Entry requirements

The ICCA Bar Course entry requirements are focussed on attainment, not status, as part of our Fair Admissions Policy. If you have completed or expect to complete a law degree or a Graduate Diploma in Law, are energised at the prospect of becoming a barrister and want an exceptional chance of securing pupillage, the ICCA Bar Course will provide you with the fundamental skills and knowledge required to enable you to achieve your professional goals.

 

Part One

To study on Part One of the ICCA Bar Course you must meet the following entry requirements by the time you enrol:

  • An acceptable law degree awarded at a minimum level of Upper Second Class (2:1); 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 law conversion course) with a Commendation or a Distinction
  • Exercise good English language skills.

Please note that the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT) has been abolished for all students enrolling on their Bar Vocational Training Course after 31 July 2022. You can read more about this from the BSB here. For this reason, students enrolling on the ICCA Bar Course starting from September 2022 onwards are not required to take the BCAT.

Law Degrees
Under Bar Standards Board 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 subjects
For 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 Degrees
If 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 degree
The 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 and when will I need to complete one?
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.

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 below).

Good written and oral English language skills are vital for barristers and for completion of the Vocational Stage of Bar training.

This is a Bar Standards Board (BSB) requirement and requires all candidates, upon admission to a Bar training course, to:

‘Exercise good English language skills. They will have an effective command of the language and be able to use it appropriately, accurately and fluently so as to handle complex and detailed argumentation. They will use correct English grammar, spelling and punctuation. Barristers should: a) Use correct and appropriate vocabulary, English grammar, spelling and punctuation in all communications. b) Speak fluent English.’ (see the Professional Statement for Barristers, paragraph 1.8).

To fulfil this requirement, candidates must demonstrate English language ability at least equivalent to a minimum score of 7.5 in each section of the IELTS academic test, or 73 in each part of the Pearson test of English (academic).

This does not mean that you have to take such a test when you apply for a place on the ICCA Bar Course, but rather you can be called upon to do so if there is any doubt about your English language ability. The ICCA assesses written and oral English language skills during the application process.

Part Two

To continue onto Part Two of the ICCA Bar Course you must meet the following additional entry requirements before enrolment:

  • Membership of an Inn of Court (although we recommend joining an Inn before you commence Part One)
  • A pass in the BSB centralised assessments (contained in Part One of the ICCA Bar Course).

Time limits

To be eligible for enrolment, students must commence the ICCA Bar Course within five years of 31 December of the year in which they completed their academic component (i.e. their undergraduate law degree or GDL). This is a BSB requirement designed to prevent students proceeding to Bar training with out-of-date legal knowledge.

If you are out of time you can apply to the BSB to reactive your ‘stale’ qualification (which will only be granted in exceptional circumstances where you can demonstrate your legal knowledge is current), or you can take a law conversion course to bring yourself up to date.

Mitigating Circumstances

Candidates who have not achieved the minimum degree/GDL requirements, but consider that they would have done so but for mitigating circumstances, may apply to the ICCA for the exercise of discretion to disapply the minimum degree/GDL entry requirements in their individual case.

Further details can be found in the ICCA Mitigating Circumstances Applications Guidance (Admissions). The application is made online as part of the usual application process.

Applying for the ICCA Bar Course

For full details of how to apply for your place on the ICCA Bar Course, please go to the Application Process