Please note: an updated applications timetable for course cycles commencing in September 2021 and January 2022 will be published later this year. The information below refers to course cycles for which applications have now closed.
Part One is due to commence in September 2020 and Part Two in March 2021. Applications can be made from December 2019. Please see our “Entry Requirements” and “The Application Process” sections for more information.
The ICCA Bar Course will be delivered in two independent cycles, with Part One commencing in September 2020 and Part Two in March 2021 (Cycle One), and Part One commencing in January 2021 and Part Two in September 2021 (Cycle Two).
No. Part One of the ICCA Bar Course is an online-only course of study covering the knowledge subjects of Criminal Litigation, Evidence and Sentencing and Civil Litigation, Evidence and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). This follows a recommended structured pathway over 12-16 weeks or at students’ own pace, at any time of day and from any location. As such, Part One of the ICCA Bar Course does not include provision for face to face teaching. The ICCA will monitor progress and feedback and, where required, organise additional online input to assist students.
Part One online content involves 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 are 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.
Every student on the ICCA Bar Course (on both Parts One and Two) will be assigned a personal tutor. A personal tutor is an academic member of staff who will take an active interest in your college experience and is concerned for your general welfare. Your personal tutor will also be available to discuss your academic progress on Part Two of the course.
It is important, however, that all students applying for the ICCA Bar Course consider if they have the motivation, dedication and diligence to succeed on our course with its individual philosophy and design and, in particular, whether they are suited to online study. During the application process applicants are asked why they feel the ICCA Bar Course model would suit their individual learning style, including the ability to work independently with limited tutor support on Part One. Please see our “Entry Requirements” and “The Application Process” for more information.
No. Part One of the ICCA Bar Course is taught online, but Part Two requires compulsory attendance. Part One also requires attendance for assessments. Any application by a student to sit any of Part One assessments at an overseas location will be considered on the merits of the individual application and will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.
Yes, there is an attendance requirement but only for Part Two of the ICCA Bar Course. In order to progress and make the most of the course students are expected to attend all face-to-face teaching sessions. This is monitored not simply to ensure academic progress, but also because lack of attendance can indicate issues regarding the wellbeing of our students. Students who do not attend at least 80% of Part Two face to face teaching sessions will be unable to pass the ICCA Bar Course.
Part One is an online only course for which attendance is not required, except that students will be required to attend Part One assessment sittings. Any application by a student to sit any of these assessments at an overseas location will be considered on the merits of the individual application and will be granted in exceptional circumstances.
Part One assessments are known as centralised assessments and are set by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) and will be taken by students at a venue in London and another regional location. Any application by a student to sit any of Part One assessments at an overseas location will be considered on the merits of the individual application and will only be granted in exceptional circumstances. Part Two assessments are set by the ICCA (in accordance with BSB standards and regulations) and will be taken by students in London.
No. At present there is no part-time option on the ICCA Bar Course. Our course is a flexible two-part programme with the knowledge subjects in Part One of Criminal Litigation, Evidence and Sentencing and Civil Litigation, Evidence and ADR delivered online (following a recommended structured pathway over 12-16 weeks or at students’ own pace, at any time of day and from any location) and the skills subjects in Part Two of Advocacy, Conference skills, Legal Research and Opinion Writing & Drafting (with the exception of an online Ethics element) taught face-to-face over a 20 or or 22 week programme of study requiring full-time attendance (commencing Part Two in March takes 20 weeks and commencing Part Two in September takes 22 weeks).
Yes, but Part One of the ICCA Bar Course is delivered online and as such can be studied from any location. Part One follows a recommended structured pathway over 12-16 weeks or at students’ own pace. Part Two, which requires full-time attendance, is taught within the precincts of the Inns of Court in central London over a 20 or 22 week period (commencing Part Two in March takes 20 weeks and commencing Part Two in September takes 22 weeks).
Yes. You are entitled to leave Part One at any time if you consider the course is not for you. In addition, if you choose to leave Part One and not to continue to Part Two (for whatever reason) you will not be charged any fee towards Part Two.
For Part One, the ICCA charges £1,000 inclusive of all textbooks plus the BSB intake fee of £575 (total inclusive fee £1,575), with no Part Two cost incurred for any student not proceeding to Part Two. No deposit is required. This means that if you do not pass Part One or choose not to continue to Part Two (for whatever reason) you will not be charged a further fee. Payment for Part One is taken upon enrolment (day-one of the course) and there is a 14-day cooling off period during which you can decide not to proceed with the Part One course and receive a full refund (of both the £1,000 ICCA fee and the £575 BSB intake fee). The fee for Part Two is £11,225 (plus the BSB intake fee £295 – total inclusive fee £11,520). The BSB intake fee is also payable upon enrolment. The ICCA fee can be paid in whole when you enrol on Part Two or by instalments. If you leave Part Two before or up to the halfway stage you will be liable for only half the ICCA fee, although the BSB intake fee will not be refunded.
