PGCE Secondary interviews

Please note all applicant interviews will now take place by Skype or Zoom. If you have already booked an interview with us, please be assured we will be in contact to offer an alternative arrangement. Our Admissions Team is here to support you and answer any questions you may have. You can give us a call on +44 1752 585858 or drop us an email at

This page contains all of the information you require prior to your interview. However, if there are any questions you may have that are not answered on this page please email or call +44 1752 585858.

Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) courses, when required, are designed for initial teacher training (ITT) applicants to gain the depth of knowledge needed to train to teach their chosen subject. SKE course length may vary between 8-28 weeks. Course attendance and length is determined at interview by a member of academic staff in your chosen subject pathway. Successful completion of your SKE course will form part of the conditions of entry to your PGCE programme. Department for Education’s Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) Guide.

In preparation, we would like you to complete the following:

Task one

We would like you to outline any previous experience of teaching or observing teaching and the key aspects you learnt from this.

Please note that previous school experience is not a requirement or a condition of entry to the programme.

Download the previous school experience form to complete.

Task two

You will be asked to prepare a five minute presentation prior to interview, ready to present them to staff and other applicants on the day. These should be informal presentations but you should be prepared to answer questions on your chosen topic from the tutor and other applicants.

The aspect to be presented for each subject is as follows:

Art and design

Prepare a five minute presentation on an artist of your choice. Their artwork can vary from any form of 2D or 3D work, video or performance etc. It is your choice. You are asked to present your ideas about her/his work in the form of a talk using any materials you think appropriate.

Also, please make sure you have a digital copy of your portfolio with you.

Computer Science

Prepare a five minute presentation introducing an aspect/principle of coding to a key stage 3 or GCSE level audience. The time allowance should help you to decide on what is feasible to cover but you should introduce the idea and explain why it is useful/how it can be used.

Design and technology

Prepare a five minute presentation on your specialist area that demonstrates a particular principle/concept you think would be of interest/pertinent for a Key stage 3 or GCSE class. You may wish to consider the historical, cultural and social contexts. What would be your practical expectations with this work; what should they be able to make and what should they be able to show through this process?

Also, please make sure you have a digital copy of your portfolio with you.


Prepare a five minute presentation which identifies a practitioner whose work you find interesting and explain how you would incorporate this into your classroom practice. You are asked to present your ideas about her/his work using any materials, PowerPoint or practical exercises you think appropriate.


Choose and explain the educational potential of a piece of teenage fiction.
This will be a five minute presentation and there will be non-specialists in the panel.
You are asked to present your ideas about the piece using any materials, PowerPoint or practical exercises you think appropriate.


Prepare a five minute presentation on a fieldwork experience you have had anywhere in the world. You should include what the fieldwork involved and suggest how this fieldwork could support geography teaching in school.


Prepare a five minute presentation on a historical figure who could be used within your teaching. This person may help illustrate an important aspect of the subject of history. You are asked to present your ideas in the form of a talk using any materials you think are appropriate.


Prepare a five minute presentation on how you would use a specific resource to introduce or develop an aspect of Mathematics from the Key stage 3 or 4 Curriculum. You are asked to present your ideas in the form of a talk using any materials you think are appropriate.


Practical activities

Prepare a five minute presentation about a practical activity that you might use in the classroom to achieve a musical outcome. You are encouraged to use your own performing skills but will need to bring your own instruments if required as interviews will take place in non-specialist rooms.

You should be clear about what your pupils would learn and how the activity’s practical nature is relevant to that learning. You should specify which year the activity is designed for and reference should be made to assumed prior experience. The most recent National Curriculum for Music should also be referred to.


Favourite scientist

Prepare a five minute presentation on your favourite scientist. Your choice may be a contemporary or a historical figure; one of a significant research group or a lone researcher, who could be used to support your teaching. This person may help illustrate an important aspect of the subject of science. You are asked to present your ideas about her/his work in the form of a talk using any materials you think are appropriate.

Please ensure you send copies of your documents/certificates (scan or good quality photo) to before your Skype or Zoom interview. If you have been successful in your application, we will ask you to submit your original documents when you start your course.

