The Practitioner Certificate is an established program for those with Freedom of Information responsibilities.


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online sessions
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40+ hours
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Flexible live
interactive training
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3 hour BCS
8 to 12 week programme

Course Overview

The BCS Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information offers an in-depth practical examination of FOI and EIR. An accepted mark of achievement, award holders, are often selected to lead disclosure practices of publicly held information within their organisation, department or authority.

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.

TThe course requires participants develop a thorough understanding of the access requirements under the Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations along with other 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.

This accredited course, which is traditionally taught in a classroom setting over 5-days, is now provided safely across a secure WebEx platform with all the support and interactivity found in the classroom. 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 Freedom of Information Exam. The BCS exam is a 3-hour closed-book examination comprising three sections.


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 hours live module each day.

The following schedule is intended as a guide:

Module 1 Introductions, Learning outcomes
Exam details & techniques and understanding the Act
Origins and Background
International Aspects
Definitions and Scope - Duties of the Act
   • Amending DPA and PRA, extend EIR
Module 2 Definitions and Scope Duties of the Act cont.
   • Who the Act affects and application – Schedule 1 Sections 4 & 5
   • Publicly owned companies, limited application Sections 6 & 7
Obligations and Responsibilities – Access Rights
   • Access Code section 45
   • The duty to confirm or deny, and the duty to communicate
   • Held information
Module 3 Obligations and Responsibilities - Access Rights cont.
   • Access
   • Valid Requests
   • Fees and cost limits
   • Means of communications and Datasets
      • Re-use of Public sector information 2015
      • Copyright
Advice and assistance
   • Clarifying requests
Module 4 Obligations and Responsibilities cont.
   • Transfers,
   • Consulting 3rd parties,
   • Timelines
   • Vexatious and repeat requests
   • Refusals
   • Transparency and Confidentiality in contracts
Module 5 Code of Practice/Regulations EIR on Access
   • Timelines and charges
   • Transfers /Public sector contracts,
   • Refusals
Obligations and Responsibilities – Records Management
   • Section 46 Records Management Code
Benefits v Risks
Module 6 Records Management cont.
   • Function/Policy/Keeping Records
   • Historical Records after 20 years
Publication Scheme
Obligations and Responsibilities- Exemptions
   • Introduction
   • Disclosure
Module 7 Obligations and Responsibilities Exemptions cont.
   • Prejudice and PIT tests
   • Absolute Exemptions
Module 8 Obligations and Responsibilities Exemptions continued.
Qualified Exemptions
   • Removal of exemptions
   • Enforcement and appeals
   • Role of the ICO
   • Offences
Module 9 Appeals
   • Internal review
   • Complaints to ICO
   • Appeals to TGRC
The Cabinet Office responsibilities
EIR Exceptions
Practice exercises and case studies
Module 10 Questions & Answers
Individual 1 to 1 tutorials

Who should attend?

This course is intended for:

  • Freedom of Information Managers
  • Environmental Information Regulations Managers
  • Information Governance (IG) and Information Assurance (IA) professionals (all grades)
  • Records Managers working in the public sector
  • Data Protection 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

By obtaining the Practitioner Certificate, individuals will:

  • Hold the leading practitioner level accredited qualification in Freedom of Information
  • Develop a deep appreciation of FOI in its widest context, its interaction with EIRs, DPA and other associated legislation
  • Have the confidence to lead organisational compliance for both FOI and EIR
  • Be able to give advice and support on relevant information handling standards and frameworks
  • Understand the types of information likely to be requested along with those required to be made available within a Publication Scheme
  • Be equipped to develop Freedom of Information policies that cover the processing and monitoring of:
    • the receipt of a new information request through to disclosure, and
    • the application of appropriate legal exemptions or exceptions from disclosure and the public interest test
    • the calculation of fees where applicable

The BCS Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of information aligns with the vocational qualification QCF Level 4. Note, this link is advisory and for comparison purposes only. Ofqual does not regulate BCS qualifications..

BCS Syllabus

Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information (PC-FOI)
Extracted from syllabus version 5.4
December 2016

Download the new syllabus (PDF)

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