Benefits of this course
In Part One you will use our virtual learning platform to prepare for the Bar Standards Board assessed modules: Civil Litigation & Dispute Resolution and Criminal Litigation, Evidence & Sentencing.
You can study in your own time from any location, with the learning resources created by an experienced team of tutors.
In Part Two you will study the remaining modules required for Call to the Bar. You will learn how to advise and represent clients and prepare for the demands of a career at the Bar.
Our impressive record of helping to secure pupillages is supported by an award-winning Pupillage Advice Service, which you can access throughout.
You can select to apply for one of the available exit points for this course.
- Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip)
Who is this course for?
You should be self-motivated, strongly disciplined in your studies and perform well under tight time pressures.
Part One carefully maps your learning journey without face-to-face learning. You need to attend The City Law School for taught classes in Part Two.
Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip)
- Full-time: 6 months (24 weeks in total for Part Two)
- 10 in total
Some modules may be subject to change depending on student numbers, tutor availability, or course updates. This may affect the overall number of modules.
Modules will be split into two parts, with the following split of modules:
In Part One, you will study Civil Litigation and Dispute Resolution and Criminal Litigation, Evidence and Sentencing. These modules are taught online rather than by face-to-face teaching. You will be able to study for these modules in your own time, and at your own pace, and access them from any location.
Part One is a minimum of 20 weeks in duration.
Entry points for part 1 are in July and March.
Part Two is a taught course, in which you will study and be assessed in the remaining eight compulsory modules.
Part Two is 24 weeks long.
Entry points for Part Two are in February and September.
Civil Litigation & Dispute Resolution (20 credits)
In this module, you will learn the principles of Civil Litigation and Dispute Resolution and develop your ability to apply them in practice. You will also develop a conceptual understanding of the overall framework for the conduct of civil cases.
Criminal Litigation, Evidence & Sentencing (15 credits)
In this module you will learn the principles of Criminal Litigation, Evidence and Sentencing and develop your ability to apply them. You will also develop an understanding of the overall framework for the conduct of criminal cases.
Advocacy: Cross Examination (10 credits)
This module aims to prepare you for the practice of advocacy as a barrister. You will gain the skills necessary to present evidence given by witnesses in a court or other tribunal. The module culminates in a full criminal trial.
Advocacy: Examination in Chief (10 credits)
This module will prepare you for the practice of advocacy as a barrister. You will gain comprehensive knowledge of the techniques used by advocates when conducting examination-in-chief of witnesses in courts or other tribunals. The module culminates in a full criminal trial.
Advocacy: Submissions (10 credits)
This module will provide you with comprehensive knowledge of techniques used by advocates in courts and tribunals when making submissions supported by skeleton arguments. You will develop a conceptual understanding of the role and techniques of an advocate.
Conference Skills (10 credits)
The module provides you with a comprehensive understanding of the role of a conference in a case and of the techniques which are commonly used in conducting a conference. Issues surrounding sensitivity towards client care and professional ethics will be explored
Drafting Skills (15 credits)
This module will provide you with an understanding of the nature, function and value of statements of case, and the skills to draft a full range of statements of case and other documents in civil proceedings.
Professional Ethics (10 credits)
In this module you will learn the regulatory requirements prescribed by the BSB, including the Code of Conduct for the Bar of England and Wales. You will develop an understanding of the importance of ethical conduct in every aspect of your work.
Opinion Writing (15 credits)
This module will provide you with the skills needed to write concise and well- structured opinions in a variety of practice areas. You will receive guidance on how to adopt a professional practical approach to the needs and objectives of your clients.
Legal Research (5 credits)
This module will provide you with key legal research skills, which underpin everything that a lawyer does, from preparing an oral submission, examination or cross-examination of a witness, advising orally or in writing, or drafting a statement of case.
The programme specification contains more information on how the course is organised, the requirements for progression for each part and credits required for awards.
Download course specification:
Teaching and assessment
Our BVS programmes are delivered by staff with extensive experience of designing training for the Bar. You will have a dedicated personal tutor to support you in your studies.
In Part One you learn entirely online through interactive virtual learning modules. This includes banks of test questions with feedback, a module progress tracker, discussion boards and tutor support. There are 2 assessments in Part One.
In Part Two you will engage in face-to-face learning in small group sessions, complemented by online resources.
You will learn in various ways including:
- online learning journeys
- interactive small groups and workshops
- one-to-one feedback sessions
- mock trials.
Extracurricular activities include:
- advice on CVs
- mock interviews
- practitioner panels and networking events
You will be assessed by three summative final assessments in Part One, and eight in Part Two, each of which addresses a specific skill or subject.
