Postgraduate Diploma Secondary Education (QTS) - Religious Education

This Initial Teacher Education course in Religious Education received the top grade in all areas in the last Ofsted subject inspection. The course tries to develop a deep understanding of issues and complexities which surround the teaching and learning of religious education. We wish to develop you as a thinking teacher who can be aware of a variety of effective ways to teach Religious Education and make informed decisions about how you work with students. A bursary of £9,000 is currently available for those with a 1st degree and £4,000 for a 2:1 degree.

At the University of Birmingham we believe we should provide student teachers with the highest level of teacher training possible, and this is why we offer a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDipEd) rather than a Postgraduate 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).

Come along to one of our open evenings to find out more about teacher training opportunities at Birmingham.


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 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).

The course will not pretend that teaching Religious Education is straightforward, because it is not! Our sessions will rarely be of the form of a lecture, instead we use activities and discussion as the main way of working.

We will help you become aware of issues relating to planning lessons, assessment, the difference between telling students information and teaching students, how to provide learning experiences which meet the needs of students with different learning styles, how different approaches to teaching a topic can change the learning experience for students, how choice of teaching methods, resources and technology can change the sort of religious education with which students engage. Along the way we will, of course, also introduce you to the National Framework and local agreed syllabuses for religious education and you will have some opportunities to experience religion at first hand!

Download a summary flyer for the Postgraduate Diploma Secondary Education (QTS) - Religious Education course (PDF, 163KB)

Three students who are four weeks into their course talk about their experience of the PGDipEd(QTS) Religious Education course - so far.

Why study here?

How to prepare for the course

What is the course like

What training sessions have you enjoyed

School visits

Before the first placement

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:

School Mission Statement (PDF 23KB, opens new window)

Disability and Disability Equality Scheme
Race Equality 

Information on our other PGDipEd (QTS) subjects may be found on the Postgraduate Diploma Secondary Education (QTS) course page.

Related staff

Fees and funding

Fees for 2016-2017 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.

Trainees in secondary RE could be eligible to apply to one of the Church College Trusts for a grant towards course expenses or living expenses. Please check for more details. Deadlines for applications are often early and prior to the course starting.

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

Entry requirements

All applicants to the Secondary PGDipEd(QTS) Religious Education course must hold a degree (normally a minimum 2:2 classification) or equivalent qualification. We will expect your degree to have a high level of religious studies/theological content or to have a range and level of religious studies/theological content equivalent to 50% of a religious studies/theological degree. Such degrees may include sociology or philosophy. If your degree has less required content then it possible to undertake a 'bridging course'.

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 the original certificates; you therefore cannot start 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. We recommend you apply early as possible as the course is often full by Spring. Applications are open from 27th October 2015. 

Course Structure

The PGDipEd is divided into five phases: 

  1. Preparation (university-based with some activities in school) 
  2. School Placement 1 (seven week placement in school with tutor visit and one day at the university) 
  3. Development (university-based with some activities in school) 
  4. School Placement 2 (twelve week block placement with tutor visits and two university days);
  5. 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 a 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

Assessment methods

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

Many local schools have a high regard for Birmingham Religious Education PGDipEd (QTS) students and we have an excellent record of students gaining jobs at the end of the course. For 2013-14, 93% of graduates obtained a post in teaching (with the remaining 7% undertaking further study or choosing to acquire employment outside of teaching). Many of our ex-students are now Heads of Departments in our partnership schools. 

'The Religious Studies PGDipED provided me with the skills and confidence to become a successful NQT and the support given throughout the course was integral to getting my first teaching job'.  (Oliver Marley)

'The PGDipEd in Religious Education prepared me both practically and theoretically on my journey towards qualified teacher status. In addition to developing an understanding of the different pedagogical approaches to teaching, the course also incorporates visits to places of worship to communicate with people of faith first hand. The support received on the course was second to none. Consequently, I fully intend to return to the University to complete my Masters in Teaching Studies'. (Scott Evans) 

'The course offers a rich and stimulating basis for teacher training with the option to undertake the MA in Education at a later point. As a result, I felt that it was this course that would give me a greater understanding and competitive edge when applying for my first teaching post. I have really enjoyed the theoretical and practical aspects that the PGDipED offered and highly recommend it'. (Amarpreet Virk) 

'One of my favourite parts of the course was being able to visit the Gurdwara on the Soho Road. Whilst there, we were able to hear stories of how so many people had contributed to the building and life there in some way. This developed my understanding of sewa and reiterated my beliefs about experiential learning in RE. Now, rather than just giving the example of langar in the classroom, I have some beautiful stories to tell'. (Alex Hyde) 

'As I sat there in the staffroom of my placement school with trainees from other Universities, I realised that the course at the University of Birmingham was unique. It was not about getting us to tick boxes and jump through hoops simply to pass the course, but about really developing our teaching practice through placements, reflections and relevant essays alike, so that we could begin our teaching careers being the best we could be'. (Alex Hyde) 

'I am thoroughly enjoying my teacher training course at the University of Birmingham. The course offers fun and exciting ways to explore different teaching techniques and ideologies, followed by vibrant teaching placements where we can implement these ideas. University tutors and staff are incredible, and are always willing to go the extra mile to offer additional support. The course has helped me to grow as a teacher, professional and individual. So far it has been a fantastic journey and I look forward to returning to complete my Masters'. (Aisha Moosa) 

'Now that I’m an NQT, I realise the outstanding nature of the course and appreciate how prepared it made me for teaching life. I know that I am a stronger teacher due to the support I received whilst studying for my R.E. PGDipEd at Birmingham. The opportunity to complete an MA in Teaching Studies is fantastic and one which I am looking forward to taking’. (Sam Howells)