PGCE Post Compulsory Education and Training (PCET) PGCE - University of Sunderland

Course overview

The PGCE (PCET) is a professional teacher education programme that will qualify you to teach in the post-compulsory education and training sector which includes sixth form colleges, further education colleges, vocational training and adult education.

The PGCE (PCET) is popular with graduates whose degree subjects are not widely taught in secondary schools, such as sports science, health and social care, psychology and dance. Our course equips you to educate adults and young people, sharing your knowledge and helping others fulfil their potential.

The full-time pre-service PGCE (PCET) is a robust, stable and popular provision with a great reputation. The programme benefits from its direct link to SUNCETT, one of the only 10 Centres for Excellence in this Sector. The programme is directly informed by both the national and international education research and development work of the team.

This pre-service course is for graduates who don’t have previous experience of teaching. If you are already employed in the PCET sector, we also offer an in-service part-time PGCE (PCET). The University, through its dedicated Placement Office, will help to arrange a minimum of 100-hours teaching practice placement in the Learning and Skills sector. This is a valuable opportunity to design, deliver, assess and evaluate teaching and learning in the sector, under the guidance of a mentor in your subject specialist area. Please note you will be expected to pay travel and subsistence costs relating to placements.  

According to the 2015 Ofsted inspection, “the training of good-quality Further Education and skills teachers enables them to make a valued contribution to the colleges and settings in which they work”.

Ofsted has recognised key strengths of the programme:

  • Retention, completion and achievement rates are consistently high
  • Trainees and NQTs work with confidence and expertise to plan and teach lively, interesting and challenging lessons that enable learners to make progress and achieve
  • Trainees and NQTs improve their learners’ English and mathematics skills
  • Trainees and NQTs ensure that learners recognise the impact of the values of tolerance, respect for the law, democracy and equality on their day-to-day life and work

In addition, there is a specialist pathway for graduates wanting to teach English to adults. It would prepare you to teach English at a range of levels to learners in diverse settings such as Further Education colleges, adult and community education and offender learning. For some English-pathway students, bursaries may be available. Bursaries are reviewed by the government on an annual basis.

A video showing the benefits of becoming a teacher:

Course content

Modules on this course include:

Theory-based modules

  • Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (20 Credits)
  • Developing Theories of Teaching, Learning and Assessment in PCET (20 Credits)
  • Contextualising Policy and Curriculum in Post-Compulsory Education and Training (20 Credits)
  • Enhancing Subject Specialist Learning through Innovation and Change in Post-Compulsory Education and Training (20 Credits)

Practice-based modules

  • Practical Teaching and Professional Development (total of 40 Credits)

In addition, there is a specialist pathway for graduates wanting to teach English to adults. It would prepare you to teach English at a range of levels to learners in diverse settings such as Further Education colleges, adult and community education and offender learning. For some English-pathway students, bursaries may be available. Bursaries are reviewed by the government on an annual basis.

Contact Time

Students value the model which supports weekly course contact time, providing a highly supportive environment for student teachers to develop theory and practice together. According to the Ofsted (2015) report, “the well-judged and finely tuned support from tutors and mentors helps trainees and NQTs to develop and hone their teaching skills quickly”.

The programme culminates with an exciting Summer Conference which brings full-time pre-service student teachers and part-time in-service teachers from our Partner College provision together. The Conference provides excellent preparation for your first year as a qualified teacher, described in the sector as your Induction/Professional Formation year.

Teaching and assessment

We use a wide variety of teaching and learning methods which include lectures, seminars, tutorials, directed learning and group work, as well as a minimum of 100 hours of teaching practice placement. In each module, we encourage you to reflect upon your initial and continuing professional development.

The programme is led by a highly qualified team who are research active and lead on a number of national sector research projects. According to the Ofsted (2015) report, “in university-based training, trainees benefit from highly qualified research leaders in further education who enable trainees to focus on academic rigour to improve the practice of teaching”.

Our recent publication of 2 books in the prestigious series of Reflective Teaching, further ensures that student teachers on the programme will benefit from the direction contributions the PCET team have made to these important textbooks for PGCE’s across the sector.

  • Gregson, M., Pollard, A., S., Nixon L, Spedding T. (2015) Readings for Reflective Teaching in Further, Adult and Vocational Education. London, Bloomsbury.
  • Gregson, M., Hillier, Y., Biesta, G., Duncan, S., Nixon L, Spedding T., Wakeling P. (2015) Reflective Teaching in Further, Adult and Vocational Education. London, Bloomsbury. 

Assessment methods include assignments, seminars, presentations and observed 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.

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 so you can access the most reliable and up-to-date academic and industry articles.

Some of the most important sources for your course include:

  • EBSCO Professional Development Collection, which is a specialised collection of over 500 education journals, including full-text education journals dating back to 1965
  • British Education Index, which contains information on research, policy and practice in education and training in the UK
  • Australian Education Index, which covers more than 130,000 documents relating to educational research, policy and practice
  • Educational Resources Information Centre (ERIC), which is a comprehensive, searchable bibliographic and full-text database of research and information. Over 650 journals are indexed
  • JSTOR (short for ‘Journal Storage’), which provides access to important journals across the humanities, social sciences and sciences
  • Lexis, which provides access to legal information as well as full-text newspaper articles

IT provision

When it comes to IT provision you can take your pick from hundreds of PCs as well as Apple Macs in the David Goldman Informatics Centre and St Peter’s library. There are also free WiFi zones throughout the campus. If you have any problems, just ask the friendly helpdesk team.


Forster Building

City Campus, Chester Road, Sunderland, SR1 3SD

Entry requirements

All applicants must have obtained an honours degree with a classification of 2:2 or above in a relevant subject; it’s an entry requirement that all students must have evidence of achievement of English and Maths at GCSE grade C or above or equivalent or Functional Skills level 2 English and Maths. We accept equivalencies from Equivalency Testing.

