Degree of Barrister–at–Law

Last Updated: Friday, May 28, 2021

Course Delivery 2021 – 2022

Subject to public health advice, King’s Inns plans to return to in–person teaching for a proportion of the teaching sessions on the modular and full–time courses for the academic year 2021–2022.

What is the Degree of Barrister–at–Law?

The degree of Barrister–at–Law is a professional vocational course, aimed at enabling students to acquire the skills, knowledge and values required in order to be fit to practise as a barrister. Persons undertaking the course not only have a duty to their profession once they commence practise, but to the administration of justice in the State and to society.

The Honorable Society of King’s Inns has been training barristers since its inception. Graduates of the Degree are recognised not only as qualified but highly adept at the practise of the law. Delivered as either a one–year full time or two–year part–time modular course, the Degree is a highly sought–after qualification.

The course allowed me to use the academic knowledge gained during my undergraduate degree and paired it to a practical working environment, covering all topics in a lively, engaging and contemporary manner that proved invaluable.

Laura Maunsell BL

Who is the course for?

The degree of Barrister–at–Law is the professional stage of training for The Bar of Ireland. Further information on the role of a practising barrister can be found The Bar of Ireland’s website.

While many graduates go on to practise as barristers, others choose alternative career paths. The skills acquired and honed during the Degree course are transferrable and relevant not only to practise at The Bar of Ireland, but also to broader career opportunities in communications, politics, the public sector, education, and policy.

It helped to foster a real sense of collegiality among the students – something that is so important to life at the Bar.

Frank Kennedy BL

Each year, the course attracts a range of mature students and professionals across Ireland, Europe and further afield. The Degree is intended to bridge the gap between the academic study of law and practise. Throughout the course, teaching and learning modalities focus on the implementation of the law. The programme is demanding with extensive preparation required in advance of each class and is delivered by qualified barristers. Students gain in–depth knowledge of all aspects of the law, which includes delving into subjects that involve advocacy, consultation, dispute resolution and research.

Mock trials, regular assessments, compulsory attendance and monitoring of knowledge and skills attained, all ensure that graduates of the Degree are adequately prepared for the rigours of the profession, or the integration of their knowledge and skills into another field of work. 

Becoming a Barrister 

becoming a barrister

Statement of the Required Competencies of a Barrister 

The purpose of the Statement of the Required Competencies of a Barrister is to outline the knowledge, professional skills and personal attributes required to be a competent practising barrister. 

A student who successfully completes the professional course at King’s Inns is eligible to be admitted to the degree of Barrister–at–Law and called to The Bar of Ireland with a full right–of–audience before all courts in the State and to practise as a barrister independently. As a result, King’s Inns teaches and examines the degree of Barrister–at–Law course to a “fit to practise” standard.

People who are interested in becoming a barrister are encouraged to read the Statement.

Statement of the Required Competencies of a Barrister

Barrister–at–Law Syllabus

The syllabus covers the following subjects and activities:

1. Remedies and Quantum

2. Practice and Procedure:

  • Civil Practice and Procedure
  • Criminal Practice and Procedure
  • Evidence

3. Legal Skills:

  • Advocacy
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Consultation
  • Opinion Writing
  • Drafting
  • Legal Research

4. Ethics, Professional Responsibility and Practice Management

5. Participation in Mock Trials

6. Attendance at Courts, Tribunals and Other Specialist Bodies

7. Advanced Study of Specialised Areas of Practice (students have a choice of subjects from which they must choose one)

Throughout the course, teaching and learning focus on what happens in practice. The programme is demanding with extensive preparation required in advance of each class. Classes are taught almost exclusively in groups of sixteen with the emphasis on student exercises and group work based on realistic case papers. 

To prepare students fully for practice, King’s Inns focus on providing high levels of face–to–face tuition, either online or in–person. Nothing is a substitute for personal guidance from professionals so we ensure that students put the knowledge gained regularly into practice under expert supervision. During the mock trials all students take part in a civil and criminal trial. These trials are heard in the Four Courts and in the Criminal Courts of Justice with members of the judiciary or senior counsel acting as judges. Students are given numerous opportunities to practise and receive feedback in the workshops and are expected to participate in all classes. 

Attendance is compulsory and is strictly monitored. As the aim of the course is to enable students to acquire the skills, knowledge and values required in order to be fit to practise at the Bar it is imperative that students upon graduating have the requisite competence. Students who undertake the course have a duty not only to themselves, but to the justice system as a whole, to their Pupil Masters and to their future clients. In order to successfully complete the course a student must have attended at least 90% of all classes. The course is delivered solely by qualified barristers from practice.

Full–Time One Year Course

The full–time course takes place over one academic year beginning in early October and runs over three terms ending in late May or early June. Classes take place between 9 am and 5.15 pm every day from Tuesday to Friday during term time. Court visits and specialist courses are timetabled on Mondays. On occasion, speakers and other events may be organised after classes. Assessments take place in terms two and three.

