Postgraduate Certificate of Education
Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
School of Education
The post primary PGCE is a one year, full-time programme that prepares students for a career in teaching.
The closing date is 8th January 2023.
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 course offers graduates wishing to progress into post-primary education the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills to become an effective teachers of history. You are introduced to the most recent research-informed developments in history curriculum and pedagogy, relevant to teaching the revised Northern Ireland Curriculum. History's place in the curriculum is established along with its links to other subject areas. Throughout the course history teaching is related to wider educational themes including learning theory, the improvement of literacy and numeracy, classroom and behaviour management, assessment and to developing students' skills in Information and Communication Technology.
The PGCE is both an academic and a professional qualification. Successful completion gains 60 CAT academic points that can be “cashed in” at a later date towards a masters in education but It also leads to recognition as a teacher with the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland.
While the initial motivation for wishing to enter this course may be to teach a specialist subject it is important to recognise that there is much that is covered that is generic to teaching and learning in all subjects. In addition to academic achievement teachers are prepared for contributing to young people's development as individuals, and as contributors to society, the economy and the environment.
In Northern Ireland history teaching has an important role in helping young people understand past conflict so that they can better contribute to a more just and peaceful society. The PGCE programme is committed to education contributing to the vision of Northern Irish society as embraced within the Shared Future agenda. Those enrolling can expect to be challenged to reflect on the impact education can have on a society emerging from conflict.
PGCE is a full time course. It is 36 weeks in length.
The PGCE employs a variety of teaching approaches. Formal lectures are a core activity in teaching the Professional Studies component, being deemed 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 using the PGCE's Virtual Learning Environment site. 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. Seminars are used not only to extend the lecture topics but also equip students to present material lucidly within a given time-frame. Students are also afforded the opportunity to make both individual and group presentations. Tutorials are used to support students who need help with their studies. Tutorial time is built into the weekly university programme and, in schools, the post lesson discussion led by the university tutor and class teacher are in the form of tutorials. Group work is an important element of the taught component. and role-playing and micro-teaching are also used to stimulate student participation in classroom discussion. 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 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.
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 include structured essays, literature reviews, case studies, reports, poster and oral presentations, portfolios and an extended Professional Development project. Subject related written assignments are assessed at at Master’s level (level 7). 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. 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. They should also critique aspects of their practice in a systematic and critical way in the light of literature. Thus, the course fosters an understanding of the role of the critically reflective practitioner. For all level 7 assignments, extended reading lists are provided that require students to underpin their writing with theoretical perspectives drawn from refereed journal articles and research data and link these appropriately to their own practice. To support the student PGCE tutors offer support 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 60 credit points at level 7.
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. GCSE passes at Grade C or above in English and Mathematics (or equivalent qualification). (Please note Essential Skills Level 2 qualifications are not regarded as equivalent for entry to this professional course).
b. At least a 2:2 Honours (or above) degree directly related to PGCE Physical Education. Alternatively, applicants may possess a Master's degree that is linked to PGCE Physical Education. In the case of a combined Honours degree, at least 50% of the degree shall be in the specialist subject.
c. Two acceptable references must be supplied - one academic, 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 regulations that nothing would legally prohibit them from working with children.
f. 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.
g. Applicants should comply with the DE Circular requirements as outlined in the hyperlink below;
H. Demonstrate evidence of knowledge and interest in working with young people of postprimary age.
In order to facilitate a manageable shortlist, the following criteria will be applied: At least 2 weeks experience in working with young people of post-primary age gained within the past two years. This must be evidenced in the application form and candidates meeting these criteria will be interviewed to ascertain their suitability for the course. An offer of a place will be conditional upon satisfying the Selection Committee on all of the above criteria.
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.
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 the University of Ulster it is not possible to transfer with exemption from another course or institution.
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The PGCE course prepares you to teach History in a Post Primary school or college. Successful completion of this course qualifies you to seek registration with the General Teaching Council of Northern Ireland.
On the Post-primary strand of the programme the focus is on preparing you to teach 11 to 18 year olds in the formal education sector. However, there may also be opportunities to work in education related fields, including as an education officer in a non government organisation or a museum.
Twennty four weeks of the programme are school based. This includes one week in a primary school and two 11-12 week placements in post primary schools.
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.
Our postgraduate fees are subject to annual increase and are currently under review. See our tuition fees page for the current fees for 2022/23 entry.
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 the tuition fees on our student guide for most up to date costs.
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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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