PGCE Education (International) PGCE - University of Sunderland

Course overview

Do you want to gain an academic teaching qualification from a UK university which has been training teachers for over 100 years?

Our PGCE Education (International) programme provides two options: the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) and the Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE).

Each route leads to a Certificate in Education (PGCE); an academic teaching qualification which blends applied teaching theory and practice in its four taught modules and two, six-week blocks of practical teaching. Topics covered include teaching and learning, classroom management and organisation and assessment.

Applicants for this programme are required to carry out teaching practice in international schools where the medium of induction is English.

Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) only
On this route, two of the modules are research-based and at Masters level, preparing you for further postgraduate study which will qualify you for progression to Stage 2 of our International Education MA or MA Education, both available as distance learning courses.

For further information on the two available routes, download the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) Handbook (.pdf) or the Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) Handbook (.pdf)

Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) only

This is a route similar to an academic teaching qualification, but without modules at Masters level, which is available through our Professional Graduate Certificate in Education.

You will undertake your two teaching practices in a local school, where, for example, you are already employed or where you have arranged a placement. You will be supported and assessed by an in-school mentor and a personal academic tutor from the University. This is a full-time programme and as such you should be available full time in school during your teaching practice periods.

The programme has also been developed so that it can be delivered to primary, secondary and post-16 teachers and to any subject specialism. It is a 34-week full-time course, which is completed in one academic year, this means you could be qualified in time for the following academic year.

It would be very difficult to manage any additional workloads outside of this 34-week full-time course.

NB: Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in England is conferred by the Department of Education and not by universities. The PGCE Education (overseas) does not, therefore, offer a licence to teach in the UK. 

The IPGCE, both professional and postgraduate routes, is aimed at the international sector and therefore, does not recommend Qualified Teacher Status' (QTS) because QTS is the registration required for teaching in the state system in England. QTS is not classed as a 'qualification', the qualification is the IPGCE. It is possible to gain employment without QTS in England within the independent sector, free schools or academies. It is also possible, on return to England and providing all eligibility criteria are met, that the Assessment Only Route to QTS may be followed.

Dean talks about the PGCE programme and the online resources provided for distance learners at the University of Sunderland:

Course content

Progression through the programme:

Requisite to both Postgraduate and Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)

The Theory of Teaching 1 (EDE 208)

You will cover four main areas that prepare you for placements in schools:

  • Teaching and learning: teaching and learning in general, including curriculum organization and effective teaching and learning startegies
  • Lesson planning: how to plan for effective teaching and learning
  • Behaviour for learning: in particular, strategies to promote positive behaviour for learning
  • Assessment for learning: an introduction to how progress and achievement may be planned for, identified and recorded

The Theory of Teaching 2 (EDE 313)

This module builds on The Theory of Teaching 1 and focuses on five areas:

  • Students and their needs
  • Assessment in education
  • Continuity and progression
  • Equal opportunities
  • The wider role of the teacher

Practice of Teaching 1 (EDS 208)

This block practice of 6 weeks’ duration will be undertaken after the Theory of Teaching 1 Module is completed. The trainee will be expected to teach around 11 hours each week. This will provide the trainee with the opportunity to develop the teaching standards, in a 'whole class situation'. As this is a full-time programme, the remainder of the time is used for planning, assessment, reflection, evaluation and academic study. The trainee is in school full-time in order to absorb the full school experience. Assessment will be in the form of a portfolio of evidence collected before and during the practice.

Practice of Teaching 2 (EDS 313)

In this 6-week block practice, undertaken after the completion of the Theory of Teaching 2, the trainee will be expected to teach around 14 hours each week. The trainee will thus be provided with the opportunity to address, in whole class situations, all the teaching standards. As with the first teaching practice the trainee will be expected to be in school full-time in order to experience and be fully engaged with, and involved in, the day-to-day activities necessary for the smooth running of the school. Assessment will be in the form of a portfolio of evidence collected before and during the practice.  

For the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) only

Development of Learning: A Case Study (EDP M01) (Masters-level 7)

You will identify an intervention used in the classroom, or in the school as a whole, and you will explore its use, impact, and influence on the learning of one or more pupils. You will submit a 1,000 word research proposal and write up the research outcomes in a final 4,000 word report.

Negotiated Individual Study in Education (EPD M97) (Masters-level 7)

You will undertake a small scale piece of action research which is directly relevant to your professional practice. The topic will be chosen in consultation with your tutor and colleagues. You will submit a 1,000 word statement of intent for your action research and then write up the research outcomes in a final 4,000 word report. 

