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Online PGCEs: Distance Learning Teacher Training

Online PGCE

An online PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) is an excellent way to gain an internationally recognised teaching qualification without the commitment to campus-based learning. 

Whether you are looking to expand your career prospects or change direction and become a teacher, an online PGCE course offers you the flexibility to study and train from anywhere in the world. 

Becoming a teacher is a challenging and time-consuming process. For some, it can be hard to balance face-to-face learning with other life commitments. If this is the case for you, then an online distance learning PGCE course could be a great choice. 

What is a distance learning PGCE program?

The PGCE allows postgraduate students to work in a variety of educational settings and become qualified teachers in the UK with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). Not all online PGCE courses contain the QTS element, but they are still a viable option for many students. Learn more about PGCEs in our guide: What is a PGCE? 

With a distance learning PGCE, the course modules are delivered in an online format, with course providers offering full-time and part-time flexible study options. Part-time courses can be studied over three or four years at a pace that suits you. 

Many universities offer blended learning that combines distance learning and digital face-to-face sessions with your course tutor and other students. In most cases, around 50% of the course will be studied at home and the other half will involve classroom experience.


What type of PGCE can I study online?

Online PGCE Teacher TrainingThere are a number of options available for students looking to study PGCE courses through distance learning. The three main types are Primary, Secondary and Further/Adult Education PGCEs. 

It is also possible to specialise in a specific area of study for your expertise, such as Maths, Science, Modern Language, Music or Physical Education. With these options, you can pursue your ideal pathway into teaching and advance your academic career. 

The benefits of a distance learning PGCE 

There are many reasons to study a PGCE. Studying for your PGCE online is a great way to progress further in your career while balancing the demands of the course with your daily life. Some benefits include: 

  • Continue working at your current job while you study

  • No commitment to be on campus for lectures or seminars

  • Study at home or from any remote location

  • Gain the same value qualification as studying for your PGCE on campus 

  • Flexible start dates are offered by some universities, meaning you don't have to wait until September to start your course

Universities offering distance learning PGCE programs

Most universities, including the University of Cumbria, the Open University, the University of Nottingham and the University of Sunderland, offer PGCE courses that are delivered by online distance learning. There are also course options in South Africa, such as the distance learning PGCE program at MANCOSA or the Cornerstone Institute.

Countries that offer distance learning PGCE programs

The majority of online PGCE courses are offered by universities in the UK because they are aimed at the British educational system. However, there are also PGCE courses delivered by distance learning, in countries including South Africa and Dubai. Any country where the educational system is based on the British educational system may have an online PGCE program option. 

If you know that you wish to be based in a particular country, then it is wise to follow that country's teaching programs, otherwise you may have to convert your PGCE with additional courses. 

The University of Nottingham runs online PGCE courses, which include a small number of on-site sessions to attend, and these are based all over the world, in locations including Nigeria, Hong Kong, China, Thailand, India, Spain, Peru and Singapore.

Entry requirements for distance learning PGCE courses

Most PGCE courses require the student to have at least an undergraduate (bachelors) degree of at least 2.2 grade (or equivalent) from a UK university. This table shows the entry requirements for studying an online PGCE program at a selection of universities in the UK and South Africa.


Required grade


University of Nottingham

Undergraduate degree at 2:2 or higher, or work experience in education


University of Cumbria

Undergraduate degree at 2:2 or higher


University of Sunderland

Undergraduate degree in any subject



Undergraduate degree in any subject

South Africa

Cornerstone Institute

Undergraduate degree in any subject

South Africa

How much does a distance learning PGCE program cost?

The cost of an online PGCE will vary depending on where you study the on-campus sessions, for example: 

  • For UK students, the online PGCE program costs £1,675 at the University of Cumbria and is not available to international students. 

  • For UK students, the University of Nottingham's online PGCE costs £4,110. For students attending the on-campus sessions in Hong Kong, it costs £4,320. 

  • The University of Sunderland course is also aimed at students all over the world and the tuition fees are £7,455 for all students. 

  • At the Cornerstone Institute in South Africa, the online PGCE costs R375.00 per module credit for all students, international students may have to pay an additional student fee depending on which country they are from.


There are several PGCE funding options available to help students get started with online teacher training. Find out more about how much a PGCE costs in our guide.

What does online PGCE course content include? 

Online PGCE Teacher TrainingDistance learning PGCE course content will differ depending on where you study. Most online PGCE courses assume that you are familiar with educational practice, or that you have worked in education in some way. Below are a few examples of what a distance learning PGCE course entails.

The online PGCE course at the University of Nottingham is widely available to students around the world and approximately 900 students complete the course each year. Modules include topics such as Educational Aims and Values in International Contexts, Inquiring into Educational Practice in International Contexts, and Understanding Learning and Teaching in International Contexts. 

Modules at the PGCE course at MANCOSA in South Africa include Education Studies: Curriculum, Teaching and Learning and Education Studies: Sociology and Philosophy. 

Do you have to do any on-campus or teaching modules?

Obtaining Qualified Teaching Status (QTS) in the UK may require you to take an in-classroom course or complete teaching modules. Many courses assume you have access to classroom-based teaching, or experience of it, to draw on during the assessments. 

The University of Nottingham courses all include short sessions – of a few days to a week – that students need to attend on campuses around the world. 

The University of Sunderland’s distance learning PGCE program includes a module of extended teaching practice, which is entirely based in your workplace in an educational facility.

How long does it take to complete a distance learning PGCE?

The length of time it takes to study an online PGCE varies, and this depends on whether you choose to study full time or part time. The courses last between eleven months when choosing to study full time, and up to four years studying part time.

Find online PGCE courses

Discover a range of online PGCE courses at Postgrad. We list full-time and part-time course options from a variety of universities. Start building your teaching career today.


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