visit Bar Standards Board Bar Course Aptitude Test.

Inn membership

Applicants to the BPTC must also apply for membership of one of the four Inns of Court by the last working day of May (about 3 or 4 months before starting the BPTC). The Inns of Court have well-established scholarship schemes, with closing dates on the first Friday in November (about 10 months before starting the BPTC).

English requirements

One of the entry requirements for the BPTC is that students are fluent in English. Applicants need to be able to demonstrate that their oral and written English ability is equivalent to at least one of the following:

  • IELTS: A minimum score of 7.5 in each section of the test.
  • Pearson Test of English: A minimum score of 73 in each part of the test.

If you are completing your qualifying law degree overseas (even if at a UK university) you will need to provide IELTS or Pearson results meeting the minimum scores required by the Bar Standards Board as proof of English language proficiency. If you are made an offer further details will be provided.

Visa requirements

If you are not from the European Economic Area / Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa or entry clearance to come to the UK to study.

The way that you apply may vary depending on the length of your course. There are different rules for:

  • Students on courses of more than six months
  • Students on courses of less than six months
  • Students on a pre-sessional English language course.

For more information see our main Visa page.

How to apply

Applications for the BPTC are submitted through Bar Student Application Process. First round applications generally open in November and close in mid-January.  Offers for first round applications are made in March. Applications re-open in February for the late round and run through until August prior to the commencement of the course. Late round offers are made from April onwards on an approximately weekly basis. You are encouraged to apply as early as possible.

See the Bar Student Application Process for details of each year’s specific dates.

If you are offered a place on the course it will be for both the Postgraduate Diploma and the LLM.  You will be asked to specify which route you intend to take when you accept your offer (but will be able to change this up until registration for home/EU students or the issue of your Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies for international students). If you do choose to take the LLM, you will be asked to select whether you’re taking the dissertation or reflective journal and topic in the autumn following the commencement of the BPTC.

All BPTC applicants must also join one of the four Inns of Court before joining the course of their choice. Please read our Inns Membership Notes (doc) to make sure you know the membership application deadlines.

How do we make our decision?

In reaching selection decisions we will take account of the following:

  • Degree performance (actual or predicted)
  • Evidence of intellectual ability
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Advocacy and public speaking skills
  • Personal organisational skills
  • Your references.
  • The preference you put us in your application (in practice we only consider applicants which place us as their first, second or third choice provider).

If you have any enquiries please contact the Programmes Office:

Postgraduate Courses Offices
The City Law School
City, University of London
4 Gray's Inn Place

London WC1R 5DX

Tel.: +44 (0)20 7040 0353
Email: bptc@city.ac.uk

Gray's Inn Place
Learn in the heart of legal London.
Pupillage support
On average, approximately 56% of our Home/EU students are successful in obtaining pupillage.
Outstanding
Our students represented half of the national BPTC cohort achieving a grade of Outstanding in 2015.
During your course

More about fees

* Fees in each subsequent year of study (where applicable) will be subject to an annual increase of 2%. We will confirm any change to the annual tuition fee to you in writing prior to you commencing each subsequent year of study (where applicable).

What your fee includes

Fees are inclusive of:

  • Course deposit
  • Bar Standards Board fee
  • Textbooks, including: practitioner books in civil practice and criminal practice, The City Law School BPTC manuals (published by OUP as the ‘Bar Series’) and textbooks in civil procedure, evidence and alternative dispute resolution.

You should consider the possible additional fees associated with the BPTC:

  • Fee to apply through BARSAS – currently set at £36 but may change for the 2019 academic year
  • Bar Course Aptitude Test - £150 to take the test within the UK/EU or £170 outside
  • Fee to join an Inn – this varies across Inns but is approximately £100
  • IELTS fee for those who are required to take the test – this is usually charged in local currency
  • Visa fees for those who require a visa

Please note that there is an additional fee for assessment resits.

The course fee is the same whether you choose the BPTC or the LLM route.

Ours is an ethical BPTC: no fees are due until registration on your course, and there is a cooling off period until 31st October with full refund (less £400 deposit).

Funding

Explore up-to-date information about funding options, available financial support and typical living costs.

Investing in your future through education and training is important, and at The City Law School we understand how difficult it can be to make ends meet whilst you are studying.

City Law School scholarships

We have a substantial scholarship programme including up to 10 full fee scholarships and up to 100 £5,000 scholarships awarded annually.

