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Bar courses

updated on 21 March 2024

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Find out which institutions offer the Bar courses by using our Course search.

A Bar course is the mandatory vocational stage of training for aspiring barristers before they commence pupillage.

There are a variety of courses on offer at different legal education providers. While all providers use a common set of assessment criteria, they don't all run the same assessments. The Bar Standards Board outlines the elements that must be passed for aspiring barristers to be 'called to the Bar'.

For more information read LCN’s Bar courses guide.

This qualification (alongside being ‘called to the Bar’ by an Inn of Court) makes a Bar course graduate eligible for pupillage, the final stage of on-the-job training to qualify as a barrister.

Wondering if you should do the Bar? Read this Oracle.  

Bar courses – the vocational stage to qualifying

The Bar courses can be studied in one or two parts. This flexibility means that there are now multiple pathways to becoming a barrister, rather than just one, as was previously the case:

  • Three-step pathway: similar to the old route. The academic stage (a law degree on its own or a non-law degree plus law conversion) is followed by the vocational stage (a Bar course). The Bar course is followed by the third and final step – the work-based learning component (ie, pupillage).
  • Four-step pathway: the academic stage, followed by the vocational stage (ie, a Bar course) divided into two parts, followed by the work-based learning component (ie, pupillage). One part of the Bar course may be delivered through self-study (ie, no tutor contact). In this route, students don’t pay fees for part two of the course until they’ve successfully completed part one. With part two being the much more expensive part of the course, this means that students who fail part one aren’t locked into paying the full fees (as they were on the BPTC).
  • Integrated academic and vocational pathway: combined academic and vocational stages (where the Bar course is integrated into an undergraduate law degree) followed by the work-based learning component (ie, pupillage).
  • Apprenticeship pathway: this is expected to be developed in 2024 and combines the academic, vocational and the work-based learning (ie, pupillage) components in an apprenticeship.

Whichever Bar course you choose, you’ll learn both the legal knowledge required to be a barrister (eg, criminal litigation, civil litigation, evidence and sentencing) and practical skills (eg, advocacy, opinion writing and drafting, and conference skills).

Check out the various barrister practice areas with these Practice Area Profiles.

All students must join an Inn of Court before starting the vocational element of training for the Bar. After completing the vocational component of training, you’re ‘called’ to the Bar by your Inn. You must then complete the work-based learning component (ie, pupillage) before being able to practise as a barrister.

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