Department of Education


This page will support you from preparing your application to accepting an offer of a place at Sussex.

We welcome applications from potential trainee teachers with a wide range of backgrounds, race, country of origin, disabilities, gender, sexuality and age.

Search and apply for PGCE and School Direct courses with the University of Sussex via the Government's web page, 'Find postgraduate teacher training courses'.  


All Initial Teacher Education (ITE) training providers structure their courses differently and have individual features. To find out more about PGCE and School Direct Tuition Fee and Salaried courses at the University of Sussex, we recommend you watch our 'Routes to Teaching with Sussex' video which explains the similarities and differences between the routes we offer. You will find Primary and Secondary subject specific introductory videos on the same web page.



  • Do some research

    - What is the life of a teacher really like?
    Get a feel for what teaching actually involves by talking to teachers who are acquaintances, friends, neighbours or family members. You could also arrange to visit your former school, your children’s school or a local school to observe classes and talk to staff and students. UK Education blogs, TV documentaries and media articles may also help to inform you.

    - Why do I want to teach?
    Think carefully about your reasons for wanting to be a teacher of the age range you prefer or - if Secondary - the subject. What can you offer to students? What do you think are the essential characteristics of an excellent teacher? How do you believe that your knowledge, skills, attitude, personal qualities and experience will help you become one?

    - What will I be teaching?
    To gain an overview of the content and skills you will need to teach, it is suggested that you look at either the Primary National Curriculum for Key Stages 1 and 2 or the Secondary National Curriculum Key Stages 3 and 4 as relevant to the age range or secondary subject you wish to teach. If Secondary, you should also look at GCSE specifications showing course content and past papers for your subject online on the websites for Exam Boards AQA and Pearson. If you are intending to train to teach Business, Psychology, Social Science or Media - which are subjects taught in age ranges 14-18 - you should also look at specifications for A level/AS and BTEC on the same websites. You will then be able to map your own subject knowledge against what will be required and gain a clearer idea of both your strengths and areas for development.

  • Do I need school experience?

    - There is no official requirement to have spent time in a school prior to training to teach. However, most potential trainee teachers find it helpful to visit schools to see how teachers plan and teach lessons and therefore look to talk to pupils and teachers before making a decision their decision to enter the teaching profession. Delivering a short teaching type task and showing an awareness of the curriculum and school life is also part of our interview process, so having seen recent teaching in action in an appropriate school setting for the subject/phase you intend to teach will help prepare you.

    - Depending on where you are located, you may find the Government's School Experience Programme useful in helping you secure some time in a school. Alternatively, candidates may be able to use their own personal or professional contacts to arrange school visits. If you are considering the School Direct route, you could approach appropriate individuals in a school you would like to train in to arrange a visit. See the back page of the School Direct place offer list for key contacts.

  • Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE)

    If you studied your degree more than 5 years ago, or your degree is only related to the Secondary subject you wish to teach, you may benefit from taking one of our Subject Knowledge Enhancement courses before you start your PGCE or School Direct course. These bespoke, individually tailored, online courses are funded by the Government and are free to trainees. The Government also pays a training bursary of £175 per week while you study. All courses require 25 hours of commitment per week and are available in different lengths and with varying content depending on individual need.

    At Sussex we offer the following SKE courses:
    Ancient Languages, Biology, Chemistry, Computing, Design Technology, English, Mathematics, Modern Foreign Languages (French and Spanish), and Physics.



  • Search and apply for PGCE and School Direct courses with the University of Sussex via the Government's web page, 'Find postgraduate teacher training courses'.  

  • You can apply for up to three PGCE or School Direct courses in any combination. Use the Department for Education's search facility on their website to find courses in your area. Our place list will will give you the codes for all of our PGCE courses, and help you find schools offering School Direct places in your phase or subject that are linked to the University of Sussex.

  • You will need to write a 'personal statement' that sets out why you want to teach, what experience you have with children and young people, and what skills and personal qualities you have that will enable you to become an effective teacher within your chosen age range or subject. For this, you could make reference to any visits to schools if/where relevant, and draw on examples from your own education, employment or wider life experience. Think also about your knowledge and awareness of current themes in education, including those relevant to your specialist subject.

  • You are also required to give details of two referees who will support your application to train to be a teacher. If you are still at college/university, a lecturer should be able to give you an academic reference. If you graduated less than five years ago, one of your referees could still be a tutor or lecturer you studied with who is able to comment on your academic achievements as well as your personal qualities. If you finished your studies more than five years ago, your principal referee should be a responsible person who knows you well enough professionally to write with authority about you - such as an employer. If you are currently working in a school, your headteacher or line manager should be one of your referees.
Suitable refereesUnsuitable referees
  • Current employer
  • Current University tutor
  • If working in a school, then the Head/Deputy - senior enough to be aware of any disciplinary issues
  • If volunteering in a school a member of staff in a senior role
  • Manager from a charity/voluntary organisation where you have worked or volunteered with children/young people/vulnerable adults
  • Previous employer
  • Previous University tutor
  • Line Manager in current/previous employment
  • Personal friend  
  • Family member
  • Co-worker
  • An acquaintance (even if they hold a professional role elsewhere)
  • Landlord/neighbour (even if they hold a professional role elsewhere)
  • Your accountant or GP

Your referees will only be contacted by the Department for Education's 'Apply' system after you accept your offer of a place. However, your place cannot be honoured by the University untill we receive details of two suitable referees. If references are not received in time - or if new information comes to light subsequently which makes you unsuitable for teaching - your offer of a training place will be withdrawn.

