Postgraduate Diploma Primary Education (PGCE Advanced) General Primary or Early Years

The Postgraduate Diploma in Primary Education (PGCE Advanced) will enable you to teach in state-maintained and special schools in England and Wales. It is designed to enable you to become a reflective, confident practitioner having acquired a range of skills and expertise.

Like a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) the Postgraduate Diploma in Primary Education (PGCE Advanced) is a teacher training programme leading to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) but the PGCE Advanced also offers the equivalent of 120 credits and these may be used towards our MA in Teaching Studies. Rated outstanding by Ofsted in 2013, this is a unique course which offers high quality training and support as well as excellent employment prospects.



Course fact file

Type of Course: Taught

Study Options: Full time

Duration: 38 weeks

Start date: September


The School of Education at the University of Birmingham has a long tradition of delivering PGCE primary courses. Its teaching has been graded as 'outstanding' for the third consecutive time by Ofsted inspectors which reaffirms the University’s status as one of the UK’s leading institutions for excellence in teacher training. The Ofsted report states that “such is the confidence of schools that trainees from the University of Birmingham are of high quality, employment rates for both primary and secondary phases exceed national averages by some margin. Trainees display excellent professional qualities: they are clear that good teaching leads to pupils who are interested in their work, enjoy learning and behave well.”

As well as offering outstanding teacher training courses, we are one of the few universities that awards 120 credits for successful completion of our courses, which we award at Masters level. For those who successfully complete their induction year there is an opportunity to transfer credits to the MA Teaching Studies course, which is awarded on completion of a 60 credit dissertation.

The primary programmes meet all aspects of government requirements for Initial Teacher Training. We are able to offer applicants a choice of two routes, so that you can prepare as a teacher across the full 5–11 age range or specialise instead in early years teaching (3–7 age range). Both programmes last for 38 weeks; the equivalent of 19 of which will be spent in schools.

Programme content 

  • General Primary programme
    Students on the General Primary (5–11 years) programme follow a range of courses that address the statutory curricula for the core and foundation subjects alongside Professional Studies, which considers whole school issues.
  • Early Years programme
    This programme allows you to focus your training on work with children aged from three to seven years of age. You spend time in nursery classes, as well as teaching children of school age in both Reception and Key Stage 1 classes. You follow the same range of courses as those on the General Primary programme, in addition to an advanced study of early years education.

School-based experiences are a central part of these programmes, with an opportunity for you to experience a range of ages within different schools. Both programmes also feature a range of professional courses to help you plan, teach, and develop your classroom skills. The programmes are designed, in conjunction with partnership schools, to meet the Teachers' Standards for the Award of Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). The high quality personalised support, ensures that the majority of our students exceed the teachers's standards at an outstanding level (Ofsted report 2013)

pdficonsmall Download a summary of the Postgraduate Diploma Primary Education (PGCE Advanced) General Primary or Early Years course (PDF, 82KB)

If you are interested in teaching young children, but would prefer to train as a mathematics specialist, information may be found on our Primary Education (SSPIP) in Mathematics course page. If you would prefer to teach older pupils, information on our Secondary courses may be found on the Postgraduate Diploma Secondary Education course page.

Equal Opportunities

The School of Education is committed to equal opportunities in the access to and provision of education. For more information please see the following documents:

pdficonsmallSchool Mission Statement (PDF, 23KB)

Disability and Disability Equality Scheme
Race Equality


All students have to complete six modules, five of which require a written assignments. In addition students will need to complete two teaching placements and meet the Teachers' Standards for the Award of Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)

School Studies 1:

(20 credits Level M)

This module, which consists of university based seminars and school based practical experience, will offer opportunities for you to develop your understanding and practice of teaching. In particular, the planning and evaluation of learning experiences for small groups, supported by exploration of the place of your subject within national frameworks and initiatives which will include at least one area of cross-curricular concern.


