School of Education

Geography Student Profiles

Tom Howe

PGCE Geography 2013/14

Studying for a secondary PGCE at Nottingham provided me with the perfect preparation for my career in teaching. The geography course provides an incredibly wide range of skills and ideas that are relevant to developing outstanding practise in the dynamic environment of a classroom.

However, with ongoing change in the education system, the course also gives time to consider theoretical underpinnings of education as well as wider school issues. This understanding is fundamental to becoming an excellent practitioner, and I utilise it regularly now as a Form Tutor as well as in my daily practice as a geography teacher.

The course is run by dedicated, knowledgeable and enthusiastic tutors who work in conjunction with experienced mentors at a range of link schools to offer continuous support throughout the course. Working closely with mentors and peers through regular course sessions and fieldwork fosters a great sense of community on the course. All together the course was fantastic!


Catherine McKee

PGCE Geography 2013/14

The course at Nottingham helps you to identify why you love geography and what the most important things are to express to students. It is challenging, but brilliantly supported so you have the freedom to experiment with ideas in the classroom.

The support that you get from the staff on the course is excellent and the link between your placement schools and the University is strong which means the course is well-organised.

The opportunity to design and teach your own fieldwork trip was also really valuable as you got to see first-hand what teaching in the field feels like, possible issues that arise and how to deal with them whilst being really well supported.


Hannah Campion

PGCE Geography 2013/14

I decided to do a PGCE at the University of Nottingham for many reasons. Firstly, the University is a highly regarded institution for both geography at undergraduate level, and teaching and education.

I preferred the course structure of a PGCE to any other route into teaching because it combined teaching with university-based time which didn't seem as daunting as other route like Teach First or School Direct; PGCE also offered the academic support and gave me the chance to continue my studies with masters credits. 

The School of Education is very supportive for all needs whilst at university and on placement. Placements are allocated fairly allowing for transport and travel time, having no problems. The time in university was really valuable; it offers many workshops about all aspects of teaching with very knowledgeable tutors and speakers.


The university time is also valuable to meet fellow teachers, share experiences and learn from each other, which is a massive bonus because teaching can be demanding and a steep learning curve, so you are all in the same boat and it provides a very good support network.

Another benefit to the geography course at Nottingham is that it is not all classroom based. In true geographer style we are encouraged to go and explore the area around us to see how we can bring the outside world into the classroom. We had the opportunity to visit a local college to understand post-16 education and learn ways to engage them.

We also have a field course to Lea Green Residential Centre built into the course. This part is assessed in groups and we had to plan and deliver a field course day to year seven in the summer term. We also visited twice beforehand to orientate ourselves and plan our trip. This was one of the highlights as it gave us a few days at the end of the first term to get together, share experiences of our first few weeks and bond as a group.

We also had guest speakers and key workshops to help us refresh our geography skills and learn how to adapt what we learnt at university for secondary school teaching, these included: The Royal Meteorological society (looking at weather and weather experiments), GIS (using Google maps and earth), a local head teacher (job application and interview advice), Dr Ian Cook (global connections in the classroom), stop frame animation workshop, and a drama workshop.

PGCE at Nottingham is well connected to wider geographical fields offering opportunities beyond the classroom. Mary Biddulph is currently Senior Vice-President of the Geographical Association (GA) and so you know you are getting the latest in geographical teaching and education. I would encourage you to join the GA and attend the annual conference as you can go for free as a student.

I had the opportunity to display my work from my 'Fantastic Geography' assignment at the conference and from this was asked to write for the GA journal and later to present my own teacher-to-teacher session at the GA conference. I would not have had this opportunity had it not been for the support and guidance offered by the tutors on the Nottingham PGCE course.

Nottingham PGCE isn't just about getting you into the classroom, it is about making you a well-rounded teacher, open to experiences beyond the classroom as well as in and offers amazing support if you wish to carry on your masters to full term with discounted rates for NQT year.

As you are still part of the University through studying the PGCE course you also have access to wide range of facilities and events on and off campus. During my PGCE I was elected course rep for geography and appointed social security for PGCE course. It was great to get involved and help make a difference to develop the PGCE course.

I chose Nottingham because the PGCE course offered the opportunity to combine teaching with a masters in education, completing two modules in my PGCE year.

I have now continued in NQT with part-time masters at Nottingham. The modules on offer are varied and the tutorial support is fantastic. I opted for the face-to-face module and summer school, but they also offer online course so it is really flexible if you want to carry on with studies post PGCE.


Lauren Wardle

Lauren Wardle

PGCE Geography 2012/13

From as far back as I can remember I have loved working with young people; I took part in numerous volunteer projects around the UK from the age of 14. I knew I wanted to be a teacher, but was unsure which of the humanities subjects I wanted to teach until my GCSEs.

I decided on geography for a variety of reasons, namely that the geography teacher that took me through my GCSEs and A levels was particularly inspirational and made me see geography in a new light - a relevant and contemporary subject that brought new challenges each year.

I began by gaining as much experience in the classroom as possible. Throughout university (as well as some shorter placements at other primary and secondary schools), I went back to my secondary school to work with my inspirational teacher. There I completed 16 weeks of voluntary experience in the classroom - making displays, teaching one on one and small groups, as well as going on several field trips. This time in a teaching role was crucial in cementing teaching as my future career.


I chose the PGCE route into teaching as I felt that it would give me the theory and the practice of education, the course would allow for time in more than one school, as well as offering support from a range of sources.

With geographers often specialising at university in either physical or human geography, there was time to build on subject knowledge throughout the year, with the help and support of two passionate tutors. The structure allowed for my timetable to steadily increase during the first placement before increasing to a full timetable during my second placement.

During the PGCE course I was also the Chair for the Course Committee, which whilst a little more work on top of a heavy workload, it was rewarding to help other PGCE students. The committee played a vital role in highlighting any whole course issues, which were then addressed by the lecturers, helping to shape the course for future years. It was an opportunity worth taking!

After completing my teaching practice placement at The Robert Pattinson Academy in Lincoln, I was fortunate enough to gain a teaching post there.


Tom Kitson

PGCE Geography 2011/12

The PGCE geography course offered at the University of Nottingham places you at the forefront of teaching pedagogy. The expertise of the tutors and lecturers gave me outstanding opportunities to develop into a reflective practitioner. The varied lecture material and discussions in seminars were invaluable experiences in giving me a wider understanding of education.

Since graduating I returned to complete a masters in education. The MA course provided me with the unique opportunity to research my own practice and develop a greater understanding of the issues facing schools today. This further underpinned my teaching philosophy and has been fundamental in leading to further career progression; now as a Head of Department I am able to implement many of the forward thinking ideas discussed in such a developmental setting.

In all aspects of my studies at the University of Nottingham it has been the relationship between the staff and their students which make it such a rewarding and highly enjoyable place to enter the teaching profession.



View details of the PGCE Geography course

Student videos

Video produced by Eddie Adams, PGCE Geography 2013/14.



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