The BCS Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information course is a widely acknowledged mark of excellence that demonstrates award holders possess the knowledge and skills necessary 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 being placed on records management, corporate governance, and information architecture. A new 90-minute multiple-choice BCS Practioner Certificate Exam is now available online.


Book Icon
5 Icon
online sessions
Clock Icon
40+ hours
Whiteboard Icon
Flexible live
interactive training
Checklist Icon
Examination Icon
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 26 Sep 22 10 X 3.5hr Sessions Online Book now
28 Nov 22 10 X 3.5hr Sessions Online Book now

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

Starts: 26 Sep 22

Duration: 10 X 3.5hr Sessions

Location: Online

Book now

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

Starts: 28 Nov 22

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 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.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 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 Course Exam. The course follows the latest BCS Syllabus (v6.1) and prepares participants for the 90-minute multiple-choice BCS Practitioner Certificate Exam, which is administered separately via Questionmark through online remote proctoring.

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 hours live module each day.

The following schedule is intended as a guide:

Module 1 Introductions:
   • Learning outcomes
   • Aims of the course
   • Exam details & techniques
Understanding of Legislations:
   • Codes of practice
   • Ethics within public authorities
Module 2 The scope and principles of the Freedom of Information Act (2000):
   • Amendments, extensions, and duties
   • Schedule 1 and Sections 4 to 7
   • Publicly owned companies
   • Limited application authority’s
   • Relations with Private companies
   • Held information
Module 3 Obligations and Responsibilities in the Management of Records:
   • Code of Practice s.45 areas relevant to management of records
   • Code of Practice s.46 emphasis on part 1 of the code, and outline of part 2
   • Information Architecture – design and structure
Publication schemes:
   • Section 19
   • The Model Publication Scheme
   • Definition Documents
   • Compliance Statistics
Module 4 Access Rights:
   • Access to information, emphasis on FOIA and CoP s.45 access to information held by public authorities
   • s.1 (1) (a) and (b)
Valid requests:
   • Section 8
   • Access code of practice
Advice and assistance:
   • Clarification
   • Reducing cost of request
   • Transferring requests
Vexatious and repeat requests
Responses, preferred format and refusals
Module 5 Means of communication:
   • Section 11
   • Datasets; Section 11(1) (a)
Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations (2015):
   • What is Re-use of PSI
   • Bodies in and out of scope
   • Enforcement
   • FOIA Section 11A 11B
Copyright, designs and Patents Act
Fees and Cost limits:
   • Fees notice
   • Cost (Appropriate) limits
   • Inclusive costs
Time limits:
   • Statutory deadlines
   • Extensions via Statutory Instrument 3364
   • Public Interest extensions
Module 6 Disclosure and Non-disclosure:
   • Absolute/Qualified exemptions
   • Class/Prejudice exemptions
   • Harm (Prejudice) test
   • Public Interest Test
Absolute exemptions:
   • Section 21
   • Section 23
   • Section 32
   • Section 34
   • Section 36
Module 7 Absolute exemptions continued:
   • Section 37
   • Section 40
   • Section 41
   • Section 44
Qualified exemptions:
   • All qualified exemptions
Module 8 The Removal of Exemptions:
   • Section 63 FOIA
Historical records:
   • Section 62 FOIA
Ministerial Certificates:
   • National Security
   • Parliamentary Privilege
   • Ministerial Override
Environmental Information Regulations (2004):
   • Scope
   • Code of Practice
   • EIR Exceptions
Module 9 The Principles and Lawful conditions in:
   • UK General Data Protection Regulation
   • Data Protection Act (2018)
Role of the Information Commissioner's Office
   • Notices
   • Powers of the Commissioner
   • Section 77 Criminal offence of Altering etc. records
   • Section 55 Warrant offences
   • Failure to comply with notices (Contempt of Court)
   • Internal reviews
   • Appeals to ICO
   • The Information Rights Tribunal TGRC
   • Judicial Review
Module 10 Questions & Answers
Individual 1 to 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.