The BPTC is going to be replaced by a new mode of qualification—and course providers are introducing their own courses that comply with it, giving you a range of options. One such option is the BPC at the University of Law.
The new system of qualification, as proposed by the BSB, is a three-pronged pathway. Aspiring barristers will complete an academic component, a vocational component and a pupillage or work-based learning component before qualifying. In response to this, a number of courses that comply with one or all of these components have been introduced. Providers of approved courses are known as Authorised Education and Training Organisations (AETOs). One such provider is the University of Law, which will offer the vocational component of the three-step pathway.
What does the Bar Practice Course look like?
The BPC at the University of Law promises to prepare students for life as barristers and get them ready to embark on their pupillages. The key elements of the course are:
Knowledge areas and core skills, as follows: Civil litigation evidence and Resolution of Disputes Out of Court; Criminal litigation, evidence and sentencing; Professional ethics; Advocacy, including examination-in-chief, cross-examination and civil applications; Conferencing; Drafting; Opinion writing; Legal Research.
Mock trials, as follows: participation in mock trials with qualified barristers and judges; online advocacy skill demonstrations; visits to various courts.
The BPC: key points
You can convert your BPC into a Bar Practice Course LLM by completing work experience at a University of Law Pro Bono clinic, studying additional modules or writing a dissertation.
You can opt to study the course full-time or part-time (at weekends), depending on your needs.
The course is assessed in 10 assessments, with prizes available for high performers.
You can start the course in July or September 2020. It is available at Birmingham, Leeds and London Bloomsbury campuses in July, and in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, London Bloomsbury, Manchester and Nottingham starting in September.
The BPC at the University of Law has a rigorous selection process. You’ll first be required to submit a direct application via the University of Law, then if successful you will be invited to an assessment day at a University of Law campus. This will involve a ten-minute interview with a BPC tutor and a five-minute ‘plea in mitigation’ assessment, for which you will have 40 minutes to prepare. This will determine the success of your application to the BPC programme as well as your eligibility for an advocacy scholarship if applicable to you.
The eligibility requirements for the University of Law BPC are in line with those of the BSB. In summary:
- You will need to pass the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT) by August before you start the course.
- You’ll need a qualifying law degree, whether it’s a GDL or an undergraduate degree. Your grade should be 2.1 minimum.
- You’ll also need to be fluent in English. For the specifics of how the University of Law assesses this, check out their website.
- You will also need to join an Inn of Court before beginning the BPC. The closing date for joining an Inn is 31 May each year.
Fees for the University of Law’s BPC programme vary depending on where you decide to undertake it. The London campuses tend to be more expensive than those elsewhere in the country, but the general range (depending on location, start date and inclusion of an LLM component) is £11,750—£16,000. You can see the full fee breakdowns here.
There are a number of ways to fund the BPC. As with many of its postgraduate law diploma courses, the University of Law offers students the chance to study the BPC as an integrated component on an LLM. This gives you the option of obtaining a postgraduate student loan from the SLC for your studies, although there will be an additional course fee for doing the LLM component.
Early applicants will also have the best chance of obtaining advocacy scholarships at the University of Law, which can help with funding the BPC.