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How to become a teacher: Undergraduate routes

Learn about undergraduate teacher training in the UK, and how you can gain qualified teacher status (QTS).

Teacher teaching young students

CONTENTS

  1. How to become a teacher in the UK

  2. Bachelor or Master of Education (BEd/MA Education)

  3. BA/BSc with initial teacher training

  4. England: other undergraduate teacher training routes

  5. What funding is available for undergraduate teacher training?

  6. What are the entry requirements?

  7. How to apply for an undergraduate teacher training degree?

  8. University undergraduate ITT qualifiers table

How to become a teacher in the UK

To train as a schoolteacher in the UK, you’ll need a degree. If you’ve already decided on a career in teaching you could take an undergraduate degree that leads directly to teacher status. Or you could complete a degree and then take a postgraduate course to qualify as a teacher.

Undergraduate degrees that include initial teacher training or education (ITT or ITE) must lead to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) if you’re in England or Wales, or meet the requirements to register as a teacher in Northern Ireland or Scotland. There's a range of degree awards you could consider:

  • Bachelor of Education (BEd) degrees
  • BA (Hons) or BSc (Hons) degrees that include a teaching qualification
  • In England you can also find degrees with opt-in QTS and top-up degrees

Note, a degree that includes ‘education’ doesn’t always lead to a teaching qualification.

All teacher training courses give you experience in at least two different schools, and will meet the requirements for teaching in the UK nation in which they’re taken.

On successfully completing your degree and teacher training, you’ll be awarded QTS if you’re in England or Wales. You also provisionally register with a teaching council – the Education Workforce Council (EWC) in Wales, or the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI), or the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS).

After that, you’ll begin an induction period that will last one to two years.

Bachelor or Master of Education (BEd/MEd)

A Bachelor of Education (BEd) is a generalist education course that leads to an undergraduate honours degree. In Scotland similar degrees lead to a Master of Education degree (MA Education). BA (Hons) Education courses are also available in the UK, but don’t always include a teaching qualification.

Full-time degrees generally last three years, or four in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Part-time degrees take four to six years.

These courses take a broad approach to education and are popular with those who want to be primary school teachers. Some providers run secondary level-specific BEd courses – or ‘post primary’ in Northern Ireland. Subject study also features, whether you aim to teach in primary or secondary education.

Generally, you’ll learn about your subject and teaching practice in more depth while gaining experience in schools. You’ll study subjects associated with your strand of teaching and some professional studies. You’ll also take part in extended placements while conducting action-based research.

BA/BSc with initial teacher training

Subject-specific Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc) degrees can also lead to a teaching qualification. In England and Wales, you must take a BA or BSc degree that leads to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). Similar courses exist in Scotland.

Full-time degrees generally last three to four years with part-time study lasting four to six.

With a focus on their subject, these degrees are common for students looking to become secondary school teachers, but some courses are designed for primary school teaching.

You’ll gain specialist subject knowledge and strategies for teaching this across a variety of age ranges. You’ll also cover the same basics as other teacher training – such as learning about the curriculum, making the best use of assessment, and structuring and delivering lessons.

England: other undergraduate teacher training routes

In England, some universities may also offer a degree with opt-in QTS. Commonly they're offered in shortage subjects such as Maths, Physics, Computing or Modern Languages, and are eligible for the bursary funding currently offered by the government.

This means you could start your degree focused on your subject, and then decide further into your degree that you want to train as a secondary school teacher. Your uni might offer taster sessions early in your degree to help decide whether teaching is a career for you. For students on these degrees, an opt-in QTS means they qualify as a teacher a year sooner than if they then complete a PGCE.

‘Top up’ degrees that include teacher training are an option if you’ve already got a foundation degree or HND in a relevant area, whether in education or a STEM subject such as Maths or Physics.

Student smiling in front of laptop

What funding is available for undergraduate teacher training?

If you’re taking your first degree, you’ll be eligible for undergraduate student finance. Usually this means a student loan, but there may also be bursaries or grants, depending on the nation in which you live.

England also offers bursaries to encourage the take-up of secondary education shortage subjects. Students enrolling onto a BA or BSc Maths or Physics course with QTS may qualify for a bursary (paid in their third year). Trainees taking an opt-in QTS in secondary Maths, Physics, Computing or language course are also eligible. Some opt-in courses lead to an integrated master's: if that's the case, you could benefit from this funding in your third and your final year of study. Bursaries may change from year to year.

