The BPTC has now been replaced by a new method of qualifying as a barrister. Students will instead be expected to complete an academic, vocational and pupillage/work-based element before they can practise as a barrister. This means that new courses need to be introduced. The BSB has approved a number of universities and providers so you have a variety of options.
One such university is Northumbria University, which has introduced a number of options for aspiring barristers, all variations of a standard Bar Course Postgraduate Diploma.
What does the Bar Course Postgraduate Diploma look like?
The Bar Course Postgraduate Diploma at Northumbria comprises the necessary vocational elements needed to practise as a barrister, including Civil Litigation (incorporating evidence and Alternative Dispute Resolution); Criminal Litigation (incorporating evidence and sentencing); Advocacy; Conferencing; Drafting; Opinion Writing; Legal Research and Professional Ethics. Teaching will be split across six modules each worth 20 credits.
The Bar Course Postgraduate Diploma at Northumbria University: key points
You’ll be given the opportunity to take part in workshops on exam techniques to prepare for the BSB central examinations and you have the opportunity to gain an additional qualification in Mediation.
Other options include vulnerable witness training; practitioner advocacy masterclasses; teaching in respect of forensic science and forensic statistics; participation in international mooting competitions and a mentoring scheme delivered in conjunction with the Bar.
There is flexibility in how you take the Bar Course Postgraduate Diploma. You can do a part-time course, take the Bar Knowledge and Bar Skills components separately, and even convert your Bar Course Postgraduate Diploma into an LLM.
To apply for the Bar Course Postgraduate Diploma you will need to visit the course page on Northumbria University’s website. You will need your transcripts, certificates and any English language qualifications to hand. The deadline for applying is 30th June 2020. Questions will pertain to your reasons for wanting to become a barrister, your interest in studying at Northumbria University, as well as your experiences such as work experience, public speaking, working with others and any extenuating circumstances you might have.
The eligibility requirements for the Bar Course Postgraduate Diploma are in line with those of the BSB. In summary:
- You need to have a minimum of a 2.1 in your undergraduate law degree, or a minimum of a Commendation in the GDL. If you do not meet the minimum grade requirements the university will be looking for any extenuating circumstances that led to this as well as evidence that you excelled in any later degrees or extracurriculars.
- You’ll need to join an Inn of Court before starting the Bar Course Postgraduate Diploma. The deadline for doing so is 31 May annually.
- You need to have a valid pass on the BCAT.
- Students on the Bar Course Postgraduate Diploma will need to satisfy the English language requirements of Northumbria University. More information can be found here.
The Bar Course Postgraduate Diploma at Northumbria University costs £12,000 in total, regardless of whether you are a UK or international student. The fee is inclusive of the Bar Standards Board Fee but excludes additional fees you will need to pay such as the BCAT fee and the Inns of Court membership fee.
Northumbria University has a number of scholarships available to offset costs, including the Bar Course Scholarship. Assessed on merit and available for five students, it’s possible to apply for the scholarship in written form, with successful applicants then being invited to an interview. If successful, students will have their entire Bar Course Postgraduate Diploma fees waived.