Number of places: 360 FT, 144 PT (see 'location and facilities' for full breakdown)
Fees (2014/15): £14,740 in Leeds and Manchester, £17,925 in London
BPP is one of the leading BPTC providers, and it continues to add to its impressive offering. In 2013 the legal education giant introduced new software to help students speed up their opinion writing and drafting assessments, and recently added electives in international trade; public international criminal law; and asylum, detention, deportation and extradition (note: these are currently only available in London). It's also launched a BPTC offering in its Manchester centre. According to co-director Anna Banfield, “we're looking more outside the core requirements of the course to help students prepare for practice, and we're also striving to establish links with more barristers' chambers.”
Along with the new Manchester course, BPP offers the BPTC in London (Holborn) and Leeds; Banfield assures us “the course is identical across all three centres.” Full-timers attend sessions four days a week, with Monday or Friday usually freed up; meanwhile part-timers pop along to classes one weekend a month over the course of two years.
Most sessions are taught in small groups, partly because “we have to comply with the BSB rulebook” and partly because “a lot of what we teach is skills-based, and it doesn't make sense for that to be done in large groups,” Banfield tells us. Advocacy sessions consist of just four students each. The entire cohort is occasionally brought together for lectures, but most of these can be viewed online, a decision made in response to student feedback, Banfield says: “They prefer to watch those in their own time to make sure they digest the info properly.” Our sources confirmed this, with one telling us: “I appreciated not having to go to every lecture. Other providers make you do a certain number of hours each week, but I don't think that necessarily benefits your final grade.”
Feedback is pretty frequent: oral feedback is given during each small group session, and students are critiqued on each of their oral skills performances. They also receive formal written feedback on at least two bits of work.
Students who complete the BPTC at BPP are able to study additional credits in order to graduate with an LLM in professional legal practice or a law with business MA.
The location and facilities
Number of places: 264 FT, 96 PT
The majority of BPTC students head to Holborn. The branch has more than 300 computers, as well as a 94-seat student common room, mock courtrooms and a library with silent study areas. The campus is handy for budding barristers as it's a pebble's throw away from the Inns of Court and a flock of barristers' chambers. Of course, nobody wants to spend all their downtime roaming around the stamping grounds of folks in the profession, so we should add that the vibrant Covent Garden, Soho and Leicester Square are all within walking distance too.
Number of places: 48 FT, 48 PT
Leeds may be a smaller branch than Holborn, but it's in just as convenient a spot. The train station and Trinity – a brand spanking new shopping centre – are both in close proximity, and if you're into your gigs and theatrical spectacles then know the O2 Academy and Grand Theatre aren't too far away, either. The centre itself contains much the same as the others, including mock courtrooms, a library and lecture theatre.
Number of places: 48 FT
Still relatively new to the BPTC scene, BPP's Manchester offshoot only offers the full-time option for now and thus has the smallest cohort of the three centres. Oxford Road and Piccadilly train stations are two and ten minutes away respectively, and also nearby are the Arndale shopping centre, the Palace Theatre, the Opera House, and the many bars and eateries that comprise Spinningfields. More importantly, there are a good number of barristers' chambers close to campus, which has a 108-seat lecture theatre, ten classrooms, a library with 200 students and, like the others, a pro bono centre.
Careers services and prospects
BPP offers an array of services to aid students in their quest for a pupillage. A careers team is on hand to offer general guidance on CVs, cover letters and applications, and there's also a BPTC careers officer who arranges mock interviews and talks from legal pros. The provider organises mock trial and mooting events across the year – with practitioners and members of the judiciary coming in to judge them – as well as pupillage-related lectures and court visits.
BPP students have to commit at least five hours to pro bono. The pro bono centre collaborates with bodies like FRU, Liberty, Streetlaw and the Royal Courts of Justice, and it's possible for students to bring in their own matters too, subject to approval.
Following in the footsteps of its LPC, the BPTC at BPP now comes with a career guarantee. This means those who haven't secured pupillage within six months of completing the BPTC are able to study another qualification at BPP free of charge. This includes the LPC. “There's always a worry that really bright students won't want to take a risk by pursuing the Bar,” Banfield says, “so it's crucial for the profession that we look at ways to help students succeed.”
“They do a good job of introducing you to the basics of civil and common law, and the advocacy sessions are quite useful too. Some of the other modules seem a little less helpful, though.”
The Chambers Student verdict
If you can afford the fees, BPP is well worth considering, not least for its wealth of electives and career services.
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