University of Bristol Religious Education (V6X1)

Postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) with qualified teacher status (QTS)

Financial support
Student finance if you’re eligible

A postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) with qualified teacher status (QTS) will allow you to teach in state schools in England and may allow you to teach in other parts of the UK.

It may also allow you to teach overseas, though you should always check what qualifications are needed in the country you’d like to teach in.

Many PGCE courses include credits that count toward a Master’s degree.

Age range
11 to 18
Course length
1 year
Date you can apply from
11 October 2022
Date course starts
September 2023


Course summary

Why train to teach religious education in the secondary school 11-18 age range, and which course will help me to become the RE teacher I want to be?

These are two key questions; the first will you decide but the second will be yourself and our partnership combined, affectionally known as RE@Bristol. Together we can help you to become an outstanding teacher of religious education, who will engage and challenge future students through stimulating and thought-provoking lessons. Whatever the nomenclature used in schools, the DfE refers to religious education as your specialist subject, however, the training will consider what is meant by religion and world views.

Religious education is the subject where teachers and students engage in some of the most challenging questions, making sense of life and the issues raised from religious, ethical, philosophical and non-religious viewpoints. The content and subject knowledge required to teach will vary from school to school, but the approaches and pedagogy explored in the university sessions will support your early career development and beyond. The school visits and visitors contribute to this development of your subject and curriculum knowledge; RE@Bristol covers pedagogy, specific religious traditions and non-religious viewpoints.

The University of Bristol RE PGCE provides opportunities to debate and explore the subject within the PGCE group, with specialist teachers or members of local religious and non-religious groups, as well as opportunities to visit centres of faith and places of interest. In addition, you will receive excellent and varied practical experience to develop your teaching skills, access to expert practitioners both in the University and during teaching placements. Here at Bristol, you will be supported by a very experienced subject specialist tutor, national figures at the cutting edge of research and practice and supported by outstanding teachers from within the partnership. The Bristol Partnership offers a wealth of experience and variety, consisting of state funded schools; schools with a religious character; Independent schools and single sex or co-educational.

You will know that your RE course is held in the highest regard nationally; student teachers are successful in gaining a job in teaching and external scrutiny confirmed the quality of the programme: “the subject based aspects are a significant strength of the RE PGCE” (RE External Examiner’s Report 2022) as well as an Ofsted Outstanding Course. You will be part of, experience and contribute to a vibrant and exciting introduction to teaching religious education.

School placements

Our stable and well-established partnership comprises approximately 65 schools. Some are in the City of Bristol itself, and others are within a day’s commute of Bristol (around one hour travelling) - in North Somerset, South Gloucestershire, Bath and North-East Somerset as well as a small number in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Somerset. We work with some schools in South Wales. The Partnership includes a diverse range of schools, and we are therefore able to offer opportunities to experience different contexts across the year including schools with high numbers of BAME and/or EAL pupils. Where appropriate, we are also able to offer experience in a special school.

You will be placed in a minimum of two schools and when making placement decisions we consider where you live as well as doing our best to accommodate personal circumstances. We know our partnership schools well, however, and our priority is to place you in schools where your needs will be met, where you will be well supported and where you can thrive. Most student teachers are required to travel for around one hour for at least one placement, and we may offer some assistance with the cost of travel.

Our programme comprises three distinct phases. In the Induction Phase (Autumn term), you complete a short teaching placement. During the Assimilation Phase (Spring term) you will complete your main placement in a second school. In the Summer term, you will complete a final, short placement as part of the Extension Phase. Typically, this is in the main placement school, but may involve gaining additional experiences in other schools, such as teaching pupils with EAL, Key Stage 5 teaching or experience in a special school. Whilst most of our partnership schools teach pupils 11-18, some teach 11-16 or 16-19. Therefore, a priority when selecting placement schools is to ensure that everyone has experience across the age ranges including post-16.

Entry requirements

Qualifications needed

An undergraduate degree at class 2:2 or above, or equivalent.

You should have a minimum of a 2.2 degree in Religious Studies, Theology, Philosophy or a RE-related degree. Where applicants clearly show the potential to be a good teacher and perform well at interview, consideration will be given to applicants who have less relevant religious studies in their degree, but they will be asked to complete a Subject Knowledge Enhancement course. Those without a relevant degree but have an A Level in Religious Studies should apply but be aware that they will need to undertake a subject knowledge enhancement course if successful. GCSE Grade C/4 in Maths and English must be in place for the start of the course.

Your degree subject should be in religious education or a similar subject. Otherwise you’ll need to prove your subject knowledge in some other way.

Grade 4 (C) or above in English and maths, or equivalent qualification.

We’ll consider candidates with pending GCSEs.

We’ll consider candidates who need to take a GCSE equivalency test in English or maths.

We will accept equivalency tests but only from certain providers. Please contact us for more details.

Personal qualities

We look for applicants with passion who want to inspire the next generation. The PGCE is demanding but we’ll support and guide you throughout the programme.
As our aim is for you to thrive and become an inspiring and outstanding teacher; we look for:

  • good subject skills
  • an understanding of the secondary curriculum
  • awareness of current effective teaching and learning in your subject
  • interest and awareness of what working with young people involves
  • commitment to the state sector
  • communication skills
  • critical analysis
  • good organisation
  • reflection
  • resilience

Other requirements

In addition to the academic entry requirements, all applicants will be subject to suitability checks. This includes a full enhanced disclosure and barring check for child workforce, as well as clearance by our Occupational Health department.

