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Bar Professional Training Course - PGDip

Course Description

Prepare for the Bar with City’s Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) and study in London’s prime legal location.

Who is it for?

The BPTC is designed for aspiring barristers. It attracts students from around the world and from all parts of the UK. Students will have already completed a qualifying law degree or a non-law degree plus a Graduate Diploma in Law.

From recent graduates to doctors and front bench opposition MPs, the programme caters both for those who have always been dedicated to a professional legal career as well as people seeking a career change, and those who are able to make use of the training together with a professional legal qualification in business, management or administration.

In particular, the course is designed for students who want to develop their skills as advocates, and those who want to research and apply the law to help clients in presenting legal cases in court. Bar students often have a deep commitment to helping those who need assistance in protecting their legal rights.


The Bar Professional Training Course is a rigorous programme designed to reflect the modern working Bar. We replicate life in chambers, so you learn how to represent a range of clients and to prepare for the demands of court.

Studying at Gray's Inn Place, in the heart of legal London, City Law School students achieve impressive academic success. In 2015, our students represented half of the national BPTC cohort achieving a grade of ‘outstanding’* – the most prominent indicator of success in securing future pupillage.

* Bar Standards Board BPTC Key Statistics report 2016

The programme is taught by a team of professionally-qualified experts who are the authors of the BPTC manuals in use across the country. Internationally renowned and highly skills focused, City’s BPTC provides a bridge between academic legal study and professional practice and covers three essential areas:
-Written and oral advisory skills
-Drafting skills.

Underpinning all of these areas is a foundation of analysis and legal research, combined with the need to set priorities and organise your work in order to meet deadlines.


Placements are not a formal requirement of the programme, but we encourage you to spend time in chambers doing mini-pupillages.

Pro bono is an opportunity to use your time and knowledge to provide legal advice to those who may otherwise not have access to such services. It provides you with invaluable experience and a chance to develop your legal skills further. At The City Law School you will have the opportunity to work with one of our pro bono volunteering organisations that needs assistance.

Mooting is a great way to develop important legal skills such as research and analysis whilst also learning how to structure a legal argument. At The City Law School, we run an annual internal mooting competition where students act as a counsel to argue a point of law before a judge.

Academic facilities

The Bar Professional Training Course is taught at Gray’s Inn Place campus. Here you will find the Atkin Building which houses the student common room and the large lecture theatre and teaching accommodation. The library, computer study areas and additional teaching accommodation are located in two nearby buildings.

The City Law School has its own dedicated administration team and its own online legal resource portal - Lawbore. You also have access to two legal libraries, one on site at the Gray’s Inn campus and one based at our Northampton Square campus.

Within the Gray’s Inn library you will find areas for group study and a room to record advocacy performances. There is a large suite of recording rooms nearby. You will also receive copies of the textbooks used on the course. These include:
-Practitioner books in civil practice and criminal practice.
-The City Law School BPTC manuals (published by OUP as the "Bar series").
-Textbooks in civil procedure, evidence and alternative dispute resolution.

Teaching and learning

Most of the course is taught in small groups where you will be studying with 12 other students, and in classes of six students for advocacy. You will also learn through one-to-one tuition in the advocacy skills part of the course.

Debating, mooting and mock trials also prepare you for pupillage interviews.

We also train students on how to give peer feedback and conduct client conferences, where you give an oral performance which is recorded for feedback. You also have the opportunity to cross-examine mock witnesses and clients in real time as part of the programme’s final assessment.

You will be assessed under examination conditions in the written skills and the knowledge-based areas of ethics, civil procedure and criminal procedure. You will also be assessed through replicated scenarios, which we would expect you to encounter in practice.

Teaching is supported by a range of materials, including a series of skills and subject manuals written by senior members of staff and members of the practising Bar. These manuals are published by Oxford University Press, have been adopted by other providers, and are widely recognised as leading and innovative texts on teaching legal skills. The course is also supported by a wide range of written and electronic resources.


Modules in the first two terms are compulsory (and are based on the Bar Standards Board requirements), and you can choose two options from 11 topics in the third term.

The course has been developed to give you the relevant legal skills and knowledge that all newly qualified barristers need, along with the detailed knowledge you will need for your chosen specialist areas/subjects. While there is a strong focus on advocacy, advisory and drafting skills are also important as well as knowledge of court procedures and evidence and the principles governing ADR and professional ethics. Three of the option subjects (FRU, domestic violence and social security) are pro bono based, which gives you the opportunity to get real-life experience as part of the programme.

There is a strong focus on preparation, participation and practice. Students are encouraged to recognise that work on the programme is set in a realistic context and to approach the work in a professional, ethical, practical and problem-solving way.

Core subjects in the first and second term
-Advocacy Cross Examination (10 credits)
-Advocacy Examination in Chief (10 credits)
-Advocacy Addressing the Court (10 credits)
-Civil Litigation, Evidence & Remedies 12 credits)
-Conference Skills (six credits)
-Criminal Litigation, Evidence & Sentencing (12 credits)
-Resolution of Disputes out of Court (ADR) (six credits)
-Drafting Skills (12 credits)
-Professional Ethics (six credits)
-Opinion Writing Skills (12 credits)

Other important areas covered within the context of the main subjects:
-Human rights
-Risk analysis

Option subjects in the third term - you will choose two of the below elective modules:
-Advanced Criminal Litigation (12 credits)
-Commercial Law (12 credits)
-Company Law (12 credits)
-Domestic Violence (12 credits)
-Employment Law (12 credits)
-Family Law (12 credits)
-Fraud & Financial Crime (12 credits)
-Free Representation Unit (12 credits)
-Landlord & Tenant (12 credits)
-Professional Negligence (12 credits)
-Social Security (12 credits)

The range of options offered in any one year is subject to availability and demand, but we usually run all 11 options. The same range of options is offered to part-time BPTC students as to full-time ones, but subject to demand, some may only be delivered during the day.

