Initial Teacher Education

We have a long tradition of providing high quality teacher training courses in Primary and Secondary education at the University of Birmingham. We offer two routes into teaching, the Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDipEd) and School Direct. 

Please note that it is important to make an early application for many of our teacher education programmes as demand is very high and places fill quickly.


Postgraduate Diploma in Education (QTS)

This highly acclaimed University route leading to a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDipEd) is led by the University in partnership with selected schools in the region. Consecutive inspections by the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) have graded our teacher training courses as ‘outstanding’, making the University of Birmingham the destination of choice for initial teacher training. Like a PGCE, the PGDipEd leads to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and offers the equivalent of 120 credits which may be used towards our Masters in Teaching Studies. It is a unique course offering a substantial amount of practice in schools, high quality training and excellent employment prospects.


Primary Education

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

Postgraduate Diploma Primary Education (SSPIP) Mathematics

For general enquiries contact: 

Secondary Education

For general information on all the secondary initial teaching training courses please view: Postgraduate Diploma Secondary Education (QTS) 

For information on the individual Secondary PGDipEd subjects, please view the pages below:



History/History and Citizenship


Modern Languages: French/German/Spanish

Physical Education

Physics with Mathematics

Religious Education

Science: Biology

Science: Chemistry

Science: Physics

For general enquiries contact:

Subject Knowledge Enhancement Courses

Physics Enhancement Course

The Physics Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) course, 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.If you are interested in the SKE programme for 2016, please get in touch with Dr John Kirkman ( for an informal conversation . 

Mathematics Enhancement Course

The Mathematics Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) course, is a full time, campus-based conversion course for those who wish to teach mathematics but have a degree with relatively little mathematics content. The course helps develop a deep understanding of mathematics at A level and beyond.

If you interested in the Mathematics SKE course for 2016 entry, please get in touch with Mary O'Connor

School Direct (QTS)

The School Direct route offered by a number of National Teaching Schools and other key partner schools in the region in partnership with schools in their alliances and with the University of Birmingham’s initial teacher training team. For School Direct students, the University of Birmingham offers a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (School Direct). (60 credits at Masters level).

For general enquiries contact:

Teaching Studies

We offer the Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching studies for recently qualified teachers who have a first degree and a PGCE with QTS at Masters level. Successful completion of the diploma will enable you to progress onto the MA in Teaching Studies.

Those who have passed their PGDipEd teacher education course and have successfully passed the induction year, may apply to study for MA in Teaching Studies.

For general enquiries contact:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What’s the difference between a University PGDipEd/PGCE and School Direct?

There are various routes into teaching. The classic route is to complete a PGCE or PGDipEd offered and managed by a university in partnership with local schools. The difference is that a PG Dip Ed carries 120 Masters level credits, and a PGCE is worth 60 credits.There is also the School Direct route which is offered and managed by a School Direct Lead School – often a National Teaching School – and its alliance of schools in partnership with a university. At the University of Birmingham our School Direct route is a PGCE.

If you are unsure as to whether to choose the University PGDipEd or School Direct route, it might be useful for you to draw up a list of questions to help you explore the different programmes on offer.

What’s the difference between a PGCE and a PGDipEd?

Both the PGCE and the PGDipEd lead to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

The PGCE is a Postgraduate Certificate which offers 60 credits. We offer this route as a School Direct option. PGCE students have the opportunity to complete an additional Masters study following qualification that can lead to a full Masters in Teaching Studies. With a PGCE, either from our School Direct Route, or from another provider, you can enrol for a Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching Studies during your first year or two of teaching.

The PGDipEd is a Postgraduate Diploma, and so offers more master’s level credits than a PGCE, with 120 credits. You may complete the Masters in Teaching Studies with us once you have completed your induction year through carrying out your own educational research project (60-credit dissertation).  

Is a PGDipEd more work than a PGCE?

The PGDipEd offers more master’s level credits than a PGCE. This means a slightly greater proportion of your time will be spent researching and writing about teaching and learning, as well as benefitting from spending a substantial amount of time in school on teaching practice. While there are more credits with the PGDipEd the academic challenge of both the PGDipEd and the PGCE is at the same level – both are postgraduate ‘Level 7’.

Can I get a bursary for the PGDipEd?

