Primary (English Medium) PGDE

UCAS code X100

What is special about this course?

The PGDE consists of 18 weeks study at the university, plus 19 weeks in professional practice in schools. The placements in schools are arranged nationally and you will be placed in schools within travelling distance of your home or term-time address.

This course is offered at ten of our partner colleges who work in partnership with their local authority. It is also offered in partnership with the Scottish Borders council for applicants based in the Borders and registered through Moray College UHI. You will be required to have a home or term-time address in the local authority area of your chosen campus. Graduates of the course will hold provisional registration as a Primary Teacher with the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

You will benefit from studying in small, locally based groups while collaborating remotely with other student teachers and tutors across the university’s network of colleges. The programme overlaps significantly with the PGDE Secondary to offer a cross-sector perspective.

A mandatory three-day residential induction is held at the start of the course with a further one in March which focuses on outdoor learning. Each local cohort will also organise a showcase event at the end of the course, as part of developing leadership.

Special features

  • The course will prepare you for life as a reflective professional, supporting high quality learning for the children you teach
  • The course also offers the option of gaining up to 40 masters level credits by submission of assignments at SCQF level 11

Entry requirements

Important: Please read our FAQ sheet for further information about this programme

  • Applicants should hold a degree at undergraduate level. An honours degree at 2:2 or above is preferred, as the teaching on the course sits at honours and masters level
  • Applications will be considered from those not holding honours who are able to evidence sufficient academic capacity to undertake the course, by providing a transcript of their undergraduate degree.

In addition to the above, applicants must hold:


  • Scottish Higher level grade C or above, OR
  • A level at grade D, OR
  • GCSE English Language (C) and English Literature (C) or equivalent, PLUS

Mathematics or Applications of Mathematics: 

  • National 5 at grade C or above, OR
  • SQA Intermediate 2 or Standard grade Credit OR
  • GCSE Mathematics (Grade C or above) or equivalent

Your personal statement should include reflection and analysis of recent voluntary or paid work in a Primary context to demonstrate your wish and suitability to become a Primary Teacher - this is one of the criteria used when deciding which candidates to invite to a local selection event.

Selection events are usually held at the end of February / early March.

Please note:

Applicants who have lived outside the UK for a period of six or more consecutive months in the past ten years, will also be required to provide criminal records checks from all relevant countries prior to enrolment on the course.

Applications for the PGDE in Primary Education must be made through the main UCAS scheme in the same way as undergraduate courses, and not through UCAS Teacher Training. This applies to all institutions in Scotland delivering the PGDE. Please note that this course does not accept applications for deferred entry. Applicants must provide details of their degree, English and Mathematics qualifications within the application, as failure to do so will lead to automatic rejection. Application deadlines include submission of references. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that referees are aware of the deadlines and that the application is submitted fully prior to the relevant deadline.


PDGE Taught Modules

Collaborative Practice (20 credits)

This module will develop teachers who are critically reflective, accomplished and enquiring professionals, able to fully engage with the complexities of education and become key people in shaping educational change. It will enable an understanding of the nature of curriculum and its development, the relevance to the modern world and a changing society. The module will examine how Curriculum for Excellence aims to achieve a transformation in education by providing a more enriched, coherent and flexible curriculum. Students will be equipped with the skills to plan, teach and assess within a curriculum framework where the focus is on themes across learning and working with their class and teaching colleagues as part of the whole school.

Enquiry and Practice (20 credits)

This module is aimed at establishing children and young people’s learning, and their classroom experiences as learners, as the central focus for students’ enquiry into their own practice, as the key driver for all planning, teaching and assessment decisions made. The module is closely linked to the four blocks of Placement experience in schools, to enhance understanding of learning as a continuum.

 Reflective Practice (20 credits)

The module will equip students with the necessary tools to develop an enquiring and critical approach to their teaching, as part of their own personal and professional resources to ensure continuing growth and development. It aims to ensure that the aspirant teacher will become a reflective professional, embodying the necessary skills to think seriously about the quality of children and young people’s learning and the ways in which their own practice impacts on learning.

