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The Professional Graduate Diploma in Education – A Guide

Written by Ben Taylor

The Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) is a form of initial teacher training. It is a one-year course in a specialist subject after which students will be able to register as a teacher with the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GCTS) and teach in Scottish schools.

This qualification is the Scottish equivalent of the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE).Like PGCEs, PGDEs are internationally recognised: you’ll also be able to teach in the rest of the UK and abroad, as long as you satisfy the individual requirements of the country in question.

We’ve written a guide to the Scottish PGDE, explaining the key differences between it and other teaching qualifications, as well as what’s it like to study one.

You can also take a look at some of the PGDEs listed on our website.

Difference between the Scottish and English PGDEs

The Professional Graduate Diploma in Education is not to be confused with the Postgraduate Diploma in Education (also known as a PGDE). Offered in England and Wales, the Postgraduate Diploma in Education is similar to the PGCE, except it offers twice as many CATS credits.

What is a PGDE?

A Scottish PGDE follows a similar path to the PGCE offered in the rest of the UK. Combining academic study with practical classroom experience, a Postgraduate Diploma in Education is ideal preparation for life as a teacher.  

Once you’ve successfully completed a PGDE, you’ll be eligible to register with the GCTS, which is vital if you want to teach in Scotland.


Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE)
Type Taught / Professional
Subjects Education
Qualification Level 7 (NQF)
Length 1-2 years
Credits Value 120 CATS / 60 ECTS
Availability Scotland

Types of PGDE

There are two main types of Professional Graduate Diploma in Education: PGDE (Primary) and PGDE (Secondary). These allow you to focus on certain age groups and, in the case of the PGDE (Secondary), to specialise in a subject usually related to your undergraduate degree.

Where can I teach with a PGDE?

Successfully completing a PGDE means that you’re eligible to register as a teacher in Scotland. If you’re an EU citizen, you’re also guaranteed a probationary year of teaching by the GCTS through the Teacher Induction Scheme (TIS).

Like the PGCE, the Scottish PGDE is an internationally-recognised qualification. However, the precise requirements to become a teacher differ widely from country to country (and according to the type of school), so holding a PGDE doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be able to get a job.

What are the entry requirements for a PGDE?

Normally you’ll need at least a 2:2 degree (or the international equivalent) to get a place on a PGDE programme.

If you’re specialising in a certain subject at secondary level, you’ll also need to have taken 80 undergraduate CATS credits in this subject (or something closely related to it). So, if you studied an Engineering-based degree you may be able to teach Maths, depending on the nature of the undergraduate modules you took.

In general, you’ll need to have achieved the equivalent of at least:

  • Higher English grade 4 (GCSE grade C / grade 4 in English)
  • National 5 Mathematics grade C (GCSE grade C / grade 4 in Maths)

Classroom experience is required by most PGDE programmes. This could take the form of lesson observation, teaching assistant work or volunteering with young people, for example. You’ll have the chance to reflect on the impact of this experience in your personal statement.

The Scottish education system is different to the rest of the UK, so you should also demonstrate some awareness of how the national curriculum works in Scotland.

PGDE vs PGCE: what’s the difference?

The PGCE (offered in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) and the Scottish PGDE are broadly similar in terms of methodology. Both combine academic modules that focus on the theory of learning (pedagogy) with substantial school placements. However, there are a couple of key differences that are worth bearing in mind if you’re not sure which kind of course to go for:

  • If you’re an EU citizen, you’ll be eligible for the Teacher Induction Scheme (TIS) after successfully completing a PGDE, which guarantees you a one-year probationary post at a local school. This doesn’t apply to PGCE graduates.
  • English and Welsh PGCEs give you the opportunity to choose a school-led course, rather than a university-led one. Scottish PGDEs, by contrast, are only offered by universities. Find out more about school-led PGCEs.

English PGDE vs PGCE

A The English Postgraduate Diploma in Education, also called a PGDE, is offered in England and Wales. It is similar to the PGCE with the only difference being it is double the amount of credits. So, a PGCE is worth 60 credits whereas an English PDGE is worth 120 credits.

What’s it like to study a PGDE?

Studying a PGDE over the course of 36 weeks, you’ll divide your time equally between university study and school placements. The university-based modules cover topics such as:

  • Pedagogical theory
  • The school curriculum
  • Subject specialisation

In between your campus-based courses, you’ll spend 18 weeks on placement in at least two schools, putting to practice in the classroom what you’ve learned at university.

PGDEs are assessed via written assignments and observational progress reports on the time you’ve spent at school. Some courses will give you the chance to earn Masters-level credits that you can then put towards a Masters qualification.

What funding is available for PGDEs?

Your funding options (along with the fees you’ll be charged) depend on where you’re from.

If you’re ‘ordinarily resident’ in Scotland (i.e. you’ve been living in Scotland for reasons other than study), you will pay the local undergraduate rate for a year-long PGDE course (for the purposes of funding and fees, PGDEs are treated as an undergraduate course by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland). For 2017/18, this is £1,820.

However, the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) will pay your fees in full, provided you meet their residence eligibility criteria. Depending on your age and household income, you can also apply for a bursary and loan to help with your living costs.

If you’re from elsewhere in the UK but moved to Scotland to study, you’ll be charged according to the ‘Rest of UK’ (RUK) rate, which is linked to undergraduate fees in the rest of the country. In 2017/18, this is £9,250 for the year.

You can apply for undergraduate loans to help with tuition fees and living costs through your local funding body (England, Wales or Northern Ireland).

If you’re from a non-UK EU country and have been living in the European Economic Area (EEA) for three years, you may be eligible for a tuition fee award from the SAAS.

Search for your perfect PGDE

Ready to find your Professional Graduate Diploma in Education? Begin your search with us today.


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Last updated: 23 February 2023