Admissions Guidance

Application Timeline

  • 9 December 2019, 12pm: Applications portal opens.
  • 10 January 2020, 12pm: Applications portal closes.
  • 14 February 2020: Shortlisted applicants invited to attend selection event.
  • 17 February 2020, 5pm: Deadline for accepting invitation to selection event.
  • 20 February 2020, 5.15pm-9pm: Evening Selection Event
  • 21 February 2020, 9.15am-5pm: Weekday Selection Event
  • 22 February 2020, 9.15am-5pm: Weekend Selection Event
  • 2 March 2020: Offers
  • 20 March 2020, 12pm: Acceptance deadline. Please note this alteration from the previously published date/time of 3 April 2020, 12pm. All shortlisted candidates will be notified of this change by email.

Please Note: An updated applications timetable for course cycles commencing in September 2021 and January 2022 will be published later this year.

How to Apply

All applications for the ICCA Bar Course are made through our online applications portal. You can access the applications portal on our website.

If due to a disability, specific learning difficulty or other requirement you are unable to complete an application online, please contact the ICCA Admissions Team at Please do so in good time before the application closing date and time in order that we have sufficient time to contact you and make alternative arrangements.


Application Dates

The applications portal opens at 12pm on 9 December 2019 and closes at 12pm on 10 December 2020. Applications will not be accepted outside this timeframe.

Academic references for candidates with predicted grades and references/evidence in support of applications for mitigating circumstances must be provided by 10 December 2010 at 12pm. You can read more about predicted grades and mitigating circumstances below.


Application Process and Criteria

There are two parts to the application process:

  1. Online Application and Shortlisting; and
  2. Selection event (evening/weekday/weekend) for shortlisted candidates.

A comprehensive overview of the Application Process is contained on our website, including the shortlisting questions and the criteria applied at both the shortlisting and selection event stages.

Please note that shortlisted candidates will only receive notification by email on 14 February 2020  that they have been invited to a selection event. This is only a short time before the selection events themselves, on 20 (evening), 21 (weekday) and 22 (Saturday) February 2020. For this reason please ensure well in advance that you keep as many of these dates free as possible. If you are invited to a selection event, you will be able to choose your preferred date and time, but these will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis, so it is a good idea to keep an alternative date free.

Candidates who require any reasonable adjustments, assistance with a specific learning difficulty (e.g. extra time, coloured overlays or enlarged fonts for candidates with dyslexia), assistance with a medical condition or other special requirements at their selection event will be given details in their selection event invitation of how to contact the ICCA in advance to enable arrangements to be made.

Selection events require attendance. However, if for exceptional reasons (which could include travel or visa issues for international students) you wish to but are unable to attend you will be able to contact the ICCA to make alternative arrangements using the contact details provided to you in the invitation email.

The deadline for responding to an invitation to a selection event is 17:00 on 17 February 2020. If we do not receive a response from you the ICCA will assume you do not wish to proceed with your application.


Course Commencement and Duration

The ICCA Bar Course is a two-part course with Part One completed online (with no attendance requirement) and Part Two requiring full-time attendance over a period of 20 or 22 weeks depending on whether you start your Part Two course in March or September respectively.  The course is run over two course cycles each academic year.  For an overview of the course and the modules within each part of the course please see the About the ICCA Bar Course section of our website.

The course cycle you attend will determine when your course commences. Part One commences in September 2020 on Cycle 1 and in January 2021 on Cycle 2. Part Two commences in March 2021 on Cycle 1 and in September 2021 on Cycle 2.

Part One of the course has a guided pathway of 12-14 weeks at the conclusion of which you will take your two assessments in Civil Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution and your single assessment in Criminal Litigation, Evidence and Sentencing.  If you follow the guided pathway and pass your assessments at the first sitting your timetable will look like this:

Cycle 1

  • Part One: commencing September 2020 (completion December 2020)
  • Part Two: commencing March 2021 (completion August 2021)

Cycle 2

  • Part One: commencing January 2021 (completion April 2021)
  • Part Two: commencing September 2021 (completion February 2022)

You do not have to follow the guided pathway of 12-16 weeks for Part One. If you have work, caring or other commitments or requirements you may choose to take longer over Part One, although we do not recommend spending longer than one year on Part One since the law evolves over time and assessments evolve in line with these changes.  For this reason, taking your Part One assessments long after you have commenced the course could result in significant revision updates for you to keep abreast of any legal changes incorporated into these assessments.

