Our Secondary Biology PGCE course is an 11-16 QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) course with post-16 enhancement. This means that whilst you must meet the standards for QTS within the 11-16 age range, you will also have additional experience of post-16.
The programme has three fully integrated components:
Education and Professional Studies - The Education and Professional Studies component introduces you to key educational ideas and principles and provides you with opportunities to consider these in relation to your subject specialism and the wider school context. This component includes one summative assignment worth 30 Masters level credits.
School Experience - Central to the course is the developing your ability to meet the DfE’s Teachers’ Standards which trainees must demonstrate in order to be recommended for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). School-based mentors are responsible for your learning & development and receive well-designed training. You initially work with groups of children, before taking on more responsibility for planning and independently teaching whole classes. You will have two main placements offering contrasting environments.
Specialist Subject Knowledge and Pedagogy (Biology): The PGCE Biology course is designed to prepare you for teaching all aspects of science to at least Key Stage 3, and Biology at GCSE and ‘A’ level. It includes:
Science education workshops;
‘National Curriculum Courses’ to develop to GCSE level your subject knowledge of the areas of science outside your specialism and show you ways to teach these topics;
‘Subject specialist courses’ to develop to A-level your specialist subject knowledge and show you ways to teach these topics;
‘Subject Support Groups’ where students teach aspects of their own specialism to each other;
‘Education and Professional Studies’ lectures;
A range of guest speaker sessions delivered by individuals from schools and science education organisations
One summative assignment worth 30 Masters level credits.
You will work in at least two schools during the course and all of our partner schools have specially trained mentors to assist you in learning to teach. These colleagues are essential to your development as a teacher and will help you to develop both classroom skills and reflective and evaluative strategies. Together with schools, we will provide you with opportunities, training and support.
Term 1 begins with two weeks of observation in school settings. This leads into the university-based course which focuses on professional development, specialist subject knowledge, pedagogy and teaching skills. In November you will spend two weeks in your first placement school to begin your classroom practice.
Term 2 is spent in your first placement school with three university-led seminar days back on campus.
Term 3 is spent in your second placement school with two university-led seminar days back on campus.
The University of Exeter currently has partnership agreements with over 250 schools across most parts of the South West (Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset) as well as a small number of primary schools in London.
Every effort is made to take into consideration your personal circumstances and preferences when allocating your placements. Trainees generally:
live in Exeter for the Autumn term and then move or commute to the area their placements will be in for the Spring and Summer terms
commute to Exeter from their home for the Autumn term and then have placements nearer to their home location in the Spring and Summer terms
Our accommodation office can offer advice regarding finding accommodation in/near Exeter for the Autumn term.
Many trainees are placed further afield than Exeter for the whole of their school-based work and choose to either travel daily or find accommodation in that area. Once registered, we provide an accommodation database, which lists many accommodation options previously used by our trainees. Many trainees live together during their time on placement and some live with school staff. Others commute to their placements daily and lift sharing is encouraged.
An undergraduate degree at class 2:2 or above, or equivalent.
Please check our website for guidance on additional academic requirements specific to this course such as degree subject and A level/GCSE requirements. We want all potentially excellent teachers to have the opportunity to train. If your qualification profile does not fit the norm, please do contact us.
Your degree subject should be in biology 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 equivalency tests from A Star Equivalency and equivalencytesting.com (please do contact the PGCE Admissions team for further guidance before signing up for an equivalency test).
Energetic, able and committed science applicants will find this an empowering course which develops personal transferable skills, strength of character and offers the potential for playing a part in shaping the future of society.
In addition to the academic requirements listed, selection is based on performance at interview, a satisfactory fitness to teach assessment and DBS enhanced disclosure and satisfactory references.
Although not essential it would be advantageous to be able to reflect on any school-based experience or experience working with young people in another context at interview.
Fees and financial support
The course fees
for 2023 to 2024 are as follows:
Fees to pay
Note - eligibility for home fee status for applicants from EU countries has changed from 2021-22 onwards so please do check the guidance if this is relevant to you. For more information, please see our Fees and finance webpages
The University of Exeter offers a £530 bursary to all UK students studying for a PGCE with us, whose household income is £25,000 or less. There is no separate application procedure for this bursary. Instead, we make an assessment using the household income information you provide to Student Finance England (you must make sure you give consent for details of your SfE application to be shared with the University of Exeter). This consent to share is requested during the application for financial support, but can be given at any time throughout the year by contacting SfE.
We are leaders in Initial Teacher Education, consistently graded as outstanding in all areas by Ofsted.
We have strong partnerships with over 250 schools in the south west where you will spend two-thirds of your training year, putting into practice what you have learnt on the taught course. Our PGCE is uniquely characterised by innovative research-led teaching informed by professional practice and academic excellence. All our tutors have real-world experience as teachers, senior managers or OFSTED inspectors. They lead and innovate, developing the latest ideas in teacher education, leading research, writing textbooks, leading subject networks and advising government.
The Exeter Model of Initial Teacher Education is a highly regarded model used to deliver excellent standards of education to our students in the South West.
The Model sequences learning to teach through five developmental phases:
Extension and Enrichment
Trainees begin with significant scaffolding through focused teaching practice based on modelling by experts. Moving through the phases, they become increasingly independent, teaching across sequences of lessons and taking full responsibility for their classes by the Developing Independence phase. Driven by an outstanding research base, this approach enables training to be personalised for every trainee with the tools enabling bespoke support and target-setting.
Our unique approach gives you opportunities to become part of a community of trainees and teachers who are passionate about education and will support you during your course and beyond.
The interview process will take place at the St Luke’s campus (online interviews may be available on request, depending on applicant circumstances). It is designed so that you can showcase, and we can assess, your skills, attributes and subject knowledge. We notify all interviewees ahead of time what will be expected of them at interview, so you have time to prepare.
Primary and secondary interviewees attend on the same day and activities in the morning are conducted in mixed groups. The day consists of:
A welcome talk so you can find out more about the programme
A visual ID and documents (e.g. certificates) check
A short presentation in which you present a teaching idea using a resource of your choice
A short written task in which you can demonstrate your understanding of teaching and learning and your ability to express your ideas concisely, clearly and using accurate written English
A short group discussion, based on the written task which encourages you to explore your own, and others’ ideas about good teaching
A one-to-one interview with an Admissions Tutor. This is where Subject Tutors will discuss your application, your suitability for teaching and your subject knowledge. This is also an opportunity to learn about the particular course you are applying for.
The day is designed to give you a flavour of the PGCE programme. There will be plenty of opportunities to ask questions on the day. You should allow a full day for the interview.
You’ll need the right to study in the UK. You already have this if, for example, you:
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
The University of Exeter provides comprehensive student services that include AccessAbility and Wellbeing teams, Study Zone, Students’ Guild Advice, Student Health Centre (GP services), and the Multifaith Chaplaincy team.
PGCE trainees can access the support of a Wellbeing Services Welfare Consultant to discuss concerns, talk through options for support or understand more about how the University Wellbeing Services may be able to help.
Alongside the support described above, every PGCE trainee is assessed by an Occupational Health provider as part of the admissions process to ensure they are fit to teach in a school setting. If the Occupational Health provider recommends any adjustments, the University’s Partnership Office will ensure you are placed in schools where these adjustments can be made, providing they are logistically possible and reasonable.
Admissions, University of Exeter Innovation Centre Rennes Drive Exeter, Devon EX4 4RN
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
Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.30pm (except public holidays).