We also offer a guaranteed minimum scholarship of £1,500 in the form of a fee waiver, for students who hold a first class undergraduate degree.

10% Loyalty Discount

If you have already completed a course at The City Law School you will be eligible for the 10% loyalty discount. All you need to do is meet the minimum entry requirements for your second course and we will automatically take 10% off of your tuition fees.

We also offer a guaranteed minimum scholarship of £1,500 in the form of a fee waiver, for students who hold a first class degree.

Find out more about the scholarships offered by the City Law School.

UK Postgraduate Loans

UK students who choose to take the LLM route will be eligible for the government’s Postgraduate Loan of up to £10,609 (subject to meeting the personal conditions).. The Postgraduate Diploma (BPTC) alone is not eligible for this funding. Students who obtain such a loan will need to complete the full programme (they will not be able to switch to the PGDip route) or they may breach the terms of their loan agreement.

Disclosure for US students

As part of US Loan regulations, City is required to give Gainful Employment disclosures as part of our contract with the US Department of Education. Please refer to the following document for more information:

Student views

Find out from our student Philip Pacanowski what it is like to study on our Bar Professional Training Practice Course(BPTC).

Placements

Placements are not a part of the programme, but we encourage you to spend time in chambers doing mini-pupillages. We also encourage you to participate in Pro Bono work and get involved in Mooting.

Pro Bono is an opportunity to use your time and knowledge to provide legal advice to those who may otherwise not have access to such services. It provides you with invaluable experience and a chance to develop your legal skills further. We have an award-winning Pro Bono Unit, which offers you a wide range of opportunities to get involved in Pro Bono work. We are the only provider to offer three clinical (pro bono) based options.

Mooting is a great way to develop important legal skills such as research and analysis whilst also learning how to structure a legal argument. At The City Law School, we offer wide range of mooting competitions and run an annual internal mooting competition where students act as a counsel to argue a point of law before a judge.

There is also an exciting programme of additional lectures given by senior members of the legal profession, and other opportunities to network with practitioners.

Academic facilities

Our students have access to City’s extensive library and IT Facilities (including 2 dedicated law libraries), accommodation (including 3 dedicated Postgraduate Halls of Residence), health care & counselling, sport & leisure facilities; you also have access to some of the facilities of the University of London.

The Bar Professional Training Course is taught at Gray’s Inn Place campus. Here you will find the Atkin Building which houses the student common room and the large lecture theatre and teaching accommodation. The library, computer study areas and additional teaching accommodation are located in two nearby buildings.

The City Law School has its own dedicated administration team and its own online legal resource portal - Lawbore. You also have access to two legal libraries, one on site at the Gray’s Inn campus and one based at our Northampton Square campus.

Within the Gray’s Inn library you will find areas for group study and a room to record advocacy performances. There is a large suite of recording rooms nearby in which you can practice your Advocacy skills.

Your course fee also includes copies of the textbooks used on the course. These include:

  • Practitioner books in civil practice and criminal practice
  • The City Law School BPTC manuals (published by OUP as the "Bar Series")
  • Textbooks in civil procedure, evidence and alternative dispute resolution.

Accommodation

We offer a variety of accommodation options and support services for postgraduate students.

Read more about our postgraduate halls.

Our Accommodation Service can also help you find private accommodation.

Find out more about private accommodation.

Learn a language for free

We offer a free language course for City, University of London students.

Find out how to apply

Timetables

Course timetables are normally available from July and can be accessed from our timetabling pages. These pages also provide timetables for the current academic year, though this information should be viewed as indicative and details may vary from year to year.

View academic timetables

Please note that all academic timetables are subject to change.

Student support

We offer an extensive support network during your time here at City, University of London – from Learning Support (including disability support) and counselling to financial and career advice – leaving you free to enjoy every opportunity campus life has to offer.

Find out more about the different types of student support available.

Course content and assessment

Teaching and learning

You will have your classes timetabled over 3 days in a normal week, allowing two clear days for preparation and professional development.

Teaching is divided into large groups (with about 120 students), small group classes (normally 12 students) and advocacy classes (normally 6 students). There are also some one-to-one advocacy sessions.

The skills you will be learning include Advocacy (including examination-in-chief and cross-examination of witnesses, and making submissions to a court); Opinion Writing (advising clients in writing); Drafting (including statements of case that set out the client’s case for the other parties and the court); Conference skills (interviewing and advising a client orally).

