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Secondary PGCE : Science with Biology, Chemistry or Physics

Search and apply for our courses on the .gov website:  University of Cambridge (C05)

The educational experience offered in the science PGCE course has been unparalelled in my life. James and Mark are extremely good pedagogy teachers and offer high levels of support throughout the year. I doubt that many courses offer the quality of education as provided by these three individuals.

Bursary & Scholarship

The RSC and IOP are offering scholarships to the most gifted candidates training to teach Chemistry and Physics.  If you are not eligible for a scholarship, Home trainees in Biology, Chemistry and Physics will be eligible for a DfE bursary.

See the DfE webpages for more details. 

PGCE student group

What will I study?

As a Biology, Chemistry or Physics PGCE student at Cambridge, you will develop into a competent and confident teacher of 11-18 year-old students. In purpose-built laboratory classrooms and in school, you will learn from research, practical activities, direct experience, teachers, other expert colleagues, classroom-based observation and professional literature. You will even undertake your own educational research.

The course will be intellectually and professionally challenging, and you will be supported by dedicated subject lecturers and school-based mentors, learning collaboratively with your peers both in University and in your school placements.

Our focus is to develop your pedagogical thinking and classroom practice, drawing on a strong understanding of, and critical reflection upon, key educational themes. These include motivation, language, learning, assessment and inclusion. Your growing understanding of teaching and learning will enable you to develop your students’ conceptual understanding of ‘big ideas’ in biology, chemistry or physics.

Not only will you excel as a teacher of your subject across the 11-18 age range, our course will also enable you to teach the other sciences through to Key Stage 4. You will become a teacher with a strong teacher- and subject-identity.


The biology course is underpinned by a strong practical approach, developing your ability to design, choose and reflect upon a wide range of teaching and learning strategies, using them to build lesson narratives and learning outcomes. We will engage you with the big ideas in biology, and students’ learning of those ideas in plant, human, microbial and sub-cellular contexts. Our aim is for your students to think of themselves ‘as’ biologists, not just students who have knowledge and understanding ‘of’ biology. We see effective and exciting plant science education as particularly important to young people, and we consider learning outside the classroom, for example as part of field work, to be essential for young people to understand the importance of their environment.

Who comes on the course? The Biology course draws graduates from a wide range of life science degree courses, including psychology.


The chemistry course puts an emphasis on conceptual understanding and considers how participation, planning and practical work can support this. The course includes the management of laboratory-based lessons, techniques of assessment, use of models and how to organise extra-curricular chemistry sessions. This allows us to build understanding about how students learn, and consider how they engage in Chemistry within the classroom and more widely.

Who comes on the course? The Chemistry course is available to graduates whose degree course included chemistry (e.g. chemistry, biochemistry, materials science, metallurgy, earth sciences).


The physics course aims to show current developments in school physics teaching both as it is today and how it might be in the early years of a teacher’s career. The teaching is based in the laboratory and built on a combination of practical work, seminars and workshops that explore both what students need to learn as well as the strategies and approaches teachers can take to support this. How students learn physics and develop an understanding of physics in its wider context both within and outside school are high priorities of the course. We have strong links with the wider science education community including organisations such as the Institute of Physics, the Association for Science Education and the Ogden Trust.

Who comes on the course? Applicants with backgrounds in physics, engineering, materials science, astronomy, geophysics and other cognate subjects are welcome to apply.

PGCE study group Faculty of Education Cambridge

How will I study it?

The course is run by a team of experienced lecturers, all of whom began their careers (and in some cases still are) teaching the 11-18 age group.

James de Winter – Subject lecturer in physics education

Mark Winterbottom – Subject lecturer in biology education

Jo Haywood – Subject lecturer in chemistry education

Charles Pettit – Subject lecturer in biology education

In addition, a selection of expert guest lecturers contribute to the course throughout the year.