If you choose not to follow the guided pathway for Part One but successfully complete Part One (by passing the assessments at the first or second sitting) we will then place you on the next available Part Two course. Please note that the time limit from commencing Part One to completing Part Two must not exceed three years.


Do I have to apply separately for Parts One and Two?

No. When you apply for the ICCA Bar Course you are applying for both parts. If your application is successful you will be accepted for both parts, although progression to Part Two is conditional on passing the Part One assessments at the first or second sitting and joining an Inn of Court. Please note that joining an Inn of Court (Gray’s Inn, Lincoln’s Inn, Middle Temple or Inner Temple) is separate and distinct from applying to or registration on the ICCA Bar Course.


Choosing your Course Cycle

Applicants may choose one of the above course cycles to follow during the online application process.  Applicants may also state that they have no preference to which cycle they are allocated.  All applicants will be assigned to Cycle 1 or 2.  It will not be possible at the application stage to choose a Part One from Cycle 1 and a Part Two from Cycle 2.  Applicants who wish to choose a Part Two commencement date outside their chosen cycle (for example, if they do not intend to follow the guided pathway for Part One) may arrange this with the ICCA registry once they have accepted an offer of a place on the ICCA Bar Course.

The ICCA will use its best endeavours to offer applicants a place on their chosen Cycle, although this will not always be possible.  However, if an applicant requires a chosen Cycle for good reason (e.g. pupillage commencing at a certain date) the applicant has the opportunity to state this during the online application process.  Where the ICCA is satisfied that a successful candidate has good reason to require a specific cycle the applicant will be offered that cycle.  For example, if you have a pupillage commencing in October 2021 you would require Cycle 1 (as set out above) rather than Cycle 2 and the ICCA would ensure that you were allocated to Cycle 1. The ICCA is entitled to seek evidence in support of any stated reason for a given cycle. The cycle allocated to successful applicants will be set out clearly in their offer letter.


Entry Requirements

Minimum Academic Entry Requirements
The minimum academic entry requirements are as follows:

  1. An acceptable law degree awarded at a minimum level of Upper Second Class (2:1); or
  2. A degree in any other subject awarded at a minimum level of Lower Second Class (2:2) together with a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), or equivalent qualification, with a classification of Commendation or Distinction.  Any offers to students awaiting results will be conditional on meeting the minimum academic standard (see the section on predicted grades below).

For candidates who have not met these minimum academic requirements, please see the Mitigating Circumstances section below.

For candidates with a predicted law degree award or GDL classification, please see the Predicted Grades section below.

Additional Information on Minimum Academic Entry Requirements
An acceptable law degree means a UK/Republic of Ireland degree awarded at Level 6 (or above) of the ‘Framework for Higher Education Qualifications’ by a recognised degree awarding body which covers the foundations of legal knowledge subjects and the skills associated with graduate legal work (e.g. legal research) and which is compliant with the QAA benchmark statement for law.

degree means a UK/Republic of Ireland degree, awarded at Level 6 (or above) of the ‘Framework for Higher Education Qualifications’, by a recognised degree awarding body. Students with non-UK/Republic of Ireland degrees must obtain a Certificate of Academic Standing from the Bar Standards Board (BSB), even if they have completed or are completing a Graduate Diploma in Law. The BSB may award a Certificate of Academic Standing to a student who has not been awarded a degree where that student has considerable experience or exceptional ability in an academic, professional, business, or administrative field. All enquiries about Certificates of Academic Standing should be made to the BSB Authorisations Team.

Students who require a Certificate of Academic Standing will be required to provide this to the ICCA upon enrolment on Part One of the ICCA Bar Course.  It is the responsibility of individual applicants to obtain this certificate prior to enrolment.

Students who do not hold an acceptable law degree must take the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) or equivalent qualification which must cover the foundations of legal knowledge subjects . A Commendation or Distinction is required.

