Secondary Music - PGCE

Course Code:
Full Time
September 2016

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.

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?

This is a professional teacher training course which leads to Qualified Teacher Status.

There is also an opportunity to do an optional Instrumental Enhancement Course.

Our course covers everything you need to know to enter the profession, from preparing lessons and teaching, to assessing your pupils’ work and monitoring their progress.

You’ll engage in education, pedagogy and professional studies sessions and curriculum workshops. These will take place in both university and school settings, and will develop your expertise in generic educational and professional issues, and subject pedagogy.

You’ll gain the skills and understanding to take up positions in schools as a teacher of your subject with the potential to contribute fully to the life of the school. The course is designed around the Teachers’ Standards and the award of Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

You’re encouraged to work creatively towards gaining evidence of your practice in the Teachers’ Standards. University assignments are at Masters Level and complement your growing competence in school-based practice, enabling you to demonstrate evidence-based understanding of professionalism, and teaching and learning.

Why Choose Us?

  • We’ll help you to become a committed, confident, autonomous, creative and reflective teacher.
  • Successful completion of this course will open the door to a career where you have the chance to encourage young people to learn more about music and consider it as a future career path.
  • You’ll gain hands-on experience working with young people from a diverse range of cultural, social and economic backgrounds.
  • This course is provided in partnership with schools and colleges throughout the Midlands and with Birmingham Musical Services.
  • You’ll have guidance from your university tutors and from colleagues in partnership secondary schools. There are 200 of these across the Midlands.
  • As a provider of Initial Teacher Education (ITE), we’re regularly inspected by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted).
  • In the latest Newly Qualified Teacher Survey 95 per cent of newly qualified secondary teachers who came to us said the quality of their training was “good” or “very good”.
  • If you accept our offer of a place on the PGCE Secondary course as your first choice and you have passed both of the Professional Skills Tests by 4th May 2016 you may eligible for a £1,000 bursary to support your studies*.
  • If you accept our offer of a place on the PGCE Secondary course as your first choice and you have passed one of the Professional Skills Tests by 4th May 2016 you may eligible for a £600 bursary to support your studies*.

*Conditions apply

Visit our open day

Postgraduate Open Day

Our next Postgraduate Open Day will be in Autumn 2016. The date will be confirmed soon and registration will open shortly.

In the meantime, register your details and we'll contact you when more information is available.

Sign up for Open Day info

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:

  • Fair Oak Academy

And in jobs such as:

  • Teacher of Music

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 2016 FT 1 year £9,000 Apply online now

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
PGCE Sep 2016 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.

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

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:

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.

Financial Support

Although this is a postgraduate course, current PGCE students are eligible for the finance support package available to full-time undergraduates. You may also receive a Teacher Training Bursary of up to £30,000 per year, subject specific.

Find out more


The course is currently going through a re-validation process ready for September 2016. This is a regular feature of higher education courses and gives the course team the opportunity to ensure that the structure and content responds to the requirements of schools and trainees. The course will meet current policy requirements and will include a strongly school-centred approach.

Subject to the re-validation process, the course will contain three modules.

Core Educational Issues

Core educational issues such as professionalism in education, the Teachers’ Standards, teaching and learning, the national curriculum, inclusion and equal opportunities, safeguarding, assessment and accountability. You’ll develop an understanding of how children and young people learn, and how schools operate to facilitate this. You’ll also learn how schools fulfil their responsibilities to bring young people towards creative and responsible citizenship with an awareness of factors such as democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect, and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.

Music Education Philosophy

The development of a secure philosophy for music education and how it applies to all phases of secondary education. You’ll use this module to focus on music education and learn how to use your in-depth knowledge and understanding in the classroom. The aim is to help you to develop the most effective and creative ways of teaching to ensure your pupils are inspired and motivated.


Evidence based research. This module will enable you to focus on an aspect of education that you wish to ‘drill down’ into. You’ll use ethical research methods to gather evidence of an aspect of education, and will learn to present an argument about the context of the issue, and ways forward. This module supports your early and continuing professional development in that it will equip you with the skills to use evidence based research techniques to help build the institutions within which you will be working in your early career and beyond.

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.

Further Study

You could choose to do one of our Masters in Teaching and Learning (MTL) courses, which are designed to meet the continuing professional development (CPD) needs of teachers.

Teachers who have trained at Birmingham City University and who have PGCE credits at Level 7 benefit from their previous study by carrying some credits into their Masters course.

Through practice-based enquiry we can help you to develop your expertise, meet performance management targets and further the strategic priorities of your school or workplace.

Our courses are highly flexible, following a tailored initial stage before you decide on a preferred route.

Enhanced Employability Skills

Wherever you decide to teach, we focus on giving you up-to-date knowledge and real-world experience, so that when you finish your course you’re ready to launch your career.

The fact that you’ve gained experience by working alongside teaching staff within schools, means that you’ve already got the skills you need to be able to start making an impact from your first day in a teaching post.

This is because that experience includes not only teaching, but also learning about the assessing, monitoring and recording work that comes with the job, and the importance of issues such as accountability.

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.


The course is structured around a minimum of two school experience placements. These will take up at least two-thirds of the course. Your first placement is usually paired. This means that you and your partner will usually plan and teach together up to 50 per cent of a music teacher’s timetable.

Your second school placement is usually conducted solo. In this placement you’ll be expected to plan and teach a greater proportion of a music teacher’s timetable. You’ll be expected to evaluate your teaching and use this reflection to build improvements into your planning and teaching as the placement progresses.

You’ll be assigned a subject mentor who will support and guide your work in consultation with your university tutor.

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.

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 by September 2017.

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.

Peter Carr BA (Hons) PGCE MA

PGCE Secondary Course Director, PGCE Art and Design Subject Leader

Peter has taught Art and Design in secondary schools and FE colleges since completing a PGCE in Art and Design education. He has been involved in Initial Teacher Education firstly through the Art and Design PGCE course at Middlesex University where he was a initially a Subject Mentor in a partnership school and latterly visiting lecturer on the PGCE course.

Through Peter's roles on the PGCE course at Birmingham City University as Senior Lecturer in Art and Design education and more recently Subject Route Leader for Art and Design, he has been able to deepen his expertise in subject pedagogy and broaden his knowledge and understanding in wider professional studies.

Peter has contributed to teaching and learning on the following courses:

  • PGCE Secondary
  • PGCE Post-Compulsory Education and Training
  • PGCE Primary
  • BA Primary with QTS
  • BA Early Childhood Studies.

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.

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