Post-Compulsory Education and Training - PGCE

Course Code:
Various - see how to apply
Full Time
September 2016, September 2017

You will be keen to teach in the field of vocational education and lifelong learning and want to share your passion for your favourite subjects. These could include English, the arts, performance, mathematics, science, or be technology-related.

We will train you, as a student teacher, to progress towards your chosen career within the diverse, challenging post-16 sector, by putting you on course to become a fully Qualified Teacher in Learning and Skills (QTLS).

What's covered in the course?

If you are looking for a course which will give you lots of teaching practice, as well as a broader understanding of what it is like to teach in the Post-Compulsory Education and Training sector – which could include an FE College, sixth form college, a school or academy, a prison, a workplace or a community centre – this is for you.

Our course allows you to specialise in a wide range of different pathways, according to your interests and we welcome applicants with a degree in any subject area, vocational or non-vocational.

We will match your degree subject (in any subject area) to one of the specialisms that we offer below:

  • Arts, Media and Performance
  • English, Literacy and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Mathematics and Numeracy
  • Science and Technology.

You have the opportunity to gain a nationally-recognised qualification and you will benefit from the strong partnerships we have forged with organisations and colleges outside of the University.

Previous students have praised this course for its approach, its workshops and the superb support offered by their tutors and mentors.

Why Choose Us?

  • We offer you the chance to get a nationally-recognised qualification
  • We have a high reputation for the quality of our teaching and preparing trainees to meet the demands of today's adult education sector
  • Gaining teaching practice is central to this course
  • We have partnership arrangements with most colleges in the West Midlands, as well as prison education units, training agencies and private businesses
  • A high percentage of our trainees gain full-time employment
  • Former trainees come back to share their subject specialism with current trainees
  • A strong focus on developing your subject specialism.
Visit our open day

Postgraduate Open Day

Our next Postgraduate Open Day will be on Wednesday 23 November. 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:

  • Joseph Chamberlain Sixth Form College
  • Halesowen College
  •  Great Barr School
  •  HMP Hewell

And in jobs such as:

  • Teacher
  • Support Worker

Entry Requirements

UK students

Applicants will have (or expect to achieve before enrolment) a Bachelor's Honours degree, at lower Second Class level or above from a UK higher education institution or a recognised equivalent.

The content of your previous experience and education should provide the necessary foundation for work as a teacher.

At the point of enrolment to the course, it is also necessary to have a GCSE at grade C or above (or its equivalent) in English language and mathematics.

Please note we do not accept Level 2 in numeracy or literacy as an equivalent.

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

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
PGCE Sep 2016 FT 1 year £9,000 Apply online now
Sep 2017 FT 1 year £9,250 Apply online now

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
PGCE Sep 2016 FT 1 year £12,000 Apply online now
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 codes

  • 2V7X - PCET with specialism in Arts, Media and Perform
  • 2V7Y - PCET with specialism in English, Literacy and English for speakers of other languages (ESOL)
  • 2V83 - PCET with specialism in Humanities and Social Sciences
  • 2V84 - PCET with specialism in Maths and Numeracy
  • 2V85 - PCET with specialism in Science and Technology

All applications for 2015 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.

More information on how to apply for a teacher training course.

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.

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


You will study the following five modules:

Introduction to Education and Training

This module will provide you with an introduction to the sector and will explore some of the relevant policies and practices. You have the opportunity to explore your roles and responsibilities whilst working in the sector and consider your own teaching and learning philosophy.

Professional Development in Teaching Practice

This module runs from the start of the course to the end and is linked to your teaching practice. The key focus is the evidencing of the professional standards for the sector and the gathering of evidence to support these, which form a portfolio of professional practice. You will also be required to evaluate your own skills and reflect upon your Continuing Professional Development.

Effective Teaching, Learning and Assessment

This module requires you to critically analyse your teaching, learning and assessment activities over a period of time through the creation of a journal that will be used as a reflective journal. You will link theory to your practice and encourage considering alternative perspectives on teaching and learning.

