Secondary Music - PGCE

Course Code:
Full Time
September 2017

If you believe that music has a key role to play in every young person’s education, and you’re determined to bring the subject alive for pupils, this course will provide you with access to becoming an inspiring teacher.

If you are passionate about young people and want to introduce them to the exciting world of music and music making in all its forms, then this teacher training course will ensure you excel in this endeavour.

Our Secondary Music PGCE gives you the chance to explore the skills and knowledge that music, as an art form, offers at secondary education level; and to train to become a confident, dynamic and creative teacher with the ability to make music accessible to all.

You’ll discover how pupils learn and explore ways in which you can plan musical activities that will ensure they progress and develop their musicality.

What's covered in the course?

Exploring an inclusive and rich approach towards music.  The priority is on active music making to promote musical thinking.  You will learn how to inspire and enthuse your pupils by taking them on an exciting and stimulating musical journey.

Techniques used include links many different forms of music and music making.  These can be used to help pupils to become more self-confident, informed and culturally aware.

This course has strong links with local musical organisations such as the largest Music Service in the country run by Services for Education in Birmingham.  The course provides the opportunity to experience music education from a variety of perspectives, including organisations that form part of the Birmingham Hub for Music Education like The Birmingham Contemporary Music Group or the Midlands Arts Centre (MAC).

A key feature of the course is how we promote technology enhanced learning both in terms of developing beginning teachers and also how music technology can support teaching and learning in schools.

Why Choose Us?

  • We will help you to become a committed, confident, autonomous, creative and reflective teacher
  • Our graduates are highly employable and many take up jobs in the local schools with which we work
  • Successful completion of this course will open the door to a great career where you have the chance to encourage young people to follow their dreams, explore, challenge and understand the world in which they live by developing their understanding of music
  • You will gain real-life experience working with young people from a diverse range of cultural, social and economic backgrounds in a variety of settings
Visit our open day

Postgraduate Open Day

Our next Postgraduate Open Day will be on Wednesday 23 November, between 2pm and 7pm. Come along to find out more about our courses and see our facilities.

Register now

This course is open to International students

School of Education

Discover the School of Education

We are the top university providing education training in the West Midlands, and 25th in the UK. (Guardian University Guide 2016)

Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.

Visit the School website

Where our students go

Our students have gone on to work with companies such as:

  • Harborne Academy
  • Birmingham Music Service
  • The Earls High School

And in jobs such as:

  • Head of Music
  • Instrumental Teacher
  • Music Technology Coordinator

Entry Requirements

UK students

You must have a good degree (minimum 2:2 but 2:1 or 1st preferred) from a UK higher education institution or equivalent.

You must have a GCSE grade C or above (or equivalent) in both English language and mathematics prior to application and if you are offered an interview you will take a written test to assess your standard of English.

If you do not already have GCSEs in English language and mathematics, or their equivalent, and are not registered to take them, you should visit Equivalency Testing.

It should be noted that applicants taking the equivalency tests need to have passed prior to enrolment.

For entry onto a teaching course from September 2014 you will also be required to pass the Skills Tests in Literacy and Numeracy

Pre-Interview School Experience

For secondary teacher training there is an expectation that you will have had some general experience of working with secondary age students in a school setting.

In preparation for the selection interview stage of the recruitment process you are required to engage in a teaching episode, observed by an experienced qualified teacher.

It will support your application to undertake this teaching episode prior to enrolment and in advance of your interview.

Please read our guidance document before downloading the Pre-Interview School Experience Report which you will need the qualified teacher observing you to complete.

Selection Interview

The selection interview will assess your subject knowledge and personal qualities such as the potential to relate well to secondary age students, enthusiasm, sensitivity, communication skills and robustness and resilience for teaching.

As part of the selection procedure, the interview panel will expect you to demonstrate your expertise in music.

You will also take a written test to assess your standard of English.

Applicants must meet The National College for Teaching and Leadership requirements for Initial Teacher Training, which means being medically fit and successfully completing an enhanced disclosure via the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
PGCE Sep 2017 FT 1 year £9,250 Apply online now

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
PGCE Sep 2017 FT 1 year £12,000 Apply online now

The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

Course code: W3X1

All applications for 2016 entry need to be made via the UCAS Teacher Training website. For more information on how to apply for a teacher training course please visit the UCAS how-it-all-works information page. The UCAS Teacher Training helpline number is 0871 468 0 469.

