PGCE with QTS Secondary Biology with Science
Please note there are no vacancies for new applications to this course for September 2023.
Page last updated 14 August 2023
This is a strand of the PGCE Science course where you will specialise in Biology. If you successfully complete this route you will be in a strong position to gain employment as teachers of Biology and general science to KS4.
This course has been designed to train teachers to practise as a subject specialist teacher for the secondary age range (11-16). You will be assessed against the standards for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) across the age range. You will also often gain experience of the 16-18 age range, although they will not be formally assessed in this phase.
This course is active and practical allowing you to develop professional competence through work undertaken in schools and in the university. You will work with young people, develop expertise in your specialist subject area, share and discuss educational issues and study relevant educational research. The course is just the beginning of what we hope will be a process of continual professional development throughout a challenging and rewarding career.
Guiding young people to develop an understanding of how scientists set about investigating the world, what science can answer and, probably more important in some ways, what it cannot, is exciting and very rewarding. Helping pupils to address misconceptions whilst facing some of your own is certainly a challenging yet fulfilling task.
Once you have been offered a place on a PGCE Secondary Science course you will have an opportunity to boost your subject knowledge in Biology with one of our Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) courses before starting your PGCE.
This course may be eligible for a Government bursary. For funding options, please see the Government's scholarships and bursaries page.
Find out why you should train to teach with us.
The PGCE programmes are part of the Department of Education and Childhood, within the Initial Teacher Education cluster.
The University of the West of England is committed to training the best teachers for the future, able to provide first-class educational experiences and make a significant difference to the life chances of all children. We will train you to do so in partnership with schools and settings across the region. All children deserve to learn well, with enthusiastic subject specialist teachers.
Teaching is a challenging, exciting and rewarding career with a high level of job satisfaction. It is a great privilege, as well as a great responsibility, to be able to influence and shape the progress of children and young people.
Our PGCE programmes are very popular and the standard of applicants is high.
As a trainee teacher, you will complete a minimum of 120 days in school on placement practice. This will take place in at least two contrasting schools, in blocks of no less than six weeks, during which time you will be expected to demonstrate effective progress in your own practice and have a positive impact on pupil progress over time.
The module areas you will study are:
- Theories underpinning pedagogical approaches
- Planning and implementing appropriate teaching strategies and classroom management
- Subject studies
- Current educational policy and practice
- Evaluation of learner needs and the educational impact of their teaching
- Professional skills and attributes, including keeping children safe
- The use of evidence-based practice
- Feedback and assessment of teaching against the English Teachers' Standards, supported by a university tutor and school based mentor.
The module areas are listed above, however the final titles are subject to final approval.
The University continually enhances our offer by responding to feedback from our students and other stakeholders, ensuring the curriculum is kept up to date and our graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need for the real world. This may result in changes to the course. If changes to your course are approved, we will inform you.
Learning and Teaching
The PGCE courses are designed so that your experiences on placement are complemented by university-based learning, where you will be able to engage critically with and challenge current educational policy, practices and theory. The training on placement supports your learning in the Department of Education and Childhood, and vice versa, enabling you to work in any school in England, and possibly beyond.
Seminars, lectures and placement-based learning equip you to meet the Teachers' Standards, to teach and assess in your chosen phase and/or subject.
See our full glossary of learning and teaching terms.
We recognise that embarking on a new course of study can sometimes be quite a challenging undertaking. You will have support from a number of staff in the university including your group tutor. You will also have a personal tutor from your 11-16 specialism. Additionally, any student can get support on a range of issues from a Department Student Adviser.
Assessment is carried out in a number of ways, including by written assignment, formal presentation, viva voce and assessment of teaching practice in schools, measured through lesson observations and the collation of a portfolio of evidence, demonstrating progress against the Teachers' Standards.
All modules are compulsory and you must pass all modules to gain the award of PGCE. This course prepares you for a career as a teacher and leads to recommendation for the award of Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), to the Department for Education, upon successful completion of the course.
See our full glossary of assessment terms.
Placements are offered by schools and settings within our ITE partnership and are geographically diverse, with schools in Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath and North East Somerset, Somerset, Wiltshire, Devon, Cornwall and Wales, offering placements. We work hard to match placements to trainee teacher needs and experience, and we endeavour to keep travel times to a maximum of 90 minutes each way, each day.
