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  1. Postgraduate
    1. 2020
Study at City

Postgrad Diploma / LLM Bar Vocational Studies (Part-time)

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Entry Year:
We understand at City that you may want to study for the Bar alongside work, family and other commitments and our two-year part-time programme allows you to do just that.

Key information

Start date

September 2020

Academic year dates

Duration

Part-time: two years

Part-time

This part-time programme has three exit points:

Year 1:             September – June

Year 2:             September – April

PGDip in Bar Vocational Studies (with specialism)

Year 1:             September - June

Year 2:             September - June

LLM in Bar Vocational Studies (with specialism)

Year 1:             September - June

Year 2:             September - September

See more about duration

UK/EU

Part-time: Postgraduate Diploma: £16,500

PG Diploma with Specialism: £18,500

LLM Bar Vocational Studies (with specialism): £19,500

Non-EU

Part-time: Postgraduate Diploma: £16,500

PG Diploma with Specialism: £18,500

LLM Bar Vocational Studies (with specialism): £19,500

Application period

From mid/late autumn (expected).

Campus

Northampton Square

Who is it for?

Whichever of the three routes you take, the part-time course is perfect if you want to study for the Bar alongside other commitments, whether as a first career choice or as a career change. It can also be a perfect platform for combining legal skills with other professional qualifications.

The Bar Vocational Studies part-time programme will particularly appeal if you want all the benefits of the full-time course, but the ability to choose when and where you study.

You will have a regular class structure to motivate your study and help you achieve your goals and access to a carefully designed digital platform to enhance your learning experience.

Bar Vocational Studies programmes also available:

Objectives

Like our full-time course, this programme is designed to give you a rigorous, practical, participative and fully interactive learning experience.

You will cover the same material as students on the full-time course, but the learning is spread over two years with teaching on one day per week every fortnight.

To add flexibility we have designed a course which gives you a choice of three difference routes:

  • Postgraduate Diploma in Bar Vocational Studies
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Bar Vocational Studies (with specialism)
  • LLM in Bar Vocational Studies (with specialism)

Accreditation

The Vocational Component is accredited by the Bar Standards Board* 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.

*The Bar Vocational Studies programmes are subject to authorisation by the Bar Standards Board. Please visit our website regularly for up-to-date information.

Award

You will have a choice of three different awards:

Postgraduate Diploma in Bar Vocational Studies

  • The compulsory vocational qualification required to be eligible for Call to the Bar of England and Wales.
  • This comprises compulsory modules in Advocacy, Civil Litigation and Dispute Resolution, Criminal Litigation, Evidence and Sentencing, Professional Ethics, Opinion Writing, Legal Research, Drafting and Conference Skills.

Postgraduate Diploma in Bar Vocational Studies (with specialism)

  • This is the compulsory vocational component plus a Specialist Practice Component
  • You choose two elective modules from a Specialist Practice Component of your choice.
  • Successfully complete the Specialist Practice Component, and you will be awarded a PGDip in Bar Vocational Studies with the relevant specialist area of practice you selected named in the award.
  • For example, PGDip in Bar Vocational Studies (with specialism in International Dispute Resolution).
  • This award includes the qualification for Call to the Bar of England and Wales and the Specialist Practice Component.

LLM in Bar Vocational Studies (with specialism)

  • In addition to the Vocational Component and the Specialist Practice Component, you can choose to complete a practice-focussed dissertation
  • Completion of the dissertation in addition to the vocational and specialist practice components, allows you to achieve a master’s degree.
  • This entitles you to the award of LLM in Bar Vocational Studies (with specialism).
  • This award includes the qualification for Call to the Bar of England and Wales and the Specialist Practice Component.

Requirements and how to apply

Entry requirements

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.

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 Bar Vocational Studies Course, and is a pre-condition to starting 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 the final opportunity to take the test before the full-time course is usually in late August and 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.

Inn membership

Applicants to the Bar Vocational Studies Course must also apply for membership of one of the four Inns of Court by the last working day of May. The Inns of Court have well-established scholarship schemes, with closing dates on the first Friday in November of the year preceding study. These deadlines may be subject to change.

For further details please check the website of the Inn you wish to join.

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 can be made via the University’s online postgraduate application system.  Applications will open in autumn each year.  In addition to a written application, applicants whose written application meets the basic requirements may be required to take part in an additional selection exercise.

Applications and offers will be for all routes; you will be required to select which route you intend to study 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
  • References.
  • English language proficiency

If you have any enquiries please contact the Programmes Office:

Postgraduate Courses Office
The City Law School
City, University of London
4 Gray's Inn Place
London WC1R 5DX

Tel.: +44 (0)20 7040 0332
Email: bvs@city.ac.uk

Highly Experienced
The confidence of studying a course that is delivered by practitioners with extensive experience of designing and delivering training for the Bar.
Pupillage Support
A Pupillage Advisory Service with an excellent track record of students gaining pupillage.
Established Success
Proven success in supporting students to successfully complete the centrally set assessments.
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, and The City Law School BVS manuals.

