Durham University Geography (F8X1)

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

Financial support
Bursaries and student finance are available 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 16
Course length
1 year
Date you can apply from
11 October 2022
Date course starts
September 2023


Course summary

The PGCE Secondary course at Durham University is an exciting and innovative programme in Initial Teacher Training. This programme is accredited by the Department for Education and will equip you to teach in your specialist subject in Key Stages Three and Four (ages 11-16). Successful completion of the course will provide you with a recommendation for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), awarded by the Department for Education and a PGCE, awarded by Durham University.

Being a Geography teacher is not just about knowing geographical facts it is also about understanding the underlying physical and human processes, systems and inter-relationships. It is about getting to grips with key geographical terminology and skills such as fieldwork, mapping, data handling and research. Your course at Durham will help you to develop your subject knowledge, understand how pupils learn about geography and any common misconceptions that they might have. It will teach you how to plan a geography curriculum so that pupils make progress and how to deliver a lesson that will help pupils think geographically.

Subject pedagogy (how to teach the subject for understanding) is explored in an innovative university / partnership model known as the POD (Professional Opportunities and Development). The POD involves a ‘hybrid space’ where university tutors and classroom practitioners work together. This model provides trainees with the ‘best of both worlds’, opportunities to work with research relevant university professionals with an abundance of experience in teacher training and school practitioners with experience of delivering the National Curriculum and experts in current classroom practice. The ITE course is delivered using a blended approach and follows a ‘knowledge rich’ curriculum that is current and evidence based.

The university-based sessions focus on a weekly specific pedagogical theme, which is integrated with sessions devoted to your subject specialism, delivered by subject specialists in the University and the POD school. Wellbeing is at the heart of the PGCE course, and you will receive personal, constructive, and friendly support from your University and School-Based Tutors and our Wellbeing Team.

Applicants should note that this programme starts earlier than the standard university term.

School placements

The university-based sessions complement the school-based experience you will gain in schools in the Durham University Schools Partnership, which will normally be a minimum of 120 days across the three terms. The responsibility for training is shared between schools and the University, providing a supportive professional environment in which you can develop your knowledge, skills, understanding and expertise.

Our mentors work in partnership with the University to give you the best possible encouragement and further development as you progress towards your Qualified Teacher Status. The Durham University Schools Partnership has schools across the North-East region and students are required to travel independently to these. The Partnership Team work hard to ensure that travel expectations are reasonable.

Durham University Centre for Teacher Education school placements take place through two different formats. There is the attachment placement which is the main training school and in which trainees spend most of their time starting in the first term. The attachment placement input into the Durham ITE Curriculum ensures that key elements are revisited to develop the trainees’ knowledge from a surface level to a much deeper and richer level of knowledge, skills and understanding.

Then there is a second practice placement which takes place in a different school for the final term of the PGCE course. The aim is to consolidate trainees’ understanding of how research and evidence should shape practice. Mentor discussions are characterised by relevant curricular input, focussed observation, deconstruction and analysis, and are designed to be more demanding and to increase trainee competence and confidence.

Entry requirements

Qualifications needed

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

Your degree subject should be in geography 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 accept third party equivalency tests, there will be a fee to pay.

Personal qualities

During the recruitment process, we will be evaluating your potential to become an effective teacher. Our preferred applicants will have the following qualities:

  • a desire to teach and work with young people from all backgrounds
  • effective communication skills and a collegiate approach
  • a passion for your subject and strong subject knowledge
  • a commitment to teaching and the determination to succeed
  • consistently high standards of personal and professional conduct upholding the public trust in the profession

Other requirements

Admission to the course is subject to a satisfactory medical report, as you are required to meet the standards for ‘Fitness to Teach’. It is important that you disclose any medical condition or disability so that we can look at the best way of supporting you if you are offered a place on the course.

You will be subject to safeguarding checks which include an enhanced DBS check.

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 £22,250

About the training provider

We are very proud to be one of the leading departments for education in the UK, as we regularly feature in the top five in national university league tables such as 5th in the Guardian University Guide 2020 as well as 3rd in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019, and 9th in the Complete University Guide 2020. We also rate highly in the world rankings, 74th in the QS World University Rankings 2019.

As a Department, we also lead the way in high quality research, 5th in the field of education nationally and joint 1st in the UK for world-leading research impact. Together with our OFSTED outstanding rated Initial Teacher Education provision we are a major contributor in the field of education.

You can be assured of high quality teaching as we have been awarded the highest possible accolade, Gold, in the Teaching Excellent and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF).

Interview process

Recruitment to the course is robust and designed to identify candidates who are resilient and who can thrive on our programme.

Candidates invited to attend an interview will receive an email with full details of an allocated interview slot. In the event of continuing Covid restrictions, the interview will be held online via Zoom, using a similar format to the one outlined below.

The interview will explore the interviewee’s potential and previous knowledge, skills or experience that is beneficial to the candidate’s role as a trainee teacher. There will also be an opportunity for candidates to ask any questions they may have to the course team.

The interview offers candidates different ways to demonstrate their potential to be successful. The first opportunity is a short presentation, prepared in advance, and this is followed by several interview questions relating to the teaching profession and contemporary issues. The final activity is an in-tray task that is designed to highlight a candidate’s logical thinking and organisation.

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

Durham University has a Disability support team who offer advice and guidance to both prospective and current students within the University. We also arrange appropriate provision for disabled students, as well as offer support to those who think they may have a disability.


The School of Education has successfully supported students with learning disabilities, hearing and visual impairments to obtain QTS and become teachers.

The School of Education is situated on the Hild Bede site where access can be limited in places for those with a physical disability. Please contact us for more information or check on the Access Go site which has up to date information :


Contact this training provider

0191 334 1000
School of Education
Leazes Road
County Durham

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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