We also offer this programme through School Direct with the following schools:

Additional costs

We offer a wide range of professionally accredited and vocational courses that require the purchase of, among other things, uniforms, equipment, subscriptions, professional body memberships and DBS checks, and may require you to pay to attend conferences or participate in placements.

The link below provides our estimate of the possible costs associated with key activities on specific courses. Please bear in mind that these are only estimates of costs based on past student experience and feedback. The actual costs to you could vary considerably (either greater or lower than these estimates) depending on your choices as you progress through the course. We set out where we can, based on experience, where these indicative costs are for activities that are optional or compulsory.

All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.

Find additional costs for your course

Your personal statement

Your personal statement is a highly important part of your application. It gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Course choice

Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?

Career plans

If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.

Work experience

Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.

School or college experience

Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.

Non-accredited skills or achievement

eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.

You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

Financial support

You may be able to obtain financial support to help you during your studies. For more information visit the Department for Education's Get Into Teaching website.

This course is not available part-time

Got any questions?

Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.

What's included in your course fees

Access to leading music education research; excellent practice in the context of music education; access to bespoke resources for music education; powerful, quality assured school experiences.


Professional Studies

Professional Studies, provides opportunities for you as a trainee teacher to explore and understand in practical terms the meaning of professionalism in the context of education and being a teacher.  Education is an ever-changing environment and the desire for improvement is strong from all stakeholders.  This module helps you to understand that the best teachers are those who continue to learn themselves and that your continual development can positively impact the learning experience of your students.  You will understand the holistic and positive role of a teacher and the practices and policies of the education framework in which you operate.

Subject Pedagogy

Subject Pedagogy, provides opportunities for you as a trainee teacher to explore the nature of music in the context of learning and teaching in the secondary school.

This module provides a strong philosophical underpinning to your awareness of the importance of your specialist subject in the secondary school curriculum.  By undertaking this module you will be shaping your own rationale for your approach to the teaching of music, and to meeting the needs of the learners as they move through the secondary school phase.

Professional Enquiry

Professional Enquiry, forms an introduction to active examination of professional practice in the workplace and a reflective approach to personal development.  It provides a foundation for future study modules and enables you to develop practice-based enquiry skills.

This module provides opportunities for you as a trainee teacher to conduct a structured enquiry into an area of professional practice that is of direct significance to your current and future professional practice.  As well as developing the skills required to undertake this enquiry, in reflecting and disseminating your findings, the intention is that your findings will impact your own and your colleagues’ understanding and practice.

Course structure

You’ll find that the Secondary Music PGCE is an intensive and demanding course which challenges people who are highly committed to teaching young people. It is an excellent way to prepare for a career within the profession.

We’ll deliver the course using a combination of workshops, lectures and seminar groups, and by encouraging individual study. There are also opportunities to work with the Birmingham Music Service as an instrumental teacher for part of the course. The instrumental enhancement part of the course is optional and involves a secondary selection process once you’ve been accepted on the course.

You’ll also complete a profile of evidence towards the achievement of the Teachers’ Standards required by the National College for Teaching and Leadership for the award of Qualified Teacher Status.

The main thrust of the curriculum involves the study of education, pedagogy and professional practice, from both generic professional educational and subject-specific perspectives.

At least two-thirds of this course takes place off campus within schools. This means you have the opportunity to gain valuable ‘hands on’ experience in at least two different schools. In most cases you’ll also have the chance to visit other schools, including a primary school.

Trainee teachers are expected to take significant responsibility for their own progress and development. This type of professional development encourages the development of independent, creative practitioners who will be able to take the lead in the future.

Examples of classroom activities

The course links directly to national music education research projects such as Exchanging Notes with Youth Music and Listen, Imagine Compose with Sound and Music.  We also explore cutting edge material produced by organisations like Musical Futures; Music Mark; The Incorporated Society of Musicians; Charanga and Sing Up.  Regular music education workshops feature active music making from a variety of starting points.

Accreditation or professional associations

As a provider of Initial Teacher Education, you can be reassured that we are regularly inspected by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted).

Ofsted reports directly to Parliament and is independent and impartial. It inspects and regulates services which care for children and young people, and those providing education and skills for learners of all ages.

Ofsted inspections of ITE providers provide an expert and independent assessment of how well a university is performing and the quality of teacher training offered. Information in the inspection report can help you to decide which university best suits your career needs.

In the latest Ofsted Inspection (March 2014) Birmingham City University was awarded a grade 2 rating “Good” for its primary and early years, secondary and post-compulsory education and training provision.

