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Make history with our one-of-a-kind teaching course


Dr George Gosling Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader for History and Kay Lane Senior Lecturer in Secondary Humanities Education blog about the benefits of studying to become a History teacher via our QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) course.

If you want to be a primary school teacher, you can do a three-year degree and then go straight into the classroom. But, if you want to teach your specialist subject at secondary level, then you need to do the normal three-year degree in that subject and then another one-year PGCE, right? Not necessarily.

Did you know that there are QTS courses, where you get your Qualified Teacher Status at the end of your degree? UCAS lists over one hundred of them! The majority of these are, of course, Education degrees. 36 of them, however, are Secondary Education (QTS) courses that combine subject studies with school placements and Education studies, giving you the ability to go straight into the classroom at the end of the course without the need for an additional year of postgraduate study at university.

Here at the University of Wolverhampton, we are proud to be one of the biggest providers of secondary-level QTS courses. These range across five different subjects: Biology, Computer Science, Mathematics, English and History. Here and across the country, around half of all such courses are in STEM subjects, while there are only six humanities QTS courses you’ll find on UCAS and two of them are here at the University of Wolverhampton.

We are one of only three universities offering an English with Secondary Education (QTS) course and the only university in the country offering a History with Secondary Education (QTS) course.

How does the course work?

On our History with Secondary Education (QTS) course you get to spend half your time studying the subject and the other half, you’ll be studying Education modules and spend time on school placements, which will increase in duration over the three years. You will complete a minimum of 120 days in school, supported by a school-based mentor as well as a subject specialist university teacher training mentor.

In the first year, a History single honours student would take six History modules – three each semester. As a QTS student, you would just take one Education module instead in the second semester to introduce you to the subject-specific pedagogy.

The second year will again see you take three history modules in the first semester and the second is mostly focused on Education and school placements, with the one History module introducing you to different approaches to historical research to help you prepare for your dissertation. This will be one of your three History modules in the first semester of your final year, after which you entirely focus on the Education side of your degree and completing your school placement.

Option modules

We’ve recently revised all our History programmes and we’ve introduced something unique for this type of course: option modules. The diet is fixed for the first year, so you will get a good grounding in some broad historical topics and themes. These include;

  • an introduction to the early modern world
  • the long view of Britain’s place in the world
  • the relationship between Europe and the Americas from the eighteenth century until the early twentieth
  • a global view of the twentieth century as a time of change
  • exploring the ways historians use archives and oral History to encounter the past.

Embedded within most of these modules are reflective activities designed to develop the study skills you’ll need to succeed at university.

Course overview

The first year is designed to provide you with the foundational skills and historical knowledge to make the most of the option modules you’ll have in your second and third years. It also means the first year of the course will support your growing understanding of topics taught in schools at Key Stages 3-5 along with one Education module to reflect the importance of your subject within the curriculum.

The first choice you’ll have (so long as you pass all your first-year modules) will be to pick 3 of 4 option modules in your second year. One draws upon our staff expertise in the social, cultural and military History of the First World War. Another looks at the role of the USA in the Cold War. Equally, you might want to explore the political and cultural life of the British working class between the 1880s and the 1980s. Or you might choose to learn about the global History of women’s activism from the 1790s to the 1970s – Wollstonecraft to Women’s Lib, as we like to call it. Across your choice of these, you’ll be learning more about British and international History, considering major themes like class and gender, war and peace. For QTS students, your modules are related to your teaching attachment and review the progress you are making towards meeting the Teachers’ Standards by the end of the course.

The final year is when you will specialise. The Independent Study module is your opportunity to undertake a research project on a topic of your own choosing, while you’ll pick 2 of the further 3 History modules to decide what areas of in-depth knowledge and understanding you’d like to bring with you to your future school. For these, you’ll be learning from lecturers who are active researchers in the field.

Every school touches upon the history of the Second World War and dictatorship at some point, so you may want to take a module on German history from 1871-1945: Unification to Auschwitz. It’s taught by Dr Simon Constantine, who recently published a book on the persecution of the Sinti and Roma minorities in Germany over much of this period.

In a variety of ways, History teachers need to help their students navigate the social and political changes in modern British history, which you can learn about and research for yourself with a mini-project on my (Dr George Gosling’s) humanitarianism and protest module, which ranges from anti-slavery campaigning to Live Aid. This draws upon my own research, including my first book on how people accessed medical care before the NHS and the one I’m writing now on the history of charity shops since the eighteenth century.

The other option is a module that looks at ending empire in South Asia, as the Indian Independence movement led by Gandhi grew over the period of the two world wars in the early-to-mid twentieth century. Dr Rosalind Parr, who teaches this module, has recently published a book on the activism of Indian women during the final decades of British colonial rule.

In your third year, as a QTS student, you will hone your skills in your second lengthy teaching placement and at the end of the year, will evidence how you are meeting the Teachers’ Standards, and this is how you achieve Qualified Teacher Status.

Over the course of these three years, the History side of the degree develops not only your breadth of historical knowledge, but your ability to engage critically with scholarly debates and to undertake your own research to explore them further. Meanwhile, the Education side of the course trains you to present this exploration of the past to young minds.

It’s a mystery to us why we’re the only ones offering this way of learning to teach History. But we’re very proud that we are and hope to see more teachers making history on this fantastic course.

Sam Kendall_teaser

Sam Kendall, a History with Secondary Education (QTS) graduate said:
“As a mature student, the idea of studying a three-year degree followed by a year PGCE was quite daunting especially with a home and family to support. Instead, the BA (Hons) History with Secondary Education (QTS) offered the same content in a three-year option.

 “The course allows you to train as a teacher alongside studying History, in which the modules will complement what you will be teaching. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience as I was able to spend longer in my placement schools, which ultimately led me to securing a job at Wednesfield Academy.”