Postgraduate Diploma Secondary Education (QTS) - Geography

Start date
36 weeks
UCAS code
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught

The Postgraduate Diploma in Education (Geography) leads to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and offers 120 credits towards our MA Teaching Studies. Our specialist programme, which offers high quality training and support, will prepare you to teach in the 11-18 age range and is run in close partnership with schools.


Please rest assured that we will make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities described. However, it may be necessary to make changes due to significant disruption, for example in response to COVID-19.

Information for future students and applicants

Our Postgraduate Diploma Secondary Education (QTS) geography course is recognised as one of the strongest in the country. It benefits from its supportive partnerships with geography mentors in a variety of schools in the West Midlands. It offers opportunities to learn in a range of settings and includes a week of residential fieldwork with children. The course will encourage you to combine the theory and practice of geographical education, whilst also developing your professional understanding and competence as a geography teacher. 

The School of Education benefits from our unique collaboration with the University of Birmingham School as well as a wide range of partner schools, including mixed comprehensive, single sex, religious and selective schools and sixth form colleges. The diverse communities we serve will enrich your experience on the geography teaching programme.

You may be eligible for bursaries of up to £15,000 (depending on qualifications) in line with the government’s priority to attract more well qualified geography teachers or a scholarships of £17,000 in lieu of a bursary from the Royal Geographical Society with IBG.

On our Postgraduate Diploma Secondary Education (QTS) geography programme you will be challenged to develop informed and justified decisions about how you approach your teaching, in order to enable you to continue to develop over your career. On successful completion of your PGDipEd and your NQT year, you may return to study with us on a part-time basis to complete your Masters in Teaching Studies.

The School of Education at the University of Birmingham has a long tradition of delivering teacher training courses. Its teaching has been graded as 'outstanding' three times by Ofsted inspectors which affirms the University’s status as one of the UK’s leading institutions for excellence in teacher training. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Equal Opportunities

The School of Education and University of Birmingham is committed to equal opportunities in the access to and provision of education. For more information please see the following documents:

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

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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 2013 Ofsted report

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Fees for 2020-2021 are:

£9,250 (UK/EU full-time), £18,450 (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.

This course attracts tax-free bursaries of up to £15,000 (depending on qualifications) in line with the government’s priorities to increase the number of Geography teachers.


The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) are awarding Teacher Training Scholarships to the most outstanding individuals, worth £17,000. 

Tuition Fee Loan and Maintenance Loan

With or without a bursary, you can also access a  Tuition Fee Loan to cover your tuition fees and a Maintenance Loan for your living costs. The available loans are:

  • a Tuition Fee Loan of up to £9,250 to cover your fees
  • a Maintenance Loan of up to £11,672 to support your living costs

Additional financial support

If you have children or a disability, extra funding is available. For instance, you could get:

Find out more information on the  extra financial support available

For further information contact the School directly or 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.

How To Apply

Apply online through the UCAS Teacher Training portal.  

UCAS code: F8X1

The Interview process 

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

  • meet course tutors
  • find out more about the course
  • 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.  

Our Standard Requirements

All applicants to the Secondary PGDipEd(QTS) Geography course must hold a degree from a UK Higher Education Institution or an equivalent qualification. This will normally be a minimum 2:2 classification and will be a condition of any offer where the degree has not already been awarded. We will expect your first degree to consist of at least 50% geography (either Physical or Human, but preferably a balance of both). Degrees in Environmental Science, Geology, Geosciences, etc. may beconsidered, but the university must be certain that such degrees contain at least 50% geography. You will be expected to show a broad base of geographical knowledge (both human and physical) at the interview.

You must have a GCSE in Maths and English (grade 4 or above) or an equivalent qualification which must be attained before the application. 

If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact us on

You must also:

  • complete an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check before taking up a place.
  • 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.

