N.B. From 2020, the BPTC is being replaced by more flexible pathways to qualification. You can find out more about the changes here.
The Bar Professional Training Course, more commonly known as the BPTC, is a crucial year-long course that is the final step before taking on a pupillage, on the path to becoming a barrister. The purpose of the BPTC is to make sure that every trainee begins their pupillage with the correct set of skills necessary to succeed in their career as a barrister.
To be eligible for the BPTC, you need to have either an LLB law degree to a very minimum of a 2.2 standard, or an alternative degree backed up by a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL). The BPTC is exceptionally competitive, because there are limited places and even fewer pupillages, so an outstanding academic record combined with real-life experience is likely to be necessary to secure you a place on the course.
Over the course of the BPTC you will be given the first part of your vocational training, honing your skills in the key areas necessary to become a barrister – advocacy, legal research, negotiation techniques, preparation of documentation and conferencing.
On top of this, you will also have to join one of the four Inns of Court before you begin the course. Most people do this just prior to the beginning of the BPTC, but it is possible to do this beforehand, if you want to use their facilities and become accustomed to their social activities.
During your year completing the BPTC, you will be required to attend twelve sessions at your Inn, the results of which will determine if you are able to be called to the Bar as a barrister. These must all be passed if you are to complete your BPTC, and whilst re-sits are allowed, they will hinder your ability to be graded outstandingly, which may in turn affect your ability to attain a pupillage once the course is completed.
Applications open in November for the year’s intake, and close in January, although there is a second opportunity through a ‘clearing’ style system that opens in February. Since 2013, all candidates have had to complete the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT) as a part of their application to be considered for the BPTC.