BCS Practitioner Certificate
in Freedom of Information

Book Now

An advanced level BCS certificate for compliance or communications professionals with
information access responsibilities under FOI & EIR in England, Wales and Northern Ireland


The BCS Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information course is widely acknowledged as the leading industry qualification that demonstrates award holders possess the knowledge and skills to implement robust information access practices. The course outlines the requirements organisations must adhere to under the Freedom of Information Act (2000) and the Environmental Information Regulations (2004). This includes the maintenance of publication schemes, how to respond to requests, and disclosing information having applied the relevant exemptions or exceptions. The latest version of the BCS syllabus (v6.1) provides a significant refresh, with greater emphasis on records management, corporate governance, and information architecture. A new 90-minute multiple-choice BCS Practitioner Certificate Exam is now available online.



online sessions

40+ hours

Flexible live
interactive training


90-minute online
BCS examination

8 to 12 week programme


Code Course Start Duration Location Booking
PC-FOI BCS Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information 16 Sep 24 10 X 3.5hr Sessions Online Book now
18 Nov 24 10 X 3.5hr Sessions Online Book now

BCS Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information (PC-FOI)

Starts: 16 Sep 24

Duration: 10 X 3.5hr Sessions

Location: Online

Book now

BCS Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information (PC-FOI)

Starts: 18 Nov 24

Duration: 10 X 3.5hr Sessions

Location: Online

Book now

Course Overview

The BCS Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information course offers an in-depth examination of the legislation, codes of practice, frameworks, standards and ethics surrounding information access within public authorities. As a recognised professional workplace qualification, award holders are often selected to lead disclosure practices of publicly held information within their organisation, department or authority. The course provides delegates with a practical understanding of the obligations and responsibilities involved with being an FOI officer so that their organisations can be confident legal compliance is continually addressed.

This BCS-accredited course explores the rights people have to know about the activities of public bodies, except where there is a valid reason for non-disclosure. It examines how transparency and openness are integral to the degree of trust and confidence placed in public authorities. And how being accountable opens debate, ultimately leading to the development of more efficient public services.

The course requires participants to develop a thorough understanding of the access requirements under the Freedom of Information Act (2000), Environmental Information Regulations (2004) and associated legislation. It covers the process and mechanisms used to administer the release of information held by, or on behalf of, government departments and public authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The course is delivered online for convenience and for the significant environmental and sustainability benefits it offers. Delegates can gain a recognised practitioner-level workplace qualification at home or from their desk by attending ten consecutive 3.5-hour live online sessions across two weeks. The course follows the latest BCS Syllabus (v6.1) and prepares participants for the 90-minute multiple-choice BCS Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information Course Exam, administered separately via Questionmark through online remote proctoring. Participants will also receive a separate 1-day online revision course to help prepare for the BCS Practitioner Certificate Exam.

Learning outcomes

By obtaining the BCS practitioner certificate in Freedom of Information, award holders will:

  • Possess a deep appreciation of FOI in its widest context, its interaction with EIRs, data protection and associated legislation
  • Understand the types of information likely to be requested along with those required to be made available within a Publication Scheme
  • Know when to apply appropriate legal exemptions or exceptions from disclosure, the public interest test, and the calculation of fees
  • Understand when to apply legal judgements in accordance with the law and relevant case law
  • Be able to implement internal management policies and procedures to support compliance with FOI and EIR legislation
  • Understand relevant information handling standards and frameworks
  • Know how to apply the legislation in a practical setting along with how to prepare clear advice to colleagues and the public
  • Have the confidence to lead organisational compliance for both FOI and EIR
  • Hold the leading practitioner level accredited qualification in Freedom of Information

Who should attend?