If you're a recent veteran of the UK's Armed Forces, you could be eligible for a Troops to Teachers bursary for teacher training in secondary Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Computing, Maths or languages leading to QTS.

Talented Maths or Physics A Level students in England could consider the six-year Future Teaching Scholars programme. It offers a grant for each year of a Maths- or Physics-related undergraduate degree, plus paid postgraduate employment-based training for a year, then two years paid as a teacher. You’ll also get extra support and teaching experience. You must take an eligible undergraduate degree; contact Future Teaching Scholars for details.

What are the entry requirements?

Below are the minimum requirements for each country; providers may have additional or specific requirements. Equivalent qualifications are accepted.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland

  • GCSEs grade 4/C or higher in English and Maths (5/B or above in Wales)
  • If you want to teach at primary level you must also have at least one GCSE grade 4/C or above in Science (5/B or above in Wales)
  • Good A Level grades – if you want to teach secondary education you’ll need an A Level in a relevant subject

In Scotland

  • Highers (SCQF level 6) in at least four areas including English, plus National 5 Maths
  • For primary education, you’ll need to have studied two of the following: Science, Social Studies, Expressive Arts, Religious and Moral Education, Technology, and Modern Foreign Languages
  • Institutions are likely to look for at least one National 5 in a Modern Language or Science.

How to apply for an undergraduate teacher training degree

It’s helpful if you can get some experience in schools, but lack of school experience shouldn’t be a barrier to your application if you’re a suitable candidate.

  • You apply via UCAS Undergraduate, with one or two exceptions – check our guide on writing a teacher training personal statement
  • You’ll have to attend an interview that may include subject knowledge audits (these may be more common for entry to postgraduate teacher training)
  • You’re subject to Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS) checks as part of the admissions process (PVG scheme in Scotland)

University undergraduate ITT qualifiers table

Figures below show the number of undergraduates gaining teacher training qualifications in the UK’s universities in 2019/20 (HESA Feb 2021; rounding will affect totals).

Institution F/T qualifiers P/T qualifiers Total
Aberdeen 105 85 190
Bangor 70   70
Bedfordshire 60 60 120
Birmingham City 120   120
Bishop Grosseteste 275   275
Bolton 90 50 140
Brighton 285 40 325
Bristol 5   5
Canterbury Christ Church 555 300 855
Cardiff Metropolitan 5 5 15
Chester 120   120
Chichester 90 5 95
Cumbria 175   175
Derby 70   70
Dundee 55 50 105
Durham 75   75
East London 20   20
Edge Hill 380 40 420
Edinburgh 195 5 200
Glasgow 195   195
Gloucestershire 160   160
Goldsmiths, University of London 30   30
Greenwich 160 20 175
Grŵp Llandrillo Menai   65 65
Hertfordshire 80 75 155
Huddersfield 35 15 50
Hull 80 20 105
Kingston 50 5 50
Leeds Beckett 115   115
Leeds Trinity 130   130
Leicester 20   20
Liverpool Hope 130   130
Liverpool John Moores 45   45
London Metropolitan 20   20
Manchester Metropolitan 180 5 185
Middlesex 40 5 45
Newcastle 5   5
Newman 70 5 75
Northampton 65   65
Northumbria 100   100
Nottingham Trent 175 10 185
Oxford 5   5
Oxford Brookes 95 10 100
Plymouth 205 25 230
Plymouth Marjon 60   60
Portsmouth 30 40 75
Reading 110   110
Roehampton 115   115
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland 30   30
Sheffield Hallam 190 40 230
South Wales 115 245 365
St Mary's University College, Belfast 130   130
St Mary's, Twickenham 150 35 190
Staffordshire 0 20 20
Stirling 135   135
Stranmillis University College 125   125
Strathclyde 175   175
Suffolk 25 25 50
Sunderland 100 45 140
Sussex 20   20
Teesside 25 40 65
University College Birmingham 0 10 10
University College London 50   50
University of Wales Trinity Saint David 100 35 135
Warwick 25   25
West of England, Bristol 85   85
West of Scotland 55   55
Winchester 195   200
Wolverhampton 75 115 195
Worcester 105 15 120
Wrexham Glyndŵr 35 10 45
York St John 105   110
TOTAL 7,310 1,605 8,910

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