Postgraduate Certificate of Education
Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
School of Education
Applications for this course have closed.
The post primary PGCE is a one year, full-time programme that prepares students for a career in teaching.
The closing date for applications is 8th January 2022.
On successful completion of initial teacher education student teachers will be able to evidence their competence and be awarded the Post Graduate Certificate in Education allowing them to register with the General Teaching Council of Northern Ireland. They will also accrue 60 CATS points towards a Master’s degree in Education. In total the PGCE is worth 120 points ( 60 at Master’s level 7 and 60 at Post graduate level 6).
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“The Northern Ireland Curriculum aims to empower young people to achieve their potential and to make informed and responsible decisions throughout their lives.” The overall aim of our PGCE programme at Ulster is to support this aim and to foster the development of pedagogical competences in the following three areas: - Professional Values and Practice; Professional Knowledge and Understanding and Professional Skills and Application. To achieve these aims the PGCE post-primary programme at Ulster University prepares student teachers to be competent in the following: - the ability to plan, teach and assess worthwhile learning activities in their subject area(s) in post-primary schools in Northern Ireland for the 11-18 age group; - the acquisition of the knowledge, understanding and skills that are essential for the promotion of learning among pupils; - to assume responsibility for developing as competent reflective practitioners, able to monitor and evaluate their teaching performance; - to realise a commitment to on-going personal and professional development in pursuit of sustained pupil learning and school improvement. Student teachers on the PGCE will evidence their competence through achieving the following objectives: - by demonstrating a critical understanding of the Northern Ireland Curriculum and of National Curriculum requirements; -by demonstrating a knowledge of their subject and its contribution to the area of study and to the “Big Picture” of the curriculum at Key Stages 3 & 4 with its objectives of: a) developing the young person as an individual; b) developing the young person as a contributor to society and c) developing the young person as a contributor to the economy and the environment. The successful completion of the PGCE also requires the student to: recognise and take account of those factors which influence curriculum planning in a particular school context; understand how children learn and appreciate the social, moral, psychological and cultural factors which affect educational attainment; plan, teach and evaluate lessons, units and schemes of work organise and manage classes effectively; use a range of teaching and learning methodologies supported by resources for pupils of all ability levels, including those with special educational needs; recognise the need for continuity, progression and differentiation in pupils' learning; assessment for learning and assessment of learning; assessing, recording and reporting pupil achievement; develop pupils' language and numeracy skills through the teaching of their subject; promote skills of problem solving, decision making, presentation, teamwork, leadership and independent learning; develop pupils' personal and interpersonal skills; promote fairness and equality of opportunity; build and sustain good relationships with both pupils and staff; work co-operatively with colleagues and other student teachers and contribute to school wide activities; develop skills and confidence in Information Communications Technology (ICT) and emerging technologies for both personal and professional use.
This is a programme of professional training of teachers for the teaching profession. Attendance therefore is compulsory for all activities, modules and components of the course. Students are required to attend all classes and course activities including placement in school.
