Stage 1 – The Academic Stage of Bar Training

To complete the Academic Stage of Bar Training, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) requires you to have achieved:

  • For law graduates – a minimum 2:2 in your law degree;
  • For non-law graduates – a minimum 2:2 in your degree and you must also have passed the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) (or equivalent law conversion course).

These are minimum requirements; Bar Training Course providers may require higher grades to commence the Vocational Stage. For example, the ICCA entry requirements require a law degree 2:1 or, for non-law graduates, a 2:2 in your degree plus a GDL Commendation or Distinction.

 

What type of undergraduate degree is acceptable for Bar training?

Law DegreesUnder BSB regulations, an acceptable law degree is 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.

Most law degrees on offer in the UK/Republic of Ireland will meet these requirements, but please check with your university if you are unsure

Degrees in other subjectsFor non-law graduates, an acceptable degree is 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.

Again, most degrees on offer in the UK/Republic of Ireland will meet these requirements, but you should check with your university if you are unsure.

Non-UK/Republic of Ireland DegreesIf you do not have a UK/Republic of Ireland degree, you must:

  • obtain what is known as a Certificate of Academic Standing from the BSB which verifies the equivalence of your degree or experience; and
  • complete a law conversion course such as the Graduate Diploma in Law, or equivalent.
No degreeThe Bar is a graduate-entry profession, although if you do not have a degree, you can still apply for a Certificate of Academic Standing to demonstrate the equivalence of a degree based on considerable experience or exceptional ability in an academic, professional, business, or administrative field. If you are successful, this would allow you to take a law conversion course such as the Graduate Diploma in Law.

 

What is a law conversion course?

Law Conversion Courses go by various names, but the best known is the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL).

To meet BSB requirements, a Law Conversion Course for Bar training must:

Any law conversion course which advertises itself as meeting these Bar training requirements should do just that, but if in doubt please check with your course provider.

When will I need to complete a law conversion course?

To commence the Vocational Stage of Bar training, you will need to complete a Law Conversion Course, such as the GDL or equivalent, if:

  • You are a non-law graduate; or
  • Your degree is not a UK/Republic of Ireland degree (in which case you will also need a Certificate of Academic Standing from the BSB); or
  • You do not have an acceptable law degree or an acceptable degree as defined by the BSB (see definitions above), in which case you will also need a Certificate of Academic Standing from the BSB; or
  • Your law degree has become ‘stale’, i.e. it is over 5 years’ old. You could instead apply to the BSB to reactivate your qualification in certain circumstances (see Time Limits).

Next: Stage 2 – The Vocational Stage of Bar Training