You may receive a government training bursary for the PGDipEd, as you would for a PGCE, depending on your degree, subject and classification.

How can I find out if my degree content is appropriate?

We advise you to read the information under Entry Requirements on our subject webpage carefully. You can get in touch with the subject tutor directly to check whether your degree content is acceptable if you are unsure about it.

I don’t have a GCSE in Maths / English Language / Science (grade C or above) – can I still apply?

For Secondary you need to have a GCSE in Maths and English (grade C or above) or an equivalent qualification; for Primary you need to have a GCSE in Maths, English and science (grade C or above) or an equivalent qualification.

If you are unsure whether your qualification in English / Maths / Science is equivalent to GCSE you need to contact Admissions before you apply and check as some courses (e.g. primary) will not consider applications without these.

Alternatively you might be advised to take an Equivalency Test if you do not meet the GCSE requirements.

What are the Professional Skills Tests?

If you are applying for a teacher training course, you will need to take the numeracy and literacy skills tests and ensure you have passed them both before the start of 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. 

How can I find out more about subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) courses?

There are subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) courses available in Chemistry, Maths, Languages, and Physics: see the Department for Education website for more detail. We offer Subject Knowledge Enhancement courses for both Mathematics and Physics. 

Do I need some school experience before I apply?

Some programmes/subjects require that you have some school experience before you start. For example you are expected to have completed at least one week of observation in a primary school before you apply for a place on the Primary programme. In any case it is strongly advised that you gain some experience. Having some school experience will:

  • help you with some of the interview questions as you will be able to relate your answers to real experience
  • help you at the beginning of the course as you will be able to start making links between your learning and practice in school to some extent
  • help you check that you are making the right decision to apply for teacher training

How do I apply? 

You need to apply online through the UCAS website. Applications start in the autumn for a start the following September and there is one intake per year. You can apply throughout the year although courses can get full very quickly. We therefore recommend you apply as early as possible.

Before completing your application form you are advised to have a look at the video guidance available on the UCAS website as it will help you to fill in your application correctly and, for example, write a good personal statement.

What is the time commitment needed?

Both routes are one-year full-time courses, with substantial time spent in placement schools (at least 120 of the 180 days). When on placement you can expect to be at school from before the school day starts until after it ends for meetings. You will also need to prepare lessons and carry out marking outside school hours. There are also a number of assignments and tasks to complete during the year.

What can I do in preparation for my studies and training?

You may be contacted before the start of the course and be provided with a list of suitable activities to carry out before the start of the course.

How much will it cost to train to become a teacher? Am I eligible for a government bursary?

Fees for 2015-16 are: £9,000 (UK/EU full-time), £14,414 (overseas full-time). 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. See Equivalency Table available if you have an overseas degree for example and need to check whether you qualify for a government training bursary. For further information contact the School of Education directly or the Student Funding Office via online enquiries.

I already have a DBS/police check, do I need to apply for a new one?

Unfortunately we cannot accept a DBS check provided for another purpose, so you will need to complete a criminal check via the University. 

What type of schools will my placements be at and where are they located?

On the University-led teacher training route (PGDipEd), we work with a range of schools (e.g. 5-7, 7-11, 5-11, First, Middle, 11-16, 11-19, faith, single sex and mixed schools) in and around Birmingham (e.g. Dudley, Walsall, Solihull). We support students wishing to enter either the Primary or Secondary sectors.

Schools enter a partnership with us, which ensures that you receive appropriate support and guidance with your training. You will be allocated a mentor while at school, who has been trained within our Partnership, in addition to your university tutor. A large number of schools have been working with us for many years ensuring continuity in our partnership and practices.

For School Direct this depends on the School Direct Lead Schools and their alliance of schools.

Why should I choose to train to teach with the University of Birmingham?

The University of Birmingham has repeatedly secured ‘Outstanding’ grades with Ofsted (national school and initial teacher training inspectorate) in all of its provision.  Ofsted, our External Examiners, Headteachers who employ out students and students themselves all consistently emphasise the quality of our initial teacher training.  Our employability statistics are amongst the very best in the country and a significant proportion of those who train with us complete their Master’s degree (Teaching Studies) and move on to middle or senior leadership in schools across the Midlands and further afield.  The quality of our ITE Partnership is praised repeatedly by schools themselves, by our External Examiners and by Ofsted.

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