The BSB has decided to replace the BPTC with a new mode of qualification. It will set central exams and specifications but individual providers are designing courses to prepare students for exams.
The new system will include an academic component, a vocational component and a pupillage or work-based learning period, after which you will qualify as a barrister.
The aim is to increase flexibility and affordability for aspiring barristers. One course provider is City, University of London, which has developed Bar Vocational Studies to prepare students for the vocational element of their training.
What does the Bar Vocational Studies look like?
At City Law School, you have a choice of three different awards, each of which looks slightly different.
Postgraduate Diploma in Bar Vocational Studies: Running from September to April, this covers the key modules needed to be called to the Bar. You will study Advocacy, Civil Litigation and Dispute Resolution, Criminal Litigation, Evidence and Sentencing, Professional Ethics, Opinion Writing, Legal Research, Drafting and Conference Skills.
Postgraduate Diploma in Bar Vocational Studies (with specialism): Similar to the above course, but with the addition of an elective module in a specialist subject of your choice.
LLM in Bar Vocational Studies (with specialism): As with the above course, you will complete the vocational component of your training along with an elective specialist module. On top of that you will complete either a dissertation or a clinical legal project with a real client.
The Bar Vocational Studies: key points
The Bar Vocational Studies at City University is available in three forms: the full-time one year version, the part-time two-year version and a two-part version, for which you register separately and complete in two stages to increase flexibility.
The course allows you to engage with pro bono work and even take a module dedicated to it.
You can take the Bar Vocational Studies as it is, or the course with a specialism, or you could convert the course to an LLM in Bar Vocational Studies.
To apply for the Bar Vocational Studies you’ll need to visit the City University applications portal in autumn. Applications will be assessed on a rolling basis throughout the year. You’ll need to submit your written application and references, and you may be called to an additional assessment.
The eligibility requirements for the Bar Vocational Studies are in line with those of the BSB. In summary:
- You need to have an undergraduate degree no lower than 2.2. If this degree isn’t a qualifying law degree you’ll also need a GDL or another type of postgraduate qualifying law degree.
- You’ll need to be a member of an Inn of Court. Applications close yearly on 31 May.
- You’ll need to have completed and passed the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT).
The cost of the Bar Vocational Studies differs depending on which pathway you take. For a Full-time Postgraduate Diploma you will be charged £16,500; for the Post Graduate Diploma with a specialism the cost is £18,500 and the LLM Bar Vocational Studies (with specialism) costs £19,500.
There are a number of options when it comes to funding the course. Students with a previous degree from City University will be awarded a 10% loyalty discount. Anyone who completes the LLM Bar Vocational Studies (with specialism) is eligible for a government postgraduate loan. As the other two pathways are diplomas rather than degrees, they do not qualify for the loan.
There are a number of scholarships available at City University. You can find one that suits you here.