School Studies 2: 

(20 credits Level M)

These university based seminars will enable you to develop an understanding of the needs of learners within the 3-11 age group. You will also reflect on the teaching placement (School Placement 1) in your school and learn to plan and evaluate teaching experiences which will consider the role of learners.

School Studies 3: 

(20 credits Level M)

The university based seminars will enbable you to develop an understanding of the needs of learners within the 3-11 age group. You will reflect upon your teaching placement (School Placement 2) in school, and continue to learn to plan and evaluate teaching experiences which consider the role of learners.  


School Studies 4: 

(20 credits Level M)

During these university based seminars, you will develop an understanding of the needs of learners within curriculum areas in the 3-11 age range. There will be university seminars on whole school issues and reflection on the teaching placement. 

Teaching Experience 1: 

(30 credits Level 3)

You will observe lessons and teach on average half a normal teacher’s timetable, providing relevant documentation for every lesson taught. You will have discussions with tutors, mentors and teachers focus on pupils’ learning and the experience of teaching.

This module is closely linked with the School Studies modules where the theoretical underpinning of the practice is discussed to enable the students to analyse the ideas in practice. Much of the module will depend upon your individual work as a practitioner and reflecting upon practice.


Teaching Experience 2: 

(10 credits Level M)

This module will explore your continuing reflective and analytical development as you review your teaching and learning. It is closely linked with the School Studies modules where the theoretical underpinning of the practice is discussed to enable you to analyse the ideas in practice.

The contact time will allow you to develop your theoretical framework and to develop pathways for future personal and professional development.

Fees and funding

Fees for 2015–16 are: £9,000 (UK/EU full-time), £14,140 (overseas full-time). 

Learn more about fees and funding

Scholarships and studentships
Home/EU students will be eligible to apply for statutory support from their relevant funding agency. Government training bursaries may be available depending on your subject and degree classification.

For further information contact the School directly or the Student Funding Office via online enquiries.

Entry requirements

A good Honours degree (preferably upper second-class or above) – National Curriculum subject content within the degree is desirable but not essential as we recruit from a range of degree subjects. A minimum of five days’ teaching experience in a maintained primary school is also required.

Candidates have to also:

  • have a GCSE in Maths, English and science (grade C or above) or an equivalent qualification; alternatively you might be advised to take an Equivalency Test 
  • pass Professional Skills Tests in numeracy and literacy; please see the Professional Skills Tests section of the Department for Education web site for more information on the core skills required by trainee teachers
  • provide a satisfactory medical form 
  • complete an enhanced DBS/police check
  • complete a Declaration of Suitability to Teach
  • adhere to a Code of Professional Conduct and Fitness to Practise 

Please note that for the Primary and Early Years initial teacher education courses at the University of Birmingham we prefer applicants to have passed the Skills tests prior to attending an interview.

How to apply

Apply online through the UCAS Teacher Training portal

UCAS codes

Early Years: X121
Primary: X100

Learning and teaching

The primary course is designed in conjunction with our school based partnership, we have a full time team of specialist tutors and centre-based training takes place in spacious rooms that provide a learning environment tailored to promoting high quality primary practice.

Read what student Mikala Moore-Haines says about the PGDipEd (PGCE Advanced) in Early Years course. Why she decided to become a teacher, what she enjoys about the training and some of the challenges.  

Assessment methods

Written aspects of the programmes are taught and assessed at Masters level. Overall assessment consists of assignments, school based tasks and school practice.


The Primary and Early Years course works closely with the University careers service and local councils in order to provide you with support for the job application process. Our success rate for student completion of our courses and subsequent employment in schools has remained consistently high. 100% of students from the Early Years course and 91% from the General Primary course obtained employment within the teaching profession in 2013/14. The the vast majority of our students gain employment in the local region, many of them choosing to remain in partnership schools.

Such is the confidence of schools that trainees from the University of Birmingham are of high quality, employment rates for both primary and secondary phases exceed national averages by some margin (The 2013 Ofsted report)