Bar Professional Training Course (PgDip)

This programme is a skills-based intensive full-time, 10-month course designed to prepare a prospective Barrister for pupillage.

The Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) offers intensive, post graduate-level studies to students who wish to qualify as a barrister. 

The BPTC is taken after undergraduate study and before the period of work based training, also known as pupillage, required for those training to become barristers.

This programme will prepare you for the 12 months of pupillage and ensure that you acquire the skills, knowledge of procedure and evidence, attitudes and competence required during your work based training. It will also provide you with a solid foundation in knowledge and skills for your early years of tenancy.

The BPTC aims to foster a professional and ethical approach to practice as a barrister, whilst giving you an informed view of a barrister’s working life. 

Distinctive features

We have delivered a high quality and highly regarded Bar Professional Training Course/Bar Vocational Course since 1997. Distinctive features include:

  • a guaranteed period of two weeks' placement (offering mini-pupillage with a local Chambers or other placement with the employed Bar, and marshalling with a local Circuit Judge and District Judge);
  • a high level of individual feedback and support on performance in oral and written skills;
  • a course strongly supported by the local employed Bar, the independent Bar and the Judiciary;
  • the opportunity to practise all skills exceeds the Bar Standards Board’s minimum recommended number.

Key facts

Next intakeSeptember 2018
Duration1 year
Other ways to study this course
AccreditationsBar Standards Board

Admissions criteria

The BPTC course is suitable for graduates in Law or any other subject with CPE/GDL. Applicants should show a commitment to the profession (e.g. via placements, mooting competitions, public speaking).

 To enrol on the course you need to have:

  • completed your academic stage;
  • obtained a 2:1 class degree or higher (a 2.2 class degree will be considered on a case-by-case basis taking into consideration the application in its entirety);
  • been admitted as a student member of one of the four Inns of Court;
  • satisfied the English language requirement; and
  • passed the Bar Aptitude test.

Applications must be made via the Bar Student Application Service. For more information please refer to the BARSAS website.

Satisfying the English Language Requirement

All applicants, subject to the exemptions set out below, must have a certificate evidencing a minimum score of:

  • 7.5 in each section of the IELTS academic test; or
  • 73 in each part of the Pearson Test of English (academic)
The above tests must have been taken within two years of the course start date and all required scores must have been achieved in one sitting of the test.


Applicants who have graduated no more than three years prior to the course start date will be able to self-certify their English if they meet the following:

  • Have completed a full degree through the medium of English in one of the following countries: Antigua & Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, United Kingdom, USA.
  • Have completed a full degree through the medium of English and are a Canadian national living in Canada.
  • Have completed one of the following programmes: University of London Bachelor of Laws (LLB) or LLB programmes delivered by University of Central Lancashire, University of Aberystwyth or Middlesex University of London in Mauritius.

Additional Requirements

Applicants from

  • University of London Bachelor of Laws (LLB) or
  • LLB programmes delivered by University of Central Lancashire, University of Aberystwyth or Middlesex University of London in Mauritius
may be required to undertake an academic interview with a member of Cardiff University’s Centre for Professional Legal Studies team, in order to assess academic understanding of the programme.

Find out more about English language requirements.

The BPTC is a one year course studied over three terms. All modules within this programme are compulsory and comprise knowledge areas, core skills and options. An attendance record is kept and 100% attendance at teaching sessions is expected. 

During the first and second term you will be taught and assessed in the following areas:

  • Civil litigation evidence and remedies
  • Criminal litigation evidence & remedies

You will develop the core skills of :

  • Submission advocacy
  • Trial advocacy 1 and 2
  • Conference skills
  • Drafting
  • Opinion writing
  • Professional ethics
  • Resolution of disputes out of court

In the final term, you will select two optional subjects. As well as developing legal skills within the curriculum, you will have opportunities to acquire hands-on experience by taking part in:

  • several pro-bono schemes run by the School of Law and Politics;
  • other activities such as mooting, negotiating, client interviewing competitions and legal discussion groups.

These opportunities are designed to increase your confidence, skills and employability.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2018/19 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2018.

You will complete compulsory modules that cover knowledge areas and core skills and two optional modules.  

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

How will I be taught?

You will be taught through a mixture of lectures and small group sessions. Most teaching is delivered in small groups of 12 students with all oral skills teaching in smaller groups of six students.

You will have practice opportunities through your teaching that exceed the minimum indicated by the Bar Standards Board. The timing of teaching sessions and assessments has also been carefully considered to ensure that you have sufficient opportunity to practise and receive feedback. This is essential to enable you to refine your work and skills as a result of feedback received.

How will I be supported?

Your learning will be supported through e-learning. All modules are supported by Learning Central, a virtual learning environment that is available on and off campus through which you will access a wide range of materials for your modules. Paper copies of all teaching materials will also be provided.

You will receive dedicated pastoral support through our personal tutor scheme. We offer an extensive programme of careers lectures and workshops within the School with an in-house Law Careers Consultant and a Pro-bono Scheme Co-ordinator. A designated Disability and Diversity Officer ensures that reasonable adjustments are made for students with disabilities. The University has a range of services to support you, including the Careers Service, the Counselling Service, the Disability and Dyslexia Service, the Student Support Service and excellent libraries with specialist law librarians and resource centres.  


Feedback is regarded as a priority. You will be given feedback based on the relevant assessment criteria in skills teaching sessions. You will be given oral and written feedback for all oral skills practices and a combination of written and oral feedback for at least six practices in both opinion writing and drafting. You will also receive feedback from your peers.

How will I be assessed?

The BPTC assessments are designed to be fair, rigorous, realistic and provide sufficient depth and/or breadth of coverage of the skills and subjects assessed.  Individual assessments will cover a representation of the outcomes in the particular subject or skills area. A practical emphasis will appear throughout.

Each skills teaching session is a formative session; in addition you will undertake a practice assessment for each of the core subjects studied in terms one and two. These assessments will be undertaken in circumstances that reflect the arrangements for the summative assessments. 

Three assessments, civil litigation evidence and remedies, criminal litigation evidence and remedies and professional ethics will be assessed by way of a centrally set paper produced by the Bar Standards Board.

For all Cardiff-produced BPTC assessments, the assessment criteria and, where relevant, guidance/explanatory notes will be made available to you from the outset of the subject. The assessment criteria for each subject are clearly aligned with its learning outcomes to ensure you can demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes for the subject through the assessment. 

There are 12 summative assessments. Four are knowledge assessments, one in each of the following: 

  • Civil litigation and evidence
  • Criminal litigation, evidence and sentencing
  • Professional ethics
  • Resolution of disputes out of court. 

There are eight skills assessments, in each of the following: 

  • Conference skills
  • Opinion writing
  • Drafting
  • Advocacy (one assessment with oral plus written components and two oral assessments; examination in chief and cross examination).
  • Option one (written or oral)
  • Option two (written or oral) 

What skills will I practise and develop?

You will be encouraged to take an active role in your learning, particularly in relation to the feedback and assessment criteria. During each written skills session you are required to annotate, in light of what you learn during the session, the work that you have prepared for the session. This is to demonstrate that you have understood the strengths and weaknesses of your own work and how to improve future attempts. In addition you will be continually required to self-reflect on your performances and to identify ways in which your performance can be improved. The ability to learn in this way is considered to be an essential skill for future practise. Furthermore, you will be required to undertake peer review on a very regular basis and as a result develop the ability to critically and constructively analyse a performance.

Outside the curriculum you will have the opportunity to develop wider “employability” skills through participation in the school’s Law in Action pro-bono schemes run with partner organisations, in which student volunteers assist real people in their dealings with the law. The schemes currently include: 

  • Law in Justice: the Innocence Project, (dealing with alleged miscarriages of justice);
  • Law in Healthcare: the NHS Continuing Healthcare Scheme, (challenges to NHS healthcare funding assessments);
  • Law in Sport: the Rugby Union Project – (providing legal advice and legal newsletters to rugby clubs).

Other activities include mooting, negotiating and client interviewing competitions and legal discussion groups.

After completion of the BPTC you will be able to undertake a pupillage in preparation for practice as a barrister. 

Alternatively, the BPTC may be lead to legal work in some other capacity, e.g. paralegal or legal executive, with the option of seeking pupillage at a later date. 

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2018/19)

Tuition feeNotes

Applicants to courses in the Centre for Professional Legal Studies will be subject to a separate deposit process and information regarding this will be communicated separately by the Centre.

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

EU students entering in 2018/19 will pay the same tuition fee as UK students for the duration of their course. Please be aware that fees may increase annually in line with inflation. No decisions regarding fees and loans for EU students starting in 2019/20 have been made yet. These will be determined as part of the UK's discussions on its membership of the EU and we will provide further details as soon as we can.

Students from outside the EU (2018/19)

Tuition feeNotes

Applicants to courses in the Centre for Professional Legal Studies will be subject to a separate deposit process and information regarding this will be communicated separately by the Centre.

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Additional costs

The course fees cover the cost of the books and materials that you will need for the course, and these are provided to you. You do not need to purchase any other books for the course.

For oral skills assessments and for advocacy and conferencing practices you are required to wear suitable clothing (a business suit).

There are referral fees and re-enrolment fees for students who fail assessments and who have to take referrals as external resit students.

Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?

Specialist equipment is not required, but you are advised to purchase a sturdy bag with wheels as you will be issued with course materials and books at the beginning of the course.

Guaranteed placements are offered giving you the opportunity to marshal with both a Circuit Judge and District Judge in addition to undertaking a mini-pupillage.