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. From September 2020, there may be 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 current 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. More information on the types of course available on our website.


Entry requirements

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

  • Passing the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT  the BCAT tests your aptitude for critical thinking and reasoning; it does not test legal knowledge. Its aim is to ensure that those undertaking the Vocational Component of training have the aptitude to succeed. The test consists of 60 multiple choice questions, lasts 55 minutes and is completed on a computer at a test centre. The current cost of the BCAT is £150 if taken inside the EU, and £170 if taken outside the EU.
  • 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 BPTC and completed ten "qualifying sessions" at your Inn.
  • Being fluent in English.

Both the BPTC and the new courses which will replace the BPTC involve centralised assessments, which are exams set and marked by us, as well as exams set and marked locally by the provider or Authorised Education and Training Organisation (AETO) delivering the course.

For more information on the BPTC, please access our BPTC Handbook and the BPTC syllabus.


Transitional arrangements

If you started the BPTC in September 2019, or you commenced a BPTC earlier than that date but have yet to complete it, you need to be aware that changes to some assessments will commence from September 2020. More information on how you may be affected can be found on our page on transitional arrangements.


Reporting a concern

If you are a student on the BPTC or at an AETO delivering the vocational component of training (or integrated academic and vocational component) and you have a concern about your BPTC provider or AETO, you should follow your institution’s internal complaints procedures. If you are unhappy with the outcome of that complaints process, you can 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 contactus@barstandardsboard.org.uk 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 2 of the Bar Qualification Manual.