If there any concerns with either of the above, applicants will be referred to the University’s suitability panel.

Fees and financial support

The course fees for 2023 to 2024 are as follows:
Student type Fees to pay
UK students £9,250
International students £21,100

Fees for EU students will be £21100

Financial support from the training provider

You may be eligible for a bursary. Visit the ‘Get into teaching’ website to find out more:

Bursaries and Scholarships

You don’t have to apply for a bursary - if you’re eligible, you’ll automatically start receiving it once you begin your course. Find out about eligibility and how you’ll be paid.

You may also be eligible for a loan while you study - note that you’ll have to apply for undergraduate student finance.

Find out about financial support if you’re from outside the UK.

In addition to teacher-training bursaries, the University of Bristol offers a small contribution to travel expenses during placements.

We have a dedicated department who can offer support and guidance on finances throughout your training year. Further information on additional sources of financial support can be found here: Financial support

About the training provider

Our Partnership offers subject specialist training in 8 secondary subjects. We are currently rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted and our programme was ranked in the Top 5 of the Good Teacher Training Guide 2017. As a designated 11-19 provider you are guaranteed training and direct experience of A level/post-16 teaching as part of your programme. We also offer comprehensive training in generic elements such as behaviour management, pastoral care and working with pupils with SEND.

Throughout the year, you will be supported by a subject specialist university tutor, as well as dedicated mentors in partnership schools. The support that we offer is highly praised by our student teachers, and in the last two years, 99% of student teachers rated the quality of their training with us as either good or very good.

You are also able to take advantage of being part of a research-intensive university which offers the opportunity to benefit from cutting edge research in areas such as neuroscience and education. As part of our ‘Green Apple’ project, we encourage student teachers to focus on issues of sustainability in their teaching.

Typically, over 50% of those qualifying with us choose to remain in the Bristol area and many have successfully secured teaching posts within our partnership schools by the end of the PGCE year. Our student teachers often progress quickly in their careers, taking on roles such as subject leader and head of year. A number have gone beyond this, joining senior leadership teams.

Interview process

If the potential to be a good RE teacher is evident in your application, we will invite you for a half day interview session at the University, or to an online interview. Interviews take place every 3-4 weeks. You will be interviewed by the University RE tutor and, where possible, a teacher mentor from a local school. The interview is subject-specific in nature and you will be asked to do the following:

Prepare a presentation from an article showing how religion features in the news by either using presentation software or a lesson outline, showing how the issue might be referred to during a RE lesson.

A piece of written work that will be submitted after the individual interview

International candidates

You’ll need the right to study in the UK. You already have this if, for example, you:

  • are an Irish citizen
  • have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme (you may still be able to apply)
  • have indefinite leave to remain in the UK

If you do not already have the right to study in the UK for the duration of this course, you may need to apply for a Student visa.

To do this, you’ll need to be sponsored by your training provider.

Before you apply for this course, contact us to check Student visa sponsorship is available. If it is, and you get a place on this course, we’ll help you apply for your visa.

Alternatively, check if you’re eligible for a different type of visa, such as a Graduate or Family visa, that allows you to train to be a teacher without being sponsored.

Find out more about training to teach in England.

International qualifications

If your qualifications come from a non-UK institution, we may want to see a ‘statement of comparability’ from UK ENIC. This will show us how they compare to UK qualifications.

You can call Get Into Teaching on 0800 389 2500 for:

  • guidance on the UK equivalents of your qualifications
  • a free statement of comparability once you’ve submitted your application (if we ask you for this)

Training with disabilities and other needs

We welcome applications from candidates with disabilities and other needs and, within the context of the University of Bristol support structures, we make reasonable adjustments to ensure that the programme is accessible to all. When a specific need is declared, offer holders are assessed by the University’s Occupational Health department and recommended to liaise with our Disability Service to ensure a Learning Support Plan can be put in place.

Many lectures are audio-recorded and are made available via our VLE. Lecture slides and handouts are made available to the whole cohort at least 24 hours in advance of the session. All University buildings are accessible including ramp/lift access. In cases where student teachers are required to move around the University campus to attend lectures, provision is made to support them, as appropriate. The University works closely with placement schools to ensure that needs are met whilst on teaching practice. For example, a student teacher with hearing disabilities was placed in a school that could provide carpeted classrooms.

The University has a comprehensive support structure for students with a wide range of medical conditions, including mental health. This includes support from the University Tutor, the Senior Tutor and Programme Director, Professional Services staff as well as Student Wellbeing Advisors. If appropriate, student teachers can be referred to the University’s specialist Counselling Service or Occupational Health team. Further information on student wellbeing can be found here:

Student health and wellbeing

Contact this training provider

0117 3314492
University of Bristol
School of Education, 35 Berkeley Square

Support and advice

You can speak to a teacher training adviser for free, dedicated advice. They are all experienced teachers who can give you one-to-one support with your application. They can also help you get school experience, and find events where you can speak to training providers and teachers.

Call Get Into Teaching free of charge on 0800 389 2500, or chat online Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.30pm (except public holidays).

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