Central to our geography teacher education course is the basic tenant that all young people, regardless of social class, race, ethnicity, gender or ability can learn and enjoy geography, and that geography, as a discipline, has a significant contribution to make to the broader aims of education. We argue that for young people living in a fast-changing world a high-quality geography education is essential.
The idea of geography as a school 'subject' is central to the design of our course. By this we mean that the course enables beginning teachers to understand how their own passion for geography translates into interesting, challenging and worthwhile learning for young people. During the course, beginning teachers gain experience of appropriate ways to teach geography whilst at the same time considering what kinds of geographies are fit for a 21st century education system.
To achieve these ambition there are several defining features of our geography teacher education course:
- Our partnership with local geography departments are long-standing and many are staffed by alumni from our courses.
- The courses are taught by highly-qualified and experienced tutors who are established and active members of a wider national and international geography tutor network.
- Fieldwork is a key feature of the courses and beginning teachers not only develop their own fieldwork expertise, but also get to teach it in the field.
- University-based sessions are active and engaging, encouraging beginning teachers develop their capacity to take risks with their own ideas about how and what to teach and at the same time gradually build their professionals understanding about what it means be a great geography teacher.
- We are necessarily responsive to both changing national education contexts, but seek to ensure that we engage critically and pro-actively with the ever-changing education landscape.
- Student teachers are encouraged to be part of wider professional networks such as membership of the Geographical Association (GA), and retain a professional interest in developments in geography as a discipline. Past students have attended the GAs annual conference (at Easter), presented their teaching ideas at the annual conference and written articles for the GA journal Teaching Geography.
- Successful completion of the course's masters level modules (up to 60 credits) has led many former geography students to undertake the full masters degree in Education at the end of their PGCE studies.
Success on the course is assessed in several different ways. Practical teaching is a key component of the assessment process and in addition our student teachers complete four assignments assessed at masters level. These assignments take different forms including presentations, written assignment and school-based research. Whilst each assignment is grounded in theoretical perspectives of teaching geography, they also require investigation into, and evaluation of practical work in schools.
Geography course content
Our philosophy is that geography can, and should, be challenging, enjoyable and relevant for all pupils. The challenge for the geography teacher is to turn this philosophy into action. Our intention at The University of Nottingham is that after learning to teach geography with us you will have gained insights, had experiences and developed your understanding of what it means to be a great geography teacher.
To achieve this ambition the course explores important questions in relation to geography education. Consider what these questions mean to you:
What does it mean to 'think geographically' and why is this important to young people? What is the relationship between the geographies you have learnt at university and the geographies you will teach in school? In what ways does geography contribute to an understanding of wider society? What does a socially just school geography curriculum 'look' like?
How are young people's own geographies represented in schools? How do they experience and understand geography? What do you need to know about young people in order to help them learn geography?
The effective geography teacher
How do geography teachers foster geographical thinking in young people? How do geography teachers maintain and develop their own disciplinary knowledge and sustain their own geographical imaginations? In what ways does the changing landscape of education effect school geography and what are teachers' responsibilities in this ongoing change process? What does it mean to be part of a wider professional network such as membership of the Geographical Association?
What do you need to know about how lessons are structured? What do you need to think about when planning and preparing interesting and challenging geography lessons? How can you make sure that lessons are structured to meet a range of students' different needs? What approaches, styles and teaching strategies can you use to support geographical learning? What is the purpose of teaching geography?
What values, beliefs and attitudes do you bring with you to the course and to classrooms? What are your current perspectives on teaching geography? What, in your view, is geography education for? What previous educational experiences have you had and how have these shaped the person you are and the teacher you want to be?
The course tutors have a range of valuable experiences which shape and inform geography education at The University of Nottingham.
Mary Biddulph has been a geography teacher educator for 25 years. Alongside her work with beginning teachers, Mary also teaches on a range of other programmes including the International PGCE and the MA Education course. Mary is an active member of the Geographical Association (GA) and is currently president of the GA.
With Dr Roger Firth (University of Oxford) Mary led the Young People's Geographies project, a curriculum development project, funded by the Action Plan for Geography, the aim of which was to draw school children into the curriculum making process.
Mary has also been editor of journal Teaching Geography and she is also a member of GeReCO, a national network of leading geography educators. Mary is also lead author (written with David Lambert and David Balderstone) of the key text for early career geography teachers, Learning to Teach Geography in the Secondary School.
Carol Luetkemeier is a highly experienced secondary school geography teacher and has been working at the University now for five years. She has taught in a range of comprehensive schools and held a range of management roles within these schools. Carol has been head of a geography department and has also been a head of sixth form. In her last school she was responsible for vocational provision across the school.
Carol is an active member of the Geography Teacher Education (GTE) network and she is also an experienced A level examiner and is also a member of the Geographical Association.
How to apply
View PGCE availability and then visit our application guidance page.
To apply for a place on the School Direct Geography programme you will need to search for a School Direct place on the UCAS-TT website.
From the table below, you should identify a placement school in which you wish to undertake your training. When you apply in UCAS you will then need to search for and apply to the relevant Lead School as found in the same table below. The University of Nottingham will be listed as an accredited provider. Visit our application guidance page.
View School Direct placement schools...
School Direct details
Video produced by Eddie Adams, PGCE Geography 2013/14.
The Geography Team
- Mary Biddulph
- Carol Luetkemeier
Subject specific staff work with a wider circle of colleagues dedicated to our teacher training programmes including:
- Stefanie Sullivan - Director of Initial Teacher Education
- Helen Bowhay - Secondary Phase Leader
There are two routes to qualification, PGCE and School Direct. For both routes you will have a University interview.
If you have more than one UCAS application choice for routes and/or schools we are working with, you will only have one University interview.
That one successful interview will result in an offer of a place on the PGCE programme if that was one of your choices, and will lead to your application being instantly sent to all of your School Direct choices (should they have places remaining). This should increase your opportunities of quickly securing a place.
The School of Education and School of Geography are a University of Nottingham affiliated branch of the Geographical Association.