PGCE Geography Education - 1 Year with QTS PGCE - University of Sunderland

Course overview

This initial teacher training course equips you to share your interest in geography with young people and inspire them to fulfil their potential. More and more pupils are choosing to take geography at GCSE level, which means there is rising demand for geography teachers. We have an excellent employment record with 100% of trainees gaining employment in 2014/15.

£15,000 bursary

Given the current shortage of geography teachers, the Government is offering extra incentives to attract more graduates into Geography teaching. Financial incentives are available for those who train in 2016/17, including bursaries of £15,000. Please visit The Department for Education website for more information.

This programme is also offered as part of our School Direct route.

In addition to Government bursaries, students on this course are also eligible for many of the University of Sunderland scholarships. Full details of the Sunderland scholarships available to you can be found on the Entry requirements tab of this course.

The course leads to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and has two strands. The first strand is based at the University and provides a solid grounding in theory and practical issues. The second strand is based in partner schools where you will undertake practical teaching experience.

If you have graduated from a related degree which does not cover both Physical and Human Geography, or if you want to build up or refresh your existing knowledge, you may benefit from a Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKI) course. SKE courses are fully funded – so you won’t have to pay any tuition fees – and you may be eligible for a training bursary of up to £7,200 to support you throughout the course.  

Sunderland has a heritage of teacher training which dates back to 1908. What’s more, we’re one of only 25 ‘outstanding’ teacher-training institutions in the UK, according to Ofsted. So you can be confident that our courses are excellent preparation for a satisfying and rewarding career.

This Department for Education video shows the benefits of becoming a teacher:

Course content

September – January

  • One module covering general teaching/learning issues and subject application. Over seven weeks, you will spend two days a week at the University and three days on placement in a school. We focus on preparing you to teach every aspect of Geography from ages 11 to 18 using the techniques of Fieldwork, Enquiry, Thinking Skills to create independent learners, Decision making activities, Role Play, ICT and GIS to name a few. We will help you develop a range of teaching skills to help your students reflect on how they learn so that they become more flexible thinkers and problem solvers.
  • Teaching practice in a secondary school or college for approximately six weeks full-time
  • One module that you choose from the MA suite

January – June

  • One module which builds on previous work on general teaching/learning issues and subject application. This is taught over two days a week
  • A full-time placement of teaching practice for 10 weeks
  • One module that you choose from the MA suite

The MA suite may include the following modules:

Development of Learning: A Case Study (30 Credits)

You will identify an intervention employed in the classroom or in the wider school and explore its use, impact and influence upon the learning of one or more pupils.

Negotiated Individual Study in Education (30 Credits)

You will undertake a piece of action research in school based on an area of interest in a subject or phase.

Advanced Pedagogical Practice (30 Credits)

You will critically examine a subject in which you are a specialist, relating current practice to educational theory and appropriate literature.

Leading Organisational Effectiveness in Education and Training (30 Credits)

You will study topics that include principles of leadership, responsibilities of leadership in an educational establishment, tackling under-performance and auditing performance.

Assessment Theory into Pedagogical Practice (30 Credits)

You will examine educational assessment theory in relation to the current practice in your own educational setting.

Teaching and assessment

We use a variety of teaching and learning methods which include lectures, seminars, tutorials, project work and group work as well as placements and work-based learning.

Our experienced teaching staff are all trained teachers and skilled practitioners who make excellent contributions to training that help to develop trainees’ strong subject knowledge and awareness of related teaching skills. All staff ensure they are and remain highly informed of best practice in their subjects.

Assessment methods include written work, evidence profiles and assessment of your teaching practice.

Information about our policies relating to student experience and quality assurance processes can be found on the Academic Services website.

Facilities & location

Course location

The course is based at the Forster Building on City Campus, just a few minutes from the main Murray Library and close to Sunderland city centre. It’s a very vibrant and supportive environment with excellent resources for teaching and learning.

Secondary partnership

The University of Sunderland forms part of a secondary partnership that includes more than 230 schools and colleges. This means that there are wide opportunities for placements during the professional year.

University Library Services

We’ve got thousands of books and e-books on education topics, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. We also subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals. Resources include the EBSCO Professional Development Collection, which is a specialised collection of over 500 education journals.


Forster Building

City Campus, Chester Road, Sunderland, SR1 3SD

Entry requirements

We welcome applications from holders of an honours degree (at least a 2:2) in Geography. We will also consider other equivalent qualifications.

You should have at least grade C in GCSE mathematics and English (or equivalent). We will only accept equivalencies from Equivalency Testing. Completion of Teaching Agency skills tests prior to the course starting is an additional requirement, please see details below.

Applicants whose first language is not English must achieve a minimum IELTS band score of 6.5, with 6.5 in writing, no sub section below 6.

After 6 April 2015 you must take your IELTS exams at one of the test centres listed on the UKVI website. If you took your IELTS exam before 6 April 2015 this does not apply, and your qualification is still valid regardless of which test centre you used.