Analysis of Inclusive Learning Resources

The key focus of this module is inclusive teaching and learning in the classroom and explores equality and diversity. You will be required to produce an academic poster and will work alongside your critical friend in sharing and evaluating resources you have created and used with your learners.

Practised Based Inquiry

This module really requires you to undertake a short research enquiry in your placement and will involve a number of activities that build towards the final assessment.

Our one-year course is based out of our School of Education at Perry Barr, three miles outside of Birmingham City Centre. It is easily accessible by road and rail.

You will learn by studying a wide range of modules, which form part of a programme which also offers you at least 150 hours of teaching in your main subject area.

There is no final examination, but your course work, assignments and teaching practice will continually be assessed.

Assessment methods

Assessments are made on the basis of coursework assignments, the practice of teaching and related tasks the completion of the Professional and Minimum Core Standards. There is no final examination, however, all parts of the course must be satisfactorily completed before the award of Postgraduate Certificate in Education in Post-Compulsory Education and Training can be made.

These awards do not confer a license to practice but do form a route to Qualified Teacher/Tutor/Trainer Learning and Skills (QTLS). The PGCE PCET does not lead to Qualified Teacher Status which is required for school teaching.

Student stories

Tobias Scarlett

Tobias Scarlett

The course was very useful in developing my teaching skills for the future. Staff had very high expectations of all the students on the course, which I believe helped me when going into employment. In the future I plan to gain more experience and develop my teaching skills and practice. I would also like to be able to complete a professional qualification to gain my QTLS status.

Ayaz Matloob

What really attracted me to the course was the hands-on experience of teaching my subject specialism in a designated work placement. I had previously completed a Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (PTLLS) course at Bournville College; the PGCE course, which can be completed within one academic year, will qualify me to teach and apply for appropriate jobs in the very near future.

University's accreditation

As a provider of Initial Teacher Education (ITE), 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 we are performing and the quality of teacher training offered. Information in the inspection report can help prospective trainees decide which providers suit their training 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.

Erasmus scheme

There may be an opportunity for an Erasmus Programme exchange placement with the University of Duisburg-Essen. In 2015, five of our PGCE PCET students spent 60 days in Essen. Some of that time was spent teaching or supporting teaching in their placement school or colleges in and around Essen.

The trainees also have the opportunities to travel, engage the culture and experience alternative approaches to teaching and learning.

Further study

After achieving your PCET, we would encourage you to go on and qualify as a QTLS, by studying via the Society for Education and Training.

This course offers 60 credits towards an MA in Education or Masters in Teaching and Learning, which some of our trainees continue on to after completing their PGCE PCET course.

Trips and visits

Over the year, you could have the opportunity to go on trips and visits which are related to your specialist subject.


Sanna Seroukh

Student stories - Sanaa Serroukh

Sanaa did her placement at South and City College Birmingham. She said:

"The experience I gained has been nothing but beneficial and had given me a good insight into the teaching work world. What I liked about the university was the lovely campus and great facilities. The School of Education has great resources for teaching and an excellent and dedicated team of lecturers."

Sanaa is now working as a psychology teacher in Saudi Arabia at the Jeddah Knowledge School. In the future she plans on completing a Master’s degree in psychology and progress on to a PhD.

Enhancing your employability skills

This course boosts your chance of finding a job after graduating because the focus and subject specialism is designed to enhance your employment opportunities.


We have partnership arrangements with large further education colleges in the West Midlands, as well as prison education units, a number of training agencies and private providers.

You will spend three days each week, between November and May, on placement and you will be supported by your tutor/mentor.

Your placement might be within a local school teaching 14-plus students, a local sixth-form teaching post-16 learners or teaching adults in an offender learning department within a prison.

Jemima Wairia
I chose the PGCE Post-Compulsory Education and Training course at Birmingham City University because it offered me a lot of flexibility. I had the option of choosing to teach Prison Education as part of my placement. Coming from a criminology background, the link the University has with the Offender Learning institution was very attractive.

