This year, the BPTC will be replaced by a new pathway to qualification. It’s something that all aspiring barristers should be aware of, as it will affect which course you complete after your law degree.
Under the new qualification system, you’ll complete an academic component, a vocational component and a pupillage or some work-based learning before you become a barrister. This change has been brought in by the BSB to introduce flexibility and provide a more financially viable route for aspiring barristers.
While the BSB has set the standards, various universities and providers will run courses designed around the new pathway—specifically the vocational component.
One such course is the Bar Course, introduced by the Inns of Court College of Advocacy (ICCA).
What does the Bar Course look like?
The Bar Course at ICCA has been divided into two stages and will equip students with all they need to progress to pupillage. The programme will be delivered in partnership with Kings College London.
Stage one will be conducted online and will cover criminal litigation, evidence and sentencing and civil litigation, evidence and ADR.
Stage two will be predominantly delivered in the Inns of Court and will cover advocacy, conference skills, legal research and opinion writing, drafting and professional ethics.
The Bar Course: key points
The Bar Course will be available at the ICCA from September 2020 and will run in two cycles per year: With Part One in September 2020 and Part Two in March 2021 for the first cycle, and Part One in January 2021 and Part Two in September 2021 for the second cycle. Applications for the first sitting of the course have already closed.
After completing the course and being called to the Bar, students will receive the Postgraduate Diploma in Bar Practice from Kings College London.
Part One is flexible, with students able to take it “at their own pace” from any location.
Both Parts One and Two will prepare students to sit the BSB-set assessments, successful completion of which will lead to students passing the vocational portion of their training.
To apply for the ICCA Bar Course, you should go through the ICCA Applications Portal. If successful you’ll be invited to a selection day or evening, where you’ll complete a written exercise, advocacy exercise and an interview. You should note that applications for the first cycle of the course have closed.
The eligibility requirements for the ICCA Bar Course are in line with those of the BSB. In summary:
Part One specifications
- You will need to pass the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT), with ICCA recommending that you obtain a pass as soon as possible.
- You’ll need a qualifying law degree at grade 2.1 minimum, or a non-law degree with a GDL at commendation or distinction level.
- You’ll also need to have a good command of English. For the specifics of how ICCA assesses this, check out their website.
Part Two specifications.
- You need to be a member of an Inn of Court, the deadline for which is 31 May each year.
- You need to pass Part One of the ICCA Bar Course on either your first or second attempt.
The total cost for Part One of the Bar Course is £1,575, with Part Two costing £11,520. That’s a total of £13,095, including all textbooks and the BSB intake fees.
The course is designed with affordability in mind, on a not-for-profit basis. In ICCA’s words, “rather than providing scholarships, the financial benefit and saving to our students is built into the affordability of the course itself”—but students should feel free to apply for external scholarships if they wish.
Students who pay for Part One will not have to pay automatically for Part Two unless they choose to progress onto it, and there’s no deposit for either Part One or Part Two. Those who enrol on Part One will also have a 14-day cooling-off period, and any student who leaves Part Two up to halfway through will get a half refund (excluding the £295 BSB fee).
While this course does take place within the precincts of the Inns of Court, students who complete it will have no advantage when it comes to accessing scholarships and funding provided by the Inns of Court.