This professional BCS qualification has been designed for:

  • Freedom of Information Managers
  • Environmental Information Regulations Managers
  • Information Governance (IG) and Information Assurance (IA) professionals (all grades)
  • Records Managers, Archivists and Librarians
  • Data Protection Officers working within the public sector
  • Press and Communications officers working within the public sector
  • FOI lead officers within an industry sector carrying out a public function or service e.g. Utilities & Housing Authorities
  • Lead FOI officers within relevant public-private partnerships
  • Solicitors advising on information law and press officers

This course is also relevant to private sector organisations directly affected by FOI or EIR legislation and indirectly by their contractual relationship with a public authority.


The BCS Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information course is currently only available online. The course is delivered over 10 days, with one 3.5-hour live module each day.

The following schedule is intended as a guide:

Module 1
   • Learning outcomes
   • Aims of the course
   • Exam details & techniques
Understanding the legislation, codes of practice and ethics:
   • Bodies covered or excluded from the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)
   • Governance in public authorities
   • Legislations relevant to public authorities
   • Codes of Practice relevant to public authorities, including relevance of sections 47 and 48
   • Ethics and legislation within public authorities
Module 2
FOIA scope and principles:
   • What the Act does
   • Amendments and extensions to other legislations
   • Further duties of the Act
FOIA principles:
   • Section 84 defining information
How the purpose of Schedule 1 is amended and applied:
   • Public Authorities listed in Schedule 1
   • Section 4 By order Amending Schedule 1
   • Section 5(1) Those designated as public bodies and contracted under Section 5(2)
   • Section 6 Publicly owned companies
   • Section 7 Public authorities with limited application
   • Held information
Module 3
The Codes of Practice in FOI:
   • Section 45 Access code
   • Section 46 Records Management code
Information Architecture, design and structure of information-sharing environments
   • Retrieval tools, techniques such as software programs
Publication Schemes Section 19:
   • Adopting and maintaining an approved scheme
   • The seven classes of the model publication scheme
   • Definition documents
Module 4
FOIA Rights (Act and Access Code of Practice):
   • Section 1(1) (a and b)
   • Section 8 Valid requests
   • Section 16 and Section 45 Advice and Assistance, including Clarification, Reducing costs, and Transferring requests
   • Section 14 Vexatious and Repeated requests
   • Access code – Responses and Refusals
   • Access code -Historical Records
Module 5
Section 11 Means of Communication:
   • Preference for communication
   • Datasets
Re-use of public sector information Regulations:
   • Public bodies in scope
   • Public bodies out of scope
Section 11A Re-use of Datasets
Section 11B Power to charge fees
Copyright, Design and Patents Act
Fees and cost limits:
   • Sections 9 and 13 and Code of Practice guidance
   • Appropriate limits
   • Inclusive costs
Time limits for responding to requests
Section 10:
   • Definition of working day
   • Time variations
   • Public interest test extensions
Module 6
Disclosure and Non-Disclosure and Exemptions
   • Main categories of exemptions - Absolute and qualified
   • Subcategories – Class and Prejudice
   • Prejudice/harm test
   • Public Interest Test
   • Absolute Exemptions – Sections 21, 23, 32, 34, 36, 37, 40, 41, & 44
Module 7
Exemptions (continued):
   • Parliamentary Privilege
   • Qualified Exemptions – Sections 22, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 33, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 42, & 43
Module 8
The Removal of Exemptions:
   • Sections 62 and 63 Historical records:
 Ministerial Certificates:
   • Sections 23 and 24 National Security Certificates
   • Section 34 Parliamentary Privilege
   • Section 53 Ministerial Override
Environmental Information Regulations (2004):
   • Scope
   • Code of Practice
   • Regulations 12(4) and 12(5) Exceptions
Principles and lawful conditions in the UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) & Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA18)
   • Definition of Personal and special category personal data
Module 9
UK GDPR & DPA18 (continued):
   • DPA section 7 meaning of public authority and public bodies
   • Section 10 Special categories and criminal convictions
   • Amendments to FOIA via DPA18
Enforcement, Offences and Appeals:
   • Role and powers of the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)
   • Section 50 Decision notices
   • Section 51 Information notices
   • Section 52 Enforcement notices
   • Section 77 Offence of Altering records
   • Section 55 Warrant offences – Power of Entry and Inspection
   • Access code part 5 – Reviews, complaints, and appeals:
   • Appeals to the ICO
The roles and power of the Information Rights Tribunal (TGRC):
   • Section 58 Determination of appeals
   • Upper Tribunal
   • First instance appeals
   • Judicial Review
Module 10
Questions & Answers
Individual 1-2-1 tutorials