Modular Two–Year Course

This course takes place over two academic years, each of which begins in October and runs over three terms ending in late May or early June. Classes take place between 9 am  and 5.15 pm on approximately 14 weekends during the academic year (on average every second weekend). With regard to assessments, while the final assessments take place in year two, the formative assessments (and these are only in four subjects) are held in year one. 

The Application Process 

Admission as a student to the degree of Barrister–at–Law is by an entrance examination. All details about the entrance examination process can be found here

Grants, Fellowships and Bursaries

Fellowship and Bursary information along with application forms can be viewed here

Our degree of Barrister–at–Law course qualifies for postgraduate funding under Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI). Only students interested in doing the course full–time can receive SUSI support. View SUSI details here

Course Fees 2021 – 2022

Entrance Examination non–refundable fee is €600. See further details here.

Full–Time: Total cost of course is €12,560. – can be paid in two instalments

Modular Two–Year:

  • Year 1 fee: €6,280. – can be paid in two instalments
  • Year 2 fee: €6,280. – can be paid in two instalments

View fee structure and other charges here.

Further Relevant Information

Admission to the degree of Barrister–at–Law – Upon successful completion of the degree course, a student may be admitted to the degree of Barrister–at–Law. Usually, there are two admission ceremonies during the year: mid–July and mid–October. Both ceremonies take place in King’s Inns.

Irish: Legal Practitioners (Irish Language) Act 2008 – Under the provisions of the legal Practitioners (Irish language) Act 2008, all students on the degree of Barrister–at–Law must undertake a compulsory course in Irish legal terminology and the understanding of legal texts. There is no accompanying examination or assessment to this course but attendance is compulsory.

The wider application of the skills acquired

The degree course is designed to equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge for practice at the Bar. However, the skills acquired on the course are relevant to numerous other careers:

1. Advocacy – The skill of advocacy is readily transferable and applicable to employment outside the Bar and is invaluable for anyone whose work requires communication and presentation skills (whether it is making a speech at a conference, putting forward proposals to prospective clients or presenting an argument at a meeting). Techniques taught on the advocacy course include:

  • constructing a logical argument
  • pitching an argument at an appropriate level,
  • knowing how to combine written argument with oral persuasion,
  • using voice and manner to one’s best advantage,
  • effective questioning,
  • dealing with interruptions and questions.

2. Consultation – A consultation is the term used by the Bar for a meeting with clients. The purpose of such consultations is to find out the necessary information, to advise clients on their legal situation and on the decisions they will have to make and then to further advise the clients once they have made their decision as to how they might wish to proceed. During consultations, the skills part of the training comes into play by providing techniques for dealing with diverse people in a range of situations and:

  • by extracting information quickly and logically,
  • by understanding the merits of different questioning techniques,
  • by challenging people without losing their trust,
  • by explaining complicated concepts clearly, simply and accurately.

3. Alternative Dispute Resolution – During this module, students will examine the various forms of dispute resolution which are available, before moving on to examine mediation and arbitration in detail. Students will be required to advise clients in problem–based scenarios and must be familiar with legislation and case law in this important area.

4. Opinion Writing – Students are trained to present pertinent and succinct analysis of a case, to extract and distil the core issues, to research as necessary and to advise on the

best course of action and the most likely outcomes. Both opinion writing (written analysis and advice) and consultation (oral analysis and advice) enable students to extract what is relevant from a mass of unstructured information, to assess the situation, to take responsibility for advising on the best course of action and to explain that advice clearly, logically and professionally.

5. Drafting – The skills acquired during the drafting part of the course enable students to draft documents that are clear, precise, accurate and succinct.

6. Case Preparation – Case preparation and analysis is a skill that has many applications. It involves the analysis of fact, conclusions, assumptions, inferences or argument. The quality, reliability and the source of information must be identified, separated and deployed to achieve the objective of the exercise. Students learn to cope with volumes of information and to:

  • extract and distil the core issues,
  • formulate objectives,
  • build strategy and argument. 


If you have any questions about the Entrance Examination or the degree of Barrister–at–Law course, contact the Registrar’s office at


Frank Kennedy BL

“My year on the course leading to the qualification of Barrister–at–Law was one of my most enjoyable in education. What made it unique was the vocational nature of the course, and the fact that classes were taught in small groups with a significant emphasis on student participation…Practising advocacy skills, negotiation, witness handling and client consultation was different to anything I had experienced in my legal studies up to that point, and great training for the Bar.”

Frank is a practising barrister.

Laura Maunsell BL

”The course leading to the qualification of Barrister–at–Law is centered around small tutorial classes, encouraging an enjoyable and involved collaborative learning experience that fosters close links between the students and lecturers. The course allowed me to use the academic knowledge gained during my undergraduate degree and paired it to a practical working environment, covering all topics in a lively, engaging and contemporary manner that proved invaluable.”

Laura is a practising barrister.