Northumbria University (BPTC)

The Legal Cheek View

The cheapest BPTC on the market costs a full £6,000 less than the London providers of the course. Factor in the distinctly reasonable cost of living in the North East and you have a year of barrister training that, relatively speaking, begins to look like a good deal.

“Were it not for their ‘lower’ price and being awarded a ‘Deans Award’ £2000 reduction from my bill, I would not have been able to pursue a career at the bar,” one recent Northumbria BPTC graduate tells us.

Satisfaction levels are generally pretty high, with the advocacy training described as “excellent” and the wider teaching delivered “predominantly by practitioners who are extremely good at what they do”. There were a few complaints, though, about the learning process being slowed down by “international students who couldn’t speak good enough English”. The study space, which is shared with LPC and business students, also elicits some criticism. “Competition for computers, or workspace generally, was fierce,” reports one BPTCer. “Even when you did find a computer, 15% were usually down for maintenance at any one time. I often completed my work at home instead.”

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As you’d expect from a vocational course it’s very geared to practice, with a “healthy choice of electives” including the option to do real pro bono work in Northumbria’s student law centre (but beware the “extremely strong competition” for places). The careers service is “always willing to assemble a mock pupillage interview panel, even at short notice” and “are also equally happy to look over pupillage applications”.

There’s no denying, however, that the North East is a relatively small legal job market. And being three hours by train from London, where the vast majority of barristers’ chambers are located, isn’t ideal for pupillage hunters. Having said that, the significant legal centres of Leeds and Manchester aren’t too far away – and Northumbria students’ travel costs can be offset by savings made on course fees.

Last but not least, it’s worth noting that Newcastle is a fun place to spend a year. Expect “many nights out” in the city’s raucous bars and nightclubs. Some of these follow locally held Inns of Court qualifying sessions and foster a camerarderie not always seen at providers in bigger cities.

Key Info

Full time fees £12,700
Part time fees £8,500
Entry requirements 2:2
Full time places 100
Part time places 24
Contact time 14 hours/week

In addition to course fees, a registration charge of £550 is payable to the Bar Standards Board to commence the BPTC. Entry onto the BPTC is subject to candidates passing the Bar Aptitude Test.

Part-time fees are paid annually over two years.