Postgraduate Diploma Secondary Education (QTS) - Geography

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

This PGDipEd (QTS) Geography course is recognised as one of the strongest in the country. The course 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, including a week of residential fieldwork with children. The course encourages you to combine the theory and practice of geographical education, whilst also developing your professional understanding and competence as a geography teacher. The programme also includes a residential Geography fieldcourse. 

For those who are eligible, a scholarship of £28,000 and bursaries of £26,000 are currently available for applicants.

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 Post-Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDipEd) rather than a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). Both qualifications lead to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) but the PGDipEd also offers the equivalent of 120 credits at Master’s level (out of 180), which makes it a highly rewarding course by combining both theory and practice.

Following satisfactory completion of this course, plus a successful induction year in school and references, you can return to complete an MA in Teaching Studies (data collection and a 15,000 word dissertation). Additionally, the School also offers a number of specialised Professional Development programmes which will enable you to further develop your career.

Teacher Training Open Days

Download our brochure for information on all our teacher education programmes. 

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 teaching training courses. It's 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. 

The Initial Teacher Education course

The PGDipEd course lasts 36 weeks, of which 24 are spent in our partnership schools.

Teaching practice will take several forms: school placements and also team teaching while at the University. You will also 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.

The PGDipEd(QTS) Geography course is delivered through seminars, lectures, group work, practical school experience, ICT and field studies. It places a clear emphasis on the central role of the learner.

The course provides the necessary skills to organise geography lessons successfully and deal with the daily challenges of teaching in a comprehensive school. Time is spent on the preparation of lessons, teaching strategies, use of equipment and classroom management. The appropriate use of ICT in geography education is stressed.

You will learn about the role of geography education in the secondary school curriculum. Principles of evaluation, assessment, record keeping and reporting in geography education will be investigated. You will be expected to take a reflective and active stance towards your own development.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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:

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

Related staff

Fees and funding

Fees for 2018-2019 are: £9,250 (UK/EU full-time), £16,290 (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 of £26,000 may be available and scholarships of £28,000 (for 2018).

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

Entry requirements

All applicants to the Secondary PGDipEd(QTS) Geography course must hold a degree (normally a minimum 2:2 classification). 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. can be considered, but the university must be certain that such degrees contain at least 50% geography. Candidates will be expected to show a broad base of geographical knowledge (both human and physical) at the interview.

All candidates also have to:

  • have a GCSE in Maths and English (grade 4 or above) or an equivalent qualification; alternatively you might be advised to take an Equivalency Test. The DfE require us to check the original certificates; you therefore cannot start a PGDipEd(QTS) course unless you already hold these qualifications. 
  • 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 

Additional information:

New GCSE grades

How to apply

Apply online through the UCAS Teacher Training portal.  Early application is recommended as the places are normally allocated by the end of January.

UCAS code: F8X1

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, 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

Assessment methods

All students have to complete six modules, five of which require a written assignment. In addition all students complete two teaching placements and have to meet the Teachers' Standards for the Award of Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

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. Employability for from 2002-2014, stands at an average of 97%, with 100% of trainees being employed by the end of the course for the last 4 years in a row. This compares to a national average of 91% (2011-2012).

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 MEd 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