Postgraduate Diploma Secondary Education (QTS) - Religious Education

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This 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. 

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 for those with a 1st degree/Phd and £4,000 for those with a 2.1 degree/Master's. 

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) 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 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. 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. 

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. 

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 University of Birmingham in the PgDipEd (QTS) Religious Education can take advantage of a unique and 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 £1500 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.

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

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) Religious Education course must hold a degree (a minimum of 2:1 is preferable) or equivalent qualification. Your degree should have covered areas that will be taught within RE or humanities such as RE, RS, Philosophy, Sociology, History (ancient or modern), Classics, Theology or Politics. 

Your degree may be in Theology, Philosophy, or Religious Studies; these degrees are highly suitable for the role of an RE teacher. If your degree is in another subject area then it is expected that you will either hold either an A Level in RE/RS, Philosophy or Critical Thinking or that a large percentage of your degree study focused on ‘religion’ in its broadest form (i.e study of the Reformation, study of Holocaust, study of current world religious climate etc, study of religious literature and/or figures). The extent of transferable 'religious' and/or 'philosophical' content will be addressed at the interview and through your degree transcript.

Prior observation experience in a secondary school environment is  desirable. This need not be undertaken prior to UCAS application but is beneficial; if you are successful in being offered a conditional place on the course, a period of observation in a school setting may be set as a condition requirement.

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. We recommend you apply early as possible as the course is often full by Spring. 

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 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 Inclusion, Monitoring and Assessment, 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 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. For 2013-14, 93% of graduates obtained a post in teaching (with the remaining 7% undertaking further study or choosing to acquire employment outside of teaching). Many of our ex-students are now Heads of Departments in our partnership schools. 

'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)