What are PGCE courses?
Alistair Stafford

What are PGCE courses?


First published date November 19 2013 Amended date October 05 2015

We may not like to admit it and almost certainly didn’t appreciate them during our school days, but the vast majority of us are where we are today thanks to the great work of our teachers. Is being a teacher something you’d be interested in doing? Whether you want to work every day discussing a subject you love, or would be keen to help the next generation with their studies, a PGCE course could be for you.


A PGCE course will mean you attain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), which is a requirement for anyone who wants teach to teach in a UK school. Not sure how it works? Then our PGCE FAQs can help...


Where can I study for a PGCE?

There are hundreds of universities and colleges across the UK where PGCE courses are taught, although sometimes programmes can be studied elsewhere through flexible distance learning. To qualify as a teacher, some time is likely to be spent on placement at a nearby school.


How do I apply?

Most of the applications go through the Graduate Teacher Training Registry (GTTR), which is a large database of PGCE courses and is operated by UCAS. The applications usually open up around November time for a few weeks, with offers being made in the New Year.


Are all PGCE’s worth the same qualification?

No, as annoyingly, the PGCE acronym is used for more than one version of teacher training. The main two course programmes referred to as PGCE are:

  • Post-Graduate Certificate in Education – The traditional PGCE definition, which is the programme studied after an undergraduate course and earns you a masters
  • Professional Graduate Certificate in Education – This is where the course has a mixture of master’s modules and those valued the same as from the final year of an honours degree


What qualifications do I need to have?

For the postgraduate certificate, you’ll be expected to already have an undergraduate degree, which will usually be relevant to the subject you’re hoping to teach in. There’s no widespread degree classification required, although most PGCE courses will expect you to have achieved at least a 2:2 in your undergrad. All applicants are also expected to have at least at GCSE grade C in English and maths, as well as at least that grade in science if they’re looking to teach primary school children.


How long does a PGCE take?

The vast majority of PGCE courses are full time for one year, including a sizeable chunk of time spent out on placement. However, for those that offer a part time programme, it can be spread out over a two year period. The full time courses will generally run from September through to around June time, although if you’re studying at home those dates that may differ.


Am I entitled to any funding?

The tuition fee for the PGCE is £9,000, although providing you are a UK resident, you should be eligible for a tuition fee loan through Student Finance England. There are also maintenance loans and grants available to help with living and accommodation costs, although these are means tested based on your current income.  You may also be able to claim for additional bursaries and scholarships, as long as you meet the guidelines for those.


Will I qualify for a bursary?

Bursaries are available to a large percentage of people, all these are assessed based on the subject you are studying and the degree you gained at undergraduate level. Highly sort after degrees include maths, physics and computing, although there are plenty of others that would entitle you to funding. The better undergraduate degree you have, generally the higher level of bursary you are entitled to.


Can I get a scholarship?

Many governing bodies and societies offer teacher training scholarships in their specialist subject, with the Institute of Physics and the Royal Society of Chemistry two examples of those that offer these. These can often be as much as £25,000, although if claiming a scholarship you’ll be unable to also claim for the standard bursaries.


What are the benefits of taking a PGCE?

A PGCE programme will develop your teaching skills, as you get hands-on experience being trained while teaching children yourself, so it’ll put you in the perfect position to go on a progress in to full time teaching.


Alistair Stafford

With a BA in Journalism, Alistair has a passion for writing, especially if it's got anything to do with football or other sports. In his spare time, he's big on exercise and he once completed the London Marathon.