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Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)

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.

PGCE Key Contacts

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The PGCE is organised around three interdependent strands:

  • Professional School-based Experience - focuses on developing practical teaching competence particularly through working closely with experienced teachers during periods of school placement.
  • Subject Studies (eg English, Mathematics) - how to teach your subject.
  • Educational and Professional Studies - common aspects of teaching and the professional role of the teacher, including the Northern Ireland Curriculum, the education system, assessment and recording, theories of learning, educational disadvantage, the social context of teaching, pastoral care and child protection, general management issues, relationships with other professionals, promotion of inclusion, effective use of technologies, digital safeguarding, and, literacy and numeracy in the classroom.

Subject Specialisms

We offer the following subject specialisms:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Information Technology/Computing
  • Modern Languages (you should offer at least one of French, Irish or Spanish. German and Italian might be considered as second languages offered.)
  • Science (Biology, Chemistry, Physics)
  • Religious Education
  • Social Sciences (Politics, Sociology)

Course Structure

After enrolment in early September, you will complete a two week block experience in a primary school.
The next seven week block is devoted to university-based tuition (an induction week, taught sessions and directed independent study).
This is followed by your first eleven week period of professional placement based in a school.
At the beginning of February, you return to university-based tuition for four weeks in preparation for your second eleven week professional period in a school.
A final week of university-based tuition completes the course at the beginning of June.

Successful completion of the PGCE qualification depends on achieving satisfactory standards in both practical teaching and in course work.
The extended placements, which we arrange, are in two different schools, normally one spent in a school catering for 11 – 16 age range and
the other in an 11 – 18 age range. This ensures a varied experience of teaching in different schools and working with pupils from the whole ability range.
In the two post-primary schools  you will work closely with members of each school’s staff. Your subject lecturer from Queen’s will also
maintain close co-operative links with these teachers during your school placements.

You can learn more about our partnerships with post-primary schools by visiting our School Partnership page.

Further Information

Who is the course for?

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 teachers.

What is the Irish Medium (IME) PGCE?

In response to the demand for subject specific teachers in the growing Irish Medium Post Primary sector, we have partnered with St Mary's Univeristy College and the University of Ulster (UU) to offer an IME option to students interested in becoming teachers in Irish Medium secondary education.  

You will do a number of elements, including a Gaeltacht residential in the August preceding the course, which is delivered by St Mary's University College and if you complete the PGCE you will also receive an additional certificate in IME.  

You can apply to the IME option in any of the subjects listed above, provided that your level of spoken and written Irish will enable you to deliver the Northern Ireland Curriculum through this medium.

What are the course fees?

The tuition fees for Initial Teacher Education are the same as the full-time undergraduate fee.  Please refer to the University's Undergraduate Tuition Fees for further information.

What is the closing date for applications?

The closing date for applications is the 1st November at 5pm for entry in the following September.

Can I make a late application?

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. 

What qualifications do I need to apply?

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 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.

In addition, all students must possess: a GCSE, at Grade C or above, or acceptable equivalent, in both English language and Mathematics. 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.

I wish to apply for two subject areas, do I need to complete two application forms?

You must complete a separate application form for each subject area for which you are applying i.e. English, Mathematics, Politics etc.
For modern languages only one application is necessary stating specific language(s) on the supplementary application form.
Science applicants should state clearly their specialist science subject or combination on the supplementary application form.

Science applicants should submit one application for the Science programme but please indicate using the Supplementary application form which Science specialism is your preference eg. Biology with Science; Chemistry with Science; Physics with Science.  You may nominate more than one on the same application.

I graduated five years ago and have been working since then. Would employer references be acceptable?

No, in this instance we would require two university lecturers who have knowledge of your academic work.
If you have been away from education for some considerable time (i.e. more than 10 years) and you are unable to find university tutors to complete a reference for you, you may provide alternative referees who would have knowledge of your work in an educational or professional setting. These may be present/past employers or school personnel if you have some teaching experience.

When will I be informed of the outcome of my application?

On-time applicants are normally informed during January/February if they are to be invited for interview.
Successful applicants will normally be offered a place on the course before the end of May preceding the start of the course.

How do I apply?

Applications to study for the PGCE are handled centrally by the University’s Postgraduate Admissions Office.
To apply, you should use the online application system.

What documents do I need in support of my application?

You should upload all your relevant certificates under ‘Transcripts’ for:

  • GCSE/GCE O-Level grade (or equivalent qualification) in English Language and Mathematics
  • A Levels
  • Degree/Higher Degrees (including transcript with module results if degree attained). 

Failure to submit the required evidence will result in your application not being considered.

I've been offered a place. What do I do now?

Please read the Admissions Service Important Information for PGCE applicants page for more information.


For more information please contact:

Ruth McKittrick / Margaret Mitchell

PGCE Programme Secretary

School of Education

Tel:  (028) 9097 5928/3514 |


Qualified teachers have found employment in secondary schools either locally or in the UK, or abroad.  They have progressed through either a subject specialist or pastoral role or into middle and senior management.

Others go on to further study, training roles in industry or working in alternative education.

In our employability videos former students describe some of the different routes into finding a permanent teaching job.

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