The Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC)
The Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC, formerly the Bar Vocational Course) is the mandatory vocational stage of training for aspiring barristers. It can be completed as a one-year full-time, or two-year part-time, course following graduation with a Qualifying Law Degree or after completion of the Graduate Diploma in Law (which follows graduation with a non-law degree). Only on passing the BPTC can you complete a pupillage in this jurisdiction.
Before being allowed to enrol on the BPTC, you must pass the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT). The BCAT costs £150 to sit at a centre in the UK and EU, or £170 to sit at a centre outside the EU. See the Bar Standards Board website (https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/qualifying-as-a-barrister) for more information.
The course is expensive; the cheapest providers (for example, Cardiff University and UWE) offer the course at just over £12,000, and the most expensive (for example, the University of Law, London) cost nearly £19,000. Scholarships are available from the Inns of Court and from the providers themselves, and if you are lucky enough to have already secured a pupillage then your chambers will often allow you to draw down some of the guaranteed payment for the pupillage year, but there is no doubting that this is a heavy financial commitment. As well as considering the cost of each provider, you will want to consider where you wish to complete the course, whether it be Nottingham, Manchester, Leeds, Cardiff, Bristol, Birmingham, Newcastle or London.
Providers of the BPTC: University of Law (London, Birmingham), BPP Law School (London, Leeds, Manchester), Cardiff Law School, City Law School (London), Manchester Metropolitan University, Nottingham Law School, University of Northumbria and the University of West of England.
It is also worth bearing in mind that completion of the BPTC does not guarantee you a tenancy, or even a pupillage. Over 2,000 people complete the course annually and fewer than 500 pupillages are offered each year. Nevertheless, if you are really driven, and if you have very strong academic credentials: go for it.
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NB: The Bar Council are looking to change the BPTC to stem the volume of students graduating from the BPTC and never getting pupillage. Keep an eye out for any changes on the Bar Council's website