The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) is responsible for safeguarding the quality and standards of programmes across the UK. Therefore, the ICCA does not discriminate between UK degrees awarded a similar classification.

The ICCA will check all candidates’ academic qualifications  at or prior to enrolment.

Time Limits
To be eligible for enrolment, applicants must commence the ICCA Bar Course within five years of 31st December in the year in which they completed the academic component (i.e. undergraduate acceptable law degree or GDL/GDL equivalent course). This is to avoid proceeding to bar training with out-of-date legal knowledge.

Applicants whose academic qualifications fall outside this timeframe must complete a Graduate Diploma in Law (or equivalent) or seek exemption from the same from the BSB.  In the latter case, proof of exemption by certificate is required. You can read more about this requirement here.  All enquiries about seeking an exemption should be made to the BSB Authorisations Team.

Additional Mandatory Entry Requirements
(1) BCAT. All applicants must hold a valid Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT) pass to enrol on the ICCA Bar Course.  Please note you do not need to have passed the BCAT when you apply for a place on the ICCA Bar Course, but you will need to have passed the BCAT by the time of enrolment.

(2) Good English Language Skills. All applicants must exercise good English language skills. All students are required to have an effective command of the English language and be able to use it appropriately, accurately and fluently so as to handle complex and detailed argumentation. Students will use correct English grammar, spelling and punctuation. Students must be able to demonstrate that their English language ability is at least equivalent to:

  • a minimum score of 7.5 in each section of the IELTS academic test, or
  • a minimum score of 73 in each part of the Pearson Test of English (academic).

It is not a requirement that applicants should have taken either the IELTS or Pearson test referred to above when they apply for a place on the ICCA Bar Course. Rather, the standard referred to in these tests reflects the minimum standard required to enter Bar Vocational Training.  The ICCA is entitled to request a student to undergo such a test where there is any doubt about their English language ability.

Please note that shortlisted candidates will be required to attend a selection event during which their English language skills will be assessed.  For this reason, any candidate who does not meet theses minimum standards will be unsuccessful in their application for a place on the ICCA Bar Course.

(3) Joining an Inn of Court. All applicants must join an Inn of Court to enrol on Part Two of the ICCA Bar Course. You do not need to have joined an Inn when you either apply for a place on the ICCA Bar Course or enrol on Part One, although joining an Inn at the earliest opportunity is recommended. Joining an Inn of Court is separate and distinct from joining the ICCA Bar Course and is the responsibility of individual candidates.

(4) Proceeding from Part One to Part Two. To proceed to and enrol on Part Two of the ICCA Bar Course students must pass all Part One assessments at either the first or second attempt, excluding any assessment sitting which is set aside due to mitigating circumstances.

Mitigating Circumstances
The ICCA requires a minimum acceptable law degree award of an Upper Second (2:1) or above, or a degree in any other subject awarded at a minimum level of Lower Second Class (2:2) together with a Graduate Diploma in Law, or equivalent, with a Commendation or Distinction, unless mitigating circumstances apply. Applicants who did not achieve this minimum degree/GDL award but consider that they would have done but for mitigating circumstances, may apply to the ICCA for the exercise of discretion to disapply the minimum degree/GDL award requirement in their individual case.

The criteria for discretion to be exercised concerning mitigating circumstances are:

  1. there is clear evidence that the student is academically of upper second-class quality (for students who have taken an acceptable law degree) or of Commendation or Distinction quality (for students who have taken the GDL or equivalent) overall;
  2. there is clear evidence of a temporary cause which prevented the student from fulfilling their full academic potential, which has not already been considered by their course provider in the award of their degree.

The ICCA Bar Course Mitigating Circumstances Application Guidance contains guidance for setting out mitigating circumstances and for providing details of referees in support of the application.

In all other cases, the ICCA understands that circumstances beyond an applicant’s control may detrimentally affect their academic progress and therefore adversely impact an application. In such instances, the ICCA expects applicants to have taken appropriate action to ensure the relevant examination bodies have allowed for such circumstances. For this reason, mitigating circumstances cannot be applied for by applicants with predicted grades.

Predicted Grades
Applicants with predicted acceptable law degree awards and GDL classifications will be asked within the application portal to give their predicted award/classification for their degree or GDL.

