Bar Training Course (LLM)
- Duration: 1 year
- Mode: Full time
Why study this course
We’ve delivered high quality training for the Bar since 1997, strongly supported by the local employed Bar, the independent Bar and the Judiciary.
A unique offering
We are the only Russell Group University to offer an LLM in Bar Training.
Learn from professionals
All our tutors have practised as barristers or solicitors and their ethos is one of friendly professionalism and mutual respect.
Our LLM Bar Training Course offers intensive, postgraduate-level studies to those who wish to qualify as a barrister but who also wish to undertake research at Master’s level. This course is taken after undergraduate study and before the period of work-based learning, known as pupillage.
This programme enables you to acquire the skills, knowledge of procedure and evidence for you to meet the Bar Standards Board (BSB) criteria, as set out in their Professional Statement for Barristers.
Our 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.
The teaching is timetabled between Monday and Thursday (i.e. no more than four days), to provide time for personal study. Advocacy and conferencing will be taught intensively in two-hour sessions to no more than six students. You will also be able to undertake a specialist advocacy option.
You’ll be provided with guidance that will identify the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) Stage 1 knowledge for criminal litigation and dispute resolution covered during the teaching of the BTC and given additional guidance on that content where it has not been dealt with during the delivery of the programme.
You’ll also have the opportunity to undertake the BSB centrally set assessments in December, April and August during the academic year you are enrolled as a student.
On successful completion, you will be eligible to be called to the Bar of England and Wales (subject to meeting the qualifying session requirement of your Inn of Court).
Where you'll study
Our vibrant student body combined with highly qualified academic staff provides the perfect environment to explore the dynamic and fast-paced fields of law, politics and international relations.
The LLM Bar Training Course (LLM BTC) is suitable for graduates in Law or any other subject in combination with the relevant ‘conversion course’ (CPE/GDL). Applicants should show a commitment to the legal profession, specifically practice at the Bar (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.
We allocate places on a first-come, first-served basis, so we recommend you apply as early as possible. Applications overall close on 31st July.
Applications will only be treated as having been received by Cardiff University when both the application and the reference supporting the application have been received. We will review your completed application and if you meet the entry requirements, your application will be scored against a set of evaluative criteria taking into account academic achievement, the quality and content of your responses to the questions posed, and your written English and communication skills. If you meet the minimum score required you will be made an offer.
English language requirements
- IELTS with an overall score of 7.5 with at least 7.5 in all subskills
- or Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic with an overall score of 73 and at least 73 in all communicative skills.
You must have taken the test within two years of the course start date and all required scores must have been achieved in one sitting of the test.
If you graduated no more than three years prior to the course start date, you will be able to self-certify that you meet the English language requirement if you:
- Have completed a full degree or a 1 or 2 yea top-up degree through the medium of English in one of the following countries: Antigua & Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, USA.
Please note that applicants requiring a Student 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 this, applicants should consider carefully which programme of study they wish to apply for
Find out more about English language requirements.
Applicants who require a Student visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements.
You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course.
If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:
- access to computers or devices that can store images
- use of internet and communication tools/devices
- freedom of movement
- contact with people related to Cardiff University.
The LLM Bar Training Course is a one-year course studied over two semesters. All modules within this programme are compulsory and comprise knowledge areas, core skills, an option and a research module. An attendance record is kept and 100% attendance at teaching sessions is expected.
You will complete compulsory modules (that cover practice areas and course skills) and one elective. On successful completion of the taught stage of the programme, you will submit an 8000-word Research Project or Reflective Portfolio. The Research Project is available to all students on the LLM Bar Training Course, but only students with significant pro bono or legal work experience will be able to pursue the Reflective Portfolio.
Students are expected to attend all classes and timetabled activities but must attend a minimum of 80% of sessions to achieve a pass on the BTC. A student who falls below 80% attendance shall fail the BTC and/or may be required to withdraw from the course. This requirement may be relaxed or adjusted by the provider in an individual case where this is necessary in order to comply with the Equality Act 2010 (or any replacement of that Act).
To pass the LLM in Bar Professional Training you must pass both the BTC (the Postgraduate Diploma Stage) and the Research Module (the Master’s Degree Stage) within no more than two years beyond the normal duration of the Programme.
The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2021/22 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2021.
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.
Learning and assessment
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 online. Most teaching is delivered to small groups of up to 18 students, all advocacy and conferencing sessions are taught to groups of six students.
The teaching will take place in small group sessions (SGS), which are all delivered face-to face. Large group sessions (LGS), ) will comprise of a mixture of face-to face and pre-recorded sessions. The purpose of the SGS and LGS is to ensure that all parts of syllabi are taught. In addition, use will be made of introductory and recap short recordings, drop-in sessions and online tests.
Each SGS takes account of the fact that these subjects are assessed entirely via multiple choice questions (‘MCQs’) and single best answer questions (SBAQs). The small groups will be discussion based and prior to the sessions you will be given specific questions to research and prepare answers for. There will also be a test in each small group under timed conditions so that tutors can monitor progress as the course progresses. The majority of SGSs will be of a two hour duration.
The timing of teaching sessions and assessments has been carefully considered to ensure that you have enough opportunity to practise and receive feedback. This is essential to enable you to reflect on your oral performances and your written work, and then make refinements taking into account both peer and tutor feedback.
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 both your strengths and ways in which your performance can be improved. The ability to learn in this way is an essential skill for future practice. 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.
Within the curriculum, you will develop your ability to undertake independent learning and team-working skills. Communication skills are developed in small groups, where you will be required to work collaboratively on problems and tasks.
The Bar Training Course is a practical course which emphasises the synthesis of legal knowledge and factual information in order to provide clear, accurate and well-reasoned advice to a client. You will need take into account the rules of professional conduct and the commercial and business needs of the client.