Trainee teachers are supported in schools by a Senior Mentor, who is a designated lead teacher for ITE placements in the school, and is responsible for overseeing the training that takes place. Trainee teachers are also closely supported by their Class Mentor (Primary) or Subject Mentor (Secondary), who is their day-to-day contact and supporter in school during placement.
Get a feel for the Education and Teaching facilities we have on offer here from wherever you are.
Careers / Further study
PGCE programmes include 60 credits assessed at Masters level.
As a trainee teacher, you will be joining a modern and well-regarded programme to train to teach across the 11-16 age range and gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).
We are pleased to confirm that our New students webpages are now available for students starting this course in September 2023. Here you can find links to useful information about registering, course start dates, arriving on campus what to expect before and when you arrive.
We automatically send a message via your Welcome website plus an email to notify you once your Preparing to Study information is available. It is important that you regularly check your Welcome website for new messages.
- An undergraduate degree, or a recognised equivalent qualification. This is typically 2:2 or higher.
- At least 50% of your degree should be in a subject related to what you want to teach, however we may be able to consider other personal, professional or educational experience as evidence of subject knowledge, including A-level or other level 3 qualifications in related subjects. In these instances, if your application is successful, you may be required to boost your subject knowledge with a Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) course before starting your PGCE (deadlines apply).
- GCSE grade C/4 or above in English and Mathematics, or equivalent. We do not accept Level 2 Key Skills, Functional Skills or Certificates in Adult Numeracy and Literacy as alternatives to GCSEs.
We will look at all applications against the demands of the course. If you have any questions about our entry requirements, please contact our Admissions team and we can discuss your application.
Our PGCE courses include a high level of placement-based learning and working with children. We would encourage all applicants to get as much relevant experience of working or volunteering with children to help prepare them for this crucial element of their course.
Applicants who meet the entry criteria will be invited to an interview day with course tutors, consisting of a group discussion and interview.
Additional requirements (as mandated by the DfE):
- Health checks - for Fitness to Teach
- A clear Enhanced DBS Disclosure including check of children's barred list
- Satisfactory references including one from latest employer and/or latest role involving working with children
- Verification of identity and right to work in the UK
- Check for sanction, restriction or prohibition on teaching issued by the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) (if in teaching role)
- Criminal records checks overseas. If you have lived, studied or worked overseas for three months or more in the last five years a Certificate of Good Conduct from the country of residence will be required even if you are a UK applicant or currently based in the UK
The university will also check that candidates are not:
- subject to a prohibition order issued by the Secretary of State
- disqualified from childcare
- or have obtained a childcare disqualification waiver from Ofsted.
All information will be treated in confidence.
Further Statutory Guidance
- Supervision of activity with children
- Working together to safeguard children
- Keeping children safe in education
If you would like information regarding issues that could disqualify you from teaching training, please contact us on +44 (0)117 32 83333.
Once you have been offered a place on a PGCE Secondary Science course you will have an opportunity to boost your subject knowledge in Biology with one of our Subject KnowledgeEnhancement (SKE) courses before starting your PGCE.
Standards and requirements
Following the review of Standards and Requirements for Initial Teacher Training (ITT) by the Secretary of State in 2012 (revised in June 2013), our full-time courses have been designed to be compliant with the latest standards and requirements.
Find out further information about the national curriculum and subjects taught in secondary schools.
It is not usual practice to accept deferrals for PGCE courses. However, we appreciate there may be extenuating circumstances to consider and therefore Programme Leaders will consider requests on a case by case basis.
English Language Requirement
All International and EU applicants are required to have a minimum overall IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 with 6.0 in each component (or approved equivalent*).
Due to a high level of placement based learning and working with children, all applicants should have an effective command of the English language and be able to use it appropriately, accurately and fluently in a school setting. International and EU students will be required to produce a certificate evidencing the necessary IELTS or approved equivalent*.
*The university accepts a large number of UK and International Qualifications in place of IELTS. You can find details of acceptable tests and the required grades you will need in our English Language section.
If you are a national of one of the following English-speaking countries, you will not be required to provide evidence of English language proficiency. Exempt countries are: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, United States.
How to apply
Please see the Department for Education pages for guidance on how to apply.
We encourage you to apply for our PGCE courses as early as possible in the cycle in order to be guaranteed consideration. The courses begin in early September and require sufficient time to review applications, process decisions and fulfil additional entry requirements as mandated by DfE. As a result we may be unable to consider applications received after July. In addition, many of our courses are very popular and will reach their capacity and be closed to further recruitment prior to this date.