Formal lectures are a core activity in teaching the Professional Studies generic component of all modules being the most effective way of teaching large classes. Interactive delivery of lectures is promoted through the use of presentation software. Videos, tape recordings and the use of emerging technologies are also used to illustrate lectures. Access is provided to lecture notes which are posted on the PGCE's Virtual Learning Environment site. b) Practical classes are fundamental to the study of pedagogy and the delivery of taught material in the main subject area. As outlined in the module descriptors, students engage in a diverse range of practical classes including work done in ICT labs. All practical classes are designed to develop core teaching skills and to link subject pedagogy to research and professional development. Health and Safety procedures in the classroom are emphasised in practical classes. c) Seminars are used not only to extend the lecture topics but also equip students with the skills to seek relevant research material and to present the material as a lucid exposition and argument within a given time frame. With the increasing amount of information available on the internet, the knowledge and skills to select appropriate, educationally sound material are vital to all potential teachers. Students are also afforded the opportunity to make both individual and group presentations. d) Tutorials are used to support students who need help with their studies. Tutorial time is built into the weekly university programme and the post lesson discussion led by the university tutor and class teacher are in the nature of tutorials. e) Group work is an important element of the learning regimen in the School. It is used to help students integrate learning from a variety of sources, to provide opportunities to apply knowledge or case studies for class and seminar work. Role-playing and micro-teaching has also been used to stimulate student participation in classroom discussion. f) Problem based learning. In order to gain experience of integrating the professional themes covered in each semester in the general lectures, towards the end of each university based teaching phase students are asked to engage in a problem-based learning activity. These take place in mixed seminar groupings and each group is given time to work collaboratively without direct supervision. g) Course work assignments are an essential part of the teaching and learning strategy as it encourages students to be independent learners. Assignments take a variety of forms and are used to encourage students to read the education literature underpinning lectures, integrate and apply knowledge and improve writing skills. Assignments include structured essays, literature reviews, case studies, word-limited reports, poster presentations and the practical ICT Portfolio. It is expected that all students should be able to write a fully referenced educational/curriculum studies paper as evidenced by the School- Based Projects at Master’s level. Evidence of achievement at Level 7 is sought through the quality of students’ written assignments, designated at that level. In preparation, in subject sessions, seminars and through group problem-based learning activities students are encouraged to engage with, and evaluate, professional discourse on key educational issues. They are also introduced to the tools of enquiry necessary to collect appropriate evidence to evaluate their practice. Within assignments there must be evidence of an investigative approach informed by a critical review of literature with the framing of appropriate questions related to educational issues. Students are expected to take cognisance of educational research, synthesise its outcomes and use it both to present higher order thinking and to inform and improve their practice. Assignments should reflect the professional discourse encountered in taught sessions and in literature. They should also critique aspects of their practice in a systematic and critical way in the light of this literature. Thus, the course fosters an understanding of the role of the critically reflective practitioner. The PGCE requires the successful student to demonstrate a high level of application of theory within all written assignments. For all level 7 assignments, extended reading lists are provided that require students to underpin their writing by drawing on refereed journal articles and research data. The assignments all require the student to evidence a sophisticated level of critical reflection and the ability to synthesise a broad range of research literature and to link it appropriately to their own practice. To support the student the PGCE course offers a range of lectures and seminars in developing academic writing skills at master’s level. The PGCE is a competency based model and as such the award is based on evidence of holistic student competence and in accordance of the professional standards for teachers ( GTCNI, 2007). The PGCE course is fully cognisant of the Ulster University Qualifications and Credit Framework and successful completion of the PGCE the student will be awarded 120 credit points ( 60 at level 7 and 60 at level 6).
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:
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 semester is not confirmed until near the start date and may be subject to 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 of attendance will often 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 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 Masters 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 via one method or a combination e.g. examination and coursework . 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 four learning outcomes, and no more than two 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.
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 Masters 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 Masters degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.
Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.
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 (20%) or Lecturers (55%).
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) by Advanced HE - 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 2021-2022.
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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.
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This module 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.
This module builds on the professional, knowledge, skills and values that were introduced in Modules 1, 2 and 3 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.
The module 'Foundation for Learning and Teaching' 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 teaching their specialist subject during school experience 1. Students develop their pedagogical content knowledge and application within their subject specialism. The module encourages students to reflect and analyse on the ways in which theory informs practice.
The module 'Developing effective Learning and Teaching' will provide an academically challenging programme which will give students an opportunity to critique the theory and practice of education. The module gives them the theoretical background that provides the context for teaching their specialist subject during school experience 2. Students develop their pedagogical content knowledge and application within their specialist subject area. The module allows students to develop and deepen their reflective skills.
This module is optional
Through the study of this module, students will gain the fundamental knowledge, skills and pedagogical competency to facilitate effective Religious Education learning experiences at Key stage 3.
This module is optional
Through the study of this module, students will continue to develop greater competency in their knowledge, skills and pedagogical practice in facilitating effective Religious Education learning experiences at Key stage 3.
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.