Teaching is supported by a range of materials, including a series of skills and subject manuals written by senior members of staff and members of the practising Bar. These manuals are published by Oxford University Press, have been adopted by other providers, and are widely recognised as leading and innovative texts on teaching legal skills. The course is also supported by a wide range of written and electronic resources.

You will be assessed under examination conditions in the written skills and the knowledge-based areas of ethics, civil procedure and criminal procedure. In the other modules of the BPTC, you will also be assessed through sets of case papers, similar to those which you will encounter in practice.

If you choose to take the LLM, the classes that you take on the BPTC provide the taught element of the course. To complete your studies and be awarded the LLM in Bar Professional Training, you will also have to produce either a dissertation of between 7,500 and 10,000 words or (for full-time students only) a reflective journal based on supervised Pro Bono work.

In support of your work on the dissertation/reflective journal we provide:

  • One-to-one supervision (for the Dissertation) or relevant training & supervision (for the Pro Bono reflective journal)
  • Web-based guidance on research, planning and writing a dissertation
  • Access to all The City Law School and City, University of London facilities, including: Library services, IT support and Careers
  • Induction sessions on research and writing skills

Modules

The BPTC comprises compulsory modules (based on the Bar Standards Board requirements) and, in the term third, two options.

The course has been developed to give you the relevant legal skills and knowledge that all newly qualified barristers need. While there is a strong focus on advocacy, advisory and drafting skills are also important as well as knowledge of court procedures and evidence and the principles governing ADR and professional ethics.

Three of the option subjects (FRU: Employment Law, FRU: Social Security and Domestic Violence) are pro bono based, which gives you the opportunity to get real-life experience as part of the programme.

There is a strong focus on preparation, participation and practice. Students are encouraged to recognise that work on the programme is set in a realistic context and to approach the work in a professional, ethical, practical and problem-solving way.

Core subjects for the postgraduate diploma (BPTC)

  • Advocacy Cross Examination (10 credits)
  • Advocacy Examination in Chief (10 credits)
  • Advocacy Addressing the Court (10 credits)
  • Civil Litigation & Evidence (15 credits)
  • Conference Skills (10 credits)
  • Criminal Litigation, Evidence & Sentencing (15 credits)
  • Resolution of Disputes out of Court (ADR) (10 credits)
  • Drafting Skills (15 credits)
  • Professional Ethics (10 credits)
  • Opinion Writing Skills (15 credits)

Other important areas covered within the context of the main subjects:

  • Costs
  • Human rights
  • Risk analysis.

Optional subjects for the postgraduate diploma (BPTC)

You will choose two of the below elective modules:
  • Advanced Criminal Litigation (15 credits)
  • Commercial Law (15 credits)
  • Company Law (15 credits)
  • Domestic Violence (15 credits)
  • Employment Law (15 credits)
  • Family Law (15 credits)
  • Fraud & Economic Crime (15 credits)
  • Free Representation Unit: Employment Law (15 credits)
  • Landlord & Tenant (15 credits)
  • Professional Negligence (15 credits)
  • Free Representation Unit: Social Security (15 credits)

The range of options offered in any one year is subject to availability and demand, but we usually run all 11 options on the full-time course.

LLM

To be awarded the LLM in Bar Professional Training, in addition to the core and optional BPTC subjects, you also need to complete either a dissertation of 7,500-10,000 words on a topic related to the BPTC or a 7,500-10,000 word reflective journal based on supervised Pro Bono work.

The Dissertation

If you choose the Dissertation you will need to do research and preparatory work on the dissertation alongside the taught part of the BPTC. This will be an additional work requirement of around 60 – 70 hours between September and May. You will then write up our dissertation over the summer, submitting in September.

The LLM topic that you choose must be one that is taught on the BPTC and one that we can supervise you in. You will select a topic from the extensive list of options we provide you with and then will choose your dissertation question yourself after further research and thought.

LLM Clinical Legal Education (Full-time students only)

Should you choose to take the clinical legal education option, at least half of the additional 300 hours work required by the module may take place the taught element of the BPTC. You may be representing clients at tribunals, taking witness statements or giving advice in Law Centres. There will also be compulsory lectures and supervision sessions. This is a unique opportunity to develop clinical legal skills.

