Choosing the right Bar Course for you means you need to be well informed. Below you will find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the ICCA Bar Course. You will find information about the relationship between the ICCA and the Inns of Court, teaching delivery, funding and more. If you can’t find what you are looking for here, contact us and we’ll help.
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The Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) was the title used for all postgraduate Bar Vocational Training courses until 2019. The BPTC has been replaced by a number of new Bar training courses approved by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) – one of which is the ICCA Bar Course.
Bar Courses are titled differently depending on where you study. They are delivered in one or two parts and vary in location, fees, in-person teaching time, as well as teaching and learning approaches.
The ICCA Bar Course is a vocational training course which, on successful completion, allows you:
No. Student membership of an Inn is distinct from admission as a student on to the ICCA Bar Course 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 and does not use the Inns as a conduit for information to their students.
No. Joining the ICCA as a Bar Course student is separate and distinct from joining an Inn as a student member.
The ICCA was established by the Council of the Inns of Court (COIC) to provide academic and professional excellence for the Bar. The ICCA is an Authorised Education and Training Organisation (AETO). The four Inns of Court have generously funded the ICCA to develop a new two-part Bar Course to offer students a more affordable and flexible mode of study for the Bar, whilst maintaining our commitment to high standards.
No. Student application or registration on the ICCA Bar Course does not afford any preferential status (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.
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.
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.
No. The ICCA prescribes no preference nor affords any preferential treatment to any current or prospective student of the ICCA Bar Course based upon their choice of Inn.
Students are encouraged to visit the Inns (The Honourable Societies of Gray’s Inn, Lincoln’s Inn, Inner Temple and Middle Temple) 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 which Inn suits you best.
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.
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:
The ICCA Bar Course is run in two cycles each academic year, with Part One cycles commencing in September and January, and Part Two cycles commencing in March and September. Running two cycles enables us to do our best to ensure that all students who succeed through our application process are offered a place.
We want our students’ experience to be engaging, valuable and focussed and to maintain an appropriate tutor-to-student ratio.
No. We have specifically designed the application 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, friends or wider network. Our application process follows the ICCA Fair Admission Policy.
Yes. Applying for the ICCA Bar Course does not prevent you from applying for Bar Vocational Training Courses run by other course providers (AETOs), although you should not accept an offer to study on more than one Bar training course.
Yes. The ICCA welcomes international students and charges precisely the same fees for UK/EU and overseas students.
The ICCA is not a Student visa sponsoring institution. International students coming to the UK for courses lasting less than six months without any placement or work requirements will usually need to obtain a Standard Visitor Visa.
As matters currently stand, from 1 January 2021 students from the EEA will also require a Standard Visitor Visa to study in the UK. You can read more about this from the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA).
If you 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, you can request a letter confirming your studies once you have completed enrolment onto Part Two.
All students are required to meet the minimum entry requirements for the ICCA Bar Course and, in the event of being shortlisted, attend a selection event which can be arranged online.
No. The ICCA is committed to equality of opportunity and the promotion of diversity. We adopt a fair and transparent admissions and selection processes. This means that none of our trained admissions assessors will 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 day 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.
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 intensified as a result of the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, with a number of chambers reducing their pupil intake, cancelling vacancies or deferring pupillages. As restrictions ease, there are encouraging signs that the availability of pupillages is improving, although competition remains intense.
What do the statistics tell us?
The Bar Standards Board provides a Key Statistics Report on Bar training.
This tells us that in 2019-20, 1685 students enrolled on a Bar training course. Of these, 781 were overseas students, many of whom 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.
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.
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 an author of that guide to develop a Fair Admissions Policy for selection on to the ICCA Bar Course.
We 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 2021 (referred to above) concerning data from 2011/12-2019/20.
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.
Part One of the ICCA Bar Course is entirely online, learning is through self-study, and therefore can be studied from any location.
Part Two is taught face-to-face within the precincts of the Inns of Court in London. Part Two is not available in any other location.
Please see About the ICCA Bar Course for more information.
No. Part One of the ICCA Bar Course is self-directed study, online-only. It has been designed specifically in this way and follows a recommended structured pathway over 12-14 weeks or at your own pace, at any time of day and from any location.
No. Part One of the ICCA Bar Course is an online-only course in Criminal litigation, evidence and sentencing and Civil litigation, evidence and alternative dispute resolution. Once you have passed the BSB centrally-set assessments in these subjects, you will move on to study the skills subjects on Part Two of the course: these are taught face-to-face within the precincts of the Inns of Court, save for an online course in Professional Ethics.
Part One of the ICCA Bar Course is an innovative online course, designed specifically to enable you to study following a guided pathway or, alternatively, in your own time and from any location. For this reason, people with work or caring commitments are able to extend the time they take to complete Part One, although we recommend you complete this within one year (and the whole course – both Parts One and Two from commencement to conclusion – must be completed within 3 years).
For example, if you commence Part One in September, you can take your BSB centralised assessments in December, or in the following April or August. If you pass your BSB assessments in December, you can start Part Two in March; if you pass your exams in April, you can start Part Two in September; and if you pass your BSB exams in August, you can start Part Two the following March.
Part Two of the course is taught in person at the Inns of Court in London from either March-July, or September-January. Although this in-person part of the course lasts for under six months, there is at present no part-time or online option for the completion of Part Two.
No. Part One of the ICCA Bar Course is delivered entirely online and as such can be studied from any location. Part Two requires full-time attendance over 17 or 19 weeks and 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 links may help you in your search for short-term accommodation, together with advice on living and studying in London:
Part One assessments, set by the Bar Standards Board (BSB), and are taken online.
If online assessment is not suitable, the ICCA will discuss suitable alternative arrangements with you. This applies to both UK and international students.
Successful completion of the ICCA Bar Course (both Parts One and Two) leads to a Postgraduate Diploma in Bar Practice (PGDip) from King’s College London . Successful completion also enables you to be called to the Bar (subject also to completing Inns’ qualifying sessions and a ‘fit and proper person’ check).
The ICCA Bar Course 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.
Payment for Part One is taken upon enrolment 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 ICCA fee and the BSB intake fee).
For Part Two, 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 Part Two BSB intake fee, which is payable on Part Two enrolment, will not be refunded. If you do not commence Part Two (for whatever reason) you will not be charged a fee.
See our Fees and funding page for more information.
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.
The ICCA will be launching a Bursary Scheme funded by Specialist Bar Associations for students who have financial difficulty. This will allow students to apply for funding (discount) towards the ICCA Bar Course fees. We are aiming for the fund to be in place from September 2022.
In addition, the Inns of Court provide over £6m of scholarships for Bar Course and GDL candidates regardless of where they choose to do their training. The requirements and application deadlines for these scholarships can be found on the Inns’ websites.
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.
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.
Remember that there will be additional costs to you in taking the ICCA Bar Course which are not ICCA fees. These will include the following:
It is vital that you factor in your living accommodation and travel expenses. Part Two is a face-to-face course, so you will need to attend in person for up to 19 weeks in central London. This means you will need to pay for accommodation in a location from which central London is accessible on a daily basis. You will also have to pay for travel and subsistence during this time.