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a.English and Mathematics (GCSE grade C or qualification that is equivalent in breadth and depth to a GCSE, eg. Irish Leaving Certificate Higher Level Grade H6 or above or Ordinary Level O4 or above. (Please note Essential Skills Level 2 qualifications are not regarded as equivalent for entry to this course). Students wishing to take Religious Education (RE) as an optional level 6 module must have a GCSE grade C or above in RE.
b. At least a 2:2 Honours degree (or above) in physical education, sports science or sports studies (or another sports related degree that is at least 50% vocationally relevant to physical education). In the case of a combined Honours degree at least 50% shall be in the specialist subject.
c. Two acceptable references must be supplied - one academic and one character.
d. Medical certificate of satisfactory health.
e. Applicants will be scrutinised by Access NI procedures to ensure that they do not have a criminal record and must also satisfy the University and the Department of Education that nothing would prohibit them from working with children.
f. Evidence of good quality presentation and basic litearcy skills are required throughout the application process. The application form will be examined for spelling, punctuation and grammar skills. Applicants will also be expected to complete a set piece of formal writing as part of the selection process. This is a timed piece.
g. Applicants should comply with the DE circular requirements as outlined in the hyperlink below
h. In the event that the programme is oversubscribed, the following additional criteria will be applied: evidence of knowledge, interest and experience in working with young people for at least 16 weeks. Applicants who are deemed suitable but for whom an immediate place is not available will be placed on a waiting list.
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.
There are no exemptions recognised for entry to this course and it is not possible to transfer from other courses. Access to the PGCE is by the successful completion of the application and interview process.
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The PGCE is an internationally recognised programme for Initial Teacher Education leading directly to a career in teaching. The post primary PGCE is for those who wish to teach the 11-19 age range.
Initial teacher education programmes in Northern Ireland B.Ed. degrees and post- graduate PGCEs for the purposes of registration with the Council all of which must be compliant with DE Circular 2007/22.
Fees illustrated are based on academic year 22/23 entry and are subject to an annual increase.
If your study continues into future academic years your fees are subject to an annual increase. Please take this into consideration when you estimate your total fees for a degree.
Additional mandatory costs are highlighted where they are known in advance. There are other costs associated with university study.
Correct at the time of publishing. Terms and conditions apply.
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There are a range of subject based prizes and awards associated with the PGCE. We also have two student prizes awarded by The General Teaching Council of Northern Ireland.
Successful applicants must apply for AccessNI clearance (£33) and complete an Occupational Health Check (£35) and are responsible for costs associated with these applications. Students must also attend an Induction Field Trip, with a cost of £75 per student.
It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals, as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.
There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as a part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs, as well as tuition fees. See www.ulster.ac.uk/student/fees-and-funding/tuition-fees/tuition-fees-202223/ni-roi-students for most up to date costs.
We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.
Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:
For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.
For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.
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" The Physical Education PGCE is an informative, progressive and challenging course aiming to develop the future teachers of the subject. Throughout the year my cohort and I performed numerous practical teaching sessions, developed our content knowledge across Key Stage 3 and examination P.E., and were exposed to many sports and activities that we may face in the teaching profession. The year is a demanding one, however the course tutor continually supported each student individually, whilst constantly enthusing and challenging us to improve our practice. I thoroughly recommend this course; the standard of teaching and support are second to none, and I believe it has been crucial to enable me to enter the teaching profession as a knowledgable, experienced and enthusiastic teacher of Physical Education. "
Mark McDowell - PGCE PE student 2015/16
The PGCE this year was truly one of the best years I've had in education. It has been both challenging and rewarding, all at the same time providing me with numerous opportunities for a career in the teaching profession and helping me make new professional friends along the way. Time management is key within this course and luckily I had no issues with this, however if you found yourself having difficulties there are faultless support networks from both your peers and course director. Lecturers and tutors were available at all times whether it was face to face or a phone call and they were happy to help where needed. The PGCE has provided me with the knowledge, skills, confidence and teaching practice that have enabled me to secure my first teaching post, beginning in September.
Aimee McAtamney - 2015/16