Education - Irish Medium - Primary - PGCE

St. Mary's University College Belfast

Education - Irish Medium - Primary - PGCE

The Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) is a recognised teaching qualification which affords graduates qualified teacher status. The PGCE (Irish-medium) at St Mary’s University College Belfast is a 36 week programme, designed to equip student teachers with the professional competences required to become an effective teacher. It is a recognised bilingual programme for graduates who aspire to teach in an Irish-medium setting. In addition to the PGCE teaching qualification, successful students are also awarded a Certificate in Bilingual Education, reflecting their specialist Irish-medium competences.

Programme Aims
- develop a range of professional competences
- engage in informed debate about major issues in education and training
- reflect in depth on theory/practice relationships within professional contexts
- keep abreast of research, innovation and developments in education in general and Irish-medium education in particular
- develop research skills.

The course begins in September with an induction programme that establishes a solid foundation for progressing through the year and also helps to build a dynamic Irish-medium community of learning.

This includes a week of workshops and taught sessions in College, a Gaeltacht-based week with a focus on Irish competence and an introductory week in an Irish-medium primary school.

During the year, students gain experience across all phases of primary education. Practical experience is gained in both Irish-medium and English-medium schools, with placements organised by the College.

PGCE students may also take the Religious Education Certificate course, which prepares student teachers for a role in Catholic schools. Teaching in Religious Education is based on both sacred scripture and the tradition of the Church.

The PGCE at St Mary’s is designed to prepare students for teaching in Irish-medium primary schools, with an emphasis on immersion pedagogy. Tuition is largely through the Irish language and there are three periods of school placement. A wide range of contemporary educational issues, including special needs, are covered in the curriculum.

The programme is aligned with the competence-based model of teacher education and is delivered over one year of full-time study.

PGCE students at Queens and Ulster may take an Irish-medium Enhancement Course at St Mary’s to prepare them for teaching in Irish-medium post-primary schools.

Subjects taught

The programme is structured in three modules, two of which are at Masters Level.

1. School-Based Work
2. Learning and Teaching in the Primary School
3. Perspectives on the Primary Curriculum

Currently, completion of the PGCE entitles students to 30 credit points within the College’s MEd programme.

Entry requirements

On admission applicants must possess:
- A high level of competence in Irish, both written and oral, commensurate with competence to teach the primary school curriculum.

- A good honours degree (2.2 or above)

- GCSE (grade C or above) in English Language, Mathematics and Science. For applicants from the Republic of Ireland, the equivalent qualification for English and Mathematics is Leaving Certificate Ordinary Level Grade D or above. For Science, the minimum requirement is Junior Certificate at Higher Level, Grade C or above.

Candidates are Interviewed as part of the selection process. Oral and written Irish language proficiency is among the competences that are evaluated at interview.

Application dates

PGCE Applications are now closed for 2024/25 entry.

PGCE interviews will be 20th & 21st March 2024.

For further information contact:
The Academic Registry,
St Mary’s University College
191 Falls Road Belfast,
BT12 6FE
Tel: +44 (0)28 9026 8320


1 year full-time.


Tuition Fees

All full-time and part-time students will be charged tuition fees. This includes PGCE students. For students who are Northern Ireland domiciled, these are currently £4,160 per year and are normally subject to an annual inflationary uplift. A student will be liable for the full tuition fee at the point of enrolment and registration. This includes a non-refundable element of 25% of the calculated tuition fee.

Tuition Fee Loan
Students may defer their fees by applying for a Tuition Fee Loan, currently up to a maximum of £4,160, by paying the full fee directly to the College or by a combination of taking out a fee loan for part of the fees and paying the rest directly to the College.

A single application form PN1 is used in applying for a fee loan, for loans for living costs and maintenance grants and for the St Mary's College Bursary. Students can apply online or download an application form via the Student Finance Northern Ireland website

Once applications have been assessed, the local branch of Student Finance NI will send the student a Student Notification which will include details of the amount of the fee loan the student has requested.

Payment Options
Students who do not avail of the fee loan can pay their fees in one of two ways:

• Direct Debit – Students can complete a direct debit authorisation which spreads the fee over six months from December to May.

• Cash or Cheques – Students who do not complete a direct debit authorisation will receive one invoice in November for the full amount, which will be payable within thirty days.

EU Students
Non-UK EU Students, including students from the Republic of Ireland, can defer their fees by applying for a fee loan, currently up to a maximum of £4,160.

The application is essentially the same as the system for applying for fee loans and other support. EU students may also be eligible for a College Bursary. This will be dependent on the level of their household income. EU students should contact the Student Loan Company EU team by telephoning 0141 243 3570 in Darlington for advice. For maintenance support EU students should contact their local county council.

Enrolment dates

Academic Year 2024-25.

Post Course Info

The demand for qualified Irish-medium teachers remains high in this growing sector and most students take up positions in Irish-medium schools and continue their professional development in schools. Some teachers pursue careers in other relevant avenues relating to Irish-medium education, such as resource production, in the media, or in other branches of education.

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Postgraduate Certificate at UK Level 7

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Daytime

  • Apply to

    Course provider