Bristol Institute of Legal Practice at UWE


Number of places: 84 FT, 48 PT

Pro: close ties with the local Bar
Con: campus is outside city centre

Official website

UWE's law school is on the Frenchay campus four miles outside Bristol's city centre. Don't be put off by the short commute though, as awaiting you on site is a range of state-of-the-art facilities including postgrad study rooms and a 24-hour chambers library. Throw in the university's law library and dedicated base rooms, and BPTC students can access a wide range of legal resources at any time of day or night. There are also mock courtrooms equipped with the latest recording equipment to allow advocacy sessions to be subsequently analysed.

"Our real selling point is the close ties we have with the local Bar," a senior source from BILP told us. Local practitioners lead advocacy 'masterclasses' to help students perfect their professional style, and also lend their time to host mock pupillage interviews that put BILP's would-be barristers through their paces. "Students will get a real grilling, but it's a hugely worthwhile experience." There are three chambers-sponsored advocacy competitions throughout the year, while a new mooting competition is also set to be established. Although these come with cash prize incentives, the real appeal comes with the chance to show off your skills in front of the local Bar – who knows when a job offer might rear its head?

The school is dropping the available number of full-time places from 120 to 84 "as a pilot." This is partly in response to three of its lecturers being set to retire. BILP will "never say no" to someone applying off the back of a 2:2, but is ideally looking for applicants with a 2:1 or higher and relevant practical experience. There are no scholarships or bursaries on offer, although there is a 15% discount available for UWE undergrads.

A healthy portion of the student body has affiliations with the South West, although the school has recently seen more and more recruits coming from London or further afield. There's a strong contingent from outside the UK as well, with the likes of Mauritius, the British Virgin Islands, Pakistan, Malaysia and Bangladesh all represented. One of many reasons UWE is a big draw for those beyond Bristol's hinterlands is that the BPTC offers students the chance to become an accredited civil and commercial or workplace mediator of the Bristol ADR group at no additional cost.

Students can expect to be in classes for up to 16 hours a week. This is usually completed within three days but can sometimes spill over into four. An additional 20 hours of independent study is expected each week, while Fridays are kept free "99.9% of the time" to allow for pro bono or other commitments. Teaching is led by professional practitioners and is generally undertaken in small group sessions of six to 12 students.

There are currently eight options to choose from, including diverse areas of law like clinical negligence, international trade and family. Environmental law has been replaced with a new commercial option that has proven extremely popular amongst the current intake: "We limited it to 24 places and 24 people accepted it immediately, so we're intent on continuing with that option next year."

BILP has a "very strong" pro bono unit which is well supported by the local judiciary. For example, students can attend the Civil Justice Centre and offer free legal representation in relation to family law generally, but with a particular focus on domestic violence.