About the ICCA Bar Course (subject to validation)

The ICCA Bar Course is still subject to validation. Please click here to read more about this process.

If you want to train to become a barrister, the Inns of Court College of Advocacy (ICCA) intends to provide a new two-stage approach to Bar Training, designed to equip you with the vital practitioner skills required for pupillage.

The BSB has conditionally authorised the ICCA to deliver its new two-part Bar Course. The conditions of authorisation are that the ICCA’s application for registration with the Office for Students is approved and that thereafter a contract is entered with the BSB to deliver the authorised course. Subject to these final steps, the ICCA will take applications from December 2019 from students wishing to embark on the two-part course from September 2020.

Success on the ICCA Bar Course allows you to be called to the Bar and be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Bar Practice. Upon being accepted for pupillage or work-based training, it will allow you to pursue your goal of becoming a practising Barrister.

The ICCA has taken an innovative approach to Bar Training, designed for students who are motivated, bright, dedicated and diligent with a realistic chance of attaining the standard required for an award of pupillage, irrespective of their social, cultural and economic background.

The ICCA Bar Course will be completed in two stages. Part One will be delivered online and comprises the knowledge subjects of Criminal Litigation, Evidence and Sentencing and Civil Litigation, Evidence and ADR. Part Two will be taught within the precincts of the Inns of Court and comprises the skills subjects of Advocacy, Conference Skills, Legal Research and Opinion Writing, and Drafting, as well as Professional Ethics, which will be taught predominantly online.

The ICCA Bar Course will be delivered in two cycles each year. In the first cycle, Part One will commence in September and Part Two in March. In the second cycle, Part One will commence in January and Part Two in September. We hope to be open to receive applications from December 2019 following which the first cycle of the course will begin with Part One in September 2020 and Part Two in March 2021.

All successful applicants will be offered a place on both parts of the Bar Course. To commence to Part Two students will have to pass the Part One assessments at either the first or second attempt and, if they have not already done so, join an Inn of Court.

The essential features of our course are as follows:

Key Features

  • An innovative and high-quality two-part Bar Course designed by the ICCA’s academic experts.
  • flexible and accessible programme with the opportunity to take the online Part One course following a recommended structured pathway over 12-16 weeks or at student’s own pace, at any time of day and from any location.
  • Attendance for only 20 or 22 weeks is required for Part Two, based on a four-day week with 17 weeks of face-to-face teaching and assessment. Due to holidays, commencing Part Two in March takes 20 weeks and commencing Part Two in September takes 22 weeks.
  • Part One online content will include films, interactive activities and quizzes within each subject designed to demonstrate understanding and apply knowledge, underpinned by realistic case studies, which follow the progress of a case through the legal system.
  • There will be numerous opportunities for self-assessment on Part One, including stage-by-stage formative (mock) assessments involving a range of single best answer and multiple-choice questions, discussion forums (peer review), knowledge checks and a comprehensive question bank of over 500 practice questions, all designed to gauge each student’s readiness to sit the BSB’s centrally-set exams.
  • The ICCA is dedicated to ensuring the highest educational standards. Part Two is taught by experienced tutors from the ICCA with many years’ professional educational and practice experience.
  • On Part Two there will be a significant emphasis on advocacy skills involving all aspects of courtroom advocacy from bail to appellate work in criminal cases and submissions to trial advocacy in civil cases, as well as vulnerable witness advocacy training and realistic mock trials, all taught by accredited advocacy trainers. This ensures that students are prepared for the demands of practice and not simply for advocacy assessments.
  • As Part Two is taught within the precincts of the Inns of Court, students will be encouraged to use their individual Inn’s library as a place of quiet study and research.
  • Students will have the ability to focus on the skills subjects on Part Two having already passed and gained a solid understanding of the knowledge subjects in Part One, thus removing the additional burden of simultaneously studying for assessments in Criminal and Civil Litigation & Alternative Dispute Resolution.
  • The guiding principle for Part Two will be the concentration on vital practitioner skills in the classroom and to increase the focus on practice, feedback and reflection in order to fully prepare students for pupillage or work-based learning.
  • The ICCA has strong links to the profession. Students on Part Two will be introduced to high-quality lectures, workshops and symposiums in specialist practice areas delivered by Specialist Bar Associations, and by experts in other fields such as neuroscience, statistics and mental illness.
  • The ICCA Bar Course reduces the financial risk to students by charging for Part One with no Part Two cost incurred for any student not proceeding to Part Two and no deposit required. Fees for the first 2020/21 cycle are £1,000 for Part One and then £11,225 for Part Two, inclusive of all required textbooks but exclusive of BSB intake fees of £575 for Part One and £295 for Part Two. The total cost for Part One is £1,575 and for Part Two £11, 520 (total combined cost £13,095).
  • The ICCA employs a Fair Admissions Policy designed to accept individuals who are motivated, bright, dedicated and diligent with a realistic chance of attaining the standard required for an award of pupillage, regardless of their social, cultural and economic background. This will be achieved by the use of a carefully designed selection process, based on fair and transparent criteria, which will remove all references to schools and universities attended by applicants.

