Designed to replace the BTPC, Bar Vocational Studies (Full-time) allows you to complete the vocational stage of training for the Bar of England and Wales. The course is particularly suitable 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.
The programme helps you build your skills and acquire knowledge through interaction with professionals and peers. The course follows the standard academic timeline, which fits with pupillage recruitment and allows extended work placements during the summer break.
This is the best option for you, if a regular class structure helps you achieve your goals and if you benefit from face-to-face learning. You will also receive support in small study groups.
Bar Vocational Studies programmes also available:
See also: Bar training at City
We have combined our extensive expertise in teaching, research and course design with our real-world knowledge of legal practice today to bring you courses that are modern and innovative in their use of technology and teaching methods. Our suite of Bar courses also allows you to tailor a course to your interests and needs through our wide range of elective modules in specialist practice areas and our Clinical Legal Education and Dissertation modules.
The Bar Vocational Studies (Full-time) Programme is a rigorous course designed to reflect the modern working Bar. We aim to replicate life in chambers, so you learn how to represent a range of clients and to prepare for the demands of a career at the Bar.
We have an impressive record of students gaining pupillage and they are strongly supported by our award-winning Pupillage Advice Service (PAS) which has close links to the Bar.
You will have the opportunity to participate in a wide range of pro bono opportunities and this can include choosing a pro-bono module as part of your studies.
The know-how and experience of our staff, as practitioners and educators, ensures that our students get a high-quality education, supported by regular contact with personal tutors.
From September 2020, you will be based in the new, purpose-built home of The City Law School, with modern and outstanding facilities, including an extensive, specialist law library. Your classes will be taught in rooms specifically designed to accommodate Bar training, and you will have access to a new modern Moot Courtroom, with video link technology.
Whilst the programme is designed to allow you to complete the vocational stage of training for the Bar of England and Wales, it also enables students from jurisdictions outside the UK to acquire the skills required for pupillage at the Bar of England and Wales, thereby assisting them to undertake further training or practice in their home jurisdiction.
This is a full-time course which runs for one academic year, but you have a choice of three different routes:
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.
You will have a choice of three different awards:
Postgraduate Diploma in Bar Vocational Studies
Postgraduate Diploma in Bar Vocational Studies (with specialism)
LLM in Bar Vocational Studies (with specialism)
In addition to the Vocational Component and the Specialist Practice Component, you can choose to complete either:
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.
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.
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.
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:
For more information see our main Visa page.
Applications can be made via the University’s online postgraduate application system. Applications will open in autumn each year.
You will be asked to confirm which route you wish to undertake as part of your application. However, it will be possible to change this when you accept your offer.
In reaching selection decisions we will take account of the following:
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 Tier 4 (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.
If you have any enquiries please contact The City Law School Programmes Office:
Tel.: +44 (0)20 7040 0332
* 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).
Fees are inclusive of:
You should consider the possible additional fees associated with the BVS:
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).
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.
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.
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 Post Graduate 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.
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:
The City Law School is firmly committed to a generous programme of scholarships awarded on the basis of academic excellence. Our scholarships range in value and include both partial and full fee waiver awards.
Sibel Dedezade Pro Bono Award
A prize is awarded to a Bar Vocational Studies (BVS) student for exceptional work on The City Law School pro bono programme as nominated by advice clinic supervisors or pro bono partners.
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 options, if you undertake the Postgraduate Diploma with Specialism or LLM routes. If you choose the LLM route you will have the option of undertaking a clinical legal project based on supervised clinical legal work.
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.
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:
We offer a free language course for City, University of London students.
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.
Please note that all academic timetables are subject to change.
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.
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.
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:-
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:-
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.
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).
There are 3 different exit routes to this course therefore you will have a choice of 3 different awards:
The teaching year runs from September to April. You will have your classes timetabled over 3 days in a normal week, allowing two clear days for preparation and professional development.
During this time, you will study and take assessments in the compulsory modules.
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 10 to 12 hours of face-to-face teaching each week and asynchronous online teaching of around 4 to 6 hours per week. You will also be expected to do about 25 hours of personal study each week, engaging in reading and research, online activities, writing opinions and drafts and preparing for classes. Most classes are timetabled between 9am and 6pm.
*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.
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.
If you choose the LLM route, in addition to the Vocational and Specialist Practice Components, you will be required to complete a practice-focussed dissertation or a clinical legal work project.
You will need to undertake work on your dissertation or clinical legal work project throughout the academic year.
Please see module list below for each award:
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.
If you choose to complete the LLM or PG Dip (with specialism) you will need to complete two additional electives that are drawn from the following specialist areas of practice. Please note that specialisms/modules will only run if sufficient numbers of students choose them. Where there are a number of electives within a specialism, you may only select two electives. Please also note that you may only undertake one clinical module, indicated with an * in the list below.
In addition to the two electives, you will be required to complete a dissertation or the clinical legal education project as described above. You are not required to complete the other components successfully before progressing to the dissertation or clinical legal education project.
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 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.
This is a unique opportunity to develop clinical legal skill, which chambers will be looking for when you apply. You may be representing clients at tribunals, taking witness statements or giving advice in Law Centres, with the support and guidance of a dedicated supervisor. You will work in an area of Clinical Legal Education activity with which the City Law School has established links, as this will provide the best support for what you are doing.
This option allows you to complete an analytical report relating to your supervised Clinical Legal Education work.
Work for this module will be expected to take around 300 hours, which will be a combination of training, volunteering, supervision, court or tribunal visits and the writing of your analytical report, although the proportion of time on each area may vary. Volunteering hours undertaken before registration for the module cannot count towards the work for this module.
Should you choose to take the Clinical Legal Education project, you will be required to undertake work on it during the taught element of the course. There may be a regular client based day-time commitment for all or part of the course.
Some of the volunteering element of the work will be undertaken in the summer period after the taught part of the course finishes. You will also independently write an analytical report of your work and this will include some independent research on the relevant area of law.
The learning and teaching requirements will vary depending on the project you are undertaking but will include training though online resources and materials and the support of a supervisor during your work and in relation to completion of your analytical report. You will be required to submit the analytical report in September.
The programme specification contains more information on how the course is organised, the requirements for progression for each part and credits required for awards.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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 or undertaken a clinical legal research project based on clinical legal experience will be evidence of significant additional development of your legal 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.