Department of Education

Religious Education

Course Leader: Alison McMillan 

What does the Sussex ITE partnership offer?

You can apply directly to the university to study for the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) specialising in Religious Education. Alternatively, many schools work in partnership with the University to offer School Direct places which also lead to a Religious Education PGCE award. Either route will prepare you, as a trainee teacher, to teach Religious Education at Key Stages 3 and 4 (11-16 years) with enhancement opportunities in the Post-16 Religious Education curriculum.

This course can also be undertaken part-time over two years by suitable candidates. 

Successful trainees will be recommended for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

Why is Religious Studies teacher education distinctive at Sussex?

 “Even while they teach, men learn” -  Seneca the Younger

We believe that Religious Education is an integral part of any school curriculum, offering students the opportunity to think critically and creatively whilst providing opportunities to develop an understanding and appreciation of religions and their contribution to individuals, communities and societies.

Incredible teachers make a difference to the lives and futures of the students they teach, whilst continuing to be lifelong learners themselves. Training to teach Religious Education offers trainees the chance to tackle stimulating, thought-provoking topics with students and explore issues relevant to them in the 21st century.

Whether at Key Stage 3, GCSE or A Level, Religious Education and the disciplines of Philosophy and Ethics allow students to both learn about and learn from different religious traditions whilst developing skills of reflection, enquiry, evaluation, analysis and empathy.

Through this course, trainee teachers will learn how to develop an interest in a rigorous study of religion amongst students and adopt an enquiring, critical and reflective approach to Religious Education.  Trainees will encourage students to consider their own as well as others’ responses to big questions of meaning, purpose and life as well as challenging each individual to develop academically, offering a high quality and holistic education supporting students to construct balanced and informed arguments and responses to Religious, Philosophical and Ethical concepts.

Through a rigorous training programme, trainees will use their passion to plan, teach and evaluate lessons that support their students answer fundamental questions and make progress in one of the most rewarding subjects of the school curriculum.  We look to ensure all trainee teachers at Sussex University are offered bespoke support and guidance in terms of subject knowledge, experience and studies, consequently opening doors and enabling them to become excellent reflective practitioners, innovative leaders and resilient teachers of the future. You will:

  • Learn how to create and develop resources including an appreciation of the sensitive issues that can often come with teaching Religious Education, and how to approach them
  • Be exposed to many different methods of how to assess student work
  • Observe and then successfully use and apply varied approaches to behaviour management
  • Learn and consider how to support student of different Key Stages
  • Learn and consider to support students of different abilities
  • Grow in confidence as the year progresses.

Our university-based sessions are led by outstanding experienced practitioners from local schools as well as by university teacher educators who will share their enthusiasm and professional knowledge to provide trainees with opportunities to progress in teaching and learning and engage and enthuse students.

Teaching, learning and assessment

You will learn to be a Religious Education teacher through a combination of taught sessions at the University and school-led professional development and classroom practice. You will start your course with a 2-3 week induction at the University in September, which is followed by a programme of lectures, seminars and workshops every Friday. These involve presentations, group work, role play, classroom modelling and peer teaching for which you will explore ideas and approaches and reflect on your own experiences.

Over the course of the academic year, you will undertake two periods of professional practice in two different schools (these may vary slightly in length, but will equate to a minimum of 120 working days in total). You will be supported in your professional placements by a Religious Education specialist who will act as a mentor, offering you tutorial support and developing a programme of practice-based professional studies for you. Your progress will be assessed through observations, feedback and discussion. To this end, you will create and maintain a portfolio of evidence demonstrating how you have met the various Teacher's Standards.

You will engage with the theoretical foundations of classroom practice and demonstrate the depth of your professional knowledge by completing three academic assignments during the course.

Additional entry requirements

To be accepted on this course, you must meet the partnership's established entry requirements for Initial Teacher Education. See 'Our Entry Requirements' at the bottom of our Applying web page. Additionally, given the competition for those applying for a place on the Religious Education Initial Teacher Education course specifically, you should be able to demonstrate the following:

  • A strong knowledge and understanding of Religious Education and an awareness of how the subject is currently taught within Secondary state schools
  • A keen personal interest in the subject, and a passion for its place in the school curriculum
  • A good honours degree (2:2 or above) in Theology or Religious Studies. Graduates with a degreein a related subject - including Philosophy, Sociology or Social Science - with a broad personal knowledge and interest in the subject can also be considered with a view to engaging in subject knowledge development before the course starts.

Undertaking a short classroom type teaching task and showing an awareness of the curriculum and school life is part of our interview process, so candidates may wish to prepare themselves by spending some time in an appropriate school setting for the subject/phase they intend to teach beforehand.

All candidates offered a place on a teacher training course will be required to satisfactorily complete an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (formerly known as a CRB check), including a check of all cautions and warnings as well as convictions, before their place can be confirmed. The University will pay the costs of this check on your behalf.

How to apply

Applications for all Initial Teacher Education courses are made online via the Government's Department for Education websiteSee also our 'Applying' web page for a step-by-step process for how to apply to train to teach at Sussex.


See our Scholarships, fees and living costs web page for information on fees and eligibility for financial support. Specific information on bursaries, financial incentives and other sources of funding for Initial Teacher Education are available on our PGCE & School Direct Trainee Fees & Bursaries: 2023 and from the Department for Education.


See full details of the Secondary Religious Education PGCE at Sussex in the Prospectus.

General enquiries about any ITE course, including application queries, should be directed to the ITE admissions team: 

Specific course enquiries can be directed to the Course Leader: