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Bar Professional Training Course (PgDip)

Please note that this course is currently under review. Therefore the details shown are subject to change and indicative only. The review is expected to be completed by September 2019. This page will be updated after that date and will then represent the basis on which the University intends to deliver the course.

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  you acquire the skills, knowledge of procedure and evidence, attitudes and competence required during your pupillage. The programme will also provide you with a solid foundation in knowledge and skills for your early years of tenancy.

The programme 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 and the opportunity to reflect on the challenges facing the legal profession in today’s world.

Note: If you intend to pursue the BPTC you will be required to become a member of one of the four Inns of Court. To be eligible for admission to an Inn a person must be assessed by the Inn as being a “fit and proper” person to become a practising barrister. For more information on the matters that must be declared on an application to join an Inn please visit the Bar Standards Board website.

Distinctive features

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

  • the opportunity to marshall with a Judge and/or undertake a mini-pupillage;
  • 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;
  • the opportunity to conduct research at Master’s level;
  • innovative methods of student assessment:

Key facts

Next intakeSeptember 2020
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.

Please note that the route to qualification as a barrister will be changing in the near future. These changes will affect the way in which the vocational stage of training is delivered from September 2020. For further information please visit the Future Bar Training pages of the Bar Standards Board’s website.

The Bar Standards Board has released information regarding the transitional arrangements that will apply in relation to those currently studying or planning to study the BPTC in September 2019. If you are considering applying for the BPTC it is important that you you familiarise yourself with this document.

Please note that applicants requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK will not be permitted to transfer between the Diploma and LLM courses once they have arrived in the UK due to Home Office visa rules. Applicants should decide which course they wish to pursue at the time they make their visa application, otherwise they will be required to apply for another visa at further cost, as they will be unable to change course once their visa has been granted. 

In light of the above, applicants should consider carefully which programme of study they wish to apply for.

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) 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 complete compulsory modules as required by the Bar Standards Board and two optional modules. We keep our range of options under review and offer a number of subjects to choose from.

In addition to 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 2020/21 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2020.

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 large and small group sessions. Large groups take the form of lectures to all students. A significant number of large group sessions are pre-recorded and accessed on line. Most teaching is delivered to small groups of students for all oral skills teaching students will be in groups of 6. Attendance at all sessions is compulsory.

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.

You will be given an introduction to legal research during term one which will assist you in preparing for all the modules. Teaching sessions will be held in the third (options) term to cover further and more detailed matters. Supervision of your research module will also begin in the third term.

You will be encouraged to take an active role in your learning, particularly in relation to the feedback and assessment criteria. 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 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. Some examples of the schemes currently available to students include: 

  • Law in Justice: the Innocence Project (dealing with alleged miscarriages of justice);
  • Law in Healthcare: the NHS Continuing Healthcare Scheme (helping families claim back care home fees that arguably should have been covered by the NHS);
  • Law in Sport: the Rugby Union Project (providing legal advice and legal newsletters to rugby clubs).’
  • Law in Court: the Personal Support Unit (PSU) (offering practical support and assistance to people at court, in family and civil matters)
  • Law in Mental Health: the Hafal Appropriate Adult Scheme (students are trained to support vulnerable adults being interviewed after having been arrested)

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

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. 

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 a specialist Advisor.  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 and is intended to raise your levels of competence. You will be given feedback based on the relevant assessment criteria in skills teaching sessions. . You will also receive feedback from your peers. You will receive feedback in relation to your research module outline.

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 broadly 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 knowledge assessments, and eight skills assessments.

The Bar Standards Board has issued a statement setting out the transitional arrangements that will apply in the period between the current Bar Professional Training Course and the introduction of the new Bar Training pathways. If you are considering applying for the BPTC it is important that you familiarise yourself with this document.



What skills will I practise and develop?

Knowledge & Understanding:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • a sound understanding and knowledge of the progress of civil litigation from initial considerations through trial to appeals
  • a sound understanding and knowledge of the criminal process as a whole and how cases progress through the system
  • an understanding and appreciation of the core professional values which underpin practice at the Bar of England and Wales, particularly the additional moral responsibilities held by the profession (over and above the population in general) due to decision making roles, functions and authority which are key to practice at the Bar
  • knowledge and understanding of the various alternative methods of dispute resolution which fall outside the usual judicial process before courts or tribunals and may be exercised prior to a possible court hearing, or at any time during the litigation process, or prior to appeal, including mediation, negotiation, arbitration, early neutral evaluation, expert determination, and other alternative dispute resolution processes;
  • a sound understanding of research methodology and/or self-reflection

Intellectual Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • how to properly organise information gathering and analysis;
  • how to critically analyse and examine knowledge and how that knowledge may be used in professional practice and/or skills;
  • how to form high level arguments and to use arguments, from evidence, in support of your case;
  • how to synthesize large quantities of legal information;
  • how to reflect by learning to make use of constructive feedback;
  • the ability to research, reflect and critically analyse.

Professional Practical Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • the ability to prepare a case effectively, understanding the relevant law, facts and principles, observing the rules of professional conduct and planning the advocacy task in question
  • the ability to be able to advise a client in relation to a range of legal issues in a clear, succinct and practical manner
  • the ability to be able to draft a range of different documents in a clear and succinct manner which is appropriate and helpful to the client and acceptable to the tribunal in question
  • the knowledge and understanding of the theory underpinning the application of the skills of a conference, making them sensitive to issues of client care, and emphasising the importance of an associated awareness of professional ethics.
  • understanding of the practical applications of the appropriate ethical codes;
  • the knowledge and understanding of the types of and suitability of various methods of dispute resolution and the ability to determine the suitability of and operation of those methods;
  • the ability to evaluate and synthesise arguments and data;
  • the ability to offer an analysis of the complex problems presented by legal issues and a methodology for solving them;
  • the ability to write and or speak to a number of audiences;
  • the development of key research skills in order to ensure that research conclusions are made on a sound and useful basis.

Transferable/Key Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • an ability to write to a high standard for a broad range of audiences including legal practice and academia;
  • an ability to work independently, demonstrating organisational and time-management skills;
  • an ability to communicate ideas effectively and fluently, both orally and in writing.
  • An ability to hone logical and reasoning skills through discussion and debate;
  • sound research skills and/or reflective skills.

After completion of the BPTC, you will be able to undertake pupillage. The BPTC may also lead to legal work in some other capacity, e.g. paralegal, with the option of obtaining pupillage at a later date.

The option to complete a research project or reflective portfolio has the potential to increase your engagement in pro bono activities within the School or further your skills of independent research thereby increasing your preparedness for practice.

In addition, there is a growing need in the public and private sectors for students who can demonstrate being different to other graduates and who can offer something more to potential employers. You will learn important skills that will set you apart in the job market: how to write and critically reason, how to write for and engage the reader, and how to understand the impact of your research.

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.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2020/21)

Fees for entry 2020/21 are not yet available.

Students from outside the EU (2020/21)

Fees for entry 2020/21 are not yet available.

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.