Please note that the ICCA no longer requires a reference to confirm predicted grades for students. For the sake of clarity, such students do not require a reference at all, either as to their general academic performance or as to their predicted grade.

This does not affect the requirement for references in support of students applying for mitigating circumstances.

You can read more about references below.


When is a reference required?

References are only required for candidates applying for mitigating circumstances. You can read more about this above. Please note that strict time limits apply and all references/evidence must be submitted by the application deadline.

We no longer require applicants with predicted degree/GDL results to provide a reference in support. We have been made aware that some applicants are experiencing difficulty securing a reference to confirm a predicted grade. As a result of this, and in an effort to ensure that no candidate is in any way disadvantaged, the ICCA has decided to waive the requirement for such references with immediate effect. We are grateful for those references that have been received to date, but to ensure parity between all applicants, they will not be taken into account. We apologise to any applicant who has been inconvenienced.

For the sake of clarity, students with predicted grades do not require a reference at all, either as to their general academic performance or as to their predicted grade.


Fair Admissions Policy

The ICCA is committed to equality of opportunity and the promotion of diversity. We adopt fair and transparent admissions and selection processes so as to achieve our aim of accepting candidates 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.

All trained admissions assessors will not have information relating to any candidate’s name, address, school or university or protected characteristics of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.

Even though some of this information is required to be entered by you during the application process, this is to ensure either that students can meet the minimum entry requirements and for monitoring and contact purposes and the information is removed from your application before it is passed to an assessor. You will not be asked any questions used to determine your application which are designed to reveal this information.  Such information does not form any part of the criteria against which your application will be assessed.

In accordance with our fair admissions policy and objectives, candidates should not use their answers within the free text boxes to reveal such information.

You can read our Fair Admissions Policy on the ICCA website here.


Monitoring Data

The ICCA values the diversity of backgrounds, skills and experiences and actively promotes an inclusive culture where all our students, staff and visitors are able to flourish. As part of meeting our commitments to equality and diversity, the ICCA collects and analyses statistical information on all those that apply to the ICCA Bar Course.

Diversity data gathered from this form will be anonymised and used to inform the ICCA and the Bar Standards Board (BSB) policies aimed at widening access to the profession and improving diversity. It will assist us in meeting our statutory duties under the Equality Act 2010 and will inform our wider equality and diversity strategy.

The information that you are asked to provide in the monitoring section of your application will be treated in the strictest confidence and stored securely.  It will be passed to the Bar Standards Board only in its anonymised format. It forms no part of our selection criteria and will not be passed to assessors during the selection process. Provision of diversity information is not compulsory however we strongly encourage you to help us by completing this form.

Question formats are based on Legal Services Board approved monitoring questions.

Where applicable, if you do not wish to answer the question please choose the option “Prefer not to say”.



The ICCA operates a competitive admissions system and therefore a considerable number of applicants may be unsuccessful. The ICCA will provide general feedback to candidates who were invited to and attended a selection event. The ICCA is unable to provide feedback to candidates who are not shortlisted for a selection event.


Complaints and Appeals

The ICCA prides itself on ensuring that all applicants are treated fairly and equally. However, if you feel that you have been unfairly treated during the application process the ICCA has an Admissions Complaints and Admissions Appeals Procedure that can be found on the ICCA Bar Course pages of the ICCA website here. Please note that strict time limits apply.



At the end of the online questionnaire you are required to submit a declaration confirming that the content of your application is your own work and is true to the best of your knowledge, information and belief.

Please note that a student is liable for exclusion from the ICCA Bar Course if:

  • they do not comply with any reasonable request to provide proof of entry qualifications;
  • they make a false claim in respect of application for admission;
  • they present false or fraudulent evidence of qualifications;
  • they engage another person to impersonate them; or
  • they impersonate another person in connection with an application for admission or in providing evidence of qualifications

In accordance with the ICCA Academic Regulations and Student Conduct Policy, the ICCA shall report any such behaviour to the relevant Inn of Court to enable the Inn to assess whether the candidate is a fit and proper person to be called to the Bar.


Contact Information

Should you need to contact us, please use the details below.

We will endeavour to respond to you as soon as possible and in any event within 24 hours of your email.

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