Further Study

You can expect outstanding support from your University tutors, all of whom have worked as exceptional classroom teachers, and from the Secondary Schools which we have signed a Partnership Agreement with. There are more than 200 across the Midlands. 

You could choose to put further polish on your knowledge and skills by going on to do an MA Education and/ or a Masters in Teaching and Learning (MTL), which is just one way of taking your studies a step further.

Trips and Visits

The course is underpinned by access to a wide range of leading national and international music education providers.  These feature in the context of instrumental teaching; music and special needs; music and assessment; music and cultural diversity.

Enhanced Employability Skills

Ofsted inspections have confirmed that our trainees “leave their courses with a wide range of knowledge and skills that make them highly employable.

We believe that this is due to the strong sense of belonging to a genuine learning community, which results in the development of professional confidence. This is enhanced with our excellent school partnerships.

This is an 11-16 years course, with post-16 enhancement, which offers a high degree of employability within secondary teaching.

The high demand for our trained teachers and our consistently high employability scores mean that trainees who successfully complete the course to a high standard have very good employment prospects.


Two-thirds of your course takes place in school and we ensure that you are offered a number of placements in a wide range of educational establishments.

You will do work placements in at least two different schools and also visit others – including a primary.  This all helps you to see how teachers are working in practice and gives you a wealth of experience.

You will have the opportunity to do serial and block placements and you will also have trained mentors, who will guide and support your studies and provide you with feedback.

More about our placement opportunities...


OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.

Links to industry 

Whilst working with a range of schools and music teachers across the city we are also developing and strengthening links to The Birmingham Music Service, The Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, the CBSO, the Midland Arts Centre and The Drum. We realise the importance of industry links to music in education as a way to broaden the experience of teachers, pupils and schools.

Postgraduate Jobs

Employment prospects are excellent for our music teachers, with consistently high employability rates.

In the latest Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) Survey (2011-13 aggregated data) 95 per cent of our trained newly qualified secondary teachers rated the quality of their training as “good” or “very good”.

Our trained music teachers have taken up teaching posts throughout the Midlands and nationally.

International Students

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.


BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.

Learn more about BCUIC

Our Facilities

We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities.

The School of Education boasts some of the best teaching and learning facilities in the country. As part of your training you will have access to our specially developed replica classrooms with interactive whiteboards, enabling you to experience the classroom environment.

Science education facilities

Our laboratory and Science Education Learning Room have been newly built for the start of the 2015/16 academic year. The Science Education Lab will enable trainees to encounter and explore the latest Science Education pedagogies, and together with the Science Learning Room will facilitate trainees’ transition from “subject expert” to “expert subject teacher”. Trainees will work in a fully hands-on way with the core science education materials to develop excellent subject and pedagogic knowledge - the twin attributes of the outstanding teacher.


City North is a big, bustling campus, three miles north of Birmingham city centre. It's easy to get to and offers on-site parking. Located 5 minutes from Perry Barr train station, City North Campus is also ideally positioned along major bus routes.

The School of Education will be moving to City South Campus in Edgbaston during the 2017/18 academic year.

Virtual School

One of the most exciting innovations in recent years for our trainee teachers and students is our virtual school. You can encounter a range of real-life situations within a simulated environment, that teachers are often confronted with.

Visit our Virtual School


All our departmental facilities replicate the school learning environment.

  • Art and Design
  • Design and Technology
  • History
  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Religious Education
  • Music
  • Drama

IT Support

Each student has a personal computer user name and server space Specific software for use by teachers and for use in classrooms.

Other items available include:

  • Training and training notes
  • Students can borrow cameras, LCD projector
  • Specialist technician support
  • Dedicated research base for postgraduate research students

Art and Design Department

There are fully equipped art studios suitable for 3D construction, printmaking, drawing and mixed-media. For textile and ceramics specialists, there are sewing machines and facilities for batik work and a large kiln for firing ceramics. The department has an ICT Suite for digital media that includes both Mac and PC computers. There is also access to a bank of Apple iPads for on and off-site digital working including the use of social media.

Design and Technology Department

The department has access to specialist facilities, including a dedicated teaching suite for food and textiles. The textiles area has 10 sewing machines, an overlocker, CAD/CAM embroidery machines, dye sublimation equipment, a felting machine and an electronic microscope that links to the interactive whiteboard. It is also well resourced with surface decoration and construction equipment.

