University of Law unveils BPTC LLM as it slashes cost of standard barrister course

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Those taking masters can apply for £10,000 of postgraduate funding


The University of Law (ULaw) has revealed it’s launching a brand new Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) LLM and will also be slashing the cost of its normal vocational barrister course.

Launching in September 2017, ULaw will combine its traditional BPTC with an internationally recognised master’s degree. According to the law school, the new course — which like a standard BPTC takes just one year to complete — is “designed to boost students’ chances of securing pupillage and to prepare them for a career as a barrister”.

Interestingly, because of the addition of the LLM content, the course will now qualify for postgraduate student loan funding of up to £10,000 — something which is currently unavailable on the standard BPTC. According to ULaw, fees for the BPTC LLM will be revealed in February 2017.

Commenting on the announcement, Jacqueline Cheltenham, ULaw’s national programme and student affairs director for the BPTC, said:

Our new BPTC LLM programme has been devised with one main aim in mind: to provide our students with the best chances of securing a highly-coveted pupillage at the bar. The course is focused on real-life advocacy and litigation experience, with students working on actual legal cases with the support of our qualified supervisors, who are all professional lawyers. In such a highly competitive environment with pupillage increasingly difficult to secure, the new course provides our students with an additional edge.

The news comes at the same time ULaw announces it’s slashing the cost of its regular BPTC.

BPTC students starting the course this year at the university’s London Bloomsbury branch paid £19,040. Those opting to study in both Birmingham and Leeds handed over £15,480.

In 2017, however, these figures will be substantially less. Citing “the challenges” of pursuing a career as a barrister, ULaw has revealed next year’s aspiring barristers commencing the BPTC at the Bloomsbury site will pay £17,500, a saving of £1,540. Meanwhile, students further north in Birmingham and Leeds will part with £14,500, equating to a saving of £980.

According to the latest Bar Standards Board (BSB) statistics, applications to study the BPTC have steadily declined in recent years. In 2013/14 1,743 students successfully enrolled on the course. This figure dropped by over 240 to just 1,502 in 2014/15.


Law Student

So it’s not cheaper, it just opens up a new route to borrowing the money? Roll on whatever reforms the BSB are proposing!


Sue Cook

Didn’t read the whole story…



I suspect this has been done because of the proposed reforms, providers want to show they are doing something about the scam they are running



This is good news.

Fair play. BPP – what are you going to do about it? Still welcome the cashcows?



What do you think? They’ll do the same. ULaw are hardly visionary. Nottingham unveiled the same programme this year for their current cohort.


Junior barrister

“Our new BPTC LLM programme has been devised with one main aim in mind: to provide our students with the best chances of securing a highly-coveted pupillage at the bar.”

A BPTC LLM from the University of Law absolutely will not provide you with “the best chances of securing a highly-coveted pupillage”. A waste of money. Don’t do it.



I would hardly say knocking £2K off is ‘slashing the cost’. It was only a matter of time before they started to include the LLM element so that students can get the extra funding, this will just lead to more students completing the course.

And so the cycle continues….


Not Amused

One day, we will have to do something about this.



Their 2017 BPTC will be cheaper than 2016 by £1500

This new LLM BPTC doesn’t have a price yet but undoubtably will be more expensive to take into account the extra LLM content. It will also attract the £10k loan that the regular BPTC doesn’t.

I wonder which they will push harder and students with no Inns or chambers funding will go for.

The plain BPTC might be cheaper but nobody will want it.

The illusion of choice.



The solution is simple, pupilage awarded before commencing the BPTC and those intending to practice over seas only. Those chambers that recruit during the BPTC or after should fall in line to recruit earlier that way nobody’s time and money is wasted! They can scrap the pathetic bar aptitude test too!



Can you tell us what you think will happen to the 25% of pupillages that are offered with start dates within nine months of the application deadline (ie where it is impossible for anyone to meet the qualification requirements if they have not started, or indeed completed, the BPTC):

In fact, more than 30% of pupillages are offered with start dates within 15 months of application deadlines – most of these probably have the same problem as those above, given that there’s a delay between application deadlines, rejections, interviews and potential success.



