Physics Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) course

The Physics Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE), is a conversion course for those who wish to teach Science and Physics and have a degree in a science related discipline. It is suitable for applicants who do not meet the subject entrance requirements for our Science: Physics or Physics with Mathematics PgDipEd programmes. There is currently a high demand for teachers of science who have expertise in physics and it is likely to be attractive to a wide range of people.

The Physics SKE course is 16-weeks long and is full time. There is also a 8 week entry point. The course will help develop a deep understanding of physics at A-level and beyond. It will also include integrated practical elements and an emphasis on physics pedagogy. 

There is no tuition fee for the SKE programme and you may be eligible for an additional bursary from National College for Teaching and Learning. The subsequent PGDipEd (QTS) course, currently attracts bursaries (depending on qualifications) in line with the government’s priority to attract more well qualified physics teachers.

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

If you are interested in undertaking a subject enhancement course, you should contact Dr John Kirkman in the first place (

The Physics Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) course at Birmingham is is based on the highly rated mathematics subject knowledge enhancement course. The course will help you to develop a deep understanding of physics at A level and beyond. It will include integrated practical elements and an emphasis on physics pedagogy. It will also include a placement in a school or college. The course works on two levels: the development of personal physics knowledge, and also thinking about teaching and learning issues whilst being a learner of physics. The course aims to develop a deep understanding of issues and complexities which surround the teaching and learning of physics. We wish to develop you as a thinking teacher who can be aware of choices in how to teach physics and make informed decisions about how you work with students. 
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 Masters level (out of 180), which makes it a highly rewarding course by combining both theory and practice.

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

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Fees and funding

There are no tuition fees for the Subject Knowledge Enhancement course (SKE) but you may be eligible for a bursary of up to £7,200.

In the PGDipEd(QTS) year, fees are £9,000 UK/EU full-time, £14,140 overseas full-time (for 2015/16). The PGDipEd course attracts bursaries of up to £30,000 (depending on qualifications) in line with the government’s priorities to increase the number of Physics teachers.   

Scholarships and studentships

Students are not eligible for statutory support during their SKE period. Home/EU students will be eligible to apply for statutory support from their relevant funding agency during the PGDipEd year. Please view the Funding for Initial Teacher Education page for more information.  

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

Entry requirements

All applicants for the SKE course must hold a degree or equivalent qualification in a science related subject (preferably with some physics content) and you will need to have an A-level (or equivalent) in physics or mathematics.

All candidates also have to:

  • have a GCSE in Maths and English (grade C or above) or an equivalent qualification; alternatively they might be advised to take an Equivalency Test. The DfE require us to check the original certificates; you therefore cannot start an SKE course with the intention to progress to a PGDipEd (QTS) course unless you already hold these qualifications. 
  • pass Professional Skills Tests in numeracy and literacy prior to starting the course; 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

Please contact John Kirkman.

The Physics Subject Knowledge Enhancement course (SKE) will involve taught sessions in Newtonian mechanics, electromagnets, matter and oscillations. Typically there is one laboratory based session per week. You will also be part of a self-learning group which will be given the task of learning about a topic and presenting a taught session to your fellow students. During the course some time will be spent in a school or college.

Many schools have a high regard for Birmingham PgDipEd (QTS) students with Physics as a specialism and we have an excellent record of students gaining jobs at the end of the course. Extensive career support is available to and the majority of students obtain employment before they have completed their course. Many of our alumni gain positions of responsibility in their early career.