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The post primary PGCE is a one year, full-time programme that prepares students for a career in teaching.

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 (level 7) towards a Master's degree in Education.


The overall aim of our PGCE programme at Ulster is 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.

Specifically, the course offers graduates wishing to progress into post-primary education the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills to become 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.

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.

Teaching and learning assessment

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.

Work placement / study abroad

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

Entry requirements

Entry Requirements

a. English and Mathematics (GCSE Grade C or equivalent).
Please note that for the purposes of entry to this course that the Level 2 Certificate in Essential Skills - Application of Number is NOT regarded as an acceptable alternative to GCSE Maths.

b. An Honours normally in the specialist subject (History). In the case of a combined Honours degree at least 50% shall be in the specialist subject.
(N.B. The minimum offer standard is a 2:2 Honours).

c. All applicants need to provide evidence of knowledge, interest and experience in working with young people of post-primary age.

Applicants for the post-primary pathway also require:

1. Two supportive references.

2. Medical certificate of satisfactory health.

3. Applicants will be scrutinised by Access NI and must also satisfy the University and the Department of Education that nothing would prohibit them from working with children.

4. The application form will be examined for spelling, punctuation and use of English and general quality of presentation.

5. Evidence of knowledge, interest and experience in working with young people of post-primary age normally in a formal/informal education setting.

6. Applicants appearing to fulfil the above requirements will be shortlisted. In the event that the programme is oversubscribed, enhanced criteria (e.g. degree classification) will then be applied and candidates fulfilling these criteria will be interviewed to ascertain their suitability for the course.

7. Applicants who are deemed suitable but for whom an immediate place is not available will be placed on a waiting list and offered a place if another applicant declines his/her place.

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

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.



This is a programme for the professional training of teachers. 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.

The course duration is 36 weeks. Teaching, other activities or school placements are organised on a Monday to Friday schedule.

Careers or further progression

Career options

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. However, it may also provide opportunities to work in education related posts with non government organisations and museums.

Further enquiries

Admissions Office
T: +44 (0)28 7012 3210

For specific enquiries regarding PGCE History contact the Course Director, Clare McAuley 

Application date

Application is through the University's online application system.

Enrolment and start dates

Start Date: September 2019

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