Applicants invited for an interview will be asked to complete a pre-interview written task, participate in a group activity and complete a short in-house literacy assessment.

Additional requirements

  • DBS Enhanced Disclosure 

    Satisfactory Enhanced DBS checks must have an issue date that is within the last 3 years at the point of enrolment.

  • Completion of a University of Sunderland medical pro forma

Please note: The professional QTS Skills tests in Numeracy and Literacy are not required upon entry for this programme.

If English is not your first language, please see our English language requirements.

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.

Students on this course may be 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

On successful completion of the course you will have a PGCE PCET, the full award for teaching in the post-compulsory education and training sector. Your new qualification can open employment prospects throughout the post-compulsory sector.

Previous graduates of this course have been employed in the following areas:

  • Further Education colleges
  • Sixth Form colleges
  • Training organisations
  • Prison education

Following successful completion of the course, and once in a teaching post, you will be able to apply to the Society for Education and Training (SET) who provide the recognition route to Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status through their professional formation process.

This course is also excellent preparation for continuing your studies via our Education MA.

The Enterprise Place

If you have a good idea for a new business and have the dedication and motivation to make it happen, then we want to hear from you. The Enterprise Place, based on-campus at St Peter's Gate Business Centre, is the perfect environment for entrepreneurial students and graduates to turn their business ideas into reality. You will have access to free hot desk space, IT facilities, specialist advice and support and business mentors and networking opportunities.

To find out more about how we can help you start a business, please contact the University's Enterprise Team:

Tel: 0191 515 3751

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 our course. Personal Tutors encourage your personal development and are a useful point of contact for any queries about your course. University support services include student counselling, financial advice and chaplaincy support.

Support of placement

We work hard to ensure excellent support while you are undertaking practical teaching on placement. Ofsted (2015) commented that “as a consequence of extremely good training, trainees and NQTs ensure that their students have equality of opportunities and that they understand the importance of the values that inform their daily lives at home, in education and training, and at work”.

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 to keep us up-to-date with your views. Ofsted (2015) described how, “BQTs and trainees commented on how much the training and improved, and continued to improve, their teaching. They appreciate the opportunities they have to give feedback to their course tutors on how to improve the programme for future trainees.”

During your course, and particularly towards the end of it, we will encourage you to make full use of the resources the University of Sunderland has to offer with regards to Careers and Employability. The Service helps you explore your options, clarify your ideas, develop a career focus and make effective applications.

The programme leader organises a First Appointment Conference and Jobs Fair in February each year, with employers, past students and supply agencies who are all here to help and advise you.

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 PCET course at Sunderland enables students to have a programme-long placement which is closer to the reality of the job young professionals are entering into."

Hayley Jenkins case study

Hayley Jenkins

Lecturer of Music

"I had a passion to share my love for music with others and (in my over ambitious mind) prove to the world that everyone is musical. After studying music at York St John University for four years (BA and MA) it seemed only natural to enrol onto a PGCE course - the dilemma being which one, where and for what level. Thankfully after some wise counselling from tutors I decided to apply for Sunderland’s PGCE PCET as it gave me a fresh start in a new institution.

"Unlike many PGCE’s where the teaching practice is in short intense blocks, the PCET course at Sunderland enables students to have a programme-long placement which is closer to the reality of the job young professionals are entering into. For example, I worked with students from the start of a module right through to its conclusion which included teaching to a syllabus and ultimately setting, invigilating and marking exam papers/final portfolios of work. This to me was a “real-world” work experience and made me feel confident that I knew every facet of the role.

"Most importantly, I was able to have two year-long placements. This not only prepared me for a range of employment opportunities but also made me aware of the different pedagogies surrounding in different levels of education.

"The diversity of roles, experiences and subjects in my day to day working life is exciting and refreshing and gives me the opportunity to research across disciplines which I believe.

"I know that without the support and encouragement from the PCET team and the opportunities that they made available to me on the course, I would not be the confident and passionate educator I am today. For any student hoping to teach in further, adult, vocational or higher education this course gives you the flexibility to tailor it to your aspirations."

"This course offers a brilliant mix between classroom based learning and ‘on the job’ learning at your placement."

Scott Henderson

Scott Henderson - Graduate

North East Raising Aspirations Partnership Ambassador, University of Sunderland

"If you want to teach at Further Education, then the PGCE in Post Compulsory Education and Training (PCET) is definitely for you.

"The greatest thing about the PCET course is the tutors. They are very personable people with excellent knowledge acquired from their vast experience. Their experience has allowed me to be more adventurous in my teaching styles, which has subsequently made me a better all rounded teacher.

"This course offers a brilliant mix of classroom based learning and ‘on the job’ learning at your placement. This allows you to study the job and then put it into practice all in the same week. "I chose to study Sport and Exercise Development for my undergraduate course at the University of Sunderland because I was told about the amazing facilities available and I was not disappointed. I chose to remain at the University of Sunderland to complete my PGCE PCET because of the fantastic lecturers and the history of excellence relating to teaching at the University of Sunderland.

"The PCET course allows you to develop the skills you have taken from your undergraduate course with a mixture of presentations, observations and written assignments throughout the year. The PCET equips you for more than just a job in teaching in higher education.

“My piece of advice would be to gain experience in a wide range of areas and industries, either with your placements or volunteering in your spare time because you will still have some, honest!" ll still have some, honest!"

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:
Trish Spedding

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 Post Compulsory Education and Training (PCET)
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

Please see Entry requirements tab

Related courses

If PGCE Post Compulsory Education and Training (PCET) PGCE isn't right for you, try these courses instead:

Search for something different?