Subject Knowledge Enhancement in Physics - (SKE)

Full Time
May 2018
In order to get you to the correct application form, we need to ask you a couple of questions:

If you wish to train as a physics teacher, but your degree did not provide enough content on this subject for you to gain automatic entry onto an initial teacher training course, completion of this SKE course, might be made a condition of an offer onto a secondary science physics teacher training course.

This course will prepare you for an initial teacher training secondary physics course by developing your skills and giving you the confidence to recognise areas in your own subject knowledge which you need to develop during the enhancement course, initial teacher education and beyond. It will also help you to develop a 'deep' understanding of the knowledge, concepts and skills associated with physics as a subject.

What's covered in the course?

We aim to help you to come to a deep understanding of the concepts and skills associated at GCSE level. In addition, aspects of A level physics will be covered depending on the aptitudes and interests of the trainees.

On successful completion of the course you will be awarded a Level 6 Graduate Certificate in Subject Knowledge Enhancement (Physics).

Why Choose Us?

  • The SKE course is undertaken before starting an initial teacher training course. It is important that you have a conditional offer of a place on an initial teacher training course either at Birmingham City University or another provider before you start a SKE course.
  • There are no course fees. Bursaries for eligible students are funded by the National College for Teaching and Leadership for courses. Please visit the Department for Education website for further information.
  • We have a long and successful track record in developing secondary teachers.
  • This course will boost your knowledge and understanding of this subject.
  • You will be taught by experts in your chosen subject field and work alongside your peers in a face-to-face environment. 
  • Our course provides the ideal stepping stone to further study and full Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).
  • You will get to see and work with teachers in action in a wide range of schools, which will expose you to a rich variety of cultural and linguistic influences, religious beliefs and social diversity.
This course is not open to International students

New £10,609 postgraduate loans

You may be able to take advantage of the government’s plans to make loans of up to £10,609 available for postgraduate study.

More about postgraduate loans

Entry Requirements

UK students

The SKE physics course is suitable for graduates with a good degree from a UK higher education institution (or a recognised equivalent) who have sufficient physics knowledge to commence the course.

This could be through holding an A-level in physics, (not essential) having an element of science in your degree course and/or occupational experience of the subject.

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

In addition to academic qualifications, candidates will be expected to have good communication and organisational skills, possess a desire to learn more about physics and demonstrate a commitment to teaching the subject.

To be eligible to start this course you will need to hold a conditional offer of a place on an initial teacher training course, for example a PGCE Secondary Science: Physics course.

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
(SKE) May 2018 FT 8 Weeks NCTL funded

International Students

Sorry, this course is not available to international students.

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead. The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament up to a maximum of five per cent.

How to apply

Once you have accepted a conditional offer onto a PGCE course you should apply using the link above. You will need to provide proof of this offer when you apply. Our admissions team will process your offer and further information will be sent to you. 

If you have any for further queries, please contact the Programme Lead for the SKE courses via email on:

Course fees

There are no course fees. A National College of Teaching and Leadership bursary of £115 per week is available for eligible course participants. Additional, discretionary bursaries of up to £85 per week may be available, depending on an individual meeting eligibility criteria.

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible postgraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.

The Subject Knowledge Enhancement course in Physics will enable you to develop a deeper conceptual understanding of key concepts and practical activity knowledge of the subject as taught in schools.

The course is suitable for professionals with a degree in a science subject that lacks significant overlap with the physics content of the school curriculum, or those who have good A levels in the sciences but a non-science degree. You are more likely to be successful on this course if your maths was strong at GCSE level or equivalent. This course is also suitable for professionals who hold a science degree where overlap with physics is strong but subject knowledge is rusty and needs refreshing.

You will have opportunity to develop practical skills with the type of equipment typically used in schools and to develop conceptual understanding of a wide range of topics, during the sessions in University and through school based experiences. You will complete three assignments which will serve as an excellent preparation for academic writing styles in the social sciences when you start the PGCE. The assignments are designed to both improve your subject knowledge and introduce you to some relevant reading in the education literature. 

University's accreditation

Pre-initial teacher training Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) courses are intensive programmes, which have been accredited by the National College for Teaching and Leadership.

As a provider of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) Birmingham City University is 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 regulate 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 universities suit their training needs.

In the latest Ofsted Inspection (March 2014) we were was awarded a grade 2 rating 'Good' for our primary and early years, secondary and post-compulsory education and training provision.

Further study

On successful completion of the SKE programme, you will progress directly onto an initial teacher training programme, for example a PGCE Secondary Science: Physics course.

Our one year full-time PGCE Secondary Education Science: Physics course, which starts in September, qualifies trainees to teach 11 to 16 year olds. The course offers the additional benefit of post-16 enhancement giving you maximum flexibility when looking for a job.

Enhancing your employability skills

After you have successfully completed a Subject Knowledge Enhancement in Physics course and then an initial teacher training course, for example a PGCE Secondary Science: Physics course you will be ready to begin your career as a physics teacher in the secondary sector.


School visits

You will visit secondary schools for observation purposes and workshops. You will prepare and teach lessons to small groups of school students.

You will get involved in a range of activities, by observing lessons and acting as a teaching assistant. This will really boost your learning and give you valuable experience for when you start your initial teacher training.

More about our placement opportunities...

Our Facilities

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

As part of these plans, the University's Education provision will join the rest of the Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences at our City South Campus in Edgbaston during 2018.

This is the third phase of the University's project to move all teaching and learning to two campuses, City Centre and City South. By moving our Education provision, we are creating a hub for the provision of public service contracts and professional development at City South Campus and improving the student experience with a stronger sense of community and more consistent support services and facilities.


In addition to classrooms, a lecture theatre, social learning spaces, an open access IT suite and cafe facilities, the new £41 million extension to our City South Campus offers a range of specialist teaching and learning facilities for specific subjects including science, design and technology, drama and physical education.  


All our departmental facilities replicate the school learning environment.

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

Not only are we investing £41 million in a new building to house the laboratories and teaching spaces needed, but we also plan to open up these facilities to benefit all students and the wider community. This will complement our existing sports facilities, which already provide a base for students to compete in activities ranging from rugby to.

Mary Seacole Library

The Seacole library, based at City South Campus, is one of the UK's largest specialist health education libraries. The facility offers an extensive range of range of information and reference materials set out in a relaxing environment, conducive to studying. There are comfortable seating areas, group study areas, a silent study area and private study rooms.

Computer Facilities

The Seacole building houses a large open access IT Suite which comprises of 96 PCs, printers, photocopiers and scanners. Our PCs utilise the latest Intel i5 core technology, all with:

  • Fast (unrestricted) internet connectivity
  • Ability to save files to USB, DVD & CD
  • Microsoft Office software
  • Research and statistical software
  • Storage space which can be accessed from any PC across the University and from home

Our PCs are also designed to support students who may have difficulties with reading and writing, featuring specialised software with zooming/magnification and screen reading capabilities, which may also be customised for individual student needs.

The IT Suite offers extended opening hours and is supported by a specialist Open Access Assistant during term time. In addition to the open access PCs within the IT Suite, there are 12 networked student PCs available within Seacole library.

Helen Thomas BSc, PGCE, PGCert(HE), MA Ed, CPhys, MInstP, FHEA

PGCE Subject Route Leader for the Sciences and Senior Lecturer in Science Education

Helen taught science and physics in particular for 17 years in schools, 6th form college and FE before joining Birmingham City University. Responsibilities included GCSE Science Course Leader and Head of Physics. Helen's move to the University led from catching the research bug whilst completing a Master's degree combined with being responsible for NQT's and trainee teachers whilst a professional mentor in a school.