First launched in 1999, the BCS (formerly ISEB) Practitioner Certificate is the leading independent professional workplace qualification for individuals with privacy or data protection responsibilities. Over the years, the BCS has continued to evolve the practitioner certificate to keep pace with the advances in UK and EU legislation. In doing so, the Practitioner Certificate has become the most trusted data protection training programme in the UK and is often listed by employers as a required qualification. The current version of the BCS syllabus (v9.0) covers the EU GDPR, UK Data Protection Act 2018, and PECR while taking into account recent legislative changes and the period of transition, which will last until the end of 2020. This latest revision will ensure the Practitioner Certificate will continue to serve as the benchmark for many years to come.


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10 Icon
online sessions
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40+ hours
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Flexible Live
interactive training
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90-minute online
BCS examination
8 to 12 week programme

Course Overview

The BCS Practitioner Certificate in Data Protection confirms the ability of award holders to fulfil the mandatory appointed role of a Data Protection Officer (DPO) or to lead GDPR compliance within their organisation, department or group.

This BCS accredited GDPR training course requires participants to develop a deep understanding of both UK and EU data protection laws and how to apply them in a workplace environment. Rather than focus on the rigid mechanics of regulation, the course places privacy in the context of human rights and promotes good practice within organisations.

The course concentrates on the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) with its 10 chapters, 99 articles, and 173 recitals. It examines the complexity of the interactions between the GDPR and the UK Data Protection Act 2018, including its derogations and exemptions, along with the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).

This accredited course, which is traditionally taught in a classroom setting over 5-days, is now available online. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, delegates can gain a recognised practitioner level workplace qualification at home or from their desk by attending ten x 3.5 hour live online sessions across two-weeks. Participants will also receive a separate 1-day online revision course to help prepare for the BCS Practitioner Certificate in Data Protection Exam. Both courses follow the latest BCS Syllabus (v9.0) and prepare participants for the 90-minute multiple-choice BCS Practioner Exam, which is taken separately and is also now available online.


The BCS Practitioner Certificate in Data Protection is a GDPR training course conducted over 5 consecutive days.

The following schedule is intended as a guide:

Module 1 Introductions, Learning outcomes
Exam details & techniques data
Protection, privacy and its history in the UK
   • Articles 2 &3 Territorial scope and jurisdiction of GDPR
   • Main Establishment Cross Border processing, the one-stop-shop mechanism (OSS) and the requirement for EU Representation
Principles of Data Protection and Applicable Terminology
   • GDPR Article 4 Definitions
   • GDPR Article 5 Principles
Module 2 Principles of Data Protection and Applicable Terminology cont.
Lawfulness of Processing Personal Data
   • Article 6 Lawful Basis of Processing
   • Processing special categories of personal data
   • Article 9 Processing of Special Category Data and interlink to DPA2018 Schedule 1 conditions
Module 3 Lawfulness of Processing Personal Data cont.
   • Article 9 Processing special categories of personal data concluded.
Governance and Accountability
   • Summary of the Accountability Obligations in Article 5(2)
   • Article 35 Data Protection Impact Assessments
   • Article 30 Records of Processing Activity (ROPA)
   • Controller and Processor ROPA responsibilities
   • Interplay with Privacy Notices
Module 4 Governance and Accountability cont.
   • Article 25 Data Protection by Design and Default
   • Article 32 Security of personal data
   • Article 38 The position, tasks and role of the Data Protection Officer
Interaction between Controller and Processor
   • Article 24 Responsibilities of the Controller
   • Article 28 Processor Obligations
Module 5 Interaction between Controller and Processor case law
   • Summary of a key case law involving the SWIFT
   • Considerations around Cloud Service Providers as processors
   • Article 26 Joint Controllers
   • Article 28(3) Data processing agreements
   • Standard Contractual Clauses (SCC)
   • Article 29 Processing under authority of a controller or processor
Transfers of Personal Data to Third Countries or International organisations
   • Article 44 General principles for transfers
   • Article 45 Transfers based on an adequacy decision
   • Article 46 Transfers subject to appropriate safeguards
Data Subjects Rights and Restrictions to Data Subjects Rights
   • Article 12 Transparency and modalities
   • Articles 13 & 14 Information to be provided to a data subject
   • Article 15 Right of Access
Module 6 Data Subjects Rights and Restrictions to Data Subjects Rights cont.
   • Article 16 Right of rectification
   • Article 17 Right to erasure
   • Article 18 Right of restriction
   • Article 19 Notification obligations
   • Article 20 Data portability
   • Article 21 Right to object
   • Article 22 Automated decision making and profiling
   • Restrictions that may affect Data Subject Rights (as per Article 23 Restrictions and DPA2018, Schedules 2 and 3)
The Role of the Supervisory Authority
   • Summary of the role of Supervisory Authorities including Independence
   • Competence and Powers, cooperation and consistency
   • Articles 35(4-5) & 36 Reviews of DPIAs in cases of unmitigated risk
Module 7 The Role of the ICO as UK Supervisory Authority Sections 114/115
   • As a regulator – Investigative and corrective powers
   • ICO guidance and codes of practice (statutory and non-statutory)
   • ICO good practice in UK and Internationally
   • Promotion of Privacy Seals, certification schemes and commonly used standards
   • Advise and reporting to Parliament
   • Summary of the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) Articles 68 -73
Breaches, Enforcement and liabilities and Role of the Tribunal
   • Articles 33 & 34 Obligations to report personal data breaches to ICO and data subjects
   • Overlap with NIS Directive
   • Sanctions due to complaints and breaches
   • Notices and Administrative fines
   • Liabilities of controllers/processors
Module 8 Breaches, Enforcement and liabilities and Role of the Tribunal Cont.
   • Criminal liabilities – offences in DPA2018
Processing of personal data in relation to children
   • Considerations regarding Article 8 Childs Consent in relation to Information Society Services
   • Right to erasure applying to children's data
   • Overview of the Age Appropriate Design Code of Practice
Specific provisions relevant to public authorities
   • Meaning of Public Authority/Body
   • Article 6(1)(e) Public Task lawful basis of processing considerations
   • DPA'18 Section 7(2) interplay for public authorities with Article 6(1)(f)
   • Relevant exemptions from Schedules 2 & 3
Module 9 Application of data protection legislation in key areas of industry
   • Overview of ICO Codes of Practice:
   • Employment Code
   • CCTV Code
   • Use of cookies and digital technologies and interlink to PECR
   • Data Sharing Code
Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 (PECR)
   • Link to GDPR consent definition
   • Types of electronic marketing and obligations
   • ePrivacy regulations status update
Module 10 Questions & Answers
Individual 1 to 1 tutorials

Who should attend?

This course is suitable for the following individuals:

  • Data Protection Officers
  • Information Governance (IG), Information Assurance (IA) and other compliance professionals (all grades)
  • Freedom of Information managers
  • Solicitors advising on information law
  • Information Security, IT Security and IT managers, Chief Information Security Officers (CISO)
  • Human Resource managers
  • Senior marketing professionals, Chief Marketing Officers (CMO)
  • Company directors of businesses that handle high volumes of personal information

By obtaining the Practitioner Certificate, individuals will:

  • Hold a recognised practitioner level qualification in GDPR
  • Gain an in-depth understanding of the key changes that the GDPR and the UK Data Protection Act 2018 introduce to data protection
  • Understand the individual and organisational responsibilities, particularly the need for effective record keeping
  • Be able to apply the new rights available to data subjects and understand the implications of those rights
  • Be capable of performing the tasks a Data Protection Officer is expected to undertake
  • Develop the know-how to adopt a Data Protection by Design/Default approach when implementing new processing systems
  • Understand the legal mechanisms available that facilitate and enable the transfer of personal data outside of the UK and EU
  • Be able to prepare an organisation to achieve and maintain compliance with the GDPR and the UK Data Protection Act 2018
  • Possess the knowledge to implement and oversee relevant data protection learning and development programmes throughout the organisation, including the creation of privacy champions

BCS Syllabus

Practitioner Certificate in Data Protection (PC-DP)
Extracted from syllabus version 9.0
August 2020

Download the new syllabus (PDF)

This professional certification is not regulated by the following United Kingdom Regulators - Ofqual, Qualification in Wales, CCEA or SQA.