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The PGCE course is a programme that prepares students for a career in teaching in International Schools


The PGCE (International Schools) aims the development of pedagogical competence for teachers who will teach in an international schools context, drawing on a range of teaching competences.

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About this course

In this section


International Schools (semesters 1 & 2)

The Postgraduate Certificate in Education (International Schools) runs from January of year 1 to February/March of year 2. It consists of four modules: two taught modules and two placement modules (one taught module and one placement module per year)

In the first module of the course, you will learn teaching theory, face-to-face, in a block period of four weeks. Once this is completed, you will then undertake online teaching and tutorials for the remainder of the year, which will be completed while on teaching practice in a school, followed by a second block of teaching (to include subject microteaching). Teaching practice starts upon completion of the first period of block teaching. Taught modules include the study of the foundation and professional development for learning and teaching in post-primary education, with a specialism in ICT in learning.

During the placement block, you will receive a minimum of two observational visits from Ulster University staff.

Once the placement is successfully completed, you will then study the third and fourth modules (starting in August of year 1). This consists of the Professional Studies block teaching, followed by teaching placement and this will culminate in a terminal placement assessment visit in February/March of year 2.

Performance on the course will be assessed through coursework and school experience.

Courses are taught by staff who are Professors, Senior Lecturers or Lecturers. This PGCE course is also taught by staff who are examiners in UK curriculum bodies, as well as those with extensive experience teaching in schools.


The PGCE (International Schools is a part time course, delivered on the basis of a total of 6 weeks of block teaching, supported by online tutorials and a minimum of 8 weeks of teaching placement in each academic year.

Start dates

  • January 2020
How to apply

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

The Course is a pass/fail competency based model. The Course has two components (Professional Studies and School Experience). Professional Studies modules include all aspects of the generic study of Education; and School Experience is the practical application of work done in the Professional Studies modules. Students must be deemed competent in all course components for the successful completion and award of the PGCE.

Assignments are an essential part of the assessment of the course as it encourages you to be independent learners. Assignments take a variety of forms and are used to encourage you to read the education literature underpinning lectures, integrate and apply knowledge and improve writing skills. Assignments include structured essays, lesson planning workshops, micro teaching and Portfolio. You will also complete a teaching practice project to encourage you to be reflective practitioners and develop your own teaching practice in the context of existing well-established practices.


The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.

Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:

- the relevant generic national Qualification Descriptor

- the applicable Subject Benchmark Statement

- the requirements of any professional, regulatory, statutory and accrediting bodies.

Attendance and Independent Study

As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semesteris not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.

Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10- or 20-credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate course typically 15- or 30-credit modules.

The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.

Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.

Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.


Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessment. The precise assessment will depend on the module and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.

Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification and the assessment timetable. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.

Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised.

Calculation of the Final Award

The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).

Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.

All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Master’s degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.

Academic profile

The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 59% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.

Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (25%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (18%) or Lecturers (57%).

We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic staff (81%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.

The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.

Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.

Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.


Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.

Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.

In this section

Year one

International School Experience 1

Year: 1

This module International School Experience 1 is designed to provide an academically and practically challenging programme which will give students an opportunity to put into practice the professional knowledge, skills and values related to qualifying as a classroom teacher which they have acquired in Foundation for Learning and Teaching. The module will focus on laying a foundation of competence in the pedagogy of learning and teaching in a school situation.

Professional studies 1:Foundation for Teaching and Learning in International Schools

Year: 1

The module will provide an academically challenging programme which will give students an opportunity to study the theory and practice of education. The module gives them the theoretical background that provides the context for their teaching and which will be applied during the student's practical teaching experience in Module 2 encouraging reflection and analysis on the ways in which theory informs practice.

Year two

International School Experience 2

Year: 2

This module, International School Experience 2 builds on the professional, knowledge, skills and values that were introduced in the other modules and is designed to provide students with the opportunity to develop and demonstrate their skills and understanding of effective learning and teaching in schools and to show competence that will allow them to be awarded the PGCE (International Schools). The module gives students the theoretical background that provides the context for their teaching. The module will focus on development of competence in the pedagogy of Learning and Teaching in school situations

Professional studies 2: Developing Effective Teaching and Learning in International Schools

Year: 2

This module builds on the professional, knowledge, skills and values that were introduced in the previous modules and is designed to provide students with the opportunity to develop their skills and understanding of effective learning and teaching in school and to show competence that will allow them to be awarded the PGCE (International Schools).

Entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

In this section

Entry Requirements

Applicants should hold the equivalent of a UK first degree with at least 50% of the degree in a subject area cognate to the curriculum areas taught in international schools. Applicants are also required to provide a satisfactory police check by local police authorities in China.

Applicants appearing to fulfil the above requirements will be shortlisted. Candidates who are successfully shortlisted will be interviewed to ascertain their suitability for the course.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Exemptions and transferability

The PGCE is a complete programme and the student cannot be exempted from any part of the programme. Given the unique structure of the PGCE course in Ulster University, it is not possible to transfer with exemption from another course or institution.

Careers & opportunities

In this section

Career options

The course prepares the student to teach their chosen subject in a post-primary international school.

Work placement / study abroad

Each year, you will undertake a teaching placement in a partner international school in China, for a minimum of 8 weeks. The purpose of the time on school experience is to help you to develop your understanding of how pupils learn, and develop their teaching skills and competence in a supportive environment with experienced teachers.

Prior to starting teaching practice students will study the theories of
teaching -e.g. how pupils learn, what is effective teaching, classroom management, how to
write lesson plans etc. In school these theories will be put into practice under the supervision
of a class teacher, as well as a Univerersity tutor.


How to apply Request a prospectus

The closing date for this course is 1 Octobere 2019.

Applications to our postgraduate courses are made through the University’s online application system.

PLEASE NOTE: All correspondence with regard to the selection process will be sent to the email address which you supply on your application form, it is therefore imperative that this is an up to date address.

Start dates

  • January 2020


Course Director - Professor Roger Austin

T: +44 (0)28 7012 4334


Admissions Office

T: +44 (0)28 7012 3210


For more information visit

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

School of Education


  1. The University endeavours to deliver courses and programmes of study in accordance with the description set out in this prospectus. The University’s prospectus is produced at the earliest possible date in order to provide maximum assistance to individuals considering applying for a course of study offered by the University. The University makes every effort to ensure that the information contained in the prospectus is accurate but it is possible that some changes will occur between the date of printing and the start of the academic year to which it relates. Please note that the University’s website is the most up-to-date source of information regarding courses and facilities and we strongly recommend that you always visit the website before making any commitments.
  2. Although reasonable steps are taken to provide the programmes and services described, the University cannot guarantee the provision of any course or facility and the University may make variations to the contents or methods of delivery of courses, discontinue, merge or combine courses and introduce new courses if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key staff, changes in legislation or government policy including changes, if any, resulting from the UK departing the European Union, withdrawal or reduction of funding or other circumstances beyond the University’s reasonable control.
  3. If the University discontinues any courses, it will use its best endeavours to provide a suitable alternative course. In addition, courses may change during the course of study and in such circumstances the University will normally undertake a consultation process prior to any such changes being introduced and seek to ensure that no student is unreasonably prejudiced as a consequence of any such change.
  4. The University does not accept responsibility (other than through the negligence of the University, its staff or agents), for the consequences of any modification or cancellation of any course, or part of a course, offered by the University but will take into consideration the effects on individual students and seek to minimise the impact of such effects where reasonably practicable.
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