Successful completion of the ICCA Bar Course (both Parts One and Two) leads to a Postgraduate Diploma in Bar Practice. It enables you to be called to the Bar (subject to successful completion, Inns’ qualifying sessions and fit and proper person checks). It attracts 120 credits at Masters level (40 credits for Part One and 80 credits for Part Two).
If you successfully complete Part One of the ICCA Bar Course you will not receive an award from the ICCA, although you may be able to use the 40 credits achieved to continue your study with another Authorised Education and Training Organisation or Higher Education provider, subject to their individual policies on recognition of prior learning and experience.
Yes. Please read “The Application Process”. Applying for the ICCA Bar Course does not prevent you from applying for Vocational Bar Training Courses run by other AETOs and you are encouraged to do so, although you will not be permitted to accept an offer from more than one AETO for admission to their Bar Vocational Training Course. Other AETOs adopt their own selection procedures and admissions criteria (subject to minimum requirements imposed by the Bar Standards Board) and you should contact these individual AETOs or check their websites for further information.
No. You are entitled to apply to more than one AETO for your vocational Bar Training (and are encouraged to do so), but if you accept an offer for the ICCA Bar Course you cannot also accept an offer for vocational training from another AETO. An offer to the ICCA Bar Course will be withdrawn from any applicant who does so.
No. Joining the ICCA as a Bar Course student is separate and distinct from joining an Inn as a student member.
The four Inns of Court (The Honourable Societies of Gray’s Inn, Lincoln’s Inn, Inner Temple and Middle Temple) are the professional membership associations for barristers in England and Wales dedicated to promoting the rule of law and providing excellent education and training to their members. Under the Legal Services Act s.207(1) a “barrister” means an individual who has been Called to the Bar by an Inn of Court and is not disbarred by an order of an Inn of Court.
The Inns accept student members who are subject to the regulatory education and training requirements of the Bar Standards Board (BSB), as contained in the Bar Standards Board Handbook (see Part 4 Qualification Rules in the BSB Handbook and the Memorandum of Understanding between the BSB and the Inns). The Inns are responsible for Call to the Bar of their student members. The Inns also undertake a unique and essential role in the training of barristers. This educational and professional development role includes the following core components:
The Inns provide this education and development which is distinct from the Bar Course education delivered by the ICCA as an Authorised Education and Training Organisation (AETO) on behalf of COIC.
It is important to recognise that registration on the ICCA Bar Course confers no advantage in relation to Inns’ scholarships or awards, Inns’ membership, Inns’ Qualifying Sessions or Call to the Bar. Similarly, any offer of an Inns’ scholarship confers no advantage to a student applying to study with the ICCA.
It is a student’s responsibility to join an Inn of Court before commencing Part Two of the ICCA Bar Course, although many students will choose to join an Inn before commencing Part One and this is recommended.
No. Student registration on Part Two of the Bar Course of the ICCA requires student membership of an Inn of Court. The ICCA prescribes no preference nor affords any preferential treatment to any current or prospective student of the ICCA based upon their choice of Inn.
Students are encouraged to visit the Inns and read the information contained on their websites. Each Inn has its own unique character and part of the excitement of training to become a Barrister is making the decision for yourself as to what Inn suits you best. You can visit the Inns’ websites here:
The “Bar Professional Training Course” (BPTC) has for some time been the title used for all post-graduate Bar Vocational Training Courses. The institutions providing these courses have been known as course “providers”. The Bar Standards Board (BSB) is the regulator for Bar Training and has been consulting for some years about Future Bar Training. The result of this consultation has been a change to regulatory requirements. All “providers” of Bar Vocational Training will (from September 2019) be called “Authorised Education and Training Organisations” (AETOs) and must apply to the BSB for authorisation to run their courses which no longer need to be known as the BPTC. “The ICCA Bar Course” is the course title which will be used by the ICCA. Other AETOs will be able to give individual titles to their courses as they see fit.
