What is the Vocational Component ff Bar Training? 

The Bar Vocational Training is the mandatory vocational component that must be completed to become a barrister in England & Wales. The new Bar Vocational Training replaced the Barrister Professional Training Course (BPTC) in September 2020.

Like the BPTC, the Bar Vocational Training must be completed after your law undergraduate degree or after the Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PGDL) for non-law undergraduates. The Bar Vocational Training develops the foundational practical skills that are required for a barrister.

The training is referred to by different names depending on the provider university such as Bar Course, Bar Practice Course (BPC), Bar Training Course (BTC), Bar Vocational Course (BVC), or Bar Vocational Studies (BVS).

How to Study the Bar Course?

There are different ways you can choose to study the Bar course:

  • A course in one-part: similar to the previous BPTC, this pathway allows you to undertake the whole course in one go
  • The two-part pathway: splits the bar course in two halves allowing students to pay the second half after successful completion of the first half; this route was introduced to reduce unnecessary costs for students and to allow more flexibility
  • The integrated route: this path combines the academic and vocational components together so that students can study their undergraduate law degree alongside the Bar course

Bar Vocational Course Entry Requirements

The requirement to start the vocational component of Bar training is either an LLB degree or a PGDL. It is worth noting that most universities require you to have achieved at least a 2:2 in your undergraduate degree and that the majority seek students holding a 2:1 except in extenuating circumstances. Each bar course provider has their own set of requirements that may include a personal statement, interview, etc. Before starting the Bar course, all applicants must also have passed the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT) and joined an Inn of Court.

What is Taught on the Bar Vocational Course?

The Bar Vocational Training is mostly a practical hands-on course, which aims to develop skills that are essential for a barrister. The modules will cover, but are not limited to:

  • Advocacy
  • Legal research and document drafting
  • Advising clients
  • Professionalism & ethics
  • Court procedure
  • Preparing court documents

You will also be able to specialise in various areas of law such as:

  • Immigration law
  • Commercial law
  • Family law
  • Intellectual Property law

How Long is the Bar Vocational Course in the UK

The Bar Vocational Training can be completed in one year of full-time study or two years if taken part-time.

Bar Vocational Course Costs UK

The cost of Bar Vocational Training ranges from £11,000 to £19,000 depending on the university, location and pathway chosen. On the two-part pathway, the lowest cost to date is at £1,575 to complete part 1. Aside from course fees, there are various other costs that may or may not be included in the overall sum;

  • Textbooks (can be over £1000) BSB registration fee
  • BCAT test fee = £150 or £170 (if taken outside the UK)
  • The fee to join an Inn = approximately £100 (varies depending on the Inn)

Bar Vocational Course Providers UK

Several providers offer the Bar Vocational Training, these are:

  • The University of Law – Bar Practice Course (BPC)
  • The University of the West of England – Bar Training Course (BTC)
  • Northumbria University – Bar Course
  • Nottingham Trent University – Barristers Training Course (BTC)
  • BPP University – Barrister Training Course (BTC)
  • Cardiff University – Bar Training Course (BTC)
  • The City Law School, City, University of London – Bar Vocational Studies (BVS)
  • The Inns of Court College of Advocacy – ICCA Bar Course
  • Manchester Metropolitan University – Bar Training Course (BTC)

Bar Vocational Course Application Process

  1. Choose the provider: you can apply directly to the provider of your choice (most applications open in Autumn)
  2. Selection process: depending on the provider, you may have to do interviews or perform other selection exercises
  3. Take the Bar Course Aptitude Test: you can take the test as early as May (the year before the Bar course starts) till March in the year of entry. It should be mentioned that you are allowed a maximum of three attempts at the test in one year.
  4. Accepting offers: offers for the Bar course are typically given around March
  5. Join an Inn: the deadline to join an Inn is the 31st of May (year of entry), however some people even join in the second year of their undergraduate degree

Bar Vocational Course Funding

The Bar course is an undeniably costly investment. To help aid the cost, there are various funding options available to students:

  • Private loans: there are private loan companies that provide loans towards your course fees and in some cases your living costs
  • Government loans: there are several providers that allow you to attach an LLM to your Bar course which allows you to take a postgraduate loan from the government (this option relies on you meeting the government’s eligibility requirements)
  • Scholarships and bursaries: most universities will offer some form of scholarship or bursary, the conditions of which will depend on the provider. There are also the Inns of Court scholarships that provide up to £1 million in multiple awards per Inn to prospective Bar students.
  • Pupillage schemes: there is no requirement to hold a pupillage offer before applying or starting the bar course, however, the benefit to having an offer is that financial awards can be drawn down to cover some or all of the Bar training costs

By Stephanie Heringa