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Academic stage of education and training

 

Last updated 6 February 2014

The Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Bar Standards Board (BSB) are jointly responsible for accrediting providers and for validating programmes for those who wish to become solicitors and barristers in England and Wales. The SRA acts as the administrator on behalf of both regulators.

Academic stage information from the BSB

The academic stage of education and training is normally satisfied by successfully completing an undergraduate qualifying law degree (QLD), a postgraduate common professional examination course (CPE) or an exempting law degree (ELD). In exceptional circumstances, other evidence of academic ability may be accepted. Those who wish to find out about this possibility should consult the Academic Stage Handbook (see below).

Though we have changed neither our remit nor our requirements as to quality and standard, we have made a number of changes to how we monitor and approve validated programmes. From January 2014 onwards, we have been operating an approach which is based on two basic principles. In summary, these are:

  • to remove the duplication of oversight of academic standards and quality with that of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), and, instead, to rely on the required compliance of Higher Education Institutions with QAA's Quality Code for Higher Education, and the outcomes of the QAA review;
  • to continue to monitor and ensure compliance with the Joint Statement (see below).

In order to have programmes validated, Higher Education Providers are required to self-certify, complete with supporting documentation, their compliance with the Joint Statement and with QAA standards and quality assurance requirements.

Download the Self-Declaration Form (DOC 3 pages, 83K)

The fundamental point of reference for this validation process is the 1999 Joint Statement of the Law Society and the General Council of the Bar on the completion of the academic stage of training.

Read the Joint Statement

Academic awards

Higher Education Providers have discretion in their choice of academic award title for QLDs, ELDs and the CPE, and so the actual award titles will vary from provider to provider.

It is the responsibility of prospective students who wish to become solicitors and barristers in England and Wales to ensure that they enrol on a programme that has been validated for this purpose.

Certificate of Completion of the Academic Stage and the Legal Practice Course

Note: The Solicitors Regulation Authority is presently engaged in a public consultation regarding proposed amendments to the Training Regulations. This consultation includes a proposal directly affecting the issue of the requirement for a certificate of completion of the academic stage. We advise prospective students to look out for updates and further information.

More about the consultation and proposed changes to the Training Regulations

Currently, students need to obtain certification from the SRA that they have completed the academic stage of training as specified by us. We check that a student has completed the academic stage and then issue a letter to the student confirming this. The student is then required to present the letter to their prospective LPC provider.

Qualifying law degrees

Guidance for providers and students about qualifying law degrees can be found in the Academic Stage Handbook.

Institutions providing qualifying law degrees

Common Professional Examination

Guidance for providers and students about common professional examination courses can be found in the Academic Stage Handbook.

Accredited institutions and their CPE courses

Certificate of academic standing and non-standard qualifications

Anyone who wishes to undertake the CPE and has non-standard qualifications is required to obtain a Certificate of Academic Standing from the SRA before enrolling on a CPE course. The certificate is evidence that their qualifications meet the minimum requirements for admission to a CPE course.

There are no charges or fees for requesting a Certificate of Academic Standing. We aim to complete an initial assessment within 10 working days of receipt of your initial paper application, and provide a decision on your application within 30 days of receipt of all relevant documents. We try to operate ahead of service levels where possible.

We do not accept scans or uncertified copies of documents. We do accept certified copies, which are photocopies of the original document that are then signed/stamped as being true copies of the original. Certified copies of documents can be provided by a solicitor, a Notary Public, your local post office, or the academic office from which your documents were issued. Alternatives may be available. Most require a small fee.

If you have changed your name since your qualification was awarded (marriage, deed poll, etc), you will also need to provide us with the relevant supporting documents as necessary. Your written and spoken English is not assessed by the SRA. Any English language requirements will be the responsibility of your course provider.

We recommend that applicants do not submit original documents, however if you do and you would like them returned, please include a pre-paid, recorded delivery envelope with your application. If you do not provide a pre-paid envelope, original documents will be returned by standard post. We cannot accept postal orders to cover postage. The SRA hold no responsibility for original documents that are lost in transit. Certified copies of documents are returned by standard post on request.

Applications should be made online in the first instance: To begin, please register. When your online application is complete, you will be sent a cover sheet by email which should be attached to the bundle of documents you send to us. Documents are not accepted by email. Therefore, you should arrange to submit the above-listed documents by post, with a covering letter explaining your reason for contacting us, to the following address:

Authorisation Team 3
Solicitors Regulation Authority
The Cube
199 Wharfside Street
Birmingham
B1 1RN

If the online application process is unavailable, please submit your documents by post as described above.

Exemption from the Common Professional Examination

Some people may be eligible to apply for partial or full exemption from the Common Professional Examination. Information on this may be found in the notes on applications for a certificate of exemption from the CPE (PDF 2 pages, 96K). If you meet the criteria, you should apply online for an exemption as described in the notes.

Exempting Law Degrees

An Exempting Law Degree (ELD) combines the academic stage of training with an LPC. A provider seeking validation of an ELD will need to demonstrate that the design of the course will meet both the outcomes of the Joint Statement and the learning outcomes for the LPC.

Information relating to these degrees may be found in the Academic Stage Handbook.

Accredited institutions and their exempting law degrees

Academic Stage Handbook

The Academic Stage Handbook (PDF 45 pages, 436K) sets out the basic rules and guidance for those with an interest in providing or undertaking QLDs, ELDs and CPE.

SRA Training Regulations 2011

The Training Regulations 2011 govern all aspects of qualifying as a solicitor. The provisions of the Training Regulations are supplemented by an extensive body of subordinate regulations.

Note: The Solicitors Regulation Authority is currently engaged in a public consultation regarding proposed amendments to the Training Regulations. We advise prospective students to look out for updates and further information.

More about the consultation and proposed changes to the Training Regulations

Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme

The Qualified Lawyers Transfers Scheme (QLTS) is the route by which lawyers from other jurisdictions (and barristers of England and Wales) can be admitted by the Solicitors Regulation Authority as solicitors of England and Wales.

The QLTS ensures that a lawyer qualified in another jurisdiction has met the standard of knowledge and skill required of a newly qualified solicitor of England and Wales. This is done through two separate tests which are administered on the SRA's behalf by Kaplan QLTS.

The Qualified Lawyers Transfers Scheme Regulations 2011 replaces the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme Regulations 2010.

More about the QLTS