PGCE application guidance

Find out more about the application process, requirements and advice on applying to study for a PGCE.

How to apply

Applications, for both University-led and School Direct PGCE programmes are made through Apply for teacher training - GOV.UK.

You will be asked for references. If you have graduated within five years of the start date of the PGCE, the principal referee must be an academic from your university.

When to apply

Applications for 2022 entry will open in October 2021 and stay open throughout the year, depending on places available. 

Universities and colleges will begin to consider candidates from October, so early application is advised, especially for the in-demand subjects.

Selection criteria

Academic qualifications

Visit the prospectus for academic entry requirements that all trainee teachers are expected to meet.

Find out about subject-specific entry requirements

If English is not your first language, you must meet English language requirements for the PGCE.

If you do not have GCSE qualifications Grade C or 4 or above, please see our document of other commonly accepted GCSE Maths and English equivalents (PDF, 107kB)

Subject Knowledge Enhancement

If you do not quite meet the required academic requirements but meet the other entry requirements and qualities, you may be offered a place on the condition that you complete a subject knowledge enhancement course. These courses are available in several locations. 

Personal qualities 

The PGCE is a demanding course and we want to make sure that you will be able to not only complete your studies but thrive and become a confident and successful teacher. For all of our programmes, we look for:

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

We have also developed our Competence standards School of Education (PDF, 115kB) which we strongly recommend that you read prior to applying. 

We will use your application form to assess if you meet these requirements and qualities. If you are called for an interview, you will also be assessed for these qualities and competencies throughout your interview. 

After you apply


If we short-list you, you will be invited to interview. This may be in person or via Teams. 

You will be interviewed by subject tutors and staff from our partnership schools. The format of the interviews varies, however they may include; making a presentation, engaging in group discussions, completing a range of tasks and an individual interview.   

Visit a school

We recommend that you visit a school before applying and especially before an interview if you are offered one.

If we do invite you to an interview, we will usually provide you with a letter of introduction that will help you to arrange time in a state comprehensive school. You should try and observe some lessons in your chosen subject. 

You should try to talk to teachers, students and participate in class if the school encourages you to. Try to evaluate what is being learned and the way in which the teacher delivers the lessons. 

You will be expected to discuss your observations or other school experience at interview and you should be able to go beyond a basic description of what you saw. We want to hear your analysis of the experience and understanding of the processes of teaching and learning. 

Medical check

All students are required to undertake prescribed medical formalities before starting the PGCE. You will be sent a University of Bristol Health Questionnaire and other required documentation automatically if you are made an offer.

Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check (DBS)

Any offer is conditional upon the satisfactory receipt of a DBS. Details will be provided in your offer letter.

Equal opportunities

We have an active equal opportunities policy and we particularly welcome applicants from minority ethnic backgrounds and those with disabilities. Judgements are focussed only upon academic and professional requirements.

Disability Services

If you have a disability, or other health or learning condition, we encourage you to contact Disability Service to discuss any potential support. We encourage you to be open about any disability and we are committed to managing disability issues positively and helping you. 

Contact us

Due to the COVID19 pandemic and in line with government policy, some of our PGCE team are working remotely so are not contactable by telephone.  Please contact us by email so we can assist.

Initial Teacher Education (PGCE and School Direct) Office
Phone: +44 (0) 117 331 4492 We are working remotely during the current lockdown and as a result are only available via email

School of Education 

University of Bristol 
35 Berkeley Square 
Bristol, BS8 1JA

More contact details

Accepting your offer

If you are offered a place you will be asked to confirm online with Apply for teacher training - GOV.UK. We ask you to consider this acceptance most seriously as it is a formal undertaking to take up the place.

Holding a place governs the offers which can be made to other applicants. The number of places is strictly limited and it is essential that the University fills its quota in each subject.

If you withdraw your acceptance, particularly after July, you are likely to be denying an opportunity to other candidates.

If you are offered a place you will be expected to take it up in the next academic year. If you cannot take up a place in the next academic year, you must re-apply through Apply for teacher training - GOV.UK.

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