The BPTC was a Bar Vocational Training Course principally designed to allow students to meet the educational and vocational requirements to be called to the Bar. The ICCA Bar Course is designed to do just this, and successful completion of our Bar Course will allow you to be called to the Bar (subject to fit and proper person checks by the Inns that apply to all applicants for Call). The ICCA has taken an innovative approach to vocational Bar Training and you are encouraged to read “About the ICCA Bar Course” as well as our “Entry Requirements” and “The Application Process”. We will be holding a series of webinars to help you understand all of these matters and to ask any questions you may have – read more in “Student Events and Information”.
Please note that applying for a place on or registration on the Bar Course of the ICCA confers no advantage in relation to Inns’ scholarships or awards, Inns’ membership, Qualifying Sessions or Call to the Bar.
No. The ICCA provides its Bar Course on a ‘not-for-profit’ basis and ensures that the cost to all students is maintained at the lowest sustainable level. Please see above the essential features of the ICCA Bar Course for more information. To this extent, rather than providing scholarships, the financial benefit and saving to our students is built into the affordability of the course itself.
Applicants to the ICCA Bar Course should feel free to apply for scholarships from other sources. Please note, however, that applying for a place on or registration on the Bar Course of the ICCA confers no advantage in relation to Inns’ scholarships or awards, Inns’ membership, Qualifying Sessions or Call to the Bar. Please read “Do I have a greater chance of obtaining an Inns Scholarship by applying to the ICCA?”
No. Applying for a place on or 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.
Student registration with the ICCA does not afford any preferential status in respect of receiving any award, bursary or scholarship from the Inns of Court. The provision of any such an award by the Inns is made without regard to an individual’s choice of AETO for vocational training. The ICCA does not take part in any decision to offer such awards, bursaries or scholarships.
The ICCA and the Inns have a Policy which sets out clearly the independence of the ICCA from the Inns of Court in relation to Call, Qualifying Sessions, Outreach and Scholarships. You can read the Policy in full here.
No. Applying for a place on or registration on the Bar Course of the ICCA confers no advantage in relation to Inns’ scholarships or awards, Inns’ membership, Qualifying Sessions or Call to the Bar.
Student membership of an Inn is distinct from admission as a student to the Bar Course of the ICCA and must be applied for separately and independently. The ICCA does not take any part in the decision of any Inn to admit a student member to that Inn nor shall the ICCA seek to use the Inns as a conduit for information to their students. This shall not affect the right or responsibility of the ICCA to pass on misconduct findings of any ICCA student in accordance with its misconduct rules.
No. Applying for a place on or 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.
Student registration with the ICCA does not afford any preferential status in respect of Call to the Bar. Call to the Bar is determined by objective and transparent criteria as published by the Inns. One such criterion is passing the vocational component of training and this can be fulfilled with any AETO. The ICCA does not take part in the decision of any Inn to call any individual to the Bar. This shall not affect the right and responsibility of the ICCA to pass on misconduct findings of any ICCA student in accordance with its misconduct rules.
Yes. Joining the ICCA as a Bar Course student is separate and distinct from joining an Inn as a student member. The Inns undertake a unique and essential role in the training of barristers which is separate from the Bar Course of the ICCA. The educational and professional development role of the Inns includes the provision of professional development events known as “Qualifying Sessions”.
Applying for a place on or 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
Successful completion of the ICCA Bar Course leads to a Postgraduate Diploma in Bar Practice. It attracts 120 credits at Masters level. Postgraduate Loans are not available for postgraduate level courses for a Postgraduate Diploma. More information about postgraduate funding and eligibility is available at Student Finance England.
The ICCA has taken the decision to reduce the financial risk to all students:
Students may be able to access funding from a number of alternative sources. The following information may be of assistance:
Turn2Us is a national charity helping people at difficult times in their life. They provide financial support to help people get back on track. They list a number of available grants under the Grants Search according to location, gender and age moving onto a more specific search, such as law for example. These can be quite small grants, but it is possible to combine a few of them to make up a shortfall.
Finding a Masters provides extensive guidance on applying for Masters funding without a scholarship. There are some myths and realities about the search for charitable funding and there is invaluable information for anyone looking to research large and small charities for funding with top tips on how to make an application.
The Grants Register – The Grants Register 2019 is a guide to postgraduate and professional funding worldwide. It contains international coverage of grants in 58 countries, both English and non-English speaking; information on subject areas, level of study, eligibility and value of awards; and information on over 6,000 awards provided by over 1,300 awarding bodies. It is available only in hard copy but should be available in good libraries.