You should consider the possible additional fees associated with the Bar Vocational Studies programmes:

  • 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 is ethical Bar Vocational Studies Programmes: no fees are due until registration on your course, and there is a cooling off period until

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.

The City Law School Scholarships and Bursaries

We have a substantial scholarship programme including up to 10 full-fee scholarships and up to 100 £5,000 scholarships awarded on the basis of academic merit annually. We also have a generous programme of bursaries awarded on the basis of financial need.

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.

This can be received in addition to a scholarship.

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

UK Postgraduate Loans

UK students who choose to take the LLM in Bar Vocational Studies with specialism will be eligible for the government’s Postgraduate Loan (subject to meeting the personal conditions). The Postgraduate Diploma routes (Bar Vocational Studies or the Bar Vocational Studies with specialism) alone are not eligible for this funding. Students who obtain such a loan will need to complete the full LLM programme (they will not be able to switch to the PGDip route) or they may breach the terms of their loan agreement.

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 offer three clinical (pro bono) based electives, if you undertake the Postgraduate Diploma with Specialism or LLM routes.

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 a dedicated law library), accommodation (including three dedicated Postgraduate Halls of Residence), health care and counselling, sport and leisure facilities; you also have access to some of the facilities of the University of London.

The Bar Vocational Studies programmes will be taught in our brand new facilities in Sebastian Street, Northampton Square Campus, from September 2020.

The City Law School has its own dedicated administration team and its own online legal resource portal - Lawbore.

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

  • Practitioner books in civil practice and criminal practice
  • 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

Teaching

Our programmes are delivered by practitioners with extensive experience of designing and delivering training for the Bar. You will benefit from a supportive environment with you at its heart. You will have all the advantages of studying at a University, a dedicated personal tutor, and develop independent study skills. Our teaching staff are professionally qualified experts and internationally renowned authors, who are specialists in their fields, all offering you access to an extensive range of expertise.

Activities

  • Interactive small groups and workshops
  • Online resources: video, audio, graphical and text based
  • One-to-one feedback sessions
  • Workshops and mock interviews with practising barristers and Pupillage Committees
  • One-to-one advice sessions with pupillage application experts
  • Practitioner panel events
  • Access to all The City Law School and City, University of London facilities
  • An exciting mooting calendar including international events
  • Option to type your unseen invigilated written skills assessment
  • Become a qualified mediator
  • Mock Trial

Assessment

Postgraduate Diploma in Bar Vocational Studies

The Vocational Component is assessed by 11 summative (final) assessments, each of which is designed to suit the skill or subject being assessed.

Eight of the assessments are set by The City Law School, with the papers being approved by an External Examiner appointed by the Bar Standards Board and The City Law School. These assessments are as follows:-

  • Advocacy Examination-in-Chief – a recorded performance. You will be provided with your Brief before the assessment, and you will need to prepare as if you were dealing with the case in court.  Actors will play the role of the witness.
  • Advocacy Cross-Examination – a recorded performance. You will be provided with your Brief before the assessment, and you will need to prepare as if you were dealing with the case in court.  Actors will play the role of the witness.
  • Advocacy: Submissions – a recorded performance with a written element (the drafting of a skeleton argument). This assessment takes the form of a submission to a judge.  You receive your Brief some days before the initial hand-in date, at which point you need to hand-in a written skeleton argument.  Some days later you will have an appointment where you will make a time-limited submission to an assessor taking the part of the judge.
  • Opinion Writing – a seen written assessment.
  • Legal Research – a seen written assessment which uses the same papers as the Opinion Writing Assessment.  You will be given one calendar week in which to complete the assessment, and both the Legal Research and the Opinion Writing components of the assessment must be submitted at the same time.
  • Drafting – a unseen written examination of 3.5 hours duration
  • Conference Skills – a recorded performance. The Conference Skills assessment takes the form of a time-limited filmed performance, with an actor taking the role of your client.  You will be provided with your papers a number of days in advance of the assessment.
  • Professional Ethics – an unseen examination of 2.5 hours comprising 50 multiple choice and single best answer questions

The remaining assessments are centrally set and marked by the Bar Standards Board. This means that all students studying the Vocational Component at the various Authorised Education and Training Providers throughout the country do the same assessment at the same time.  These are the assessments in:-

  • Civil Litigation and Dispute Resolution - one assessment in two parts, sat on separate days. Part 1 will be a closed book examination comprising multiple choice and single best answer questions and Part 2 will be an open book examination comprising multiple choice questions and single best answer questions and rolling case scenarios. All areas of the syllabus can be assessed in each Part. You are permitted to bring a copy of the White Book into the Part 2 assessment. Both parts of the assessment contribute to the whole, therefore you cannot bank a pass in one part because the two parts together form a single whole assessment.
  • Criminal Litigation, Sentencing and Evidence – one closed-book examination of three hours, comprising 75 multiple choice questions and single best answer questions.

