Postgraduate Diploma Secondary Education (QTS) - Science: Physics

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

The Science: Physics one-year PGDipEd (QTS) course is structured to develop a deep understanding of the pedagogy and didactics of Physics, grounded in practical competence in classrooms. 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. You will be expected to develop these insights, although in less depth, across all facets of the sciences. 

Students may be eligible for a bursary of up to £26,000 (depending on qualifications) in line with the government’s priorities to increase the number of Physics teachers or a scholarship of £28,000 in lieu of a bursary from the Institute of Physics.

We offer a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDipEd also known as the PGDE) rather than a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) at the University of Birmingham, as we believe we should provide student teachers with the highest level of teacher training possible. 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.

Once you have completed your PGDipEd and successfully passed your induction year, you may return to study with us on a part-time basis to complete your Masters in Teaching Studies. 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 teacher 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. 

There is currently high demand for teachers of Science who have expertise in Physics and there are substantial bursaries associated with training in the subject.

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.

Activity is central to learning how to teach physics and science as you need to learn how to act for yourself. This activity will include a good deal of exemplification of teaching, personal practice and collaborative hard thinking. Through this you will become better at planning lessons, assessing the success of your lessons and managing children within those lessons. You will also find out what children find hard about certain topics, how to vary your approach to minimise these difficulties, and so develop a range of teaching strategies, deploying many different technologies. As an essential part of this you will find yourself coming to grips with the national requirements and strategies, as well as engaging in the pleasure of doing some physics.

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

You may also be interested in our other two PGDipEd science courses:

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 all our 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

This course attracts Scholarships and Government bursaries of up to £26,000 (depending on qualifications) in line with the government’s priorities to increase the number of Physics teachers.

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: https://getintoteaching.education.gov.uk/funding-and-salary/overview/postgraduate-loans.

Scholarships and studentships

Home/EU students will be eligible to apply for statutory support from their relevant funding agency.

The Institute of Physics are awarding Teacher Training Scholarships to the most outstanding individuals, worth £28,000. There are a series of application deadlines throughout the year.

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) Science: Physics course must hold a degree from a UK Higher Education Institution or an equivalent qualification in a relevant subject. Your degree should normally have at least 50% Physics content which is relevant to the National Curriculum. Graduates with degrees in Engineering are also invited to apply.

You also need two science A Levels (or equivalent). 

All candidates also have to:

  • have a GCSE in Mathematics (grade 4 or above) or an equivalent qualification which must be attained before you make an application. A GCSE English (grade 4 or above) or equivalent qualifications will be a condition of any offer, if not already achieved.
  • 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 An early application gives more time for remediation if there are concerns about the quality of your candidature. 

UCAS code: F3X1

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 (www.uobschool.org.uk). 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.

Progression

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).

Extensive career support is available to and the majority of students obtain employement before they have completed their course. Many schools have a high regard for Birmingham Science: Physics PGDipEd (QTS) students and we have an excellent record of students gaining jobs at the end of the course. For 2013-2014 the employabilty rate was 100% and all graduates obtained employment in a teaching role. Many of our ex-students have been promoted to positions of responsibility, including Advanced Skills Teachers within the first 2 or 3 years.

Comments from former students

Billy

"In a constantly changing educational environment, my PGDipEd course has proved invaluable. In addition to enabling me to teach lessons to engage a wide range of students, I also completed the course with a solid foundation of pedagogy which enables me to adapt to the rapidly evolving educational landscape. The opportunity to explore wider educational issues with trainees and teachers from a broad background has also developed my interest and understanding of many of the issues within education. A strong esprit de corps along with personalised and accessible support made a tough and rigorous training year enjoyable. I strongly recommend the MEd too!"

Ethan

"I thought we were assessed very well, our school mentors were dedicated and were able to comment on us holistically - where colleagues from other universities had to spend half their time in paperwork."

Mario

"With almost complete certainty, I would have struggled immeasurably without my undergraduate degree; the vast workload taught me to prioritise and trial different coping strategies in order to meet deadlines – my postgraduate course then tailored this to teaching." Read his full profile