The vocational component covers a range of subjects to ensure that you acquire the specialist skills, knowledge of procedure and evidence, attitudes, and competence to prepare you for becoming a barrister. These are outlined in the Professional Statement. There are different ways to satisfy the vocational component:

  • a course in one part, which may be full-time over a year or part-time over a longer period, similar to the old Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC);
  • a course in two parts, which may involve face-to-face teaching for both parts or may involve self-study only for one of the parts, and
  • a longer course which combines study of the subjects of the vocational component with an undergraduate degree in law.

These courses may form part of an academic qualification such as an LLM. 

You can view a list of Authorised Education and Training Organisations (AETOs) offering the vocational component of Bar training on this webpage. You can also find information about the success rates for students and Bar vocational training providers under the previous vocational training arrangements here.

You can read more about our Curriculum and Assessment Strategy on this webpage.

Entry requirements

In additional to meeting the requirements of the academic component, there are two entry requirements which you must satisfy in order to begin the vocational component.

  • Joining an Inn of Court  - you will need to join one of the four Inns of Court before you start the vocational component. The Inns of Court are the professional associations for barristers in England and Wales. Your Inn will "Call" you to the Bar after you have successfully passed a Bar training course and completed ten "qualifying sessions" at your Inn.
  • Being fluent in English.

A Bar training course involves taking centralised assessments, which are exams set and marked by us, as well as exams set and marked locally by an Authorised Education and Training Organisation (AETO) delivering the course.

UPDATE (July 2023) - If you are a current undergraduate degree or Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) student intending to start vocational Bar training in the Autumn, please read our Guidance for undergraduates affected by the University and College Union (UCU) marking boycott.

Transitional arrangements

If you started a BPTC in, or before, September 2019 and have yet to complete it, you need to be aware that changes to some assessments started to come into force from September 2020. More information on how you may be affected can be found on our page on transitional arrangements.

Bar training students: additional re-sits pilot at BPP

We are exploring the possibility of enabling students who commenced their Bar training from September 2020 onwards to take further re-sits of the elements of assessment that are necessary to be Called to the Bar (which the BSB regulates), even if they have reached the maximum number of permitted re-sits for the academic award at their training provider such as a Postgraduate Diploma or LLM (which the BSB does not regulate). This will be run on a pilot basis initially for BPP students and then will be open for all students. For further information see here.

Reporting a concern

If you are a student on a Bar training course and you have a concern about your AETO, you should follow your institution’s internal complaints procedures. If you are unhappy with the outcome of that complaints process, you may be eligible to submit your concern to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator. We cannot get involved in complaints on behalf of individuals. However, if you would like to tell us something, you can use our Online Reporting Form or use this Word version of the form and email it to us at [email protected] or post it to us at: The Bar Standards Board, 289-293 High Holborn, London, WC1V 7HZ. 

The rules and requirements relating to the vocational component of training can be found in Part 3 of the Bar Qualification Manual.