Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC)

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The BPTC is the vocational stage of training which equips students with the skills they need to become pupils and then fully-fledged barristers

The course takes one year to complete full time, but a two-year, part-time option is available at some law schools.

What does the BPTC involve?

The emphasis is on learning through practical work, with many exercises based on briefs similar to those which barristers receive in the early stages of their career.

The course covers a number of compulsory subjects including:

  • advocacy;
  • case preparation;
  • civil litigation and remedies;
  • conference skills;
  • criminal litigation and sentencing;
  • evidence and resolution of disputes out of court;
  • legal research;
  • opinion writing; and
  • professional ethics.

In advocacy classes, students have to research the law in relation to the case, as well as the procedural law to enable them to pursue it. They then present their cases in mock courtrooms where they are expected to think quickly on their feet and respond to the opposing arguments.

Assessment varies between law schools but all providers test the knowledge subjects through written exams. Advocacy and conference skills are tested through practical exercises often involving actors and both seen and unseen elements.

Where can I study?

There are eight providers validated to run the BPTC in England and Wales:

  • BPP Law School (Manchester, Leeds and London);
  • Cardiff Law School;
  • The City Law School, City University London;
  • Manchester Metropolitan University;
  • Northumbria University, Newcastle;
  • Nottingham Law School, Nottingham Trent University;
  • The University of Law;
  • University of the West of England, Bristol.

How do I apply?

All applications are made at the Bar Student Application Service. If you plan to do the BPTC immediately after your course ends, you need to apply in the autumn of your final year on a law degree or the first term of your conversion course.

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has introduced the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT), which assesses applicant's critical thinking and reasoning but not their legal knowledge. Students have until the end of July in the year in which they intend to start the BPTC to pass the BCAT. It costs £150 for UK and European Union (EU) applicants and international students £170. More information and a practice test is available at The Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT).

All students must also apply to join an Inn of Court by 31 May of the year of intended enrolment.

Is funding available?

Would-be barristers have the support of the Inns of Court. These barristers' clubs provide approximately £4million each year to BPTC students. A few barristers' chambers also offer money towards the cost of the BPTC.

Another way to pay for the BPTC is with a Professional and Career Development Loan (PCDL), which is available from two banks - Barclays and The Co-operative. Students can borrow between £300 and £10,000 from participating banks to be repaid at the end of their studies.

You could also fund yourself or take advantage of the scholarships and bursaries that are offered by universities.


How much does the BPTC cost?

Course fees vary depending on the institution you choose to study at. For example, The University of Law charges £18,500 for the full-time BPTC at its London Bloomsbury campus. This includes the BSB registration fee of £550, course materials, assessment fees and learning resources.

In comparison, Nottingham Trent University charges £13,800 for its full-time BPTC, inclusive of course materials, manuals and assessment fees.