Academic stage

The academic stage is the first part of training for the Bar and consists of a Qualifying Law Degree or a degree in another subject supplemented by an approved Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) course.

The academic stage is designed to ensure that the student has a basic body of legal knowledge, which may be assumed and built upon at the vocational stage (the Bar Professional Training Course or BPTC). Students should, however, note that neither entry to a law degree or the GDL, nor successful completion, is a guarantee of progress onto the BPTC.

The standard requirement for completion of the academic stage is a UK honours degree (minimum lower second class honours) or its equivalent. This applies to both law and non-law degrees. Under the Bar Training Regulations, Professional Qualifications are not accepted in lieu of this requirement.

In addition to this minimum requirement, students must study the Foundations of Legal Knowledge, which form the academic stage of legal education and which are compulsory for professional exemption purposes where students are seeking to enter the vocational stage of legal education and training.

The Foundation subjects are:

  • Public Law (including Constitutional Law, Administrative Law and Human Rights)
  • Law of the European Union
  • Criminal Law
  • Obligations (including Contract, Restitution and Tort)
  • Property Law, and
  • Equity and the Law of Trusts

In addition, students will also be expected to have appropriate expertise in legal research skills, The English legal system and another area of legal study.

If you would like a copy of the CPE/GDL Handbook or a list of CPE/GDL courses, please visit The Central Applications Board website at