For the Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) only

Experiences of Teaching and Learning (EDE 314)

This module is structured so that it allows trainees on the PGCE to begin to understand the nature of their work and to assemble their thoughts and understandings of the theory and practice of education.

The early work, together with the directed activities is all formative and although not assessed should be completed in preparation for the assignment.

This module will investigate the place of the individual in educational settings. Students, classes, schools and colleges and communities will be covered. The module will examine what is taught, why and how, in the phases of education from pre-statutory age schooling through primary and secondary. Opportunities to consider issues such as gender and cultural influence will be provided. It will examine educational establishments as communities, and educational establishments in communities. The internal organisation and operation of schools and colleges will be discussed. During the module, an in depth study of an educational intervention for one student or small group will take place.

The module is purposely set up to run over a long period, October to January, to allow trainees the opportunity to think, gather information, sort ideas and formulate the key elements of the case study. The fact that it cuts across other modules and teaching practice is understood and is intentional. It is designed that way to give trainees the maximum opportunity to identify a focus, plan the structure and gather data in preparation for the final assignment submission. Most of this will be done during the first teaching practice module EDE 208 when trainees have the most access to their students in school.

Optional module - one chosen from the following (currently):

  • Assessment for Practitioners (EDE 338)
  • Reading Issues and Controversies (EDS 377)
  • Learning to Learn in a Second Language (EDE 368)
  • Meeting Individual Needs in Educational Settings (EDE 348)

Teaching and assessment

All teaching and learning materials can be found in the module space on the University Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) which is called 'SunSpace'.

We use a wide variety of teaching methods with tasks, including required reading, directed activities and self- assessments, developed in self-study workbooks, to support you.

There are online discussion forums where trainees are invited to debate current issues relevant to the module content and, if you live close to other students on the course, we encourage you to form a weekly study group.

The teaching practice is work-based and conducted entirely in a school or other educational institution that you have secured a placement at or currently working at. This is supported by a mentor and the University.

We assess both the theoretical and practical elements of the course.

Assessment is through written assignments, a profile of evidence of teaching standards and observed teaching.

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

Facilities & location

You can study this course anywhere in the world that has good internet access, thanks to the University's Virtual Learning Environment.

Help and support are available through the dedicated Library website where you will find a range of online support tools including library guides and web tutorials. You will have full access to our libraries and, as a distance learning student, you will particularly benefit from our web-based ‘Discover’ search tool. This helps you gain remote access to online journals, articles and e-books – whenever and wherever you happen to be studying.

Students can also contact the Library by email, telephone, Live Chat, Twitter or Facebook to receive support from Library staff.

Entry requirements

We require applicants to hold an honours degree or equivalent. Each qualification gained outside of the UK is checked for equivalency. Please see the Contact & apply tab for further details. It is essential that you are able to undertake teaching practice placement, either in the school where you currently work, or in a school where you can undertake teaching placements.

Essential Requirement

It is essential that you secure a minimum of 2 days of teaching observations per week whilst undertaking module EDE 208, this can be in a school of your choice however, it is usually the school where you will undertake your placement.

Applicants whose first language is not English must achieve a minimum IELTS band score of 6.5, with 6.5 in writing, and no less than 6 in Reading, Speaking and Listening.

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 programme leader.

Fees & finance


The annual fee for this course is:

  • £POA (price on admission) 

Employment & careers

Many of you undertaking this course will already be working as teachers in your home country, or working in other educational settings. The theory and practical elements of the course will also help you gain greater understanding from your involvement in education.

Providing up-to-date knowledge of the latest standards and approaches in teaching, this course is a way to enhance your career prospects and help you to make effective applications for promotions and teaching posts.

Julia talk about her experience studying at the University of Sunderland:


Each module has a module leader who should be your first point of contact for queries about that particular module. All trainees are also assigned a Personal Academic Tutor who will support you throughout the year and to whom any general academic matters should be addressed.

You are also expected to participate in the different discussion forums provided in each module space in SunSpace – this is where points for discussion are posted regularly, as well as opportunities provided for exchanging ideas, opinions, references, advice, links to further electronic materials may be posted in response to trainee posts - this is where learning happens and where the distance gap is hopefully narrowed.

General support for your studies is also available within SunSpace. There are sections on e-learning, using the library, writing assignments, bibliographic references and research skills that you will find extremely useful. Several are in the form of self-initiated and monitored non-assessed study modules which enable you to work through the materials at your own pace.

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.

Our library teams offer specific support for off-campus students. This includes online tutorials, downloadable guides and a Distance Learning Library blog.