Please note that it is an offence to apply for teaching if you are or have been on the banned or prohibition list 22, or received any kind of conviction that would permanently exclude you from working with children.



Applications for PGCE and School Direct (Tuition Fee & Salaried) places with the University of Sussex are initially screened by the University. Relevant schools receive School Direct applications simultaneously, but all suitable candidates will first be interviewed by the University. If you meet the entry criteria (see entry requirements below) the relevant university Course Leader will invite you to interview. You can choose whether to attend in-person or via a remote platform such as Zoom. The email invitation will provide a link to our web page on interviews which will give you all the information you need to prepare for yours. It will also give you the opportunity to request any adjustments you require to help you participate successfully in your interview.

If your application does not meet the required entry requirements, we will notify you via the Department for Education's 'Apply' system. Being rejected will not affect your ability to apply for a place with us another year.



On your interview day you will:

  • have identity and qualification checks (if your interview is online this will be done virtually, but you will need to submit your original documentation before the start of the course in September if you accept a place)
  • undertake an individual interview interview with a panel consisting of at least one university tutor, and sometimes including a Mentor or a Professional Tutor from a partner school
  • deliver a short, pre-prepared teaching task to the panel (you will have received information regarding this in your interview invitation)
  • meet tutors and have an opportunity to ask questions.

We strongly recommend that you disclose information regarding any disabilities or health needs on your application form so that we can give you the relevant support and consideration - not only at the interview, but throughout your teacher training. This information is not considered until after your interview has been taken place.

Regrettably, we are unable to reimburse any travel or other expenses incurred in attending your interview.



  • For those wanting a place on a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) course
    If we are able to offer you place on your chosen PGCE course, you will receive a notification via the Department for Education's 'Apply' system. This will be followed by a letter from the University of Sussex with more detailed course information and the conditions you will need to fulfil before beginning your training in September. If the interview panel decision was that you are not yet ready for teacher training, we will give you feedback to help you prepare for a future application.

  • For those wanting to train via School Direct
    If you were successful at your university interview, we will send feedback about your performance to the school/s you have applied to, recommending that you are now ready for a school interview. This will require you to plan and teach an activity with some school pupils. The school will then make the final decision whether to offer you a place. If the university panel decided you were not yet ready to train, you won’t be recommended to the school but will receive feedback to help you apply again on a future occasion.

  • Responding to your offer
    You have 10 working days from receiving an offer from the ­last of your 3 course choices to accept your place. You cannot accept an offer from more than one institution. Teacher training providers are not allowed to pressure candidates into accepting a place sooner than this. If you do not accept an offer from the University of Sussex within this timeframe, the Department for Education will automatically withdraw your place offer.

    Once you have accepted your offer of a place, you will receive further emails from Sussex in May, June and August giving you information and some pre-course tasks to complete.




  • An undergraduate honours degree (or equivalent) of 2:2 or above - or a degree pending completion
  • A GCSE (or equivalent) qualification in English and Mathematics (and also in Science for Primary) at grade C or grade 4 or above - or have one result pending
  • If English is not your first language and you did not undertake your undergraduate or Masters degree in the UK or another fully English speaking university, you will need an IELTs qualification of Level 7.0 overall and no less than 6.5 in each section - or Duolingo Advanced level with no less than 140 overall and at least 125 in each of the components.
  • Enhanced DBS and Health clearance for working with children (taken up after you have accepted a place)
  • See also specific subject and phase web pages for additional subject entry requirements and guidance on degrees:

Desirable personal qualities

  • A passion for your subject beyond your degree
  • Knowledge and understanding of your subject - or of the Primary curriculum - and an awareness of how it is taught in UK schools
  • Effective communication skills and good organisational skills
  • The ability to evaluate your practice and to address your weaknesses
  • Awareness of current educational developments and issues
  • Enthusiasm, energy and creativity
  • Experience with children or young people and a commitment to the development of others
  • Initiative, flexibility and responsiveness to change
  • A sense of responsibility and the ability to work as part of a team.
  • A positive outlook and the ability to "see the glass half full".

Equivalency checks for international qualifications

We will check your qualifications for UK equivalence for you on the ECCTIS website once you have applied for a course. In addition to your degree, we will also check comparability of your GCSE (high school level) Mathematics and English (and Science if Primary) qualifications.

GCSE equivalency tests

If you do not have GCSE equivalency as required above, you will need to gain this before starting your teacher training. Some of our previous trainees have used these organisations - Astar Equivalency and Equivalency Testing - to gain GCSE equivalency in Mathematics, English and/or Science A star equivalency. You would need to fund these tests yourself.

DBS & Health Checks

All candidates offered a place on a teacher training course at the University of Sussex are required to satisfactorily complete both an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and an online Occupational Health Check questionnaire to ensure suitability for teaching before starting training. These checks take place in the summer term before courses commence. The  University will arrange and pay the costs of these tests for those receiving no bursary or scholarship from the Department for Education for those on PGCE and School Direct (Tuition Fee) courses. For those on School Direct (Salaried) courses, your employing school will arrange and fund these checks for you.