There will be an introductory lecture in term one which will set out what you will need to do. You will also be introduced to legal research during term one. This will further assist you in preparing for the research module. You will attend a workshop in term 2 to assist you in drafting your research proposal. Thereafter you will have two supervision opportunities to receive feedback on your work. You will continue to work on the preparation of your research project or reflective portfolio during the second term. You will be formally admitted to the LLM research module upon successful completion of your BTC examinations.
Additional learning opportunities
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.
How will I be assessed?
The LLM Bar Training 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.
You will undertake both formative and summative assessments throughout your studies. These take a variety of forms, including closed book examinations comprised of multiple-choice questions, oral assessments, recorded simulations and written assessments. For all Cardiff-produced Bar Training Course assessments, the assessment criteria (set by the BSB) 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.
Summative assessment of the research module comprises the submission of a written piece of work of 8,000 words, in the form of either a Research Project or a Reflective Portfolio. The Research Project is available to all students on the LLM Bar Training Course, but only students with significant pro bono or legal work experience will be able to pursue the Reflective Portfolio.
You will be permitted a maximum of three attempts at an assessment.
Your attendance will form a part of the attendance threshold required to achieve a pass on the BTC. Students are expected to attend all classes and timetabled activities but must attend a minimum of 80% of sessions to achieve a pass on the BTC. A student who falls below 80% attendance shall fail the BTC and/or may be required to withdraw from the course. This requirement may be relaxed or adjusted by the provider in an individual case where this is necessary in order to comply with the Equality Act 2010 (or any replacement of that Act).
How will I be supported?
Your face to face learning will be supported by e-learning as follows;
- all teaching materials will be made available via 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;
- all lectures are recorded and a number of lectures will be pre-recorded enabling you to participate in these sessions at a time and in a place which best suits you;
- all oral skills sessions (small group sessions) are also recorded using Panopto allowing you to review your performance and the feedback given by staff;
- online quizzes;
- discussion boards;
- video examples.
You will receive dedicated pastoral support through:
- our personal tutor scheme;
- an extensive programme of careers lectures and workshops within the School with a specialist Advisor;
- a designated Disability and Diversity Officer who ensures that reasonable adjustments are made for students with disabilities;
- 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;
- support for your research module will be by way of face to face tuition, materials on Learning Central and supervision.
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 and give feedback from and to your peers. You will receive feedback in relation to your research module outline
What skills will I practise and develop?
The Learning Outcomes for this Programme describe what you will be able to do as a result of your study at Cardiff University. They will help you to understand what is expected of you. On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate the learning outcomes for the individual modules to the standard set by the Bar Standards Board in the Professional Statement for Barristers.
The Learning Outcomes for this Programme can be found below:
Knowledge & Understanding:
On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to:
- Critically reflect and synthesize the rules and procedures of civil litigation, dispute resolution and criminal litigation to be competent to progress to the pupillage/work-based learning component of training to be a barrister;
- Critically reflect and synthesize the principle aspects of law and procedure relevant to your professional practice as a barrister;
- Review and synthesize the core duties and regulatory requirements set down by the Bar Standards Board including the Code of Conduct;
- Apply different methodologies and perspectives within legal scholarship to critically review current issues/debates in legal practice.
On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to:
- Critically review the rules and procedures of civil litigation, dispute resolution and criminal litigation to reflect and apply a range of appropriate solutions for your client;
- Critically analyse and evaluate complex information to make professional judgements which demonstrate an understanding of the short and long term implications of the judgements made;
- Critically review methods and techniques of legal study to elucidate and evaluate yours and others’ research and expert opinion.
Professional Practical Skills:
On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to:
- Take responsibility, exercising autonomy and professional judgment, for planning and preparing a case effectively, critically reflecting on the relevant law and facts whilst observing the rules of professional conduct;
- Ensure your professional judgement is informed by appropriate critical analysis, synthesis and evaluation and where appropriate identify and evaluate the consequences of different options;
- Author and articulate fluently, using correct and appropriate vocabulary and English grammar, in order to present, to a range of audiences, a reasoned argument in a clear, logical, succinct and persuasive way;
- Critically reflect on appropriate research methods and resources in order to prepare a research project or reflective portfolio.
All of the skills noted above are relevant employability skills for professional practice. You will also practise and develop the following transferable skills:
Self-management – You will be required to plan and manage your time in order to undertake the workload required for the individual BTC modules;
Self-reflection - You will be provided with guidance to assist you with developing your ability to critically reflect on your performance, make use of constructive feedback and identify how your performance can be improved;
Application of IT – You will be required to make use of basic IT skills such as word processing to prepare written communication, which is clear, accurate and produced to professional standards. You will use and apply information technology to undertake relevant and comprehensive legal research.
Application of numeracy – You will be required to undertake some simple mathematical calculations and make use of these calculations during their verbal and written communication.
Social and cultural awareness – You will develop an appreciation of the social context in which the law operates, the other professionals involved and the principles of inter-disciplinary working.
Tuition fees for 2021 entry
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.
Students from the UK
Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland
EU, EEA and Swiss nationals starting in 2020/21 will pay the same tuition fee as UK students for the duration of their course.
If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss national, unless you qualify for UK fee status, tuition fees for 2021/22 will be in line with the fees charged for international students. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.
Students from the rest of the world (international)
More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.
Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.
For all oral skills you will be required to dress as you would in practice (i.e. a business suit).
We’re based in one of the UK’s most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.
Careers and placements
After completion of the BTC, you will be able to be Called to the Bar and undertake pupillage. The BTC 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: resilience and the importance of being a reflective practitioner, how to write and critically reason, how to write for and engage the reader, and how to understand the impact of your research.
You will have an opportunity to marshall with a Judge and/or undertake a mini-pupillage.