Becky Kleanthous  · Apr 13th 2023

In this guide, we walk you through everything you need to know about the PGDE Scotland.

University PGDE Degree

What is a PGDE?

PGDE stands for Professional Graduate Diploma in Education, a popular Scottish teaching qualification. This single-year programme prepares graduates to teach after already completing a degree in their specialist subject.

The Professional Graduate Diploma in Education is an academic route to registration with the GTCS (General Teaching Council for Scotland). A one year course is worth 120 credits, it leads onto a probationary year in a teaching post.

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 still need to gain a teaching qualification. A PGDE serves the same purpose, but trains teachers to meet the criteria of the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) instead. Location is, therefore, one major difference between PGCE and PGDE courses.

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 (with the exception of science, because teachers require health and safety specialist training).

Another key difference in comparing PGDE vs PGCE is to do with how many academic credits are awarded on the programme.

Finally, in the case of PGDE vs PGCE, the Scottish PGDE guarantees a teaching post for the first year after completion, unlike the English PGCE.

Uni PGDE Degree

What type of PGDE can I study?

You can study to be a primary school teacher or a secondary school teacher. 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.

PGDE: how long?

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 their probationary year. This, like the PGDE itself, includes mentoring sessions, extra preparation time, and extra lesson observations. If the teacher passes their probationary year, then they become fully qualified.

PGDE Degree at University

How is the PGDE structured?

In a full-time 36 week PGDE, around half the time (18 weeks) is spent at university, learning teaching theory and techniques. The other half of the time, students work on teaching placements, teaching classes with mentorship and support.


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 with the theory and training opportunities to apply their subject knowledge to teaching.

Completing a PGDE is not only a route to qualified status (which you need in order to teach in any Scottish state school), but it also carries academic value. It can lead to a master’s degree in the future if you choose.

Additionally, some students find it very reassuring that the PGDE guarantees them a teaching post for their probationary period.

A PGDE can be completed at SCQF levels 10 or 11. The downside is that being specific to Scotland, not all English schools are familiar with the PGDE. This can make some employers wary, and they might assume it’s an inferior qualification, simply because they haven’t heard of it.

However, the PGDE is more academically demanding than the PGCE, carrying 120 points instead of 60. If you’re worried about this, a simple sentence or two clarifying the points weighting on your letter of application should reassure any sceptical employer.

PGDE Degree at Uni

What are the PGDE entry requirements?

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 stipulate 2:1 or above) which must be related to their 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.

Finally, it would be highly unusual to receive a PGDE place without any experience at all. Course providers like to see that you know what to expect from schools and young people, so it’s essential to get some experience before applying. 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 University

Is there the option for PGDE 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 SAAS to get the ball rolling with your PGDE funding.

PGDE Degree Uni

PGDE: when to apply?

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 PGCE or PGDE usually includes several elements, including group work, mini teaching demo, and interview. The programme begins in mid-August, coinciding with the start of the school year.

What about my probationary year?

There are two routes into the probationary year. One option is to take the ‘flexible route’ and find a job yourself. The other option is to accept the guaranteed place offered by the Teacher Induction Scheme (TIS).

PGDE Degree

There are two routes into the probationary year.

Using the TIS can be an adventure for people with flexibility in their lifestyle, as you have to rank five local authorities in order of preference, committing to whichever one you may be offered as a result.

People who can’t relocate, or want to apply to specific types of schools, might prefer the flexible route - although there is no guarantee of a post. If you do have complete freedom, you can even go beyond the five local authorities and opt to work anywhere in Scotland. This comes with a financial incentive of between £6,000 and £8,000.

What’s a PGDE England?

Sometimes, PGDE meaning can vary; in some English universities, it can stand for the Postgraduate Diploma in Education (rather than Scotland’s Professional Graduate Diploma in Education). The two sound similar in name and content, but with some critical differences.

The PGDE England is offered by a few English universities, such as Sheffield, Warwick and Durham, and is a relatively new qualification that was rolled out by Teach First. It has a broadly similar focus to the PGDE Scotland, but follows English teaching criteria, lasts for two years instead of one, and it also groups pupils in a slightly different age range (e.g. 11-19 instead of 11-18).

Northumbria Uni

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