What is a PGDE?

Becky Kleanthous & Ben Maples  · Jan 15th 2024  · 4 min

The PGDE is a great qualification for students who are looking for a teaching qualification in Scotland. The PGDE is offered by most Scottish universities and is an excellent way to step into the world of education after university.


The PGDE course is ideal for anyone who has completed a subject-based undergraduate degree (such as French, Maths, English or Geography). It provides students an opportunity to receive training to take your subject knowledge into the classroom.

University PGDE Degree

What is a PGDE?

PGDE stands for Professional Graduate Diploma in Education and is a popular Scottish teaching qualification. This is a single-year programme that prepares graduates to teach after already completing a degree in their specialist subject. The PGDE primary trains you to work with 3-12-year-olds, whilst a PGDE secondary qualifies you to teach 11-18-year-olds. In secondary PGDE training, you qualify in a single subject or a dual subject combination.

The PGDE is an academic route to registration with the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS). A one-year course is worth 120 credits and leads to a probationary year in a teaching role.

What is the difference between a PGCE and a PGDE?

A PGCE is a Postgraduate Certificate in Education. It is a popular teacher training route for graduates in England who want to use their Bachelor’s degree subject but who still need to gain a teaching qualification. A PGDE serves the same purpose, but is specific to Scotland.

The PGDE qualifies you to teach a single subject in Scottish schools — or two subjects, if you earn dual qualification status. However, in England, a PGCE demonstrates your specialism in a subject but also permits you to teach any subject in English schools (except science, because teachers require health and safety specialist training). This doesn’t come down to PGDE vs PGCE as they are effectively the same qualification for different countries!

Uni PGDE Degree

How long does a PGDE take?

Most PGDE courses last a year when studied full-time, but some providers offer a part-time route, which can take up to two years. After passing the PGDE, a new teacher becomes a probationer and must complete a probationary year.

This, like the PGDE itself, includes mentoring sessions, extra preparation time, and extra lesson observations. If you pass your probationary year, then you become a fully qualified teacher!

What are the PGDE entry requirements?

Entry requirements will vary depending on where you study. Students must have achieved SCQF Level 6 in English, such as a minimum of a C grade in Higher English, or its equivalent. Additionally, applicants need SCQF Level 5 in Maths, such as a Scottish Nationals qualification, or similar. If you apply without meeting these criteria, you can only be offered a PGDE training place on the condition that you achieve your grades before the course begins.

Additionally, students must have a good undergraduate degree (usually 2:2 or above, though some universities ask for a 2:1 or above) which must be related to your school subject specialism. The minimum criteria for subject relevance is to hold 80 credits in the school subject, 40 of which must be at Level 8 or above. That means if you studied Psychology with Maths, for example, and the maths modules came to fewer than 80 credits overall, you would not be considered for the maths PGDE.

You’ll also want to have some experience under your belt too as course providers like to see that you know what to expect from schools and young people. This could be in a job as a TA, offering sports classes to young people, mentoring and coaching teenagers, volunteering on trips, and so on.

PGDE Degree at University

Can I do a PGDE via distance learning?

There are several options for PGDE Scotland distance learning. The University of Aberdeen, for example, offers both a PGDE primary distance learning and a PGDE secondary distance learning route. These are part-time courses which last 18 months instead of 9, and still, include 18 weeks of school placements.

PGDE courses in Scotland courses aren’t as common as full-time courses, so distance learning can be an excellent option for students requiring flexibility. Distance learning includes local teaching placements, while the theory and pedagogy are taught online, in selected face-to-face sessions, through self-study, and group work.

All students need to submit a UCAS PGDE application, which includes a completed form, supporting evidence, a reference, and a PGDE personal statement. If you receive an offer of a place, you’ll also need to get in touch with Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) to get the ball rolling with your PGDE funding.

When should I apply for a PGDE?

The deadline is usually around the 15th of January for courses that begin in August the same year. If you apply for your PDGE before mid-January, you’ll receive a decision by the beginning of May.

An interview for a place on a PGDE course will likely include several elements: group work, mini teaching demo, and your interview. The programme begins in mid-August, coinciding with the start of the school year.

postgraduate Uni's

Get your questions answered by sending them an enquiry now.