Career prospects

Training for the Bar is a serious proposition because of the responsible role played by barristers in the administration of justice. It is also one of the most sought after and respected careers available. On successful completion of the course you will receive the Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Legal Skills and be eligible to be Called to the Bar of England and Wales by your Inn. At that stage you are entitled to describe yourself as a barrister, but will not be entitled to represent clients in court until you have completed the first six months of pupillage.

Pupillage is usually for 12 months, and is usually taken in one set of chambers, although sometimes pupillage takes place in two or more sets.

Minimum pupillage awards for the first year are £12,000. Some pupillage awards exceed £60,000. Tenants earn more than pupils.

We have a strong success rate with BPTC students gaining pupillage year on year. As soon as you accept your place on the City BPTC you can get individual guidance from our dedicated Pupillage Advisory Service to give you the best possible chance of entering the Bar. The service offers tailored advice about:
-Building links with the profession
-Applying for mini-pupillages
-Completing pupillage applications
-Preparing for interviews (including offering mock interviews)
-Getting ready for pupillage

If you decide the Bar isn't for you, you can receive expert advice about your career options from your personal tutor and City's Careers, Student Development & Outreach service. The service offers support for interviews, mock interviews and job searching techniques.

Visit the Bar Professional Training Course - PGDip page on the City, University of London website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Natalie Bird

"Working with pro bono allowed me to use the drafting skills that I am learning on the BPTC, with real-life clients as opposed to hypothetical cases"

Which pro bono project did you work on?

The Intervene Immigration Project with Kesar & Co.

What did you have to do?

I assisted an immigration solicitor and prepared online applications to review refusals of asylum claims. I also helped compile a bundle for the urgent judicial review of an asylum claimant's case and raced across London in order to file it at the Upper Tribunal before the claimant was due to be removed back to Albania on a flight the next morning!

Did you take part in any pro bono activity before coming to The City Law School?

I helped to co-ordinate the Free Law Advice branch of the Cambridge University Students' Pro Bono Society.

Did you find the pro bono experiences beneficial to your studies?

Definitely, as it allowed me to use the drafting skills that I am learning on the BPTC, with real-life clients as opposed to hypothetical cases.

What do you think are the benefits of taking part in pro bono activities/projects?

You get to put your legal training into action in a way that you simply can't during your scheduled lessons, and (hopefully) assist people that might otherwise not have benefited from any legal assistance.

Do you have any advice or tips for new students who will take part in pro bono projects in the future?

I recommend that you sign up for as many projects as you are interested in - you will be able to make time for them, and you will greatly enjoy them, so just get stuck in.


The City Law School Postgraduate Scholarships - 10 Awards

The City Law School is firmly committed to a generous programme of scholarships awarded on the basis of academic excellence. Our scholarships range in value and include both partial and full fee waiver awards. They are open to students across all of our programmes and both home and international students are strongly encouraged to apply.While the primary consideration for the award of a scholarship is academic excellence, the School fully recognises that judging past academic performance must include consideration of the wider circumstances of the applicant's life experience. The City Law School's Scholarships Committee looks carefully at the full range of qualities possessed by each individual and it closely considers the broader context in which the academic excellence has been achieved.We also believe that it is important to value the potential of applicants to make a positive contribution to the School, the legal professions, and the community when we evaluate applications.The City Law School will offer up to 10 full fee Scholarships, for 2016/17. These will not be linked to any particular course and both UK/EU and International students are eligible to apply.The City Law School will offer up to 100 partial fee scholarships, again not linked to a particular course and both UK/EU and International students are eligible to apply. The partial fee scholarships will be worth £3,000 for all Postgraduate programmes listed above, with the exception of the BPTC where the partial fee scholarship will be worth £5,000.

Value of Scholarship(s)



- Academic merit (2:1 or 1st)
- You must hold an offer of a place on one of the courses specified above at The City Law School. The offer can be conditional or unconditional, and you do not need to have accepted your place in order to apply for scholarship.

Application Procedure

Complete our online application form (https://webapps.city.ac.uk/forms/39036)There are 2 application rounds; one in February/March and one in June. Deadlines as follows:- GDL, GE LLB, LLM (excluding International Business Law) and LPC first round: 29th February 2016
- BPTC first round: 21st March 2016
- BPTC, GDL, GE LLB, LLM and LPC second round: 13th June 2016We expect to make award announcements on 10th March 2016 (first round, excluding BPTC) and 23rd June 2016 (second round). The first round of BPTC scholarships will be announced within 10 days of the deadline, date to be confirmed. All full fee scholarships will be allocated following the second round deadline of 13th June 2016.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Most applicants should have a UK honours degree in law, normally with a minimum standard upper second-class award. However, it is possible to apply with a degree in another subject and a further qualification in law, such as the Common Professional Examination, the Graduate Diploma in Law, or the Graduate Entry LLB. The Bar Standards Board can advise on non-standard qualifications. Pass the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT). Apply for membership of one of the four Inns of Court by the last working day of May 2017 (you can check with your chosen Inn to confirm this).

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