Postgraduate Diploma Secondary Education (QTS) - Geography

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

Our 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 also known as a PGDE) 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 towards a masters (out of 180 credits), 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.

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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 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.

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.

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. 

Find out more about all our teacher training programmes.

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:

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 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.

Entry 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. 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 which must be attained before the 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

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

The 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.  

Course Structure

A variety of teaching styles and approaches to learning are used in the presentation of the themes. These 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 includes the following areas of study: 

  • Subject-based teaching methods 
  • School-based work 
  • Whole-school issues

Subject-based teaching methods

You follow your specialist programme, working with your tutor and with peers in your subject, during University days which make up 12 weeks in total across 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 a total of 24 weeks in schools. During the programme you benefit from both carefully supported introductory work in different schools and the experience of spending a significant length of time in two schools.

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.

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, sixth-form colleges and our own University Training School ( 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 Safeguarding, Mental Health, Relationships and Sex education, PSHE, Pastoral Care and Inclusion.



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 placements.


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