Inns Scholarships – All four Inns of Court offer scholarships to students wishing to study for the Bar, the GDL and, to a lesser extent, for pupillage. A student is entitled upon receipt of an Inns Scholarship to study with whichever of the authorised AETO’s they choose. An Inns’ Scholarship does not confer any special benefit on a student applying to the ICCA. No ICCA Governor or members of staff or anyone associated with the ICCA Bar Course will engage in activities at the Inns relating to Call or Scholarships. The four Inns of Court are Gray’s Inn, Lincoln’s Inn, Inner Temple and Middle Temple. Students can only join one Inn but can apply for several scholarships and awards. Each Inn has its own set of criteria that are used to assess potential scholars and details are available via the Inns directly.
Private Lenders – there are a number of commercial lenders who will consider lending money to postgraduate students. They each adopt a set of criteria when considering an application. The ICCA has no relationship with any private lender and does not endorse any of them individually. The information below is purely to help students assess how they might acquire funding in the event they cannot self-fund. Private lenders are unlikely to have an upper age limit or to take into account existing qualifications. Some of the criteria they might consider are:
Some examples of private lenders concerned in postgraduate funding are:
Students may find the following links useful when considering funding:
Yes. The ICCA welcomes international students. Part One of the Bar Course of the ICCA is an online course of study accessible online from any location. Students are reminded that attendance in the UK for Part One assessments is compulsory, save that any application by a student to sit the centralised (Part One) assessments at an overseas location will be considered on the merits of the individual application and may be granted in exceptional circumstances.
Part Two of the ICCA’s Bar Course is a 20 or 22 week programme of study (commencing Part Two in March takes 20 weeks and commencing Part Two in September takes 22 weeks). Full-time attendance is required, including for assessments (and assessment resits). Students coming to the UK for courses lasting less than six months without any placement or work requirements will usually need to obtain a Short-Term Study Visa (previously known as “Student Visitor visa”). If you have come to the UK as a Short-term Student, you are only able to study on a course which lasts for 6 months or less, and you will not be able to extend this visa in the UK. For students who are coming to the ICCA to study on Part Two of our Bar Course, your Short-term Study visa support letter will be issued to you by Admissions once you have met all of the conditions attached to your offer.
International students are required to meet the minimum entry requirements for the ICCA Bar Course (please see the ‘Entry Requirements’ section) and, in the event of being shortlisted, attend a selection event in the UK, subject to reasonable adjustments for students with a disability. The ICCA will consider equivalent qualifications and all international students are subject to Bar Standards Board regulatory requirements for vocational Bar Training. Please see the BSB Bar Qualification Manual for more information.
Living in the UK for the first time may seem a strange and difficult experience and the ICCA will endeavour to provide support and assistance to all of its students.
No. Part One of the ICCA Bar Course is delivered online and as such can be studied from any location. Part One follows a recommended structured pathway over 12-16 weeks or at students’ own pace. Part Two, which requires full-time attendance over 20 or 22 weeks (depending on whether you commence Part Two in March or September respectively), is taught within the precincts of the Inns of Court in central London. As such, students will need to make their own living arrangements in a location which allows them to reach central London for the Part Two period.
The following information and websites may help you in your search for short-term accommodation in London and living and studying in London:
The Bar Standards Board (BSB) is the independent regulatory body established by the Bar Council for the regulation of legal services by Barristers and BSB authorised entities in England & Wales. The BSB’s powers arise from various statutes and regulations including the Legal Services Act 2007. The BSB is responsible for setting the education and training requirements for those who wish to practise as Barristers at the Bar of England and Wales.
The BSB approves Authorised Education and Training Organisations (AETOs) who provide vocational training and pupillage and other forms of work-based learning for those training for the Bar in accordance with its regulatory framework. Within its regulatory role, the BSB sets the education and training requirements for becoming a barrister, the continuing training requirements for barristers and the standards of conduct for the profession.
Useful BSB Links
From September 2019 any organisation seeking to provide Vocational Bar Training had to apply to the Bar Standards Board (BSB) to become an Authorised Education and Training Organisation (AETO). The ICCA applied for such authorisation to run the ICCA Bar Course.
The BSB has now authorised the ICCA to deliver its new two-part Bar Course from September 2020. For more details, please see the BSB website.
No. 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.
We operate a fair admissions policy. This means that all of our trained admissions assessors will not have information relating to your 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. If you reach the selection event stage of our selection process, where certain individual characteristics may be obvious, your school or university background will not be made known to the assessors.
You can read more in the section on “The Application Process”.
No. Our applications process is designed to assess whether you are motivated, bright, dedicated and diligent with a realistic chance of attaining the standard required for an award of pupillage, irrespective of your social, cultural and economic background. We have specifically designed the applications process to widen participation and seek candidates from all walks of life and from all backgrounds.