BCS Syllabus

Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information (PC-FOI)
Syllabus version 6.1
February 2021

Download the syllabus (PDF)

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

Exam Preparation

Exam Preparation Day

The topics covered in this session include:

Part 1. Online discussion and presentation

  • Exam details and technique
  • How exam questions are constructed
  • Common terminology used in questions
  • Timing
  • How to read and answer BCS exam questions properly

Part 2. Mock exam

  • 45 minutes mock exam (50% of the exam paper)

Part 3. Discussion, Q&A, review of the mock exam

  • Group discussion, mock exam answers

Following the examination prep day, the instructor will evaluate each student’s mock paper and provide individual feedback. This will include direct comments on the answers, exam technique and offer guidance for further study areas.


The BCS Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information exam format is a 90-minute multiple-choice examination. 

The exam is a closed book, i.e. no materials can be taken into the examination room.

Format of the Examination
Type 6 x Multiple choice questions (State and Describe)
12 x Multiple response questions (Explain)
3 x scenario-based questions (Apply and Analyse)
Duration 90 minutes
Supervised Yes
Open Book No (no materials can be taken into the examination room)
Pass Mark 39/60 (65%)
Delivery Digital format only
Additional time for candidates requiring Reasonable Adjustments

Adjustments and/or additional time can be requested in line with the BCS reasonable adjustments policy for candidates with a disability or other special considerations, including English as a second language.

Course Cost

Get this BCS Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information for:


  • Receive a 15% online discount for multiple bookings onto public courses
  • Onsite courses can be delivered for teams of 6 or more
BCS Accredited FOI training package includes:
  • 10 x 3.5 hour live online sessions across 2-weeks, or
  • 5-days for a traditional classroom setting
  • 1-day exam preparation online training course
  • Entrance to the 90-minute BCS Examination
  • 1-2-1 coaching and support
  • 1st year BCS Associate membership
Courseware: a complete practitioner-level FOI manual
  • Detailed 183-page training manual comes in an A4 bound folder + an editable electronic version
  • Includes free lifetime updates (electronic version), which means it will never go out of date
  • Copy of the Freedom of Information Act & Environmental Information Regulation plus:
    • Code of Practice (datasets) - Discharge of public authorities' functions under part 1 of the FOIA
    • s.45 Code of Practice - Request Handling
    • s.46 Code of Practice - Records Management
    • Code of Practice - EIR
  • Electronic copy of the full course PowerPoint
  • Exercises & revision materials
  • Prep day course materials with sample exam questions

10% OFF


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Code Course Start Duration Location Booking
PC-FOI BCS Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information 16 Sep 24 10 X 3.5hr Sessions Online Book now
18 Nov 24 10 X 3.5hr Sessions Online Book now

BCS Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information (PC-FOI)

Starts: 16 Sep 24

Duration: 10 X 3.5hr Sessions

Location: Online

Book now

BCS Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information (PC-FOI)

Starts: 18 Nov 24

Duration: 10 X 3.5hr Sessions

Location: Online

Book now


In addition to the above course dates, you also need to select the dates for your examination events. Choose a date for your exam preparation day 3-6 weeks after the training course. Then book your BCS exam 2-6 weeks after the exam preparation day.

Exam preparation day

Duration: 1-day

Format: Online

  • 17 Jun 24
  • 21 Oct 24
  • 16 Dec 24
BCS Exam

Duration: 3-hour

Location: Proctored-online

  • 24 Jun 24
  • 28 Oct 24
  • 20 Dec 24

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