The ICCA Bar Course has been designed directly from the BSB’s Professional Statement for Barristers and therefore all learning outcomes are based on the requirements of professional practice. Additionally, the ICCA have designed complementary learning outcomes and supporting materials which will provide a high academic experience for all students.

Please note that registration on the Bar Course of the ICCA confers no advantage (in comparison to any other Authorised Education and Training Organisation) in relation to Inns’ scholarships or awards, Inns’ membership, Qualifying Sessions or Call to the Bar.

The ICCA Bar Course: Modules and Assessments

Part One of the course is delivered entirely online. This enables you to complete this part of the course at any time of day and from any location (although attendance for assessments will be required). Following our recommended structured pathway, Part One can be studied over 12-16 weeks, or alternatively it can be taken at a student’s own pace.

On Part One you will complete two knowledge-based modules that prepare you for the exams that are centrally set by the Bar Standard’s Board (BSB). Upon successful completion of Part One, you will then attend Part Two, a face-to-face course delivered within the precincts of the Inns of Court over 20 or 22 weeks, based on a four-day week with 17 weeks of face-to-face teaching and assessment. Due to holidays, commencing Part Two in March takes 20 weeks and commencing Part Two in September takes 22 weeks.

On Part Two you will study the seven skills modules that will lead towards your final qualification of Postgraduate Diploma in Bar Practice.  All of the Learning Outcomes on the ICCA Bar Course have been mapped to the professional competencies as set out in the BSB Professional Statement for Barristers. On successful completion of both Parts of the ICCA Bar Course you will also have satisfied the BSB’s qualification requirement of passing the vocational stage of bar training.

The ICCA Bar Course has been developed by education experts and legal practitioners to deliver new, high-quality vocational content that will give students the best possible preparation for a career at the Bar.

Part One of the ICCA Bar Course

Part One of the ICCA Bar Course is an entirely online course covering two teaching modules:

  1. Civil Litigation, Evidence and Alternative Dispute Resolution
  2. Criminal Litigation, Evidence and Sentencing

The curriculum for these modules is set by the Bar Standards Board. The content of Part One of the ICCA Bar Course has been designed to comply with the specifications of the BSB Curriculum and Assessment Strategy in respect of these modules.

Part One Academic Support

Tutor reviewed online forums will allow Part One students working on a particular Module Unit to collaborate with their fellow students. Students will be also be able to communicate with each other more generally via a social media platform embedded in the ICCA’s VLE, which will allow them to seek and offer peer-to-peer assistance and share revision techniques.  In the period leading up to the Part One summative assessments, assessment preparation support will also be available to students in the form of Revision Webinars, and students will also be able to access tutor assistance through a revision support email service.

Students considering studying on Part One of the ICCA Bar Course should, however, be aware that the mode of learning on this part of the course is predominantly through self-study. In order to allow us to prioritise affordability and flexibility on the Part One course, the amount of individual academic tutor support a student will receive will be very limited. Students are advised to consider carefully whether their individual learning style is suited to this type of programme before applying.

Part One Assessments

The final assessments for the Part One modules are set and marked by the Bar Standards Board (BSB). There are three opportunities to sit these assessments over the year: in April, August and December. The exact dates of the assessments will be prescribed by the BSB. The ICCA will provide the facilities for you to sit these assessments but it should be noted that you will be expected to attend an assessment centre in London for this purpose. There will be three sitting points for these assessments every year: in April, August and December. The exact assessment dates are set by the BSB and will be confirmed by them.

Civil Litigation, Evidence and Alternative Dispute Resolution
The summative assessment will consist of one assessment in two Parts:

  • Part 1: a two hour closed-book examination comprising multiple choice questions (MCQs) and single best answer questions (SBAs).
  • Part 2: a two hour open-book examination comprising multiple choice questions (MCQs) and single best answer questions (SBAs), including rolling case scenarios. The permitted material for the examination will be the White Book.

