School of Education

PGCE Secondary Course Details

Course content

The full-time Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) is a course which prepares students to teach in secondary schools. There is a strong emphasis on practical school-based training supported by University-based seminars and lectures. 

You are predominantly based in schools throughout the year, with your school-based experiences starting from week one of the course.

These experiences are supported by University sessions which engage you in considering models of teaching and theories of learning and using these to understand and develop your school-based practice.

This mix of school and University experiences comprise two masters level modules that form the PGCE. For the award of the PGCE, you must have reached the required standard in the following:


Learning and Teaching

This 30-credit module explores teaching and learning in subject disciplines and more generally. An extensive programme of lectures and seminars will enable you to develop a practical knowledge of teaching informed by a critical understanding of theories of teaching and learning. The module is assessed through written assignments, presentations and related classroom-based work.

Schools and Society

This 30-credit module considers various aspects of teachers' wider professional roles as well as social, cultural and legal aspects of schooling. Most of the teaching takes place in cross-subject seminar groups and is assessed through written assignments and presentations, some of which are collaborative. Some subject work also contributes to this module.

Practical teaching

Practical teaching is assessed by University tutors, school-based mentors and co-ordinators, and external examiners. Account is taken of your work over all school-based elements of the course and your own written records of such work.

You must satisfy the examiners in both theory and practice, and must satisfy the requirements for the Teacher Standards. In keeping with the nature of the course, which is vocational and postgraduate in approach, there is no written examination.


Course structure


A two-week introduction to the course which will include two days spent in your autumn term placement school.

First school placement

From week three of the course you will spend most of your time in your placement school with regular days returning to the University to further reflect on, and develop, your practice.

During this first school placement you undertake a variety of tasks and observations and are gradually introduced to teaching your subject. You work closely with your school-based mentors and with your tutor, who visits you in school.

You return to the University either side of your Christmas break. In this block of time you work with your peers, reflecting on your experiences in school and preparing for your next teaching placement.

Second school placement

The second school placement, which begins in January, is an intensive and demanding phase of the course and so it begins with an induction week to prepare you for teaching. 

During this week you get to know the school mentor and other staff, observe and support the classes that will be taught, become familiar with the materials and facilities for teaching and with the way pupils are grouped and cared for within the school system. This long-term placement allows you to become part of the school community and to work professionally as a member of a team. 

Within the school the mentor and other members of the subject department will be immediate sources of support and advice. Your University tutor will visit to observe lessons, discuss problems and progress and help with planning. 

You will return for several University-based days that focus on a wide range of professional development issues and allow for contact with peers and tutors.

School Based Inquiry

As part of this placement you will undertake a school-based inquiry project where, working with others, you will formulate and develop a research project on an area of interest.

Professional development

Throughout the course you will have a personalised programme of professional development, reflecting on the insights derived from experiences through the year. You will be continually challenged to think about your own personal growth and identity as a beginning teacher.

Support and enrichment

Over the duration of the course we offer a range of support and enrichment opportunities that allow our students to make the best possible progress and explore personal areas of interest.

Examples of this aspect of the course are:

Student Support Groups 

We offer support groups for internationally educated students, career changers and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans students

Special Interest Groups

These are optional sessions for students to explore particular areas of interest and have access to additional opportunities. This year the groups have been:

  • Special Educational Needs
  • Culturally responsive curricula
  • Creative pedagogies
  • Learning Technologies

Flexible Fortnight 

We have a period of the course which is flexible in nature and designed to support individuals to respond to personal development needs and interests. Many students undertake short placements at this point of the course in a range of educational provisions such as special schools. 

Our style of teaching at the University is based on interactive learning and we endeavour to model approaches and practices that you can transfer to your own classroom practice.

You are supported throughout the year by a dedicated mentor and coordinator in each school placement and a University tutor. The school and University elements are closely related and provide an excellent opportunity to learn to teach in a tightly structured, research informed environment.


PGCE Course Details


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.



School of Education

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

Contact us