School of Education

Course Details

Course aims

The general aim of the Postgraduate Certificate Education (International) (PGCEi) is to improve practice by building new ideas and strategies which are tested out in your own classrooms. More specifically, the programme aims to improve teaching by: 

  • helping you to understand your own education system from an international perspective 
  • enabling you to become familiar with the basic assumptions, concepts, and principles of a range of learning theories and to evaluate their usefulness in specific educational situations 
  • promoting a deeper understanding of a range of teaching strategies 
  • developing expertise in practitioner research 
  • making appropriate use of professional and research literature

Course structure

The PGCEi consists of four core 15-credit modules. The induction stage is an intensive block of study. All additional modules are taught via distance learning, allowing you to conduct practitioner inquiry in your own schools.

The recommended timescale for the course is approximately 12 months, but it can be completed in eight months.


The face-to-face programme will involve small group discussion, presentations, whole group interaction and tutorials.

The web-based component uses a dedicated virtual learning environment (VLE) including online course materials, learning resources and tutorial support. To ensure you have the appropriate computer requirements to enable you to study online, please view our computer specification guidance notes.


Each module will be assessed by coursework and a 3,000-word assignment.


The current modules are: 


'Contexts' is about national and international contexts for education and considers ideas from the philosophy of education about the purposes of education in different national settings.

This introductory module introduces a philosophical, comparative and observational focus which runs throughout the course. Units within the module include 'Purposes of the School Curriculum', 'Understanding International Educational' and 'Understanding the Classroom'.

The aims of the module are to:

  • develop an understanding of education as a world-wide phenomenon
  • enable teachers to understand their own education system from an international perspective
  • develop appreciation of the philosophical basis of the school curriculum
  • develop a range of frameworks for classroom observation
  • encourage forward-looking thinking about schools, classrooms and their purposes
Understanding Learning

This module is divided into two and focuses on classical theoretical approaches to the conceptualisation of learning, mainly from the field of psychology such as motivation, intelligence, behaviourism, constructivism and neuroscience. The second half presents a number of distinctive approaches to learning.

The unit on motivation and engagement explores the work of Bruner and Maslow. The unit on intelligence invites a critical approach to Multiple Intelligence theory and to currently fashionable theories of learning styles. The unit on Skinner and Piaget elaborates the basic principles of these two theorists and invites students to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of their approaches to educational materials.

The unit on ZPD and scaffolding examines the respective approaches of Vygotsky, Bruner and Wood to ways in which children construct knowledge. The unit on neuroscience provides an introduction to what is happening in the brain when learning occurs.

In the second half of the module, students can choose to study Reggio Emilia, Montessori, Freire, Nyerere, and Makiguchi and Gandhi.

The aims of the module are to:

  • become conversant with the basic assumptions, concepts, and principles of a range of learning theories
  • understand the practical classroom implications of each theory
  • be able to compare and contrast theories and their usefulness in specific educational settings
  • review and develop existing personal theories of learning
Approaches to Teaching

This module includes generic materials on 'teaching strategies' and 'aspects of pedagogy'. 'Teaching strategies' includes materials on questioning, group work and other forms of collaborative learning. 'Aspects of pedagogy' includes materials on student management, planning, assessment, differentiation, special educational needs and inclusion, English as an additional language, and ICT in education.

Depending on the age range in their own school, students are offered several choices between early years, primary or secondary approaches.

The aims of the module are to:

  • consider different approaches to teaching and learning
  • develop a deeper understanding of a range of teaching strategies
  • develop professional knowledge, skills, and understanding for teaching
  • improve the quality of reflective practice
Investigating Student Understanding

In the final module of the course, students are asked to plan and undertake a small-scale classroom investigation in their own schools. The project is an investigation into the cognitive and affective dimension of the development of learners' understanding by focusing on a case study of one or more learners in the student's own educational context.

In preparation for the research and data-gathering processes, there is a unit within the module on methodological principles of practitioner research. Guidance is also offered on the planning, writing and presentation of the study itself. A research plan in the form of a formative assignment is submitted to the course tutor for comment at an early stage of work on this module.

In the light of feedback on this assignment and ensuing discussion, the course tutor recommends relevant academic and professional literature for background reading. The completed assignment relates investigation findings to this preparatory reading material.

The aims of the module are to:

  • develop an in-depth practical grasp of ways in which learners develop understanding
  • develop expertise in classroom based research methodology
  • promote personal reflection and professional learning
  • make appropriate use of professional and academic literature

Further study

Each of the modules is 15 credits at level four (masters). Marks of 50% or higher for a module will result in masters credit which gives the possibility of 60 credits towards an MA Education or MA Education (flexible) - 180 credits are needed for the MA.

A maximum of 30 credits can be used towards the MA Educational Leadership and Management and MA Special and Inclusive Education courses. We offer full-time, part-time and summer school study routes for the MA programmes.

For those who are interested in doctoral study, we have an MPhil/PhD. However, credit from the PGCEi cannot be used towards this programme.


Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in England

The PGCEi is an academic qualification, not a teaching qualification, and therefore does not offer QTS.

If you wish to become a qualified teacher in England after successful completion of the PGCEi, you are advised to consult the Department of Education Teaching Agency website for advice and information.

Please note that arrangements for teacher education in the UK are currently undergoing change. Qualifying as a teacher in Scotland and Northern Ireland is different to England and Wales.


Course details are subject to change. While we will do all we can to ensure the information on these pages is accurate and up to date, the University of Nottingham reserves the right to change the content, modules and titles of any courses listed without prior warning.

Course fees

Fees vary according to the cohort venue and the cohort facilitator. Please see individual cohort venue pages for details of fees or for contact details of the cohort facilitator




School of Education

University of Nottingham
Jubilee Campus
Wollaton Road
Nottingham, NG8 1BB

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