If you want to become a Barrister, you need to pass Bar Training. This guide explains how Bar Training works, and breaks down the three key elements that every aspiring Barrister needs to understand.

What Is Bar Training?

Bar Training describes the process you have to complete in order to become a fully qualified Barrister.
Bar Training is split into three sections:

  1. Academic. This is achieved by gaining a law degree, either by completing an undergraduate law course or the Graduate Diploma in Law.
  2. Vocational. The vocational component is achieved through the completion of the Bar Course
  3. Experience. This is achieved through obtaining and completing a pupillage.

Our blog on the pathway to becoming a Barrister explains this in more detail.

Step One: Join An Inns Of Court

Before you begin your Bar Training Course, you must be a student member of an Inn of Court. For those commencing the Bar Course as one part, you must join an Inn 12 weeks prior to the start. For those who are undertaking their Bar Course in two parts, membership must be applied for 12 weeks prior to the start of Part 2.

The Inns of Court are professional membership associations that provide collegiate and educational activities and support for barristers and students. While joining an Inn of Court is a requirement before you can start your Bar Course, many barristers recommend joining an Inn early on in order to take advantage of the support and activities provided by the Inns as well as the available use of a library, lunching and dining facilities, common rooms and gardens.

Joining an Inn of Court is relatively easy – applications must be made directly to your chosen Inn with an Admission Declaration. This form enables the Inn to identify any issues which may call into question whether you are a fit and proper person to practise as a barrister.

Something to bear in mind is that you can only apply to join one Inn. The choice of Inn doesn’t affect the area of law in which you practise, or your pupillage or tenancy options and all Inns of Court offer similar services. To support your decision, you can visit or contact the Inns to find out more about what makes each Inn individual:

Step Two: Understand What The Vocational Component Requires

The vocational component of bar training is fulfilled through the Bar Course and you need to complete a bar training course (previously the BPTC) after your degree if you want to become a barrister.

It was previously referred to as the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC), but it changed in September 2020. The updated course is designed to prepare you for your final stage of training, pupillage

Find out more in our guide to the Vocational Component of Bar Training.

Step Three: Find A Bar Training Course

There are 9 organisations approved to deliver the vocational component of Bar Training by the Bar Standards Board. They are:

  • The Inns of Court College of Advocacy
  • BPP
  • Northumbria University
  • City, University of London
  • Nottingham Trent University
  • The University of Law
  • Cardiff University
  • University of the West of England
  • Manchester Metropolitan University

Each educational body provides different study and training options – from courses that offer completion of the Bar course in two parts, to courses that combine the program with a Law Masters.

Step Four: Pass The BCAT

Once you’ve got a space on a bar training course, you’ll need to pass the admissions test: the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT). This is usually sat in the summer before you start your course. You can resit the test a couple of times if you need to – but you’ll have to pay for each test.

This 55-minute computerised test is based on the Watson Glaser Test methodology and includes 60 multiple choice questions.

Learn more in our guide to the BCAT.

Step Five: Secure A Pupillage

Completing the Bar Course doesn’t guarantee you a pupillage. This is a very competitive part of becoming a Barrister, as there are far fewer pupillage places than students graduating from the vocational component.

Before committing large amounts of time and money to pursue this route, it’s important to think very carefully about whether you have what it takes to go all the way and qualify as a Barrister.

Although pupillage can only commence upon the completion of the Bar Course, and students can choose to apply during their Bar Course, applications are open to students who plan on undertaking the Bar Course in the following year. The generally accepted rule is to apply for pupillage at least a year in advance, as pupillages usually start in September or October one year after an application is accepted by chambers.

Step Five: Training Complete, You’re a Qualified Barrister!

Completing pupillage is the final step in becoming a Barrister. Following pupillage, the next step is securing tenancy – the final prize after a year-long interview as a pupil barrister. An offer of tenancy is effectively an invitation from a set to take a space in their chambers as a self-employed practitioner.

Most pupil barristers will first look to the chambers that they undertook pupillage in for a tenancy offer, however, in some instances, this isn’t available – in 2020 the chance of receiving a tenancy invitation was 74%.

In the case of not receiving a tenancy offer, barristers can apply for a ‘third six’, effectively extending their pupillage in the hope to receive an offer further down the line or they can look to other chambers for tenancy.


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