We encourage you to make full use of the online resources at our Careers & Employability Service. The Service helps you explore your options, clarify your ideas, develop a career focus and make effective applications.

"Very good tutors, helpful staff, good discussion forums, all these make the best course."

Violet Witte PGCE International Education Cast Study

Violet Witte

Teacher in Germany

"I was looking for online studies to up-grade my qualification. As I work as a full time teacher in Germany, an online course was the best solution for me.

"Sunderland has clear distance learning system. The best thing about the course was how the tutors and all the staff were helpful in all areas of the course.

"The discussion forum was great place to discuss and even to ask questions, I loved it.

"PGCE Sunderland has actually changed my life. Now, I will be able to be a class teacher starting this school year which will be very exciting for me. As I said, very good tutors, helpful staff, good discussion forums, all these make the best course.

"Oh I love Sunderland."

"The best thing about the course has been the insight into teaching and finally finding a dream job as a teacher."

Deepali Luthra Graduate Case Study PGCE International Education

Deepali Luthra


"I chose Sunderland as it provided me a gateway into the line of teaching while living and working in a non English speaking country. The best thing about the course has been the insight into teaching and finally finding a dream job as a teacher."

"It is a challenging and intensive year."

Aisling Fallon PGCE International Education Case Study

Aisling Fallon


"The PGCE provided me with an opportunity to obtain an internationally recognized teaching qualification whilst maintaining my employment throughout the duration of the course. It is a challenging and intensive year but if you believe in the end goal and are willing to work hard then it is definitely achievable."

"The best thing about the course was the website. It was easy to use and well organised with good resources available for my research."

Eli Verth PGCE International Education Graduate Case Study

Eli Verth


"I chose Sunderland because a colleague in the school I was working at in Colombia told me about several universities that do overseas PGCE. Sunderland was the only one that allowed me to do my teaching practice in my school overseas and send all my assignments online.

"The best thing about the course was the website. It was easy to use and well organised with good resources available for my research. I also found my University tutor very helpful and supportive and there was a constant line of communication through email.

"I would recommend this course to other teachers who, like me, are teaching overseas but don't have their PGCE qualification as they can continue working in their school and study at the same time. "

"Having a balance between all the hard studying, and exploring China has been both beneficial and exciting."

Helen Baker PGCE International Education Graduate Case Study

Helen Baker


"The PGCE Education (International) course through the University of Sunderland was a great choice for me as I was able to combine living abroad and studying to become a primary school teacher. I chose the postgraduate degree at the University of Sunderland as the modules take you step by step through the required theory, research and practical teaching knowledge and skills essential for becoming an excellent educator.

"I've really enjoyed seeing how the theory learnt can be used within the classroom to enhance my teaching, which also inspired me to try different learning styles through lots of fun, interactive activities.

"On a practical point, the PGCE Education (International) degree allowed me to remain living abroad with my husband, and enjoying being part of his school, as a student teacher and now as a fully qualified teacher. Having a balance between all the hard studying, and exploring China has been both beneficial and exciting."

Apply for this course

Applications for our next intake will open on 31 January 2016 and close at midnight on 30 July 2016.

To apply for this course use the relevant link below.

If you are currently NOT employed as a teacher and will be seeking a placement school please read the following before applying:

Advice on placements for applicants 2016 will be posted soon.

Before applying please note:

Along with your Application Form you MUST upload the following documents:

1. Postgraduate route agreement form or Professional route agreement form (.pdf) .

2. Postgraduate school proposal form or Professional school proposal form  completed by the Head Teacher of your placement school.

3. Postgraduate Mentor proposal form or Professional Mentor proposal from , completed by your Mentor.

4. A copy of your degree certificate.

5. If English is not your first language you need to send proof of IELTS level 6.5.

Please note: without all of the above documents we will not be able to make you an offer on this programme.

    Next Open Day

  • Date: Thursday 16th February 2017
  • Time: 2:00pm-7:00pm
  • Type: University Open Day
  • Location: Gateway, City Campus, University of Sunderland

Contact Sunderland

For questions applicants should contact:

Programme Administrator in Sunderland

Imelda Forrest
Tel: +44 (0) 191 515 3451

Sue Cottam
Tel: +44 (0) 191 515 3621

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 Education (International)
Classification PGCE
Course Mode Full-time
Course Level Postgraduate
Duration 34 weeks
Study Location Distance Learning
Starting 18 September 2017
UK/EU Fee £See entry requirements page
Intl Fee £See entry requirements page

Entry requirements

We usually require applicants to hold an honours degree or equivalent

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