The electives (students on the PGDip with specialism or LLM routes only)

The elective modules (other than for the three “clinical” electives described below) will be assessed in the context of a professional skills such as opinion writing, drafting, conference skills, negotiation or mediation advocacy skills or written or oral advocacy. You will be given your papers some days in advance of the hand-in date.  You will be expected to work on your own, do the necessary legal research, and complete the required work.

Three of the electives, the “Clinical Options” (namely Domestic Violence, Free Representation Unit (Employment Law) and Free Representation Unit (Social Security)) are real client pro bono options.  The assessments for these options take the form of files you produce detailing the work you have done for your clients.  These electives include required training provided by or in conjunction with the relevant pro bono organisation, which starts in the first term of the programme. Numbers taking these options are limited and you may be required to pass a test in order to undertake the option.

The Dissertation

If you choose to complete the LLM you will also be required to complete a 30 credit research based dissertation (7,500-10,000 words in length).

Modules

There are 3 different exit routes to this course therefore you will have a choice of 3 different awards:

Postgraduate Diploma in Bar Vocational Studies

Teaching of the vocational component takes place between September and April in each of the two years. During this time, you will study and take assessments in the compulsory modules.

At the beginning of each year, you will attend a two-day induction course to introduce you to the modules, and where possible your tutors and fellow students.

During teaching periods, classes will take place fortnightly on Wednesdays. You will be given notice of the dates of these sessions in advance of the academic year to assist you with planning. The teaching days generally run from 9am to 6pm.

The course is carefully structured so that you complete a combination of knowledge and skills modules each year.

Knowledge subjects are based around complex factual and authentic case studies or problem questions and we use our wealth of experience to provide you with extensive revision resources, including a bank of multiple choice questions to prepare you effectively for the centrally-set assessments.

Skills classes are based around authentic simulated case papers which reflect issues you will encounter in practice at the Bar.

Classes are supported by a range of materials, including practitioner texts and a series of skills and subject manuals which are written by senior members of staff and members of the practising Bar, and which are published by Oxford University Press.  These manuals have been widely recognised as leading and innovative texts on teaching legal skills.

Each module is carefully structured and broken down into discrete learning units, with carefully designed online and accessible resources designed to give you as much flexibility as possible in relation to when, where and how you learn. These resources typically include video, audio, graphical and text-based resources, and they will enable you to master the basic elements of each topic or skill, test your knowledge and understanding and prepare effectively for classes.

You will have face-to-face teaching in small group classes (normally in groups of 6 or 12), workshops (normally in groups of 24) and some one-to-one feedback sessions.

There is typically around 6 to 8 hours of face-to-face teaching each week. In addition to the classes, you will be expected to do about 12 hours of personal study each week engaging in reading and research, online activities, writing opinions and drafts and preparing for classes.

Postgraduate Diploma in Bar Vocational Studies (with specialism)

Make your CV even more impressive by completing a Specialist Practice Component made up of two elective modules in addition to the compulsory vocational qualification.

  • Taught over seven weeks from May to June after the compulsory Vocational Component has concluded.
  • Choose from an exciting range of specialisms, such as International Dispute Resolution or Corporate Law and Practice.*
  • The relevant specialist area of practice will be named in the award you receive.

*The range of options offered in any one year is subject to availability and demand.

This is your opportunity to create a specialist niche for yourself and tailor your CV to a national or international audience.

If you choose the PG Dip (with specialism) route, you will be required to complete two additional elective modules.

Although the electives will enable you to develop a critical understanding of the law and demonstrate high-quality legal research skills, the focus will be on developing in the context of that specialist area of practice your professional legal skills and competences that you gained in the core modules.

You will undertake the elective modules between the end of April and early June. During this period, you will have face-to-face classes of approximately 4 to 6 hours per week and asynchronous online activities of around 4 hours per week which are designed to assist you to gain the relevant knowledge for the classes and to prepare for them effectively. You will also be expected to do about 15 hours of private study per week researching, reading and preparing for classes. The classes will be a combination of workshops (approximately 24 students) and small groups (approximately 12 students). Most teaching will take place in small groups.

LLM in Bar Vocational Studies (with specialism)

The dissertation module will support you further in achieving high standards in entering the legal profession. As is appropriate at this level, there is a strong emphasis on independent work in carrying out research, analysis and writing up.

