Postgraduate Diploma Secondary Education (QTS) - English

Postgraduate Diploma Secondary Education (QTS)

This PGDipEd (QTS) English course is designed to enable you to become a reflective, confident practitioner having acquired a range of skills and expertise, as well as a strong conceptual framework about education, children, English and classroom teaching. The course has an excellent and proven track record. It is rigorous and challenging, forming an excellent preparation for a successful career in teaching English.

At the University of Birmingham we believe we should provide student teachers with the highest level of teacher education as possible, and this is why we offer a Post-Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDipEd) rather than a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). Both qualifications lead to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) but the PGDipEd also offers the equivalent of 120 credits at Master’s level (out of 180), which makes it a highly rewarding course by combining both theory and practice.

Following satisfactory completion of this course, plus a successful induction year in school and references, students can return to complete an MA in Teaching Studies (data collection and a 15,000 word dissertation).

Course fact file

Type of Course: Taught

UCAS code: Q3X1

Study Options: Full time

Duration: 36 weeks

Start date: September


The School of Education at the University of Birmingham has a long tradition of delivering teaching training courses. Its teaching has recently 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.”

The Initial Teacher Education (ITE) course

The Initial Teacher Education (ITE) course is 36 weeks long of which 24 weeks are spent on placement in a partnership school. There are five phases: Preparation (university and some school-based activities); School Placement 1 (seven week placement in school); Development (university and one week in your second school); School Placement 2 (12 week block placement and some university days); Completion (two further weeks in second school and two weeks in university).

Our teaching sessions will be interactive, encouraging your reflection and analysis. You will learn how to frame appropriate learning objectives which meet National Curriculum requirements for Key Stages 3 and 4 and how to plan lessons which engage and motivate pupils.

All key areas of teaching English will be covered, including speaking and listening, reading, writing, grammar, media and drama. Teaching at post 16 level is also taught. Whole school issues such as equal opportunities, catering for Special Educational Needs and Assessment of learning in English fed through the main method course. During your serial practice and two school placements you will apply what you have learned and continue your learning through observing experienced teachers, team teaching with peers and teachers, and supported solo teaching with your own classes.

As the course progresses, you will develop increasing confidence and expertise in selecting from a repertoire of learning activities that are supported by appropriate use of resources and technology. This will maximise the learning outcomes for pupils.

pdficonsmall Download the flier for the Postgraduate Diploma Secondary Education (QTS) - English course (PDF, 77KB)

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, opens new window)

Disabilityand Disability Equality Scheme
Race Equality

Details of our other PGDipEd subject areas may be found on  the main Postgraduate Diploma Secondary Educationcourse page.


All students have to complete six modules, five of which require a written assignments. In addition students need to complete two teaching placements and have to 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 a subject discipline and in secondary schools. 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 a subject discipline and in schools. 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.

There will also be university and school based seminars on whole school issues – e.g. equal opportunities, management of the teaching environment.


School Studies 4: 

(20 credits Level M)

During these university based seminars, you will develop an understanding of the needs of learners within your main subject discipline or within an alternative subject and schools. 


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

All applicants to the Secondary PGDipEd (QTS) English course must hold a degree (normally a minimum 2:2 classification) or equivalent qualification. At least half your degree should be in English. Graduates with degrees in subjects such as Creative Writing, Media, Drama or Journalism are also invited to apply. If you have no English in your degree, you will first need to complete the Open University modules which are equivalent of 50% of a BA honours degree in English Language and/or Literature.  

All candidates also have to:

  • have a GCSE in Maths and English (grade C or above) or an equivalent qualification; alternatively you might be advised to take an Equivalency Test. The DfE require us to check original certificates; you therefore cannot apply for a PGDipEd (QTS) course unless you already hold these qualifications.
  • 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 

How to apply

Apply online through the UCAS Teacher Training portal. Competition for places is high and there is one intake per year. Early application is recommended as the places are normally allocated by the end of January.

UCAS code: Q3X1

Learning and teaching

Course Structure

The PGDipEd is divided into five phases: 

  • Preparation (university-based with some activities in school) 
  • School Placement 1 (seven week placement in school with tutor visit and one day at the university) 
  • Development (university-based with some activities in school) 
  • School Placement 2 (twelve week block placement with tutor visits and two university days);
  • Completion (two further weeks in your second school and two weeks at the university).

The course includes the following areas of study: 

  • Subject-based teaching methods 
  • School-based work 
  • Whole-school issues

Subject-based teaching methods

You follow one main method programme, each of which occupies at least three half-days a week for five weeks in each of the autumn and spring terms and two weeks in the summer term. In some subjects a field course, involving work with children, may replace a number of single days in the year. Assessment is based on coursework undertaken during the year.  

School-based work  

School-based work is an important part of the programme, with students normally spending 24 weeks in schools. The combination of block practice and other periods of work in schools enables you to benefit from both carefully supported introductory work in different schools and the experience of spending a significant length of time in one school.

The final assessment of teaching is based on the spring/summer term school placement. Assessment is shared between University tutors, staff responsible for students in schools, and external examiners. All aspects of your contribution to the life of the school are taken into account, in particular the teaching of your main subject.

Prior to the start of the autumn term you are expected to undertake a preliminary period of observation in a primary/middle school near your home or lodgings. During the course supervised experience and practice are arranged in schools of various kinds across the 11–18 age range. We are fortunate in being able to work with a wide range of partnership schools, including mixed comprehensives, single-sex schools and sixth-form colleges. Many of the schools offer opportunities to work with pupils from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds.  

Whole-school issues

This area of study is concerned with aspects of education that are of importance to all intending teachers, irrespective of their particular teaching subjects. It is designed to provide you with a breadth of awareness, depth of insight and development of skills through a range of themes studied by all students. Themes currently include Managing Inclusion, Monitoring and Assessment, and Pastoral Care and Citizenship.  

Tutoring and support

You will personally be allocated an English university tutor who will guide and support you throughout your PGDipEd (QTS), along with a dedicated school mentor when on placement.


Once you have completed your PGDipEd (QTS) and successfully passed your induction year you may return to study with us on a part-time basis to complete a 60 credit dissertation and obtain an MA in Teaching Studies.

Research interests of staff

  • Teaching poetry
  • creative writing
  • gender
  • educational leadership

Assessment methods

All students have to complete six modules, five of which require a written assignment at Masters level. There are a number of Module Tasks that accompany the assignments that must be passed. There are also additional tasks for students who are completing the course in the expected tine-frame and at the expected level. In addition all students complete two teaching placements and have to meet the Teachers' Standards for the Award of Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).


The University of Birmingham English PGDipEd (QTS) course is highly regarded across Birmingham and the West Midlands. We have an excellent record of students gaining jobs at the end of the course. For 2013-2014 the employabilty rate was 100% and all graduates obtained employment in a teaching role. Many of our ex-students have gone on to become Heads of Departments, Senior Managers, advisers and University tutors.