If you aren’t a postgraduate student, it’s quite likely that you haven’t come across the term ‘PGCE’ before. Beyond primary and secondary school, the education system becomes quite complicated, and it’s hard to know where everything fits. You aren’t the only person in this position! As not many students in the UK decide to take a PGCE, it is not a well-known branch of academia. Well, that’s what this article is here to explain!
A PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) is a qualification in education that allows graduates in the UK to pursue a career in teaching. It is obtained usually over 1 or 2 years and provides training to help graduates understand general teaching practices and educational research. Alternatively, it can be converted into credits which can count as part of the total credits for a master’s degree. A PGCE can only be completed at a university by postgraduates.
Postgraduate education is very complex, so don’t worry if you still don’t have the full picture. Keep reading this article to find out about what a PGCE can be used for, how much it costs, how long it takes and more!
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What is the purpose of a PGCE?
A PGCE has several different purposes. A PGCE course can help you to understand teaching practices and improve your skills to go into a career in education.
However, it is not a required qualification to become a teacher. Instead, all government-run schools in the UK (and many private schools and academies) need teachers to have QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) in order to teach there.
If your primary goal is to get into teaching in the UK, this may be a better option for you. Have a look at this page from the government website for more information about getting QTS.
A PGCE is internationally recognised, so you can use it to teach in other countries. The same rules regarding QTS also apply, so check with your employer first.
Alternatively, a PGCE can be used as credits towards a master’s qualification. A PGCE is a qualification in itself, but it is a viable option if you would like a master’s degree.
For more information about a PGCE and what it can be used for, check out this article on the government website.
What’s the difference between a PGCE course and a masters?
The main difference between a masters and a PGCE course is the kind of studying you undertake.
For a master’s degree, you have to complete 180 credits worth of academic investigation, with lectures, seminars and assessments.
However, for a PGCE course, you have to complete 60 credits worth of teacher training, which is based on practical skills.
Although a PGCE and a master’s degree are both Level 7 qualifications, a master’s degree is considered a lot more valuable. A PGCE can go towards a master’s degree, but both are qualifications.
This Think Student article has further details about master’s degrees in the UK.
How many credits is a PGCE?
As stated on the government website, a PGCE is worth 60 credits at master’s level. This is not to be confused with a PGDE (postgraduate diploma in education), which is worth 120.
For context, a master’s degree is worth 180 credits, so a PGCE would go toward a third of your master’s qualification.
However, a PGCE is a perfectly respectable qualification in its own right, and you don’t need to put it towards a master’s degree if you don’t want to.
How long does a PGCE take?
A PGCE can take one or two years to complete, depending on the university you attend.
During your time on the course, you will also have to complete school placement, to see how you work in different settings with different students. This will be a minimum of 24 weeks training in 2 or more schools.
A one-year PGCE course is the most popular for graduate students. Studying can be full- or part-time. The exact details are particular to whichever university you want to study at, so I recommend checking out their website for the specifics.
All this information and more can be found on the UCAS website.
How much does a PGCE course cost?
The cost of a PGCE is dependent on which university you intend to study at, and whether you are studying within the UK or as an international student.
Postgrad states that studying a PGCE as a UK student costs £9,250. For international students, the tuition fee is around £12,500.
However, these differ between universities. For example, Oxford and Cambridge both state that for UK students their tuition fees are also £9,250, but for international students this fee is around £32,000!
The government website states that you may be able to receive student finance for a PGCE. To do so, you have to apply for undergraduate student finance, despite being a postgraduate. For more information about student finance, check out this Think Student article.
As a PGCE only counts towards some of a master’s qualification, and not the full degree, student finance is a lot more complicated if you are planning on converting your PGCE into credits.
For information on student finance for a master’s degree, check out this Think Student article.
How difficult is a PGCE?
As I mentioned earlier in the article, a PGCE course is equivalent to a Level 7 qualification, which is the same as a master’s. You also need an undergraduate degree to complete a PGCE, so it definitely isn’t easy.
As with any academic qualification, you’ll have to put in the work. Since the course is only over 1 or 2 years, the workload will be intense, and you may struggle from time to time.
If you’re worried about being able to complete your PGCE, this article from the Guardian offers advice from a PGCE course lecturer.
If you are experiencing mental health issues and you think it may impact your ability to complete your PGCE, it’s important to reach out to your university.
What are the entry requirements for a PGCE?
Entry requirements are specific to the university offering the PGCE, but there are some standardised entry requirements that you must meet to study a PGCE.
The main entry requirement is that you have an undergraduate degree (or an international equivalent).
Other academic requirements include GCSE grades of C/4 and above in English and Maths, and Science if you want to teach in primary school.
Prospects have more information about PGCE entry requirements in this article.
Do PGCE students get paid?
If you are completing full-time study for a PGCE qualification, you will not be paid.
However, in this article by UCAS, you can read about School Direct, which is an employment-based route that allows you to be paid and work toward a PGCE.
UCAS points out that if the training programme results in a PGCE qualification, it may include additional costs, so check in advance if this is something you can afford.
You will only be paid while completing a PGCE if you are studying part time. You are not allowed to work a full-time job whilst also in full-time education.