Training and progression

The Bar course

21 Jun 2023, 15:40

New options offers more flexibility to students over their approach towards, and financing of, the barristers’ professional qualification.

Image shows students studying for the Bar course

The Bar course (formerly known everywhere as the Bar professional training course or BPTC, but now known by different names at different providers) is the vocational stage of training for aspiring barristers. Recent changes to the Bar training have made the courses more flexible and more accessible. Aspiring barristers will need to complete the three stages of training – the academic stage (either a law degree or, for non-law graduates, the conversion course), vocational stage (the Bar course) and the professional stage (pupillage) – but there are now choices at the vocational stage.

Three-step route

This is the ‘old’ route to the Bar. You undertake a law degree (or non-law degree and a GDL), then move on to the Bar course and finally pupillage.

Four-step route

This is a new take on the old route. You undertake a law degree (or non-law degree and a conversion course), then undertake the Bar course split into two parts. You will not move on to the second part of the Bar course (also the most expensive part) until you have passed the first part of the course, meaning that you only pay for the parts that you undertake. Once you have successfully completed both parts, you apply for and complete a pupillage before becoming a barrister.

Integrated route

The first ‘two’ steps of the three-step route are combined into one (you complete the academic and vocational training together) before undertaking pupillage. This could be in the form of a tailored LLM from a course provider or other equivalent qualification.

Apprenticeship route

This will combine all the stages of Bar training into one programme (ie you would finish your apprenticeship with a degree, vocational qualification and a period of work-based learning to your name). However, at the time of writing this route is not yet available.

All of the vocational courses are accredited by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) and full details of the courses and providers can be found on its website: .

Course content

The Bar course is required to follow a syllabus that ensures barristers have the right level of skills and knowledge to demonstrate a high standard of professional practice. The qualification and training route that you choose may affect how some of the below subjects are delivered, but you will learn the following subjects and skills:

  • civil litigation and evidence
  • criminal litigation, evidence and sentencing
  • professional ethics
  • advocacy (court or tribunal appearances)
  • opinion writing (giving written advice)
  • drafting
  • conference skills (interviewing clients)
  • resolution of disputes out of court.

In addition, you will select two elective modules, from a choice of at least six, in which to specialise (which may, again, vary by your provider). Most of the course providers use audiovisual technology for assessments and to provide feedback.

How to apply

Applications should be made directly to an authorised training provider in the November of the year before you wish to start the course (courses usually start in September each year). A second round of applications (similar to clearing) often takes place prior to the course commencing, though it is recommended that you apply earlier. Candidates are required to have a minimum of 2.2 at degree level but some providers may ask for higher. The application process for the course will test your suitability for the Bar. You may be assessed on your academic work, communication skills, written skills, other achievements and motivation for becoming a barrister.

targetjobs editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the targetjobs content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

People reading this also searched for roles in these areas:

undefined background image

We've got you

Get the latest jobs, internships, careers advice, courses and graduate events based on what's important to you. Start connecting directly with top employers today.