About the ICCA Bar Course

Welcome to the ICCA Bar Course

“ICCA remains as the most successful AETO in terms of the percentage of candidates entering for a centralised assessment securing a pass, almost 30% ahead of the second placed AETO”
BSB Central Examinations Board Chair’s Report 7 November 2022 (para 5.5.2)

Designed and taught by experienced barristers and educational specialists, the ICCA Bar Course is innovative, flexible and accessible, offering a learning experience of outstanding quality.

Even if you have studied law at postgraduate level, this Vocational Stage of Bar training will introduce you to many new skills. It is useful to think of the Vocational Stage as the bridge between academic study and practical work experience in pupillage or work-based learning.

You will be learning the procedural and practical aspects of civil litigation, alternative dispute resolution and criminal litigation, evidence and sentencing. You will learn the fundamental skills of advocacy, from making submissions to a judge to handling witnesses in examination-in-chief and cross-examination. You will be introduced to the skills utilised in conducting effective conferences with clients, to how to draft pleadings or statements of case and how to write legal opinions. You will be introduced to Professional Ethics, including the core duties of barristers to the court and to clients.

The ICCA Bar Course is delivered in two parts using a combination of in-person teaching, e-learning, and self-study. Validated by King’s College London, the ICCA Bar Course is designed to equip you with the knowledge and vital practitioner skills required to achieve success in pupillage and then in professional practice as a barrister.

Course Structure

Part One

Part One is delivered entirely online. Your learning is through self-study at your own pace or by following a guided pathway (over 12-14 weeks). This means there are no timetabled sessions and Part One can be taken from any location.

The online lessons are accessed through the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) where you will find online forums for tutor and peer support and a number of pre-assessment revision webinars. Part One students are in regular communication with one another and are assigned a personal tutor for pastoral support.

You will also be provided with (included in the fees) all the learning resources required, including a hardcopy of the White Book (2 volumes), e-book versions of Blackstone’s Criminal Practice, the Jackson ADR Handbook and access to Westlaw and LexisNexis legal databases.

Civil Litigation, Evidence and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)Self-study, online learningTwo BSB centrally set assessments

  • Part 1: Closed-book – multiple choice questions (MCQs) and single best answer questions (SBAs).
    Duration: 2 hours
  • Part 2: Open-book [White Book] – MCQs and SBAs, including rolling case scenarios.
    Duration: 2.5 hours
Criminal Litigation, Evidence and SentencingSelf-study, online learningOne BSB centrally set assessment

  • 75 MCQs and SBAs.
    Duration: 3 hours

There are three opportunities each year to sit the BSB assessments: April, August and December. For example, if you start Part One in September, you can take your BSB exams in December, or the following April. Assessments may be taken online or in person. If an in-person assessment is required outside the UK, there may be an additional cost for this. When you have passed your Part One assessments and joined an Inn of Court, you can proceed to Part Two.

Part Two

Part Two is delivered in person. Teaching takes place within the Inns of Court (Gray’s InnInner TempleLincoln’s Inn and Middle Temple),  This means you will benefit from modern, first-class training facilities, have access to the Inns’ libraries for quiet study and share your environment on a daily basis with members of the profession. All sessions are timetabled in small groups, with a focus on individual attention.

All oral advocacy practice sessions are taught in small groups of 4 (Examination-in-Chief and Cross-Examination) or in double-length sessions in groups of up to 6 (Submissions Advocacy) by experienced practitioners
In-personInternal exams

  • Examination-in-Chief – Live eliciting of information from actor/witness, 15 minutes before tutor judge
  • Cross-Examination – Live cross-examination of actor/witness, 15 minutes before tutor judge
  • Submissions Advocacy – 15 minutes of oral advocacy performed to a tutor/judge and marked skeleton argument
Examination-in-Chief – 17.5%

Cross-Examination – 17.5%

Submissions Advocacy –15%

Total 50%

Examination-in-Chief – 14

Cross-Examination – 14

Submissions Advocacy –12

Total 40

Examination-in-Chief – 140

Cross-Examination – 140

Submissions Advocacy –120

Total 400

Opinion Writing and Legal ResearchIn-personInternal exam

Take-away written problem with a week to complete, maximum 4000 words plus legal research trail

DraftingIn-person and onlineInternal exam

Take-away written problem with 24 hrs to complete, no word limit

Conference Skills
 Taught in small groups of up to 6 in double-length sessions
In-personInternal exam

Live conference undertaken with actor/client, 25 minutes and submission of conference plan

Professional EthicsOnline with in-person introductionInternal exam

Closed-book, multiple-choice, 40-question test lasting 2 hours


Course Cycles and Start Dates

The ICCA Bar Course offers two course cycles each year with dates as follows:

ModeStart dateanticipated Completion
First Cycle: September 2023
Part OneSelf-study, online learningSeptember 2023December 2023
Part TwoIn-personMarch 2024July 2024
Second Cycle: January 2024
Part OneSelf-study, online learningJanuary 2024April 2024
Part TwoIn-personSeptember 2024January 2025

The anticipated completion dates above assume passing assessments at the first attempt and following our recommended structured learning pathway for Part One. Commencing Part Two is conditional on passing all Part One assessments and joining an Inn of Court.

As mentioned above in Part One, there are three opportunities each year to sit the BSB assessments: April, August and December. For this reason, Part One offers you the flexibility to take your BSB assessments at the first opportunity (by following the guided pathway), or to take them at a later date.  Once you have successfully completed these assessments and joined an Inn of Court (if you have not already done so), you can proceed to Part Two.

Your Development

Throughout the course you can benefit from:

  • Dean’s lectures, including visiting guest lectures from senior practitioners and the judiciary spanning a diverse range of specialist practice and subject areas.
  • Access to the ICCA Careers Hub, providing a wealth of advice from pupillage applications and interview preparation to the numerous areas of practice open to you.
  • One-to-one support from our experienced Careers Advisers.
  • Joining the Advocacy Committee to enhance your advocacy skills and build your CV, as well as access to pro bono work experience with Advocate (previously the Bar Pro Bono Unit).
  • Chambers-sponsored prizes and awards, including opportunities for mini-pupillage and one-to-one mentoring.

Your Wellbeing

Your health and wellbeing is a priority for us.

  • The ICCA has been awarded a Certificate of Recognition by the Bar Council for our commitment to the wellbeing of our students and bespoke wellbeing materials are embedded into the Bar Course.
  • We provide learning and studying support, as well as personalised assessment arrangements, to support students with a disabilities and specific learning difficulties, or other temporary conditions that may affect learning, studying and assessment performance at the ICCA.
  • You will also be allocated a personal tutor, your key contact to provide pastoral support throughout the course and to guide and encourage you academically on Part Two.
  • Our students have access to free 24/7 counselling services via Health Assured.

Course Award

On successful completion of the ICCA Bar Course, you will be:

  • awarded a Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) in Bar Practice from King’s College London.
  • eligible to be Called to the Bar of England and Wales (subject to meeting the qualifying session requirements of your Inn of Court and passing their ‘fit and proper person’ checks).
  • eligible to commence pupillage or work-based learning.


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. For more information see the Policy on Independence between the Inns of Court and the ICCA as an Authorised Education and Training Organisation.

More information

Academic Regulations 2022-2023

Fair Admissions Policy