They will move the date back.


Just Anonymous

Because I’m bored and have no life, I’ve had a look on UOL’s website to look at just what this so-called ‘LLM’ actually entails.

Apparently, all it involves is the guaranteed ability to undertake pro bono cases at the Legal Advice Clinic. This is officially assessed by the submission of a ‘reflective journal’ on your pro bono experiences. See here:

Maybe I’ve made an embarrassing mistake and completely missed the existence of additional LLM content. If I have, please correct me. But if that’s it, I find it spectacularly unimpressive. After all, many manage to undertake pro bono work during the BPTC without the assistance of a special BPTC-LLM course. I did!

Don’t misunderstand me. Genuine pro bono cases are, in my opinion, a powerful item on any pupillage application form. But don’t be misled into thinking that the LLM in the title actually constitutes a meaningful LLM. It doesn’t. All it is, is a way to get a £10,000 loan from the government. Nothing more.


Also just anonymous

It sounds like it’ll be the same as the LPC LLM –

They add on a little extra content to bump the course up to Masters level on the Higher Education Framework, as currently the LCP and BPTC are outside of the framework.

It’s not a real LLM, it’s just an extra ‘module’ which allows you to apply the framework.
I did one extra elective module and a 3000 word research report for my ‘Masters’. Completely incomparable to people who have actually spent a whole year intricately learning about a subject in order to gain a Masters.

It was essentially a total waste, as no one who knows anything about law will be fooled by it, but it’s the same price as the normal LPC (so presumably will be the same for the BPTC too) and so it makes sense just to accept that it’s useless, but do it anyway and take the extra three letters after your name.



As someone who will be sifting pupillage applications next year I honestly couldn’t give a flying toss if you have the money to do an LLM on top of the BPTC. Please do not waste your money. Go get some real experience.



Don’t do it. An LLM from BPP is worse than valueless. Only do LLMs from proper universities.



1. I would call that a small discount rather than “slashing costs”.

2. I did the LPC MsC at Ulaw. The extra element was business classes. I did it because it didn’t cost anything on top of the base LPC, and because I’ve never done any business classes before. The whole thing was quite disappointing however for the following reasons:
i. It is clear that they were doing it as cheaply as possible (all the reading was online articles, rather than a foundation textbook).
ii. All the reading was also too advanced for a foundation class, like Bank of England articles.
iii. The teaching was awful. Nothing was explained, the lecturer was de-motivated and didn’t want to be there.
iv. No feedback. My first module result was in the 50s, no explanation why. The second module result was in the 80s, again no explanation why. I am none the wiser of why the second one was better than the first one.

So don’t expect to get a real masters degree from these tack-on programmes. The real purpose is to allow you to get student loans.



Bank of England articles are too advanced for a masters level foundation class?



It is beyond me that people are still doing the BPTC with such little chance of securing a pupillage.

All of my friends that have secured pupillage have secured it prior to commencing their BPTC.

Surely, if you cannot secure pupillage before your BPTC, it is still very unlikely that you will secure pupillage with your BPTC, unless you have an Inn scholarship.

Other than the obvious exceptions relating to those wanting to practice abroad, etc. If all aspiring barristers worked on the basis that they will not commence their BPTC until they have pupillage, or at least awarded an Inn scholarship, the providers would have to change, because they would have a huge drop in students.

All this will do is make funding easier to obtain, I cannot see how this qualification will advance anyones application, especially from ULaw. Generally, an LLM will do little anyway, unless its from a good University.



Well, to even be considered for paralegal roles these days you need a LPC or BPTC, so there is some point to having those qualifications.



Is it worth paying £18,000 and investing a year of your life to improve your prospects of becoming a paralegal?

You are obviously one of the poor chumps who signed up for the BPTC without thinking it through.



I really don’t understand why poor people get themselves into such debt in order to become lawyers.

Best leave it to the rich people to become lawyers.



There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into consideration. That’s a great point to bring up.



Government funding llm to qualify for student finance awesome for social mobility innovation somewhat


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