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Primary/ Early Years/ Secondary Top-up PGCE

Course Description

The PGCE top-up award enables candidates who have already successfully completed a Graduate Teacher Programme, or School Direct and gained Qualified Teacher Status, to achieve the academic award of the Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). This award is accredited by the General Teaching Council Scotland which means on successful completion you will have met the teacher education requirement to be able to apply for registration in Scotland. Information about the rest of the requirements for registration can be found on the GTCS website.

Course content

The PGCE top-up award enables candidates to achieve the university accredited academic award of the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE).

The programme is designed to enable academic study alongside full time teaching. It consists of formal taught sessions with university tutors held at weekends, in mid-term breaks. Other methods of delivery are distance learning online sources. Candidates will also have access to university tutors via email, course internal electronic software and telephone and through individual tutorials arranged at mutually convenient times. Candidates will be enrolled by the university and will benefit from access to library resources, the academic community of the university, and to the Northampton Integrated Learning Environment (NILE), which allows study at a distance and at a time and place to suit each candidate.

Successful completion of the PGCE programme of study enables candidates to ‘top-up’ their GTP to achieve the PGCE. The PGCE incorporates 60 credits at Masters level which allows progression directly towards the MA Education.

This award is designed to support successful GTP graduates in the further professional development of their practice towards Masters level, firmly embedding their academic work in the context of their professional teaching in their employing school. The study programme enables candidates to enhance their Qualified Teacher Status by gaining the PGCE qualification through further academic study at levels 6 and 7. This will provide candidates with a deeper understanding of teaching and learning which will enhance their practice and provide a stepping stone towards a Master’s degree and beyond.

Course modules (16/17)

-Autobiographical Educational Experience, Theories and Professional Practice
-PGCE School Experience Research Project
-PGCE Professional Portfolio

Methods of Learning

The entire course consists of 18 hours of taught sessions, all sessions are taught as interactive sessions involving activities and discussions. These are taught on three conference days in October, January and April. In addition students should expect to do 6 to 10 hours of private study per week.


Minimum of three conference days (one a term) over one academic year.


Students will be assessed via assignments submitted periodically throughout the year, including: reflective pieces of writing, essays and a small scale research project.

Facilities and Special Features

This programme is largely online, with only three face-to-face days. It is therefore possible to study on this programme even if you live some distance from Northampton.


Most students will already be professional teachers. However, it does open up opportunities for further career progression.

Visit the Primary/ Early Years/ Secondary Top-up PGCE page on the University of Northampton website for more details!

Entry Requirements

You have QTS status through the Graduate Teacher Programme or School Direct route and an assessed professional portfolio, this portfolio must: evidence your QTS and how you have met the Teaching Standards; demonstrate your commitment to CPD; include support for your application from your Head Teacher​. Applicants should be currently teaching in a school whilst participating in the course. Applications from those who are not currently teaching will be considered on a case-by-case basis; individuals in this situation must be able to find a school in which to undertake small-scale classroom based enquiry for the second module of the programme.

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Recipient: University of Northampton
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