I find the workshops most enjoyable, especially when we have guest speakers. The workshops are all divided according to subject specialisms and are a good way of showing continuous professional development (CPD). I'd recommend you create a good rapport with your mentor whilst on placement – this could be something taken into account if they decide to employ you.

Anisa Khalid

During my time at Birmingham City University, I was given the opportunity to complete several work placements. One of these involved going to Germany as part of the Erasmus programme and teaching there for three months, in two different institutions. My other placement was based at South and City College in Birmingham. These placements were very beneficial and an enlightening experience for me.

I found all of the staff in the education department to be very supportive and engaging. They were very dedicated, and you could see the hard work and preparation that went into lectures. Karen McGrath, the course director, was highly informative and supportive throughout the course. She had a reasonable approach to all issues and was immensely accommodating. Even during my placements, my personal development tutor was supportive and allowed me to overcome any obstacles I had and put my worries at ease.

Read more about Anisa

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.

Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills status (QTLS)

Professional Formation

To gain recognition of your professional status following completion of your PGCE Post-Compulsory Education and Training or Diploma in Education and Training Programme you may wish to gain Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills status (QTLS). This is conferred by the Society for Education and Training Foundation (SET) and is awarded through the successful completion of a process of Professional Formation. Professional Formation is a process that enables you to demonstrate the effective use of your skills and knowledge in your professional practice that is required to achieve QTLS.

To apply for QTLS, you will need to be a member of the Society for Education and Training Foundation, for which there is an annual subscription fee.

What are the benefits of gaining QTLS status?

More than 15,000 teachers in the sector have achieved QTLS status since its introduction in 2008:

  • QTLS status is recognised in law as equal to QTS for teaching in schools at post 14+
  • Career progression: QTLS status demonstrates your commitment, skills and knowledge to employers
  • Recognition of your status as a professional teacher or trainer
  • Valuable continuing professional development (CPD) that builds confidence and enhances your skills
  • Members with can use these initials as a designation.

To apply for QTLS, you need an initial teacher training qualification at at least Level 5; such as the DET PGCE or PGCE PCET.  You are also required to demonstrate numeracy and literacy qualifications at (or above) Level 2.

Costs and commitments

The cost of undertaking professional formation leading to QTLS is £485. You can pay this in two instalments of £100 and £385.

The professional formation process requires you to complete an online workbook in REfLECT+. The time taken to complete this process and achieve QTLS status will be determined by your individual circumstances. For example, level of experience or work commitments. Therefore, the Education and Training Foundation has taken a flexible approach to professional formation with a number of application windows open each year.

However you do need to demonstrate continuing professional development in employment. Therefore you could start the process using your final observation of teaching practice and then build upon that in your practice as a teacher in the post 14 sector.

Further details on QTLS

Graduate jobs

Our trainees have gone on to gain employment in local colleges, schools and sixth forms. Some have taken up jobs abroad.

Graduate success stories

Samina Shafieq

Samina is currently working for the university as a Graduate Student Success Advisor (GSSA) for education. After graduating, she has also completed the PGCert in Education and now has HEA Fellow status. She's now studying on the MA Education and would also like to move onto studying a PhD and specialise in curriculum design, development and digital literacies.

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.

Meet our staff

You will benefit from the expertise and support of staff who are specialists in a wide range of subjects. Our team is drawn from staff who have worked in either the post-compulsory or secondary sectors. All are active researchers and academic writers.

Karen McGrath

Programme Director, PGCE Post-Compulsory Education and Training

Karen has extensive experience of teaching and managing GCSE and A Level programmes in FE. She has been instrumental in setting up tutorial systems in FE, applying the concepts of Personal Development Planning (PDP) to these systems. She has assisted Professor Alex Kendall in co-writing I don’t think I’ve ever had discussions about reading, a case study of FE literacy teachers’ conceptualisations of literacy.

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