Fees and funding
Fees for academic year 2021/22
Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip)
PGDip Part One - July 2021
Full-time per year
PGDip Part One - March 2022
Full-time per year
PGDip Part Two - February 2022
Full-time per year
PGDip Part Two - September 2021
Full-time per year
Fees in each subsequent year of study (where applicable) will be subject to an annual increase of two percent. 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, and The City Law School BVS manuals.
You should consider the possible additional fees associated with the BVS:
- Bar Course Aptitude Test – currently £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.
Ours are ethical Bar Vocational Studies Programmes: 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).
10% Loyalty Discount
Students who have successfully completed Part One of the Bar Vocational Studies Two-Part course at The City Law School will be automatically eligible for this discount if they wish to continue Part Two with us.
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 (postgraduate) course and we will automatically take 10% off of your tuition fees.
This can be received in addition to a scholarship.
The Bar Vocational Studies programme is designed to enable you to progress to pupillage and a career as a barrister.
Competition for pupillage is intense but you will have an advantage with our Pupillage Advice Service and its close links to the Bar. We have an impressive record of helping our students to secure pupillages.
You will have developed a range of transferable skills and might consider alternative careers in the following organisations and areas:
- Government Legal Department
- Crown Prosecution Service
- in-house legal departments
- local authority legal departments
- regulation authorities and compliance roles
- academic law
- legal publishing
- finance and banking.
Placements are not part of this programme but we encourage you to take mini-pupillages and participate in pro bono work and mooting.
How to apply
The minimum entry requirement is an undergraduate degree classified as not less than a lower-second class honours (2:2) or equivalent. This can be either a law degree or a non-law degree plus further graduate/postgraduate study in Law and in either case must cover the seven foundations of legal knowledge and satisfy the Professional Statement competence
The Bar Standards Board can advise on non-standard qualifications.
For admission to Part Two
In addition to the entry requirements for Part One, you must have been accepted as a member of one of the Inns of Court by the time of registration on Part Two.
If you have successfully completed Part One at another institution you may apply for Part Two only. You will be required to provide evidence of having passed Part One as a condition of entry.
You do not need to have passed Part One in order to start Part Two.
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 barrister. It is taken before the Bar Vocational Studies programme, and is a pre-condition to starting on the course.
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 you must have passed it in order to start the course. 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.
Applicants to the Two-part Course must also apply for membership of one of the four Inns of Court prior to registration for Part Two. The Inns of Court have well-established scholarship schemes, with closing dates on the first Friday in November of the year preceding study. The deadlines for membership of the Inn and scholarships may be subject to change.
For further details please check the website of the Inn you wish to join.
English language requirements
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
- TOEFL IBT Special Home Edition – with minimum scores of 24 in Listening, 26 in Reading, 27 in Speaking and 26 in Writing
If you are completing your qualifying law degree overseas (even if at a UK university) you will need to provide IELTS, Pearson or TOEFL 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.
You will be asked to confirm whether you wish to take Parts 1 & 2, Part 1 only or Part 2 only as part of your application and when you wish to start each Part. However, it will be possible to change this when you accept your offer.
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/experience
- Commitment to the practice of the law
- English language proficiency
In addition to your written application and references, you may be asked to take part in an additional selection exercise.
Applications will be considered on a rolling basis throughout the year. We will consider applications either until the programme is full or until one month before the programme start date. If you require a Student visa we would advise an earlier application to ensure you have sufficient time to obtain your visa.
In most cases we expect to be able to notify you of a decision within two weeks of references being submitted, and without the need to undertake a selection exercise. A decision will only be taken upon receipt of references.
Please also note that scholarship applications will be considered on a rolling basis so you are encouraged to apply early to maximise your chances of obtaining one.
July 2021 entry
- Apply online for PGDip Bar Vocational Studies (Two-part) (Part One - July 2021) with full-time study in London
September 2021 entry
- Apply online for PGDip Bar Vocational Studies (Two-part) (Part Two - September 2021) with full-time study in
February 2022 entry
- Apply online for PGDip Bar Vocational Studies (Two-part) (Part Two - February 2022) with full-time study in
March 2022 entry
Contact the postgraduate team
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7040 0332
Housing and student life
Accommodation and housing
We offer accommodation options and support for all postgraduate students. Our dedicated Accommodation Service can help you to find private accommodation in London if required.
Our extensive support network spans from learning support and disability support through to counselling, financial advice and career advice. Please do tell us if you need our help.
Living in London
We are based in the heart of one of the most vibrant and colourful cities in the world. London offers a rich variety of cultural experiences far beyond your studies.