Plymouth Institute of Education

PGCE Primary (Early Years)

This dynamic, placement-focused programme enables you to become an enthusiastic and stimulating teacher, ready to inspire young children. Learn to teach the relevant curricula and build your understanding of how young children think, develop and learn. Supported by our inspirational staff, this programme will enable you to build the skills needed for a career in Early Years Foundation Stage settings and in Key Stage 1 in primary schools.

Key features

  • Choose a programme with a national reputation for its quality.
  • Learn to teach and assess all the Areas of Learning for the Early Years Foundation Stage and the required subjects of the national curriculum for Key Stage 1 with confidence and creativity.
  • Benefit from the high-quality teaching of experienced university tutors, who provide inspirational learning opportunities for you, based on pedagogical research and innovative current practice. 
  • Engage in your own research about early years education and gain up to 60 credits at master’s level.
  • Become an outstanding teacher of young children as you progress through 24 weeks in three different placements, supported by expert mentors. You will be placed in a nursery setting, a reception class and a Key Stage 1 class during the course. 
  • Benefit from close partnerships with a very diverse range of schools and educational settings across the whole of the South West of England, London and internationally. 
  • Connect with a number of high-quality teaching schools across the South West with Plymouth University’s School Direct Programme.

Course details

  • Programme overview
  • You’ll combine 14 weeks of campus-based lectures and seminars with three different placements totalling 24 weeks. Learn to teach Areas of Learning for the Early Years Foundation Stage, the core subjects of the national curriculum for Key Stage 1 as well as an introduction to the non-core subjects. You’ll learn through lectures, seminars and workshops and through independent research. Throughout the year you’ll reflect upon your professional development as a teacher, bringing together your understanding of educational theory with your developing knowledge of outstanding practice. Your first two placements will be in early years settings, where you will learn to provide exciting learning opportunities for young children. In your final placement, which will be in Key Stage 1, you will take on – as closely as possible - the full responsibilities of a qualified teacher. You will be supported with your preparations for your first teaching post as a newly qualified teacher (NQT).
    Core modules
    • EPGP605 Blocked Experience in Educational Settings 1

      This module provides the opportunity for students to develop skills, knowledge and understanding within educational settings.

    • EPGP607 Final Experience in Educational Settings

      This module provides the opportunity for students to complete their achievement of those aspects of the National Standards for QTS which are assessed in schools.

    • EPGP613 The Broader Curriculum in EYFS and Key Stage 1

      This module focuses on developing student teachers¿ essential knowledge and understanding of Key Stage 1 (KS1) and Key Stage 2 (KS2) subject knowledge and pedagogy in eleven Foundation Subjects/areas, in preparation for School Experience and, subsequently, reaching the standards consistent with achieving Qualified Teacher Status.

    • EPGP700 Reflection on Professional Studies

      This module focuses on developing student teachers' essential knowledge and understanding of professional values and practice and their ability to critically reflect on key issues in education and classroom practice.

    • EPGP711 Early Years Foundation Stage & KS1 Core Curriculum Subjects

      This module focuses on developing student teachers¿ essential knowledge and understanding of Key Stage 1 (KS1) and Key Stage 2 (KS2) subject knowledge and pedagogy in eleven Foundation Subjects/areas, in preparation for School Experience and, subsequently, reaching the standards consistent with achieving Qualified Teacher Status.

    Optional modules
    • EPGP600 Reflection on Professional Studies

      This module focuses on developing student teachers' essential knowledge and understanding of professional values and practice and their ability to reflect on key issues in education and classroom practice.

    • EPGP611 Early Years Foundation Stage & KS1 Core Curriculum Subjects

      This module focuses on developing student teachers essential knowledge & understanding of all Curriculum Goals for the Foundation Stage (CGFS) along with Key Stage 1 (KS1) subject knowledge and pedagogy in English, mathematics & science in preparation for School Experience and, subsequently, meeting the standards consistent with achieving Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

Every postgraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the programme aims, the programme structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest programme structure and may be subject to change:

PGCE Primary Early Years 3908

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

  • GCSE grade C (or equivalent) in English, mathematics and a science subject.
  • An honours degree (2:1 or above) or equivalent, from a recognised university (masters and PhDs also count towards entry requirements. A masters degree will be considered as a second class upper degree and a PhD as a first. This will also apply to international applicants). It is not necessary for the degree to be in a national curriculum subject.
  • If you have overseas qualifications you can check your compatibility with the UK equivalent through NARIC, who provide an advisory service.


