English PGCE

This one year programme leads to a PGCE, recommendation for QTS and 60 credits at Master's level.

Programme overview

Our programme has an excellent reputation both locally and nationally. Our PGCE graduates are often sought after as first appointments by local schools.

We are keen to develop your understanding of English as a creative, arts-based subject. Along with research-based teaching, we use practical classroom strategies from the outset - a real 'hands-on' approach.

What you will do

You will:

  • Examine the power and potential of literature, language and multimodal texts.
  • Secure an understanding of literacy, how and why children learn to speak, listen, read and write.
  • Learn strategies and methods to enable pupils to understand a broad range of oral and textual forms of language and media.
  • Be prepared to implement the National Curriculum for English and the relevant exam specifications for GCSE and A-Level.
  • Be encouraged to build your confidence in drama methods and technology-enhanced education.

By the end of the programme, you’ll have become a reflective, innovative and flexible teacher who can enable pupils to learn and make progress.

Experiences in school

Initial placement

There will be a short primary school experience during the PGCE year. This work allows you to understand the child's early educational experiences - how they are taught to speak and listen, read and write.

This is followed by a busy few weeks in University, finding answers to big questions, such as 'What is the role of the English teacher?"  

Placement one: introduction

Alongside University sessions, you begin with preliminary visits to a secondary school. These visits will prepare you for a period of a shorter first placement in school on a 50% timetable.  You will be immersed into the department and fully supported by a mentor who is dedicated (in both senses of the word) to help you develop your classroom practice.

After the placement finishes, you will have time back at University to reflect on and celebrate your experiences. You will also have a chance to reflect on future targets before your next placement.

Placement two and three: assimilation

After time back at University to reflect on and celebrate the successes of your first placement and to reflect on future targets, you will be on placed in a different secondary school. You will have one placement in this school from January to February half term. After the half term break, you will have another placement in this school until Easter. You will be on a 65% timetable. Again, you will be supported by a mentor and seen as one one of the English team.

Placement four: extension

After a further short opportunity to reflect and plan at University, you will have a final placement in May to June. On this placement, you will be able to extend your practice, often in an area of particular interest to you.


You will benefit greatly from having your placements spread across different schools. They will provide you with the opportunity to:

  • compare and contrast your experiences
  • face different challenges and achieve different triumphs
  • see different teaching styles
  • learn how you can adapt to different situations.

By the end of your third teaching placement, you will have developed into a confident teacher with your own teaching style.


Students who have taken this programme in previous years have benefitted from a variety of opportunities including:

  • Workshops led by outside specialists, such as professional actors from Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory and child psychologist Paul Howard-Jones (from Channel 4’s The Secret Life of 4-6 Year Olds).
  • Taking part in the SW Teachers as Writers group, led by the PGCE course leader.
  • Involvement with the Green Apple initiative.
  • Trialing new classroom technologies, such as the Touching Shakespeare iPad app, developed by the course leader.
  • Involvement in cross-curricular work with other secondary subjects, including History, Science, and with TESOL Master's students.
  • Following a short course which will allow them to teach the Minimus beginners Latin course.


Assessment takes place through three written assignments (or investigations), a research presentation and classroom observations.

Who this is for

If you have a passion for literature, creativity, enthusiasm, commitment and willingness to learn, we think that you’ll find this programme to be a brilliant start to your teaching career.

The majority of students have a minimum of a 2.1 degree in English or a related subject. However, we also consider you if you have a degree in another area such as History, Philosophy, Media and Ancient or Modern Languages and can demonstrate a knowledge and expertise in aspects of English covered in the National Curriculum. 

What our students say

Our English PGCE students often say this is the most demanding, but enjoyable year of your higher education. They have always rated the quality of their experience extremely highly, as showed in their end of year valuations.

Contact us

Initial Teacher Education (PGCE and Lead Partner) Office

Phone: +44 (0) 117 455 9223 We are partly working remotely and recommend that you contact us by email in the first instance
Email: ed-pgce@bristol.ac.uk

School of Education 

University of Bristol 
35 Berkeley Square 
Bristol, BS8 1JA

Apply to study at Bristol

The English programme at Bristol is truly inspirational in its approach to teaching and learning and pupils' wider development.

PGCE graduate

Goes beyond the requirements of QTS – produces thinking, questioning and understanding English teachers, as well as competent ones.

PGCE graduate

Bristol doesn't just make you a teacher, it turns you into an educational professional ready to make a difference in 21st century schools.

PGCE graduate


Find out about available funding to help you get into teaching

Your tutors

The tutors for English are Dr Lorna Smith and Dr Lucy Kelly.

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