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

Quick links: Fees and Funding | Entry Requirements | How to apply

The University of Birmingham is delighted to award a travel grant of £150 to all general primary students on our University programme. This will be awarded to all successful applicants and will be available at the start of the programme. 

The Postgraduate Diploma in Primary Education will enable you to teach in state-maintained and special schools in England and Wales. It is designed to enable you to become a reflective, confident practitioner having acquired a range of skills and expertise. Rated outstanding by Ofsted in 2013, this is a course which offers high quality training and support as well as excellent employment prospects.

Like a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) the Postgraduate Diploma in Primary Education is a teacher training programme leading to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) but it also offers the equivalent of 120 credits and these may be used towards our MA in Teaching Studies.  Additionally, the School also offers a number of specialised Professional Development programmes which will enable you to further develop your career.

Download our Teacher Education brochure (PDF)

Please note that applications to this programme have now closed. Any applications that have already been submitted for this course prior to the 24 June 2019 will continue to be processed.


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The 2013 Ofsted report

“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 ”

The School of Education at the University of Birmingham has a long tradition of delivering ITE primary courses. Its teaching has 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. 

As well as offering outstanding teacher training courses, we are one of the few universities that awards 120 credits for successful completion of our courses, which we award at Masters level. For those who successfully complete their induction year there is an opportunity to transfer credits to the MA Teaching Studies course, which is awarded on completion of a 60 credit dissertation. 

The primary programmes meet all aspects of government requirements for Initial Teacher Training. We are able to offer applicants a choice of two routes into teaching, so that you can prepare as a teacher across the full 5–11 age range or specialise instead in early years teaching (3–7 age range). Both programmes last for 38 weeks; the equivalent of 19 of which will be spent in schools.

Programme content 

  • General Primary programme
    Students on the General Primary (5–11 years) programme follow a range of courses that address the statutory curricula for the core and foundation subjects alongside Professional Studies, which considers whole school issues.
  • Early Years programme
    This programme allows you to focus your training on work with children aged from three to seven years of age. You spend time in nursery classes, as well as teaching children of school age in both Reception and Key Stage 1 classes. You follow the same range of courses as those on the General Primary programme, in addition to an advanced study of early years education.

Both of these programmes will qualify you to teach children aged 3 - 11 years.

School-based experiences are a central part of these programmes, with an opportunity for you to experience a range of ages within different schools. Both programmes also feature a range of professional courses to help you plan, teach, and develop your classroom skills. The programmes are designed, in conjunction with partnership schools, to meet the Teachers' Standards for the Award of Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). The high quality personalised support, ensures that the majority of our students exceed the teachers's standards at an outstanding level (Ofsted report 2013).

Related teaching programmes

We also offer the alternative School Direct and Apprenticeship routes into primary teaching. If you are interested in teaching young children, but would prefer to train as a mathematics specialist, information may be found on our Primary Education (SSPIP) in Mathematics course page and if you would prefer to teach older pupils, information on our Secondary courses may be found on the Postgraduate Diploma Secondary Education course page.

Ask our students a question

Francesca and Sarah are experienced postgraduates who previously studied at the University of Birmingham, and they will offer help and advice from a student perspective.

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:

Related staff

Fees and funding

Fees for 2019-2020 are: £9,250 (UK/EU full-time), £16,995 (overseas full-time).

When you apply for this course, it is important that you also take into account living costs and should ensure that you will have sufficient funds to finance the full duration of your studies. Our PGDipEd programmes include a significant amount of time spent on placements in a variety of schools at different locations, and so when budgeting to study you should also allow for travel to and from placements, as well as textbooks, printing, photocopying and stationery that you may need.

More information about the tuition fee and maintenance loans is available here:

For further information contact the School directly visit the Funding, Graduation & Awards Office via online enquiries. 

For students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to eligible financial support for the duration of their course. For more information visit the website.

You can also visit our EU Referendum information page for more information and updates.

Entry requirements

All applicants to the Postgraduate Diploma in Primary Education must hold a degree from a UK Higher Education Institution. Normally, this should be a 2:1 or above (and this will be a condition of any offer where the degree is not already awarded) although decisions are made on a case by case basis and a 2:2 may be accepted. Experience in a primary school may be set as a condition following interview.

Candidates have to also:

  • have a GCSE in Maths, English  (grade 4 or above), or an equivalent qualification which must be attained prior to making an application. GCSE Science (Grade 4) must be attained as a condition of entry, where this has not already been obtained. If you are offering a qualification other than a GCSE please check with us before making an application.
  • have passed Professional Skills Tests in numeracy and literacy by the date stated in any offer; 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. The University of Birmingham has produced a resource list  which you may find helpful.
  • complete an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.
  • complete relevant checks to ensure you have the health and physical capacity to teach.
  • agree to abide by the University of Birmingham Code of Professional Conduct and Fitness to Practise.

Additional information:

New GCSE grades

How to apply

Please note that applications to this programme have now closed. Any applications that have already been submitted for this course prior to the 24 June 2019 will continue to be processed.

Apply online through the UCAS Teacher Training portal 

UCAS codes

Early Years: X121
Primary: X100

Interview process 

Selection is rigorous and designed to identify candidates with the strongest aptitude. Candidates selected for interview will be invited to the School of Education to:

  • meet course tutors
  • find out more about the course
  • complete a written task
  • have a one to one interview
  • show GCSE and Degree certificates (where these are available).

We work closely with partner schools to select candidates and applicants will often have the opportunity to meet senior colleagues from partner schools when they join us for interview day. 

The primary course is designed in conjunction with our school based partnership, we have a full time team of specialist tutors and centre-based training takes place in spacious rooms that provide a learning environment tailored to promoting high quality primary practice. 

Assessment methods

Written aspects of the programmes are taught and assessed at Masters level. Overall assessment consists of assignments, school based tasks and school practice.

The Primary and Early Years course works closely with the University careers service and local councils in order to provide you with support for the job application process. Our success rate for student completion of our courses and subsequent employment in schools has remained consistently high. Our employement rate for 2016 - 2017 was 99%.  The vast majority of our students gain employment in the local region, many of them choosing to remain in partnership schools.

Read what student Mikala Moore-Haines says about the PGDipEd (PGCE Advanced) in Early Years course. Why she decided to become a teacher, what she enjoys about the training and some of the challenges.