Postgraduate Diploma Secondary Education (QTS)

Like a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) the Post-Graduate Diploma in Secondary Education (PGDipEd) is a teacher training programme leading to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) however it has the advantage of offering the equivalent of 120 credits which may be used towards our MEd 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.

Once student teachers have completed their PGDipEd they may return to study with us on a part-time basis to complete their Masters in Teaching Studies.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Taught

Study Options: Full time

Duration: 36 weeks; 72 weeks – Mathematics for non-specialists

Start date: September


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

This 36-week programme is based in schools and on the University main campus, and includes the following areas of study:

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

The award of the PGDipEd (QTS) is subject to completion of all areas of study, and to satisfactory assessment of professional studies via six modules, subject-based work and school practice. The course is designated 11–18 so you will work with pupils from Key Stages 3 and 4 of the National Curriculum and with those in the 16-plus age group; from the very able to those with learning difficulties, and in a variety of settings.

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

Subject Areas

The Secondary PGDipEd is available in the following subjects:

We also offer two Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) courses for those who do not meet subject entrance requirements: 

The School of Education, also offers the School Direct route. To help you decide which route to take, we have put together a list of FAQ on the Initial Teacher Training  page together with video content.


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 candidates have to:

  • have degree or equivalent qualification in a relevant subject. Please view specific subjects for precise details
  • have a GCSE in Maths and English at grade C or above or an equivalent qualification (on application). Alternatively, candidates for all courses might be advised to take an Equivalency Test (please check with the subject tutor if you are unsure whether this applies to you).
  • 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

Please view the individual subject pages to find out the UCAS code

Learning and teaching

A variety of teaching styles and approaches to learning are used in the presentation of the themes. These include University-based lectures, small group seminars and workshops, school-based work with pupils and teachers, and work undertaken individually or with other groups of students.

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


As a student teacher you will want to learn about and practise the teaching of your own subject. This programme offers you plenty of opportunity for this and also addresses other important issues such as classroom management, equal opportunities, special educational needs and pastoral care. We will help you acquire the knowledge and skills needed to meet the other varied demands that are part of life in school. You will also receive guidance on how to gain a teaching post - our student teachers employment rates are consistently excellent and well above the national average.