Number of places: 100 FT, 24 PT
Fees (2014/15): £12,500
Awards: 15% discount for a 1:1, 10% discount for a 2:1; additional 10% discount for Northumbria graduates
Northumbria's Bar course has the distinct honour of being England and Wales's cheapest. Students here work in small groups on case studies under the supervision of current or former barristers from the region. Senior practitioners and judges also deliver regular talks. Full-time students study from Monday to Thursday, with Fridays off for private study or pro bono. Meanwhile, part-timers attend one day a week: Monday, Tuesday or Thursday.
Another distinction of Northumbria's BPTC is that it gives barristers in training the chance to have a go at handling live work – this can be done through the Student Law Office either as an elective or in their spare time, and involves contentious as well as advisory work for members of the public. Recent students have assisted with GP inquests and attended small claims court.
Other electives range from family and criminal to employment, housing and personal injury.
The location and facilities
Northumbria's law school is based right in the bustling centre of Newcastle, not the rolling countryside its name suggests. As such, students have easy access to the city's high street shopping and many wining and dining outlets. The law school building features curved glass encased in stylish steel bars. Inside, however, the conditions are anything but prison-like. One former student told us: “I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the resources and the IT. The facilities are all pretty new.” For barristers-to-be, there are mock courtroom facilities, complete with recording capabilities.
Careers services and prospects
A recent report by the Bar Standards Board found a decent pupillage conversion rate at Northumbria: about eight out of 30 home students gain pupillage, while some 28 of 30 overseas students find pupillage equivalent roles on their return, aided by the fact that the course is recognised by the Bar Council of India.
Where other institutions rely on telephone interviews, Northumbria goes further by flying to meet overseas applicants, although the aforementioned report notes concerns about the standards of English of some overseas students. UK students need a 2:2 or above and a demonstrable commitment to the profession, although recently introduced fee discounts for students with higher classes of degrees suggests the law school is keen to raise academic standards.
The Chambers Student verdict
Northumbria's low fees belie the quality of the facilities and experience on offer.
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