Postgraduate Diploma Secondary Education (QTS) - Religious Education

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

Our Initial Teacher Education course in Religious Education received the top grade in all areas in the last Ofsted subject inspection.

The course tries to develop a deep understanding of issues and complexities which surround the teaching and learning of religious education, religious studies and philosophy education. We wish to develop you as a thinking teacher who can be aware of a variety of effective ways to teach Religious Education and make informed decisions about how you work with students. The programme was recently cited as an example of good practice by the PSHE Association as it embeds whole school issues into its curriculum. 

Why teach religious education?

Find out more about the Beyond the Ordinary national campaign which highlights the benefits of a career in teaching religious education. There is also a bursary of £9,000 currently available if you have a first, 2:1, 2:2, Master’s or PhD. On the My Future. My Career. My RE. website, you will also find a number of real life stories from individuals each have a different take on the knowledge and skills they gained through religious education.

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 Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDipEd also known as a PGDE) rather than a Postgraduate 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. 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. 

Before you start the course

At the University of Birmingham, our PGDipEd students undertake some pre-course study in the week before they start their academic sessions here on campus. This is so that students can be prepared for Post-Graduate University teaching and learning and start to engage in, and understand, the wider educational background linked to their chosen subject area. The link for the 2019-2020 RE PGDipED pre-course will show some of the tasks you might be asked to complete if you were accepted onto the PGDipED RE pathway. 

At the University of Birmingham we pride ourselves on supporting and nurturing the best RE teachers, to make a real impact and difference to young learners lives. We believe that allowing you some time at the start of the course to complete independent study enables your development as engaged, reflective and driven student teachers.

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 course will not pretend that teaching Religious Education is straightforward, because it is not! Our sessions will rarely be of the form of a lecture, instead we use activities and discussion as the main way of working.

We will help you become aware of issues relating to planning lessons, assessment, the difference between telling students information and teaching students, how to provide learning experiences which meet the needs of students with different learning styles, how different approaches to teaching a topic can change the learning experience for students, how choice of teaching methods, resources and technology can change the sort of religious education with which students engage. Along the way we will, of course, also introduce you to the National Framework and local agreed syllabuses for religious education and you will have some opportunities to experience religion at first hand!

You will also get an opportunity to plan, resource and delivering a 6th form conference at the university of Birmingham for over 100 Year 12 and 13 pupils from local schools. This is a unique opportunity and experience and ensures you will leave your training year not only fully equipped to plan, resource and teach A Level but also with the skills of team work, planning for diversity and inclusion and the skills of conference management. 

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

Learn more about the A Level Conference in this video.

For further information on the course structure, please view the Learning and Teaching Tab.

Religious Education students who successfully complete their PGDipED year are eligible to apply for the MA in Teaching Studies once they have completed their NQT year of teaching and within 5 years of passing the PGDipED. The MA in Teaching and Learning is part-time and you study for this alongside your teaching role in school.

Those students who qualified through the PgDipEd (QTS) Religious Education programme in University of Birmingham can take advantage of a generous grant scheme run by Culham St Gabriel’s Trust called 3ForRE which enables alumni to undertake the masters qualification in an affordable, manageable way. It is a unique scheme based on a three-way partnership between RE Teachers, schools and Culham St Gabriel’s Trust. Culham St Gabriel’s will currently pay up to £1700 per year of fees for those University of Birmingham PGDipED Religious Education alumni who undertake a dissertation on an RE theme and are accepted onto the MA Teaching Studies programme following a successful NQT year.

The Hockerill Foundation also have a grant scheme and the first deadline is 31st March each year. You can still apply in April and May, and these applications will be considered in June. However, whilst later applications will be considered, only a few applications will be approved at this later stage.

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 (QTS) secondary subjects may be found on the Postgraduate Diploma Secondary Education (QTS) 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.

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) Religious Education course must hold a degree from a UK Higher Education Institution. Normally this should be a minimum of 2:2 or equivalent qualification and this will be a condition of any offer where the degree has not already been awarded. Your degree should normally have 50% Religious Studies, Philosophy or Theology content. Graduate with Sociology, Ancient or Modern History, Classics or Politics who also have a good pass in A level Religious Education, Religious Studies, Philosophy or Critical Thinking are also invited to apply.

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 you make an application; 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. 
  • 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. We recommend you apply early as possible as the course is often full by Spring. 

UCAS Code: V6X1

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).

Many local schools have a high regard for Birmingham Religious Education PGDipEd (QTS) students and we have an excellent record of students gaining jobs at the end of the course. Many of our ex-students are now Heads of Departments in our partnership schools. 

Amy ThompsonAmy graduated in 2015 and she is now Subject Leader of Religious Studies at the Thomas Deacon Academy.

"This PGDipEd course prepared me so well for teaching. It made me more organised and made me priorities and consider pedagogues I’d never heard of. Whilst it may seem tough at times you will look back on it so fondly! I honestly believe no other course will prepare you as well as this one." Read her full profile


'During the course itself, the staff at the School of Education were incredibly supportive. The administrative team, the course lecturers – the department is full of wonderful people. There is a unique sense of togetherness which is contagious from day one'. (Jack Symes - read his full profile)

'The Religious Studies PGDipED provided me with the skills and confidence to become a successful NQT and the support given throughout the course was integral to getting my first teaching job'.  (Oliver Marley)

'The PGDipEd in Religious Education prepared me both practically and theoretically on my journey towards qualified teacher status. In addition to developing an understanding of the different pedagogical approaches to teaching, the course also incorporates visits to places of worship to communicate with people of faith first hand. The support received on the course was second to none. Consequently, I fully intend to return to the University to complete my Masters in Teaching Studies'. (Scott Evans) 

'The course offers a rich and stimulating basis for teacher training with the option to undertake the MA in Education at a later point. As a result, I felt that it was this course that would give me a greater understanding and competitive edge when applying for my first teaching post. I have really enjoyed the theoretical and practical aspects that the PGDipED offered and highly recommend it'. (Amarpreet Virk) 

'One of my favourite parts of the course was being able to visit the Gurdwara on the Soho Road. Whilst there, we were able to hear stories of how so many people had contributed to the building and life there in some way. This developed my understanding of sewa and reiterated my beliefs about experiential learning in RE. Now, rather than just giving the example of langar in the classroom, I have some beautiful stories to tell'. (Alex Hyde) 

'As I sat there in the staffroom of my placement school with trainees from other Universities, I realised that the course at the University of Birmingham was unique. It was not about getting us to tick boxes and jump through hoops simply to pass the course, but about really developing our teaching practice through placements, reflections and relevant essays alike, so that we could begin our teaching careers being the best we could be'. (Alex Hyde) 

'I am thoroughly enjoying my teacher training course at the University of Birmingham. The course offers fun and exciting ways to explore different teaching techniques and ideologies, followed by vibrant teaching placements where we can implement these ideas. University tutors and staff are incredible, and are always willing to go the extra mile to offer additional support. The course has helped me to grow as a teacher, professional and individual. So far it has been a fantastic journey and I look forward to returning to complete my Masters'. (Aisha Moosa) 

'Now that I’m an NQT, I realise the outstanding nature of the course and appreciate how prepared it made me for teaching life. I know that I am a stronger teacher due to the support I received whilst studying for my R.E. PGDipEd at Birmingham. The opportunity to complete an MA in Teaching Studies is fantastic and one which I am looking forward to taking’. (Sam Howells)