Primary Education (via Independent Distance Learning with QTS) PGCE

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Train as a teacher while continuing in your current job or placement in a school. Inspire young people and use your skills to give something back. Ensure every pupil gets access to a quality education and the opportunity to succeed.

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As most teachers will tell you, there’s no such thing as a ‘typical’ day at work. That’s because no two days are the same. It’s also a career that offers great benefits and opportunities for you to use a wide range of skills and inspire students to learn.

PGCE Primary Education (via Independent Distance Learning with QTS) will qualify you to teach at primary level in any state-maintained school in England and Wales.

This one-year course blends theoretical knowledge through online delivery with carefully supervised teaching experience. The course will prepare you for further postgraduate study or specifically progression to Stage 2 of MA Education, also available as a distance learning course.

This course is for Home students only. The teaching practice is work-based and conducted in a school or other educational institution you have secured a placement or are currently working at. International students may be interested in our PGCE Education (IDL) course.

Why us?

  • ‘World-leading’ research in Education, according to the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF)
  • Gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in one year via independent distance learning (IDL)
  • The starting salary of a newly qualified teacher is £22,917, and the average salary for a teacher is £38,633


  • Accredited by the National College for Teaching & Leadership (NCTL)
  • The University of Sunderland has partnerships with more than 200 schools
  • Graduate from a university which has been training teachers for over 100 years

Course structure

The course is split into two semesters and has four core modules – one taught module, two research modules, and one teaching practice module.

We use a wide variety of teaching methods including required reading, directed activities and self-assessments.

You are invited to join online discussion forums to debate current issues relevant to the module content. We also encourage you to form study groups where convenient.

Teaching practice is work-based and conducted entirely in a school you have secured a placement at or are currently working at. This is supported by a school-based mentor and university staff. A total of 120 days is required in school. All placements must be in England or Wales and applicants need to secure their own placements.

We assess both the theoretical and practical elements of the course. You will be assessed through written assignments, a profile of evidence of teaching standards and observed teaching.

Modules include:

  • Subject Studies

Investigate the content of your specific subject. Formulate skillful questioning which reveals levels of student understanding. Explore ways of motivating students including the provision of a challenging curriculum designed to foster their problem solving abilities. Set homework or home-based activities that are challenging, consolidate work already completed and encourage students to take responsibility for their own academic progress.

  • Practice of Teaching

Immerse yourself in teaching institutions to develop professional knowledge about teaching and learn to make judgments about the routines, skills and strategies that support effective teaching. Gain experience in a work-based learning environment to meet professional Teachers’ Standards identified in Government legislation.

The assessed placement is divided into two blocks of teaching practice; a minimum of 20 days will be within an alternative mainstream school.  A total of 120 days is required in school. All placements have to be in England or Wales. Applicants need to source their own placements.

  • Development of Learning: A Case Study (Level 7)

Identify the ways in which your placement addresses the educational needs of a particular small group of individual students and which shows how learning is developed over a short period of time, or what could be done to enhance its development in the future. Engage with, and critically evaluate, teaching and learning. 

  • Negotiated Individual Study in Education (Level 7)

Structure and undertake a piece of independent academic study related to your particular vocational/professional development, which will encourage you to engage in intellectual challenge and dialogue. Develop both general and subject-specific knowledge and skills, negotiated and agreed between you, your subject supervisor and supervising University tutor. Identify and develop key skills that will enhance your ability to transfer learning to further study and to the workplace. Present your research proposal and a final written account of your learning.


Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article.

  • As a distance-learning student, you'll be able to remotely access online journals, articles and e-books.

    The library team offer real-time online help through ‘Live Chat’ at various periods throughout the day, and they also offer online tutorials to help you make the most of our electronic resources.

    Library Services - distance learning


To study this distance-learning course, you will need internet access to use our Virtual Learning Environment, where you will access specially designed learning materials, e-books, e-journals, relevant websites and multimedia.

Entry requirements

You will usually need a 2:2 (or above) honours degree from a UK Higher Education institution or an equivalent qualification and be deemed suitable to train to teach by the School of Education at the University of Sunderland. 

You must have a grade C or above in Mathematics, Science, and English Language, or equivalent qualifications. If you have studied for a GCSE which has a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above. We will only accept equivalencies from

In addition to academic qualifications, you must also:

  • Have an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check
  • Complete a medical pro forma (based on DFEE Circular 8/92)
  • Have passed the professional skills tests in numeracy and literacy, set by the Department for Education. This is essential before you can achieve Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). It is helpful if you are able to take the tests before your interview with us, but this is not a requirement of applying for this course.
  • If English is not your first language, you will also need International English Language Testing System (IELTS) at a score of 6.5, with at least 6.5 in writing, and no section below 6.0.
  • Secure your own placement. A completed placement form will be a condition of the offer. All placements must be in England or Wales.  

You may have work experience in a mainstream primary school to gain knowledge of Key Stage 1 and 2, but this is not essential. You will be assessed on your potential to learn and not your experience.

All successful applicants will be invited to an interview. Interviews start early November, so we recommend that you apply as soon as UCAS opens, in October.

Please note, applicants with a foundation degree will need to supplement this qualification with at least 60 credits at level 6 (HE level 3) in order to attain an equivalent single qualification.

Please note this course is for Home students only. The teaching practice is work-based and conducted in a school or other educational institution you have secured a placement or are currently working at. International students may be interested in our PGCE Education (IDL) course.

Fees and finance

The annual fee for this course is £9,250.

Please note, this course is not available to international students who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK. If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

This information was correct at the time of publication.

PGCE Education (International)


This degree awards Qualified Teacher Status, which means that when you graduate you’ll be qualified to teach in any state-maintained primary school in England and Wales. Most graduates from this course go on to teach in primary schools.

Good teachers are always in high demand. The average starting salary for a teacher is £22,917, and experienced teachers can earn up to £59,857 outside London, and £67,305 in London. Head teachers can reach a salary of between £44,544 and £109,366.

Rewarding teaching

You will earn a competitive salary and have access to a wealth of other benefits – from a generous pension to up to 13 weeks of holiday allowance so you can look forward to a career that is both personally and financially rewarding.


  • The support from lecturers is amazing, they are very motivated and want their students to do well.
    Rebecca Edwards Small

    Rebecca Edwards

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