Additional requirements:

  • DBS Enhanced Disclosure
  • Completion of a medical pro forma
  • Successful completion of QTS skills tests in numeracy and literacy as designated by the National College for Teaching and Leadership before starting the course. It would be helpful, but not essential, to take the tests before your interview. More details can be found by visiting the Department of Education website

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

If you feel you already know some of the topics covered in this course, either due to previous learning or from experience of work, then you may not need to study all of the course.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) is the name given to the process of gaining credit towards a qualification because of something you have learnt in the past. If you are eligible for APL you won't have to learn the same topic again, and so you can be exempt from a module, set of modules or year of a course. 

Read more about APL in the Quality Handbook (.pdf). If you think you may be eligible for APL, please contact the course leader.

Fees & finance


The annual fee for this course is:

  • £9,000 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £11,000 if you are an International student

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or International student, please see the International section of this website.

Government scholarships

The UK Government is keen to encourage high-quality graduates to train as teachers, and so offers bursaries to attract more people into teaching.

For more information and to check the eligibility criteria, please see the Department of Education website.

University of Sunderland scholarships

Students on this course are entitled to a Get There Scholarship. Full details and eligibility criteria can be found on the University of Sunderland Scholarships page.

If you have any questions about your eligibility for any of the above scholarships, please contact:

The Scholarships Team
Tel: 0191 515 2865

Employment & careers

Everyone who wants to teach in a state-maintained school in England and Wales needs Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). This course leads to QTS and, on successful completion, you will become a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT).

According to recent research, twice as many teachers find their work extremely enjoyable when compared to professionals with careers in marketing, IT and accountancy. Almost half say they regularly experience a ‘natural high’ at work.

The starting salary of an NQT is over £22,000, with extra if you work in London. Teachers see their salaries rise by an average of 30 per cent after their first four years in the job.

University Language Scheme

It is usually possible to take a module from the free University Language Scheme. This can be studied on top of your 120 credits or in some cases, can earn credits towards your degree.

Language skills increase your international mobility and you can choose between French, German, Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese and Arabic at a range of levels. If your first language is not English, please check with your tutor about entry requirements.

Staff and students talk about the benefits of the University Language Scheme:


Support for your learning

From the start of the course you will be allocated a Personal Tutor who will meet with you at agreed times throughout your course. Personal Tutors encourage your personal development and are a useful point of contact for any queries about your course, extracurricular activities and issues where they can point you towards specialist services at the University. These include student counselling, financial advice and chaplaincy support.

Support for your development

To help ensure the course is meeting aspirations for personal development, we invite students to fill in questionnaires at the end of modules. This provides a structured way for you to keep us up-to-date with your views.

During your course, and particularly towards the end of it, we encourage you to make full use of the resources at our Careers and Employability Service. The Service helps you explore your options, clarify your ideas, develop a career focus and make effective applications.

Extracurricular activities

The University supports student-led initiatives that enhance the extracurricular activities available to you. Some of these are related to particular subjects while others allow you to pursue interests and social activities. It’s all part of the vibrant and life-changing atmosphere at the University of Sunderland.

For more information about all the support services you will have access to as a Sunderland student, please see Student support and guidance.

"The generous bursary meant that I didn’t have to worry about maintaining a job alongside my training, which was ultimately a massive weight off my shoulders as I knew I would be okay financially."

Emily Sleightholme 2

Emily Sleightholme

Student - PGCE Geography Education

“Having completed work experience in a local secondary school, I discovered that all the geography teachers there had completed their PGCE through Sunderland within the past seven years. From speaking to them it was clear that they rated the course very highly, and after a little bit more investigation it became apparent that the course and course leaders at Sunderland had fantastic reputations as well as great employment statistics.

“I first became aware of the generous bursary and how it worked when I actually attended my interview for Sunderland. It meant that I didn’t have to worry about maintaining a job alongside my training, which was ultimately a massive weight off my shoulders as I knew I would be okay financially.

“I’ve actually managed to save quite a bit of my bursary up, so that will be going towards purchasing a car in the near future, which is a great help as I’ll need a car to get to my new job! Although admittedly it’s also come in handy for buying my professional teacher wardrobe, and it’s also helped with a lot of day to day spending as well!

“Having the bursary meant I didn’t have to worry about an income source and I could focus completely on my studies. It also meant I could purchase some much-needed teacher supplies, like my own personal copies of text books and materials to make resources with.

“I accepted a job in early February, when I still had four months left until the end of the course. I’ll soon be a teacher of geography at a large 11-18 school in Sunderland, and I can’t wait to get into my own classroom at the start of the new school year!”

Apply for this course

Applications for entry must be submitted through UCAS Teacher Training (UTT).

    Next Open Day

  • For further information on future postgraduate events, please contact the Student Helpline on +44 (0)191 515 3000.

Contact Sunderland

Programme Leader:
Amber Riches

Contact the recruitment team for further information about studying at the University of Sunderland:

Recruitment Team
Telephone: 0191 515 3000 

The details

Course Name PGCE Geography Education - 1 Year with QTS
Classification PGCE
Course Mode Full-time
Course Level Postgraduate
Duration 1 year
Study Location On-campus (Sunderland)
Starting 19 September 2016
UK/EU Fee £9,000
Intl Fee £11,000

Entry requirements

Honours degree (2:2 or above) with geography emphasis

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