Professional Practice (Primary)  (60 credits)

For this module, students will develop their teaching practice and professional identity as a teacher in four blocks of school placements in three different schools. These are allocated nationally via the Student Placement System to afford experience of the progressive levels of Curriculum for Excellence:

  • 4 weeks in Primary 2, 3 or 4
  • 4 weeks in Primary 1
  • 5 weeks in Primary 5, 6 or 7
  • 6 weeks in a Primary class not yet experienced

Students will gradually increase the duration and scope of their responsibility for learning, teaching and assessment in their school placement class, culminating in classroom leadership for ten consecutive days during the final 6-week placement.

How will I study my course?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

You will study the course through our blended learning approach. Initially, in Semester one (September 2020) the taught elements will be delivered online through a combination of video conference seminars, tutor-supported study and self-directed study using the university's virtual learning environment. You will also have an online induction at the start of the course. School placements are being planned in line with the Scottish government's strategic framework for re-opening schools. Our priority is to provide a safe learning environment for all students and staff.
  • Full-time
  • For the taught elements of the course, you will study through a combination of face-to-face and video conference lectures, and online study via the university’s virtual learning environment (VLE)
  • The practice element takes place in schools

    How long will my course last?

    • Full-time: 1 year

    Where can I study my course?

    • Argyll College UHI - Oban and Lochgilphead, if sufficient numbers
    • Inverness College UHI
    • Lews Castle College UHI - and Benbecula, if sufficient numbers
    • Moray College UHI
    • North Highland College UHI - Thurso
    • Orkney College UHI
    • Perth College UHI
    • Shetland College UHI
    • West Highland College UHI
    • Applicants based in the Scottish Borders should register via Moray College UHI

    Start date

    • August


    Fees for this on-campus course will depend on your assessed fee status:

      Scottish (SC) and EURest of the UK (RUK)International (INT)Scottish (SC) and EURest of the UK (RUK)International (INT)
    PGDE £1,820 £9,000 £11,650 £1,820 £9,000 £12,000

    There are a number of funding options available to UK and EU students to help you pay for your studies and your cost of living while studying. Students who are resident and studying in Scotland can apply for their fees to be paid by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS). SAAS will determine eligibility.


    External scholarships and financial support may be available. Contact the relevant university partner college for more information.

    Additional Costs

    • Travel to the residential inductions - meals and accommodation are provided
    • Travel to school placements - these are arranged through the GTCS national system to be within 90 minutes travel time from your term-time address

    What can I do on completion of my course?

    Graduates will hold provisional registration as a primary teacher with the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTC Scotland). This qualifies students to apply for GTC Scotland’s induction year, which can then allow teachers to qualify for the status of full registration.

    Can I progress into further study?

    The PGDE Primary course links directly to the MEd Critical Enquiry in Education which offers a structured programme to support professional learning throughout your teaching career.

    Is there more information available online?

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    What our students, graduates and staff say

    The opportunity to undertake student placements was a personal highlight for me. In teaching you really learn from experience and you really see first-hand the skills, understanding and knowledge that is required day to day as a primary teacher. I had such a positive experience with my first student placement and my student mentor and school were a great support.

    PGDE Primary Teaching graduate Jade McIntyre now based at Cauldeen Primary School in Inverness

    The balance of theory and practice – with placements in local primary schools alongside taught modules in college and some distance learning - allows students to build up their teaching experience while undertaking the core learning. There is a strong focus on independent study, with an emphasis on encouraging students to develop their own areas of interest and identify their strengths and areas for development from a very early stage.

    Emily Mitchell, Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (Primary) graduate, Moray College UHI campus.

    Apply for Primary (English Medium) PGDE

    I want to start in Aug/Sep 2021

    We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at the University of the Highlands and Islands. We operate a fair and open admissions system committed to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination. We consider all applications on merit and on the basis of ability to achieve, without discrimination on grounds of gender, age, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.