Education: Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)

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Key Programme Information

Entry Year


Programme length *

1 year(s)

Places available





Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences


Social Sciences, Education and Social Work

* 1 year full-time


The PGCE programme aims to develop students' competence and confidence in the teaching of their chosen subject specialism and in the general professional role of the teacher. We recruit students who are in the final year of their first degree or who have completed higher degrees, and those more mature individuals who, after a period in another occupation, have decided to become post-primary teachers.

Why Queen's?

The Education and Training Inspectorate has assessed the quality of provision for learning and the standards achieved by the students as 'very good'.  The School is also a GTCNI accredited provider of Initial Teacher Education programmes.

Course Details

The PGCE is broadly aligned with the Northern Ireland Curriculum, training graduates to teach across the 11-18 year age range. You will gain a postgraduate qualification and qualified teacher status (QTS). The programme combines university-based tuition, consisting of taught sessions and directed independent study, with professional placements in schools and is organised around three interdependent strands:

  • Professional School-based Experience
  • Subject Studies (eg English, Mathematics)
  • Educational Studies including the Professional Role of the Teacher

The PGCE is broadly aligned with the Northern Ireland Curriculum, training students to teach one of the following school subjects up to Advanced-level GCE:

  • Computing/Information Technology
  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Modern Languages (typically two from: French, Irish, Spanish, although German and Italian might also be considered as second languages offered)
  • Politics
  • Religious Education
  • Science (Biology, Chemistry, Physics)
  • Sociology

The programme also offers practical experience and supervised teaching in schools, as well as workshops on a variety of topics including special educational needs, classroom management, pastoral care, diversity and inclusion, Children's Rights and digital storytelling. Extra places are reserved to prepare those who are interested in teaching their subject through the medium of Irish in Irish-medium schools. An additional certificate in Irish Medium Education (IME) is awarded in conjunction with St Mary's University College.


Assessment & Feedback

Coursework comprises subject studies assignments, practical teaching and core tasks arising from lectures, workshops and tutorials addressing key educational issues.

Learning and Teaching

Morning / Afternoon / Evening.

Typically Monday to Friday from 9am-5pm. Optional courses are available in the evenings from 5-7pm. School-based placements are dependent on the host school's timetable for the school day.

Indicative Number of Modules per Semester

1.5 modules per Semester (30 CATS points)

Contact Teaching Hours per Week

20 hours (minimum)

List of Indicative Programme Modules

  • Education and Professional Studies
  • School Placement
  • Subject Studies

Indicative Proportional Mix of Time in Classes, Tutorials/Seminars/Labs, and Private Study in a Teaching Semester

  • Maths, English, ICT - 80% lectures, 20% private study;
  • Social Science - 60% lectures and 20% tutorials, 20% private study;
  • Science – 40% lectures, 20% lab, 20% tutorials, 20% private study;
  • Mod Lang – 60% lectures and 20% tutorials, 20% private study;


Entry Requirements

Please note: the closing date for 2017 entry to this programme is 1 November 2016.

Applications received after the closing date will be regarded as LATE and will be considered only if vacancies exist when all applications received by the closing date have been processed. Normally we do not consider ‘late’ applications before June at the earliest. 

All students applying for this course must possess the following:

  • An Honours degree (and/or higher degree), or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University relevant to one of the subject areas of the course (English, Mathematics, Science, Modern Languages, Politics, Sociology, RE, ICT/Computing)
  • Degrees in cognate areas may be considered if the School deems that 50% or more of the modules studied are currently relevant to teaching the chosen subject

Applicants with an Honours degree, or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University in Accounting or Engineering disciplines who are applying for PGCE Mathematics must possess A-level Mathematics at grade B or above at the time of application.

At the time of applying, all students must possess: a GCSE, at Grade C or above, or an acceptable equivalent, in both English language and Mathematics at the time of application. Depending on the subject area, a minimum degree classification may be required. We reserve the right to enhance the shortlisting criteria for heavily over-subscribed subjects.

International Qualifications

For information on international qualification equivalents please select Your Country from the list on our International Students website.

Additional Information for International Students

International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.

Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required.

*Taken within the last 2 years.

For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see:

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this programme, our partner INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability to entry to this programme. Please click the links below for more information:

  • English for University Study - an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level
  • Pre-sessional English - a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English

How To Apply

Applicants for Postgraduate programmes are strongly advised to carefully read the important information and follow the steps set out here before submitting their application via the Postgraduate Direct Applications Portal.

If you have queries on course content please contact the school representative below.

Ruth McKittrick / Margaret Mitchell
PGCE Programme Secretary
School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work
Tel:  (028) 9097 5928/3514
Email: |

How To Apply

Queen’s University Belfast Terms and Conditions 2017 Entry
The terms and conditions that apply when you accept an offer of a place at the University on a taught programme of study.

Career Prospects

This PGCE prepares students for teaching in secondary-level schools (age 11-18+).

Queen's postgraduates reap exceptional benefits. Unique initiatives, such as Degree Plus and Researcher Plus bolster our commitment to employability, while innovative leadership and executive programmes alongside sterling integration with business experts helps our students gain key leadership positions both nationally and internationally.

Find out more

Fees & Funding

There is a range of funding and scholarship options available to those considering study at Queen's.

Find out more

For tuition fee information see

Postgraduate loans
From the academic year 2017/18, the Department for the Economy will provide a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 per NI / EU student for postgraduate study. Tuition fee loan information.

A postgraduate loans system in the UK offers government-backed student loans of up to £10,280 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas. Criteria, eligibility, repayment and application information are available on the UK government website.

Students may be eligible for grants and tuition fee loans. Please see the School website for further information.    

For fees and funding information please see the University's Graduate School website:


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