English language

If English is not your first language then we’ll need evidence of your proficiency in English as follows:

  • IELTS at level 7 with 7 in all four components or GCSE in English Language at grade C or above.
  • If you have gained an IELTS at level 6 to meet the undergraduate entry requirement for an undergraduate degree in the UK, and then completed the degree, this meets our entry requirements.
  • If you have gained an IELTS at level 6.5 to meet the postgraduate entry requirement for a postgraduate degree in the UK, and then completed the degree, this meets our entry requirements.


Non-academic requirements

  • Suitability for the PGCE Primary Early Years programme is judged on a range of factors including academic qualifications, ability to work with other people and a real interest in learning and teaching young children. 
  • When selecting applicants for interview the admissions tutor will consider all parts of the application including personal statement and references. You may find the personal statement and reference sections on the UCAS website useful.
  • Find all of the important documentation you'll need when applying for this programme.


Experience in education settings

  • You are required to have done a minimum of ten days recent observation experience in a government funded UK school or early years setting. This experience will need to have been completed either within 12 months prior to your application or within the academic year previous to the start of the programme, whichever is the earliest. 
  • You are expected to arrange visits to local educational settings, and to be able to discuss your observations of children within the learning environment at interview. 
  • You will need to give details of your experience within your application.  
  • A further reference from the setting will be required if you are offered a place on the programme.


Professional Skills Tests and Qualified Teacher Status

  • You will need to pass your professional skills tests (PST) and qualified teacher status (QTS) tests prior to the start of the programme. For more information please visit the Department of Education website.


Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Enhanced Disclosure


Fitness to Teach health screening


Fees, costs and funding

New Student 2017 2018
Home/EU Check with School To be confirmed
International Check with School To be confirmed
Part time (Home/EU) Check with School To be confirmed
Part time (International) Check with School To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of credits. Fees are correct at the time of publication and may be subject to change.



How to apply

Applications for this programme are made via the UCAS Teacher Training site. 

Please ensure when submitting your application form through UCAS, that you are available for interview during the 40 day turnaround time following the submission of your application form. UCAS stipulate for all training providers to make a decision on applications within 40 working days. If you are not able to attend your interview during this period we will be unable to make a decision and therefore UCAS will reject your application by default. If you are unable to attend interview until after the 40 day period, and your application is rejected by default you will need to re-apply through Apply 2. If you have any concerns about this process you can visit the UCAS website or email us at educationinterviews@plymouth.ac.uk.

Interview guidance

All short-listed applicants are invited to an interview. You'll be sent an article to read beforehand, as well as suggestions for further research on a current topic, such as phonics. On the day there will be a presentation to give you information about the PGCE programme and an opportunity for you to ask questions. You'll be involved in a group discussion about the article and have a paired interview with a tutor on the PGCE course. We are looking for people who can talk about educational issues and children's learning, drawing on their own personal experiences as a learner and on their observations of teachers in primary schools. There is also an audit of your English and maths skills with a short test. At the end of the process, we want you to be clear what the programme offers, what you can expect from us and what our expectations are of you. 

QTS skills tests support

If you apply for any course leading to a teaching qualification in early years, primary or secondary education, you will have to take the Professional Skills Tests in Literacy and Numeracy before you can enrol on the course.

Find our more about the tests and discover available resources

Celia Burnham - PGCE Primary (Early Years) graduate

I would recommend Plymouth University because it has a very supportive learning environment and gives you a thorough grounding in the skills you will need to succeed in the job market.

Celia gained the necessary skills during her studies at Plymouth to effectively enter the job market and succeed in her first teaching post.

Read Celia's profile

Student profile - Sheevaun Manning

The teaching practices have been the most fulfilling parts of the course and the tutor groups are great, well organised and lively – there is a real sense of shared understanding and peer support, which is vital.

Read more about Sheevaun’s experience on the programme

Meet the tutor - Valerie Huggins

This is an exciting and challenging programme which demands a high level of critical thinking as you build an understanding of educational issues, work in placement and develop into a creative and innovative teacher.

This programme is suited to you if you have the ambition to become an outstanding teacher for primary children.

Find out more about Valerie’s teaching and research interests

Pedagogic Research Institute and Observatory (PedRIO)

PedRIO was established in recognition of the University's many successes in research and development in higher education pedagogy.

Visit the PedRIO website

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