You may be expected to undertake some of the volunteering element of the work in the summer period after the taught part of the course finishes. There may be a regular day time or evening commitment. You will also independently write a reflective journal of your work and this will include some independent research on the relevant area of law. You may have to pass an assessment to enter some of the clinical legal projects.

Fluency in written and spoken English is essential, as is the understanding that these will be real clients with real problems that you may be advising or representing. Numbers for each project are limited and if a position cannot be found, or you do not pass the assessment, then you can still choose to take the LLM Dissertation option.

The programme specification contains more information on how the course is organised, the requirements for progression for each part and credits required for awards.

Recommended reading

You are advised to refresh your knowledge of crime, contract and tort and the essentials of land law. In addition we advise you to read a book on evidence in advance of registration because it is one of the most technical aspects of the course.

  • Dr Chee Ching Chan
    Student profile
    If you want to meet well-known professors and lecturers, want to meet interesting people and make more friends, want to get more exposure on the practical sides of the legal world and want to see more of the City of London, The City Law School will be the place for you to study your BPTC..
  • Natalie Bird studies Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) at The City Law School
    Student profile
    Working with pro bono allowed me to use the drafting skills that I am learning on the BPTC, with real-life clients as opposed to hypothetical cases..
  • Academic profile
    Stuart Sime
    Professor of Law
After you graduate

Career prospects

Training for the Bar is a serious proposition because of the responsible role played by barristers in the administration of justice. It is also one of the most sought after and respected careers available. On successful completion of the compulsory elements of the BPTC you will receive the Postgraduate Diploma in Bar Professional Training and be eligible to be Called to the Bar of England and Wales by your Inn. At that stage you are entitled to describe yourself as a barrister, but will not be entitled to represent clients in court until you have completed the first six months of pupillage.

If you choose the LLM route you will still be eligible for Call and to start pupillage upon successful completion of the BPTC and will receive a classification for the BPTC, but you will not receive an award until you have successfully completed the dissertation/reflective journal, at which point you will receive the LLM in Bar Professional Training.

Pupillage is usually for 12 months, and is usually taken in one set of chambers, although sometimes pupillage takes place in two or more sets.

Minimum pupillage awards for the first year are £12,000. Some pupillage awards exceed £60,000. Tenants earn more than pupils.

We have a strong success rate with BPTC students gaining pupillage year on year. As soon as you accept your place on the City BPTC you can get individual guidance from our dedicated Pupillage Advisory Service to give you the best possible chance of entering the Bar. The service offers tailored advice about:

  • building links with the profession
  • applying for mini-pupillages
  • completing pupillage applications
  • preparing for interviews (including offering mock interviews)
  • getting ready for pupillage.

If you decide the Bar isn't for you, you can receive expert advice about your career options from your personal tutor and City's Careers, Student Development & Outreach service. The service offers support for interviews, mock interviews and job searching techniques.

93% of graduates in employment or further study six months after completing the course

Applications for the BPTC are submitted through Bar Student Application Process. First round applications generally open in November and close in mid-January.  Offers for first round applications are made in March. Applications re-open in February for the late round and run through until August prior to the commencement of the course. Late round offers are made from April onwards on an approximately weekly basis. You are encouraged to apply as early as possible.

See the Bar Student Application Process for details of each year’s specific dates.

If you are offered a place on the course it will be for both the Postgraduate Diploma and the LLM.  You will be asked to specify which route you intend to take when you accept your offer (but will be able to change this up until registration for home/EU students or the issue of your Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies for international students). If you do choose to take the LLM, you will be asked to select whether you’re taking the dissertation or reflective journal and topic in the autumn following the commencement of the BPTC.

All BPTC applicants must also join one of the four Inns of Court before joining the course of their choice. Please read our Inns Membership Notes (doc) to make sure you know the membership application deadlines.

How do we make our decision?

In reaching selection decisions we will take account of the following:

  • Degree performance (actual or predicted)
  • Evidence of intellectual ability
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Advocacy and public speaking skills
  • Personal organisational skills
  • Your references.
  • The preference you put us in your application (in practice we only consider applicants which place us as their first, second or third choice provider).

If you have any enquiries please contact the Programmes Office:

Postgraduate Courses Offices
The City Law School
City, University of London
4 Gray's Inn Place

London WC1R 5DX

Tel.: +44 (0)20 7040 0353
Email: bptc@city.ac.uk

Contact details

Bar Professional Training Course

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