International Requirements

The PGDipEd geography course runs from early September to late June. You will undertake two substantial placements in schools – one in term one and one in terms two and three. Approximately two thirds of the year will be spent in school and one third in University. 

The course will include the study of subject-based teaching methods as well as the study of broader whole school issues.  A variety of teaching styles and approaches to learning will be used in the presentation of the themes. These will 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. The course will provide you with the necessary skills to organise geography lessons successfully and deal with the daily challenges of teaching in a comprehensive school. The appropriate use of ICT in geography education will be stressed.

Our whole-school issues course will provide you with breadth and depth of insight across a number of themes, including safeguarding, mental health, relationships and sex education, pastoral care and inclusion. An additional PSHE award will also be available.

The School of Education collaborates with the University of Birmingham School to offer a number of activities designed to enhance pupil experiences of learning Geography and your experience of learning to teach Geography.  Examples of these activities include field trips, master classes and small group teaching. 

The PGDipEd geography course recognises the essential nature of geographical fieldwork, and includes a compulsory residential fieldwork experience where you will have a hands-on experience of learning outside the classroom. A financial contribution is required towards the cost of this fieldwork.

You will complete six modules, five of which will require a written assignment. You will get involved in small scale research projects for your assignments so that you can evaluate the theory in practice and integrate this learning into your own teaching. For the final module, University tutors and school-based mentors will share the assessment against the Teachers’ Standards for the award of QTS. 

You will have a personal academic tutor to guide and support you, as well as a dedicated subject mentor in both placement schools. You will benefit from a specialist programme, working with a subject tutor and peers, developing a professional network which will sustain you into your career. 

The schools in the West Midlands have a high regard for the quality of Birmingham PGDipEd (QTS) geography students and we have an impressive record of gaining jobs at the end of the course. 

Many of our ex-students are now mentors and Heads of Departments in our partnership schools or in schools further afield. The mentors below discuss why they became a mentor, why they chose this course and what they are doing now. Former Alumni Ruth Till also talks about her time at the University of Birmingham studying for her PGDip in Secondary Education followed by her MA Teaching Studies. 


"The PGDipEd at the University of Birmingham allows trainees to be reflective in their individual practice and combine theory with day to day teaching. As a graduate from the PGDipEd (QTS) Geography course at the University of Birmingham, I felt  becoming a mentor would not only allow me to help develop new teachers but also improve and freshen my own teaching practice and professional development."



"Completing my PGDipEd and MEd in Teaching Studies at the University of Birmingham equipped me with the skills and knowledge to become a Head of Department, Assistant Headteacher and most recently a Senior Leader in Education, all within 7 years. I choose to be a mentor for the PGDipEd (QTS) Geography to support people in the early stages of their career. The strengths of the course are the school partnerships, mentor support, and that students’ assessments are linked to real issues in education.

The MEd in Teaching Studies provided with action research skills that I have been able to use as an Assistant Headteacher. This is something that I have always been able to discuss in interviews.

Working with trainees keeps me thinking about my own practice, provides opportunities to share ideas, to think about things in different ways and to solve issues and problems together." 


Richard Elwell has just completed his Masters in Teaching Studies. He spoke after his graduation:

"I was successful in being appointed Head of History/Geography in an International School in France close to Geneva earlier in the year and the Master's was a big part of that."


"I completed my PGDipEd at Birmingham which prepared me well for my teaching career. I have since gone on to complete my MEd in Teaching Studies at the university and investigated the impact of peer mentoring on underachieving boys. The results were so rewarding for myself and the students. I have now decided to become a mentor for the PGDipEd to further develop my practice and hopefully inspire new teachers."

Former Alumni

Ruth TillRuth

Ruth is now a Subject Leader of Geography at the University of Birmingham School. 

"I completed my Masters of Education following my NQT year while working in Ross-on-Wye. Although I completed this while working full-time I attended weekend lectures at the University of Birmingham and it was great to return to campus and maintain the link." 

Read Ruth's full alumni profile


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