The vocational component of bar training is a postgraduate course. It is designed to prepare you for pupillage and barrister practice through the teaching of advocacy, criminal and civil litigation, sentencing, evidence and professional ethics. The course also allows you to choose elective modules to narrow your expertise to a field you hope to practise in as a qualified barrister.
The vocational component will replace the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) in September 2020, and there will be several different ways in which you can study for this:
Three-step pathway – Academic, followed by vocational, followed by pupillage or work-based component. This pathway is the same as the previous pathway, which would normally consist of a law degree (or non-law degree with the GDL), the new equivalent of the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC), and pupillage.
Four-step pathway – Academic component, followed by vocational component in two parts, followed by pupillage or work-based component. This pathway consists of a law degree (or non-law degree with the GDL). This is then followed by the vocational component in two parts and pupillage or work-based component.
Integrated pathway – Combined academic and vocational components followed by pupillage or work-based component.
Combined academic, vocational and pupillage or work-based components. PLEASE NOTE: This pathway will not be available by 2020, and it may take several years or more for apprenticeship/modular models of training to become available.
You can apply for the vocational component if you are aspiring to be a barrister and have:
The new vocational pathways are more flexible than what was previously available. The full-time course typically involves three to four full days of teaching a week, with the part-time alternative consisting of two evening sessions a week – for example, 6pm to 9pm.
Depending on your circumstances, there can be advantages to selecting either option. Part-time programmes may be particularly appealing to those wishing to work full or part-time or those wishing to gain some practical legal experience whilst they study.
Musch like the BPTC, the courses are designed to equip you with the skills necessary to:
The core modules are the same as the BPTC’s and include:
In addition, you can specialise in particular fields of law in your chosen modules. For example:
It is a good idea, if possible, to choose modules based on the area of practice you may wish to enter as a qualified barrister.
Note: you cannot commence pupillage or begin tenancy in chambers until you have passed the course.
The costs start from approximately £13,000 and go up to £19,000, without taking into account living and travel expenses.
Several UK institutions that have previously run the BPTC now offer the new vocational component. Some based in London include BPP, City University and the University of Law and others are based in Nottingham, Cardiff, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds and Newcastle.
For a full list of institutions, use our Course Comparison Table.
Before you can commence the vocational component of bar training, you must:
Under the previous system, you had to apply for the BPTC through the Bar Student Application Service (BarSAS). Now, you must apply for the vocational component directly through your institution(s) of choice. some institutions have rolling deadlines, while others’ will be fixed.
It’s a good idea to look into scholarships that are offered to financially support your course. The Inns of Courts have scholarship programs, which you can apply to for a scholarship prize that helps finance your studies. Take a look at the individual Inns websites to find out more.
The institutions themselves usually have scholarship programmes too, so there’s nothing to lose by sending in applications for both.
It is important to note that completing the vocational component (previously the BPTC) does not automatically guarantee pupillage. Securing pupillage is a competitive business with fewer pupillage places than students graduating from the vocational component. Before committing large amounts of time and money to pursue this route, it is important to think very carefully about whether you have what it takes to go all the way and qualify as a barrister.
Step 1 – Be on track to complete either a:
Step 2 – Research vocational component providers (use our Course Comparison Table to help get you started)
Step 3 – Apply through your preferred institution(s)
Step 4 – Join one of the Inns of Court, and apply for any relevant scholarships
Step 5 – Sit the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT) during the summer preceding commencement of the course
Step 6 – Attend any interview/assessment days the various providers’ request
Step 7 – Begin the vocational component!
*Alongside this process, it is important to continue building your legal work experience through mini pupillages, mooting, court visits and judge marshalling. It is also important to apply for pupillage if you are yet to secure one.
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