On the day of your Skype or Zoom interview you must show photo ID with you. Examples of photo ID includes: your passport, driving licence, bus pass or school/college ID.

To prepare for your interview we recommend thinking about the reasons you want to study on the course you have applied for. Current students have said they found it useful to make sure they had knowledge of some of the topical issues in the news.

Specific programmes may require more preparation, further information on this is available from the relevant course link.

Disability and dyslexia advice and support
We talk to students about disability support and any reasonable adjustments available for their programme of study. A disability can be a mental health condition, dyslexia or any other specific learning difficulty, autism, or long term medical condition – such as epilepsy or diabetes.

If you have a disability, please ensure you have read the information on our Disability Services webpage. Please scroll down to the bottom of the page and open the Disability disclosure information 2018 document.

If you require any adjustments for your interview, please email prior to your interview date.

We aim to inform you of the outcome of your interview within ten working days.

Dislosure and Barring Service (DBS) Enhanced Disclosure

Our courses require students to work in positions requiring public trust. In order to ensure public protection and safety, all applicants will be asked to declare any convictions or cautions against them, and to declare any pending prosecutions. This can be done on the UCAS application form.

Enhanced disclosures will be made on all students when they hold conditional firm or unconditional firm status. You will be sent details of how to complete the check online as part of your offer, with details of how to do so at this point. This process must be completed, even if a check has recently been completed for another organisation. All information is treated in the utmost confidence.

A disclosure which contains details of an offence does not automatically preclude study on one of our courses. We operate a Professional Issues Committee which will consider each case individually and confidentially. In all instances the committee is assessing whether the disclosure would prevent an applicant from going on placement or obtaining employment on graduation.

What if I do not have a degree in my chosen subject pathway that I wish to teach?

The interview will assess your subject knowledge. You will be advised if successful completion of a Subject Knowledge Enhancement course is appropriate. Further details are available via

How soon will I hear after interview?

We aim to let you know within two weeks of the interview.


If you are offered a place on the course you may need accommodation whilst in Plymouth. The University does have halls and other forms of accommodation for postgraduate students. However, you may prefer to arrange your accommodation in shared housing with other PGCE students.

The benefits of this are:

  • you all have similar workloads
  • you may be able to share transport to college or school placements
  • you are able to talk about your experiences and share knowledge.

Any questions you have regarding accommodation should be directed to our accommodation office. Further information and contact details are available via

What are the costs for college or school placements?

Currently transport and a proportion of living costs are reimbursed but this cannot be guaranteed.

Can I organise my own teaching placement?

No, we organise your placements in our partner schools and colleges. If you have specific needs and/or caring responsibilities, you are advised to discuss these with the placements team and your professional tutor at the start of the course and they will be taken into consideration.

Funding and finance

Currently PGCE students are entitled to apply for a student loan/grant in the same way as you would for a first degree to cover student fees and living costs while on the course. Further information regarding our tuition fees and bursaries, including contact details for our Student Funding Unit, is available via Information about how to apply for government help with paying your fees is available via Government bursary information is available via

Message from the Programme Lead

Congratulations on being invited to interview for one of our PGCE Secondary programmes. On this page we have provided information regarding the format of the interview and tasks we would like you to complete in advance. It is vital that you are prepared and are able to talk about these tasks when you meet us.

The interview is designed to ensure that:

  • equality of opportunity is promoted and discrimination avoided
  • the nature and atmosphere of the interviews and discussions reflects the programme ethos and aims.

You should be aware of National Curriculum requirements and developments in the GCSE and A level Specifications in your chosen subject area. Details of the relevant Secondary National Curriculum can be found at the GOV.UK website.

You may wish to discuss your observations of teaching and learning from previous experience in a school environment. Please note that this is not a requirement.

During your interview you will be asked to complete a placement registration form. This is not part of the interview decision but gives applicants the opportunity to outline specific circumstances which may affect their school placements whilst on the programme.

We look forward to meeting you at your interview and if you should need any help or assistance please do contact us.

Best wishes,
Matthew Wharf