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 course.  This will be an additional work requirement between September and May each year, although most of the work will be undertaken between May and September of the second year of the programme (after the compulsory modules on the Vocational Component have been assessed.

You will receive one-to-one supervision on your dissertation. We provide you with a clear structure for supervision, and you will agree with your supervisor the timeline for planning, research, analysis and completion of your dissertation. You will be expected to submit your dissertation in September following the end of teaching in the second year. Please note that empirical research will not be possible on the dissertation module.

Please see module list below for each award:

PG Diploma in Bar Vocational Studies - modules

To be certified as completing the Vocational Component and be awarded the Postgraduate Diploma you will be required to complete 10 compulsory modules described below.

  • Advocacy: Cross Examination (10 credits)
  • Advocacy: Examination in Chief (10 credits)
  • Advocacy: Submissions (10 credits)
  • Civil Litigation & Dispute Resolution (20 credits)
  • Conference Skills (10 credits)
  • Criminal Litigation, Evidence & Sentencing (15 credits)
  • Drafting Skills (15 credits)
  • Professional Ethics (10 credits)
  • Opinion Writing (15 credits)
  • Legal Research (5 credits)

PG Diploma in Bar Vocational Studies - with specialism modules

To be certified as completing the Vocational Component and be awarded the Postgraduate Diploma you will be required to complete 10 compulsory modules described below.

  • Advocacy: Cross Examination (10 credits)
  • Advocacy: Examination in Chief (10 credits)
  • Advocacy: Submissions (10 credits)
  • Civil Litigation & Dispute Resolution (20 credits)
  • Conference Skills (10 credits)
  • Criminal Litigation, Evidence & Sentencing (15 credits)
  • Drafting Skills (15 credits)
  • Professional Ethics (10 credits)
  • Opinion Writing (15 credits)
  • Legal Research (5 credits)

LLM in Bar Vocational Studies (with specialism) - Dissertation (LLM)

If you choose to complete the LLM, in addition to the 10 compulsory modules (the Vocational Component) and the two electives, you will be required to complete a dissertation. You are not required to complete the other components successfully before progressing to the dissertation.

The dissertation (30 credits)

You will need to do research and preparatory work on the dissertation alongside the taught part of the course.  This will be an additional work requirement between September and May although most of the work will be undertaken between June - August.

You will receive one-to-one supervision on your dissertation. We provide you with a clear structure for supervision, and you will agree with your supervisor the timeline for planning, research, analysis and completion of your dissertation. You will be expected to submit your dissertation in September following the end of teaching. Please note that empirical research will not be possible on the dissertation module.

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.

After you graduate

Career prospects

The Postgraduate Diploma in Bar Vocational Studies (Vocational Component)

The primary purpose of the Vocational Component is to enable you to progress to pupillage and thereafter to a career as a Barrister.  Competition for pupillages is intense.

Other possible careers might include:

  • Employed lawyers
  • Government Legal Service
  • Crown Prosecution Service
  • Local Government lawyers
  • Regulators
  • Transfer to the Solicitors' profession
  • Academic lawyers
  • Legal publishing
  • Finance industry and banking
  • Commerce and business

The City Law School runs an award-winning Pupillage Advisory Service which is staffed by members of the teaching team, with experience of pupillage selection.  The service offers a wide range of opportunities, from CV advice, to panel events with speakers from a range of chambers and mock interviews.

Postgraduate Diploma in Bar Vocational Studies (with specialism)

Study of a specialist area of practice will demonstrate that you have developed your understanding of particular aspects of the work of a barrister, and gained insights into specialist practice. This should provide a useful addition to your CV.

LLM (with specialism)

You will find completing the LLM of help to you in a number of different careers. The focus on a particular area of legal practice will stand you in good stead to apply for pupillage or employment in that particular field. The fact that you have undertaken independent research and written a 7,500 – 10,000 word dissertation will be evidence of your research and writing skills.

It may also provide you with the basis for later doctoral research and an academic career.

If you would like more information on the Careers support available at City, please go to our careers page.

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

Application Deadline


Applications can be made via the University’s online postgraduate application system.  Applications will open in autumn each year.  In addition to a written application, applicants whose written application meets the basic requirements may be required to take part in an additional selection exercise.

Applications and offers will be for all routes; you will be required to select which route you intend to study 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
  • References.
  • English language proficiency

If you have any enquiries please contact the Programmes Office:

Postgraduate Courses Office
The City Law School
City, University of London
4 Gray's Inn Place
London WC1R 5DX

Tel.: +44 (0)20 7040 0332
Email: bvs@city.ac.uk

Contact details

Bar Vocational Studies

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