24 April 2014

BPTC Syllabus and Centralised Examinations

The main skills taught on the Bar Professional Training Course are:

  • Case Work Skills
  • Legal Research
  • General written skills
  • Opinion-writing (that is, giving written advice)
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Conference Skills (interviewing clients)
  • Resolution of Disputes Out of Court (ReDOC)
  • Advocacy (court or tribunal appearances)

The main areas of knowledge taught on the Bar Professional Training Course are:

  • Civil Litigation & remedies
  • Criminal Litigation & sentencing
  • Evidence
  • Professional Ethics
  • Two optional subjects, selected from a choice of at least six.

 

Assessment


 

Assessment takes several forms and may differ from institution to institution. Key areas of knowledge are often assessed through multiple choice tests. Written skills are evaluated by means of written papers, while advocacy, ReDOC and conference skills may be appraised by videoed performance of practical exercises. From 2012 three examinations will be set by the BSB. These are Civil Litigation, Criminal Litigation and Ethics.

 

Centralised exams

 

The Wood Review of the Bar Vocational Course in 2008 led to a number of changes resulting in the development of the new Bar Professional Training Course. One of the recommendations of the review was to introduce centralised examinations in knowledge subjects in order to ensure consistency across course providers and closer regulatory oversight of standards.


From April 2012 the following papers, each comprising a short answer question (SAQ) section and a multiple choice question (MCQ) section, will be set by a Central Examinations Board comprised of experienced legal practitioners and academics appointed by the BSB:

  • Civil Litigation, Evidence and Remedies
  • Criminal Litigation, Evidence and Sentencing
  • Professional Ethics.


Students at all BPTC providers will attempt the examinations in the knowledge subjects (comprising both an SAQ and MCQ element) on the same day at the same time (dates to be determined by the BSB and published at the start of the academic year). SAQs will be marked locally by providers and multiple choice questions will be marked electronically at the BSB.


The Central Examinations Board will then sample and take an overview of marks across all providers, making any adjustments that are deemed necessary. Confirmed marks for the centralised subjects will then be returned to providers and combined with marks for other parts of the course to give an overall BPTC score for each student.

The Central Examinations Board is concerned only with overall consistency in the three specified knowledge subjects and at no time will it be involved in discussing the marks of individual students, or in discussing an individual student's mitigating circumstances. Providers will continue to operate local processes for issues pertaining to individual students (e.g. extenuating circumstances and academic misconduct).

BPTC course providers have been consulted at every stage in the development of the Centralised Examinations process and we are grateful for their full co-operation.

 

Central Examinations Review Process

 

The Central Examination Regulations for Student Review have been designed for students who wish to:

a) clarify the arithmetical transcription of their marks for one of the three knowledge areas, Professional Ethics, Criminal Litigation and Civil Litigation, or

b) request a review of a Central Examination Board (CEB) decision which impacts on a cohort of students.

Candidates should be aware that this process does not involve a re-mark of the candidate's examination paper.

A candidate requesting a review under section 4 of the Regulations and a clerical error check to the Provider under section 2 of the Regulations must invoke processes concurrently, not consecutively.

The procedure is as follows:

1. Students may wish to request a clerical error check and this must be completed with the relevant Provider.

2. Students may wish to submit a form to the BSB requesting an enhanced clerical error check. This should be done within a stated timescale (see regulations section 3.2) and by submission of the stated fee. The fee is £60 per enhanced clerical error check [per subject area]. If more than one enhanced clerical error check is requested the fee will increase appropriately.

3. Students may wish to submit a request for a review in respect of a decision taken by the CEB in confirming cohort marks for the centralised assessments in the knowledge areas. The request for review must be submitted on the appropriate form by the stated deadline with the appropriate fee. The deadline is 6 December 2013 and the fee is £250. Requests are unlikely to be accepted after the stated deadline.

4. Fee payment will be accepted by cheque in the first instance payable to Bar Standards Board or alternatively credit card.

5. All forms must be sent in hard copy version to Bar Standards Board, BPTC Education Team - Centralised Examinations, 289-293 High Holborn, London, WCIV 7HZ and may be sent electronically once they are signed.

For any queries please contact centralisedassessments@BarStandardsBoard.org.uk