The food area has five electric cookers, combination microwave/ovens, an extensive range of industrial and domestic equipment, eg industrial ice cream makers and electric pasta makers, bench top printer and a CAD/CAM icing printer. The specialist tutor is a Speed Step and basic food hygiene trainer.

There is a specialist room for design and technology teaching and independent work, as well as a well-stocked reference library that contains a wide range of resources that are relevant for undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Other features include a recycling materials area, specialist work benches and a bank of computers linked directly to CAD/CAM equipment.

History Department

There are plenty of replica artefacts in the department and other superb facilities, including a huge library of dedicated subject books and an interactive whiteboard. We also inspire our trainee teachers to bring history to life by offering them opportunities to travel to historic sites.

English Department

The School of Education has two dedicated English teaching rooms that contain a substantial children's collection of works including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, picture books and multicultural text. There is also a selection of phonics teaching materials, puppets and story bags that are used in teaching sessions.

You can explore the links between ICT and literacy through the department's Digital Blue cameras and electronic photo albums.

Mathematics Department

There are two dedicated teaching rooms for mathematics. The rooms make use of Promethean and Smart interactive white boards. Both rooms contain a library of recent and relevant publications as well as a wide range of resources for use while on teaching practice.

Trainees are supplied with the use of a laptop for the duration of the course. The laptops come with Autograph and Geometers Sketchpad software. There are a class set of iPads available for the teaching sessions.

Religious Education Department

This teaching room attempts to bring sacredness in its vicinities and a visitor will find precious collections of artefacts and devotional utilities, audio-visual resources, books, sacred texts and children's books from a range of religious traditions to support learning and teaching.

Early Years Department

As well as enjoying very strong links with local schools and specialist nurseries, we have a specialist teaching room that has a range of story sacks and puppets, an extensive selection of planning resources, copies of key texts, and toys and equipment that are relevant for foundation stage.

Music Department

The music department has two dedicated classrooms and seven practice rooms, five of which contain dedicated computer-based recording/sequencing equipment. There is also a fully equipped sound recording studio and Apple Mac computers for sound manipulation.

Drama Department

There is a fully equipped drama studio with stage lighting.

Staff Introduction

The PGCE Music course is delivered by dedicated and passionate specialists who are supported by well-motivated colleagues in schools.

Ian Axtell BA (Hons); PGCE; DPSE; PG Cert; PG Dip; MEd

Senior Lecturer in Education and Subject Leader for Music

Ian Axtell began his music teaching career in Coventry in 1984. Having toyed with integrated arts teaching and media studies he eventually ended up in Birmingham as a Head of Music. Here he took on the challenge of creating a faculty that included the Arts and PE. After a move to Hereford as a Curriculum Area Manager for the Arts and PE he was invited to lead the music team in a local SCITT scheme. He was also offered the opportunity to rebuild a music department within a failing school in Hereford. These activities resulted in Advanced Skills Teacher status in 2002. Ian is now Subject Leader for Music at Birmingham City University where he manages the music team for Early Years, Primary and Secondary music.

Kelly Davey Nicklin

Senior Lecturer in Music Education

Kelly Davey Nicklin is a Senior Lecturer in Music Education at the University.

Kelly has previously been a Head of Faculty for Performing Arts and taught music across three key stages in a secondary school where she was judged ‘outstanding’ by OfSted for Key Stage 3 music teaching.

Kelly was involved in the Musical Bridges project with the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and she is now embarking on her research career as part of her role at Birmingham City University with an interest in composing in the classroom and trainees attitudes towards the role of composition in music education.

Professor Martin Fautley

Professor of Education

Professor Martin Fautley is director of research in the school of education and social work at Birmingham City University. He has a wealth of experience in music education, both in terms of pedagogy, and of music education research. After enjoying many years as a classroom music teacher, he then undertook full-time Doctoral research working across the education and music faculties at Cambridge University, investigating teaching, learning, and assessment of classroom music making, with a focus on composing as a classroom activity.

He is widely known for his work on researching assessment in the classroom, but also researches understandings of musical learning and progression (especially in the novice stages), composing, and creativity. He regularly undertakes research and evaluation projects in the field of music education.

Professor Fautley is the author of eight books, including “Assessment in Music Education”, published by Oxford University Press. He has written and published over fifty journal articles, book chapters, and academic research papers on a range of aspects of teaching and learning, and regularly presents the fruits of his researches at international conferences. He is co-editor of the British Journal of Music Education.

UK prospective students:

UK enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5595

EU / International prospective students:

International enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5389

Already applied?

Email the applications team

+44 (0)121 331 6295