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Course length

1 year full-time


Durham City

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Course details

Welcome to our exciting and innovative programme for Primary teachers at Durham University, Centre for Initial Teacher Education (ITE).

The PGCE Primary provides a course in Initial Teacher Training which is accredited by the Department for Education. It will equip you to become a primary school teacher (ages 5-11) and will provide training for Key Stages One and Two. 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).

The Course

We pride ourselves on offering a well-planned blend of research and experience in the classroom to start you on your successful career as a reflective practitioner. Our course gives you the opportunity to evaluate the strengths of new initiatives in teaching, with the creative knowledge to put them into practice.

From the start of the course during our Induction Conference, we set high standards and place strong values on research-related professional practice (RRPP) for our teacher educators. We also encourage a love of life-long learning to equal the passion we share for working across all subjects in the primary age-phase of education.

At Durham, we believe in developing the skill set you will need to be an outstanding teacher, through a blend of university and school-based input. The university-based sessions focus on a weekly specific pedagogical theme, that reflects our committed approach to supporting you. This theme is introduced at the beginning of the week, through an in-depth thematic Research Related Professional Practice (RRPP) resource.

There are also sessions devoted to the Core Subjects of English, Mathematics and Science. Your own subject knowledge and understanding will be enhanced as well as improving your subject-specific pedagogy. All three subjects are delivered by subject specialists. You will choose one of the Core Subjects as a specialism, by focusing on it for your Self-Directed Study assignment.

Similarly, you will learn about primary Foundation Subjects (Art, Computing, Design and Technology, Geography, History, MfL, Music, Physical Education, PSHE, or Religious Education), and each subject is led by a specialist in that area. You can also choose a Foundation Subject Masterclass to attend in one of these subjects.


During the week, your understandings of key concepts and classroom practice are also explored in Professional Studies sessions, which will give you the opportunity to reflect on your own teacher identity and progress as a developing teacher. You will engage in small group discussions about the weekly RRPP theme, subject knowledge enhancement and development of your practical skills in the classroom, in readiness for your main school placement.

Our partnership schools and your teaching placement

These university-based sessions complement the school-based experience you will gain in schools in the Durham University Schools Partnership, which will be a minimum of 120 days. The responsibility for training is shared between schools and the University, which together provide a supportive professional environment in which you can develop your knowledge, skills, understanding and expertise. Our School Training Centre Coordinators and Class-Based 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 School Direct Lead School arranges and oversees the placement aspect and provides workshops, support with teaching and guidance on teaching practice.

Your entitlement as a trainee teacher at Durham

We place a firm emphasis on your entitlement to the Core Content Framework throughout our PGCE course to fully prepare you for the Early Career Framework, which will support you during your first two years of teaching as an Early Career Teacher. In addition to a clear understanding of how to meet the Teachers’ Standards, we will ensure that you start your school placement with a sound foundation of pedagogy relevant to primary education.

What else does Durham University offer?

Our course prioritises the need to equip you with the ability to take advantage of the latest digital technology to enhance your teaching and learning skills. We also pride ourselves on the personal, constructive and friendly support which you will receive from your University Tutors and our Well-being Team throughout the course.

Academic and research-based assignments

The key academic element to our course underpins the year, with three modules that enable you to explore ideas in the field of education. Two of the three assignments are introduced by highly engaging conferences with expert speakers.

The Professional Issues assignment focuses on contemporary curriculum design in schools in an area of your choice, related to the primary curriculum.

The Teaching and Learning in the Curriculum assignment allows you to choose an area of interest from a series of keynote presentations by leading researchers in the field of education, and to explore this area in relation to the notion of a ‘successful learner’.

The Self-Directed Study assignment is a subject specialist piece (primary English, Mathematics, Science or Humanities). This overarches the academic year and draws upon research-based practice, ethics and your own small-scale study in your placement school.

For all your assignments, we offer strong support for you from the Module Convenor, your University Tutor, and the academic services within the University.

Students who have successfully completed the PGCE at Durham in the previous academic year have the option to use 90 credits they have accredited towards a part-time MA Education. These students only need to do the core modules, Education Enquiry, and the Dissertation over two years, to complete the programme.


The course is delivered full-time, starting in early September and continuing over 10 months. During this time, you will experience a blend of University teaching interwoven with school experience.

Please note that the course does NOT run to university terms.

Entry requirements

You must possess or expect to achieve a degree; please see department web pages for subject-specific requirements.

Successful candidates will receive an offer from their School Direct lead conditional upon successful medical and criminal record checks. The latter is carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service and full instructions on how to apply for a DBS Disclosure will be provided.

If you have a criminal record of any kind, you may contact the School of Education DBS Manager, Caroline Emery, for further advice and information. All enquiries will be treated in confidence.

We strongly encourage you to register for the DBS Update Service, which lets you take your certificate from one employer to another without having to apply for a new check. Please note, all DBS Enhanced Disclosures for our Students must be applied for through Durham University unless you have applied to the Update Service.

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £9,250 per year
EU students £22,750 per year
Island students £9,250 per year
International students £22,750 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

School of Education

There are a wide range of roles that are available to qualified teachers ranging from classroom teaching, specialist subject lead, phase lead, middle and senior management groups.

For further information on career options please view our department pages.

Department information

School of Education

We are a large department, with around 50 academic staff and around 650 postgraduate students (including our PGCE students, both primary and secondary). We are also supported by numerous partners from schools and colleges. We have strong international links, welcoming students, postdoctoral fellows and visiting scholars from all over the world.

For more information see our department pages.


  • Top 100 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2022
  • 2nd in The Complete University Guide 2023
  • 7th in The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2023
  • Top 10 in The Guardian University Guide 2023


For a current list of staff, please see the School of Education pages

Research Excellence Framework

  • Ranked joint 1st nationally for Research Impact and 1st nationally for outputs
    (REF 2021)


Our School of Education is set in beautifully landscaped gardens above the River Wear and overlooks both the Castle and Cathedral. As well as an attractive work environment, it offers excellent study facilities, including a department library with a wide range of books and periodicals.


Find out more:

Apply for a postgraduate course (including PGCE International) via our online portal.  

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Join a Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Find out more
Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
Find out more