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Course content

If you have an interest in all aspects of science; but in particular life processes and living things and enjoy investigating this in a practical setting, then our biology course will suit you.

Our Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) in Secondary Education provides a high standard of training for those preparing to take up a teaching post in the secondary school sector. The course complies with the statutory guidance from the National College for Teaching and Leadership for Initial Teacher Training courses.

This course looks at the key ideas which underpin the teaching of science in schools today and the way children's understanding of concepts develops. As a trainee you will learn how to teach biology to pupils in the 11-16 age range within the secondary age phase, with additional primary and post-16 enhancements. You will learn how to develop skills, knowledge and understanding for teaching biology through a combination of university-led and school-led training.

This course is designed to meet the NCTL Teaching Standards which assesses all trainees working towards Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

This postgraduate qualification offers 60 Masters-level credits that can be used towards our Masters degrees in the field of education.

This Biology route sits within an exciting range of Secondary Education subjects we offer within the Institute of Education.

SECONDARY EDUCATION Frequently Asked Questions

This is NOT an appropriate training course for applicants who wish to teach in Primary schools or Post Compulsory Education establishments.

What happens on the course?

Over the one year course, you will undertake learning at University and other educational settings. You will spend 120 days divided between at least two different school placements across the 11-16 age range within the Secondary age phase.

Your University tutor team is available to assist you throughout your training, supporting development of reflection. Every effort is made to ensure that high-quality school placements are provided to you, facilitating learning through observing, co-teaching and being observed by experienced teachers in the classroom.

All course modules provide examples of good practice in pedagogy which you will reflect upon as you develop your own teaching style - you will be expected to actively participate in your own learning and development.

Teaching on the course comprises a variety of methodologies that will prepare you for life in the classroom including teacher-led discussions, pupil-led exploration, peer-group discovery, problem based learning, e-learning and the provision of individual targets.

You will be assessed in a variety of ways including written assignments; classroom based investigation and other school-based activities, and appraisal of practical teaching skills.

Typical activities may include:

  • Observation of teaching, before undertaking ‘sheltered’ teaching activities, for example teaching parts of lessons or small groups of pupils within a class
  • Progression to teaching single or short sequences of lessons
  • Further development through reflection on planned classroom activities
  • Development of teaching skills as you move to sustained sequences of lessons
  • Research that takes place in both University and school settings on selected aspects of your practice.

PGCE: Programme Structure

The PGCE course takes place over 180 days, and 120 of those days are spent in a school. You will have one school attachment during the autumn term and another (in a different school) in the spring/summer terms.

One of our strengths is that we have a vast network of high quality partnership schools in which to place you for the extended school placements. We ensure that you receive high quality school-based training by selecting schools with highly trained mentors and a proven track record of excellent trainee outcomes. We will also take other factors into consideration when placing you, such as your geographical location and transportation, to provide you with the best possible experience in a convenient and suitable setting.

The University-led elements of the course take place at our Walsall Campus. Our PGCE starts in early September and ends in June, and it is an intensive academic and professional training course that effectively prepares you for your first teaching post and beyond.

The course comprises of a two day professional placement in mixed subject groups, two extended school placements in your subject specialism and two periods of University-based teaching – September to October and January to February. The programme also includes a short Primary school placement and additional opportunities for a range of enhancements to your course; for example, experience of teaching pupils with special educational needs, teaching pupils at post-16 level or teaching pupils for whom English is an additional language.

Career path

Successful completion of the PGCE Secondary Education course leads to recommendation to NCTL for qualified teacher status (QTS) and will then allow you to take up a teaching post within a secondary school.

In secondary schools you could be considered for a Teaching and Learning Responsibility (TLR), which may comprise any of the following:

  • Leading a particular subject as head of department, faculty or curriculum
  • Leading the achievement of a particular age group as head of year or key stage coordinator
  • Leading a particular area such as special education needs or pastoral care (i.e. personal guidance)

Later, you could progress to a senior leadership position such as a deputy or assistant head and head teacher - at which point you will have overall responsibility for the leadership and management of a school and the education its students receive.

Following successful completion of this award, you could also use your 60 Masters-level credits towards any of our Masters degrees in the field of education which can be continued within your NQT year.

Find out more about further study that can be taken after completing this PGCE award.


Visit the Secondary Education: Biology - PGCE page on the University of Wolverhampton website for more details!

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