Number of places: 84 FT
Cardiff’s reputation as an exciting and vibrant city continues to grow, so it’s no surprise that a fair number of its undergraduates elect to stay in South Wales to do the law school’s popular BPTC: “We’ve seen a 60% increase in the amount of applications we’ve received over the past five years.” The course receives twice as many first-choice applications as there are places, so classing them as your back-up probably isn’t the wisest move.
Cardiff keeps its BPTC intake low to ensure that teaching is limited to small groups, with oral skills taught in groups of six people. A teacher observes oral skills in pairs of students – one pair at a time – and oral and written feedback is also provided to each student. A limited amount of large-group sessions concentrate on knowledge-based content: “The whole cohort is there, it’s our equivalent to lectures.” Cardiff aims to turn out first-class advocates at the end of each year; the BSB recommends a minimum of 12 advocacy classes on the BPTC course whereas Cardiff runs around 25. Welsh speakers can also practice advocacy in their native tongue through a short optional 'advocacy in Welsh' course – Eiriolaeth yn y Gymraeg. Teaching staff are all practitioners, and the school has course consultants and an advisory board that includes local barristers and judges. Students can also use the school’s online “central learning environment” to view course materials, previous lectures and other relevant documentation. Podcasts can be downloaded as well.
Classes run from Monday through to Thursday, with Fridays off to catch-up and utilise work experience opportunities. A two-week placement scheme enables students to escape the classroom and spend time marshalling a judge at circuit level or above for a week, followed by a mini-pupillage, further marshalling, or another placement with the employed Bar. The school monitors the number of students attaining pupillage: on average 25% secure one at a UK set. These include students at local pupillages, but sources also wanted to make it clear that “the BPTC is an English and Welsh qualification – we’ve had students go on to sets in Manchester, Oxford and Birmingham. I’ve met people who consider Wales as a separate entity altogether – we’re in the UK!”
Cardiff Law School runs several pro bono projects. It is helping set up a Personal Support Unit to assist litigants in person negotiate court procedure and its Innocence Project has submitted cases to the Criminal Cases Review Commission. An asylum justice scheme is still running after a successful pilot, and there are also appropriate adult and NHS Continuing Healthcare schemes to get involved in. Students can turn to the Cardiff University careers service – which has a dedicated advisor who is attached to the law school – for guidance, but “what is most helpful is the assistance that course leaders provide.” A top-up LLM has been approved and is now available for students who successfully complete the BPTC.
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