You will not be placed at a disadvantage if you do not have any lawyers among your family or friends. The ICCA adopts a fair admissions policy and you are encouraged to read the section on “Entry Requirements” and “The Applications Process” where we have published our criteria for selection.
No. The Bar is comprised of individuals and there is no set “type” destined for success at the Bar. In accordance with its Equality and Diversity Policy the ICCA believes in widening participation and equality of opportunity, and that the Bar should represent the society it serves. For this reason our applications process is designed to assess whether you are motivated, bright, dedicated and diligent with a realistic chance of attaining the standard required for an award of pupillage, irrespective of your social, cultural and economic background.
The ICCA believes in equality and diversity and adopts a Fair Admissions Policy. You are encouraged to read the section on “Entry Requirements” and “The Application Process” where we have published our criteria for selection.
The ICCA Bar Course is a new course and, as such, we want to ensure that the student experience is valuable and focussed. We are starting small and growing to a maximum headcount over 4 years.
For the first two intakes onto our Part One, (Cycle 1 in September 2020 and Cycle 2 in March 2021), places will be limited to approximately 50 students per cycle. It may be in these first few years that we cannot offer all eligible students a place. Before applying for the ICCA Bar Course, it is important that students consider if they are suited to the split regime of studying online in the first instance before attending for their more traditional skills training.
We have taken great care to design an online course which we firmly believe will enable bright, motivated and diligent students to pass the centrally-set BSB assessments with ease. It will require a determined and sustained effort on the part of the student. The benefits are the relatively low cost and the flexibility of the course coupled with high-quality digital learning assets and a pastoral support package.
Over the next few years, our intake numbers will increase to the point that we will accept 240 students every year onto the Part Two course, in two intakes of 120.
We think it is our responsibility to point out to any prospective Bar student the fierce competition that exists to secure a pupillage.
This is something that will intensify as a result of the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, with a number of chambers reducing their pupil intake, cancelling vacancies or deferring pupillages.
What do the statistics tell us?
Let’s take last year for example. In 2018-19 there were 1,758 students enrolled on a Bar Course. 807 of those were international students who were not intending to practise in this jurisdiction.
There were however, only around 450 available pupillages.
That’s not the whole picture:
This means there is something of a bottleneck at the Bar because there are more Bar students than there are pupillages. Every year there are around 3,000 successful Bar graduates applying for about 450 pupillages.
As mentioned above, until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and their impact is no longer felt, this is likely to reduce the pupillages available. The publicly funded Bar is likely to feel the impact of these restrictions more acutely than other areas of professional practice.
The cost of Bar training
Before the ICCA two-part course and any other new, more affordable pathways that are authorised, students had to pay between £15,000 and £19,000 upfront for their Bar training depending on location. Only at the end, did unsuccessful students discover they had failed some aspect of the course.
In addition to the cost of the course is the cost of accommodation and subsistence and, for non-law students, the cost of the GDL (or equivalent law conversion course).
The cost of qualifying at the Bar can exceed £130,000. This has to be balanced against the risk of not getting a pupillage.
For more information on funding, see the FAQ: How can I obtain funding for the ICCA Bar Course?
Who gets pupillage?
According to the BSB in their review of 2019, intellectual ability and academic history were found to be the most important selection criteria across chambers when sifting applications for pupillage.
Examples of intellectual ability cited by chambers included evidence of academic achievement, including a first class or upper second-class degree (or equivalent), Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) grades, and a few references to high marks for A-Level (or equivalent).
At paragraph 160 of the BSB’s research from January 2019, it is stated that those from BAME backgrounds were far less likely to attain pupillage when controlling for other variables.
The ICCA has taken the Bar Council’s Fair Recruitment Guide as a starting point and worked with the authors of that guide to develop a Fair Admissions Policy for selection on to the ICCA Bar Course.
We will carefully monitor the success of our approach.
Studying for the Bar is expensive and carries risks
You should be sure that you have the intellectual capacity to cope with the demands of the course and the means with which to support yourself during the period of study.
The Bar Standards Board (BSB) publishes statistics on Bar training and the most recent data available is the key statistics report of 2019. Please note that this refers to Bar training under the previous Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) and not the current approach to Bar training which came into force with the new Bar Qualification Rules on 1 April 2019. For this reason you will not see the ICCA Bar Course referred to in this document. Nonetheless, it provides a helpful overview of the numbers of students previously undertaking Bar training, together with success in gaining pupillage.
If you would like to read more about the ‘old’ and ‘new’ approaches to Bar Training, please read this article on making sense of Bar training in 2020 and beyond.