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Subject Knowledge Enhancement in English - (SKE) *

  • Level: Postgraduate Taught
  • Starting: March 2021, April 2021, May 2021
  • Study mode: Distance Learning, Blended Learning
  • Location: City South

If you wish to train as an English 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 English teacher training course.

This course will prepare you for an initial teacher training secondary English 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 English 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 English will be covered depending on the aptitudes and interests of the trainees.

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 Department for Education (DfE). Please visit the DfE 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 or online to suit your requirements. 
  • 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

This course is taught online. 

Subject to approval

This course is in the final stages of approval to ensure it meets the very highest standards of quality, creativity and applied learning.

Entry Requirements

UK students

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

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

Applicants must also meet the Department for Education (DfE) 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 English and demonstrate a commitment to teaching the subject.

To be eligible to start this course you MUST hold a conditional offer of a place on an initial teacher training course, for example a PGCE Secondary English course.

  • UK/EU students
  • International students

Award: (SKE)

Starting: Mar 2021

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Distance Learning
  • 16 Weeks
  • TBC

Award: (SKE)

Starting: Apr 2021

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Blended Learning
  • 12 Weeks
  • TBC

Award: (SKE)

Starting: May 2021

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Distance Learning
  • 8 Weeks
  • TBC

Sorry, this course is not available to International students.

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 for this course. You may be eligible for a bursary, paid weekly. You can find details on the DfE website.

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.

Course in Depth

This course covers a range of topics to support English subject knowledge in preparation for the teaching of English as a curriculum area in the secondary school. Engagement with literature pre and post 1914 will drive much of subject learning with a specific focus on utilising independent reading skills and a presentation to demonstrate engagement with typical core English texts. This will also include fiction and non-fiction to maximise developing an understanding of genre for academic purpose, which is essential for the preparation for a pedagogical approach to English literature.

Engagement also with the English National Curriculum documents for KS3 and KS4 is essential to support the development of your subject knowledge for teaching writing skills and grammar. A range of different fiction and non-fiction text types that form the English curriculum will be explored as well as developing your understanding of the range of spelling, punctuation and grammar skills that are needed in the English classroom. The KS3 English glossary is the foundation of grammar knowledge and this is essential preliminary reading. A range of pedagogical approaches to teaching writing and grammar will be explored in the subject learning and this will be further developed through a written reflection on a specific area of teaching writing and grammar.

There will also be a focus on subject specific pedagogy in relation to Reading, Writing and Spoken English: the three core strands of English teaching. This will ensure you move from the position of a student of English into a teacher of English: a role in which love of subject and delivery of subject will closely unite.

This course is taught  online. 

University's accreditation

Pre-initial teacher training Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) courses are intensive programmes, which have been accredited by the Department for Education. 

As a provider of Initial Teacher Training  (ITT) 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 ITT 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 a Level 7 Initial Teacher Training (ITT) course, for example a PGCE Secondary English course.

Our one year full-time PGCE Secondary Education English 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 English course and then an initial teacher training course, for example a PGCE Secondary English course you will be ready to begin your career as an English teacher in the secondary sector.

Our Facilities

We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £340 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.

Fiona Darby

Mrs Fiona Darby

Senior Teaching Fellow

Fiona spent 15 years working as an English teacher in secondary schools in Warwickshire and Oxfordshire. She was a Head of Department for 4 years, and an Assistant Head Teacher for 5 years.

She has had various areas of responsibility in schools including leading whole school teaching and learning, Designated Safeguarding Lead, UCAS advisor, Professional Tutor, NQT Induction Tutor, and ITT Mentor.

She joined BCU in September 2016 as a Senior Teaching Fellow working with Secondary English School Direct trainees. She also worked as an Associate Teaching Fellow at the University of Warwick on the Secondary PGCE course. From September 2017 she will be Subject Route Leader for the BCU Secondary English PGCE course.

Paul Trimble

Paul Trimble

Senior English Lecturer

Paul works on the Teach First two year PGDE programme which is a work based route into teaching. He also contributes to the PGCE programme as well as the subject enhancement course. His subject specialism is English and he works exclusively with training English teachers. He has also got experience of supervising students working on various masters programmes.

Read Paul's full profile