Both Parts will be assessed on separate days. Assessment will be such that a broad range of the syllabus is assessed and that any part of it may be assessed in either Part.

Criminal Litigation, Evidence and Sentencing
The summative assessment will be set and marked centrally by the BSB. It will consist of one paper with 75 multiple choice questions (MCQs) and single best answer questions (SBAs) and the examination will last three hours. Assessment will be such that a broad range of the syllabus is assessed and that any part of it may be assessed.

Part Two of the ICCA Bar Course

Part Two consists of seven teaching modules covering the skills that you will need to practice successfully at the Bar.

Advocacy
The three Advocacy modules, Examination-in-Chief, Cross-Examination and Submissions Advocacy, make up 35% of the ICCA Bar Course. These modules are designed using realistic civil and criminal case papers and the advocacy exercises you will take part in will provide you with the experience needed to equip yourself with the skills needed to carry out courtroom advocacy when you go into practice. In the summative and formative assessments for both examination-in-chief and cross-examination you will be given the opportunity to develop your witness-handling skills by examining witnesses played by professional actors.

All advocacy sessions are taught in groups of no more than 6 students. All of our advocacy tutors are experienced practitioners who have received specialist training and accreditation in the teaching of advocacy.

Opinion Writing and Legal Research
On this module you will receive help and guidance via the VLE, as well as in face-to-face teaching sessions to enable you to develop your case analysis and legal research skills and help you to become proficient in producing written legal advice that is accurate, practical and professional. You will be given the opportunity to complete a number of legal research opinions on which you will be given comprehensive feedback from your tutor, as well as receiving feedback on a full formative assessment. You will also have the opportunity to consolidate and review this feedback in a one-to-one feedback meeting with your tutor before sitting the final assessment.

Drafting
On the drafting module you will be guided step-by-step in the skill of producing effective, concise and precise statements of case in both criminal and civil proceedings. You will receive written feedback on your work from your tutor as you progress, as well as receiving feedback on a full formative assessment. As with Opinion Writing (above) you will also have the opportunity to consolidate and review this feedback in a one-to-one feedback meeting with your tutor before sitting the final assessment.

Conference Skills
The Conference skills are taught in small groups of not more than six students. Over the course you will be given the opportunity to conduct a number of full conferences, predominantly using criminal case papers and will receive comprehensive feedback from a tutor which is designed to help you reflect on and further develop your skills.  You will also be given the opportunity to practice your conference skills on a client played by a professional actor before undertaking a similar exercise as part of the final conference assessment.

Professional Ethics
Professional ethics pervade the entire Bar Course. You will be instructed on how the core values contained in the Bar Code of Conduct (as set out in the BSB Handbook) apply to all elements of a barrister’s practice and will be expected to conduct yourself ethically at all times. You will also be required to complete a discrete professional ethics module that is taught predominantly online and assessed by way of a multiple choice question-style assessment. This module is designed to ensure that you have a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the Code of Conduct before you embark on pupillage.

Part Two Assessments

Examination-in-Chief
Oral assessment (filmed): complete examination-in-chief of a witness in a criminal case.
Duration: 15 minutes. 60% pass mark.

Cross-Examination
Oral assessment (filmed): complete cross-examination of a witness in a criminal case.
Duration: 15 minutes. 60% pass mark

Submissions Advocacy
Oral assessment (filmed): submissions to a judge in a civil case plus assessed skeleton argument.
Duration: 15 minutes. 60% pass mark

Opinion Writing and Legal Research
Written assessment (take and do). Students have one calendar week in which to complete a 4000-word opinion which incorporates an assessed legal research exercise. Both components of the assessment will be submitted at the same time but will be marked separately.
60% pass mark (Legal Research graded as Competent/Not Competent)

Drafting
Written assessment (supervised): drafting a substantive statement of case using civil case papers.
Duration: 3 hours. 60% pass mark

Conference Skills
Oral assessment (filmed): conference with a client in a criminal case.
Duration: 25 minutes. 60% pass mark

Professional Ethics
Multiple choice question assessment (supervised/closed book) on the Code of Conduct for the Bar of England and Wales
Duration: 2 hours. 60% pass mark

Module Specification

For more information about the ICCA Bar Course please see our Frequently Asked Questions here:

FAQs