The difference between a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCHE) and a PGCE

10 June 2024

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MA Education 2023
Type: Text
Category: Industry insights

There are lots of different types of postgraduate qualifications available, and here at Falmouth we offer a wide range of on-campus and online postgraduate courses, from master’s degrees to postgraduate certificates and diplomas – including a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education – more commonly known as a PGCHE.

Our online PGCHE is unique to our postgraduate portfolio; while it is a level 7 qualification like our MA, MSc or PGDip programmes, it is shorter in duration and is specifically designed to support current teaching practitioners to become qualified to work in higher education (HE) contexts.  

A PGCHE is different to a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), which is a postgraduate qualification designed for those who wish to become teachers in primary or secondary schools. 

To help you decide whether a PGCHE is right for you, keep reading to find out the key differences to a PGCE.   

What is a PGCHE? 

A PGCHE is designed for current and aspiring educators in higher education, such as university lecturers and college instructors. A PGCHE explores teaching and learning strategies suitable for HE contexts, curriculum development, and the use of technology in teaching. It also covers higher education pedagogy and research in teaching practices and is the standard academic credit-bearing route for HE professionals to develop and demonstrate competence for teaching. It is also internationally recognised. 

Typically involving a combination of theoretical studies, reflective practice and research projects related to teaching in HE settings, a PGCHE helps educators enhance their teaching skills and understanding of HE research practices.  

Usually studied over 8 to 12 months (30 – 45 weeks of study), a PGCHE is designed for working professionals to do part-time, while working, to support student learning at their respective HE provider. Having a PGCHE can make a competitive difference when trying to secure academic teaching jobs across the sector and is increasingly a formal requirement by HE institutions to work as a university lecturer in the UK and other countries. 

Key Differences between a PGCHE and a PGCE  

  • Teaching context: a PGCHE is for higher education – like universities and colleges - while a PGCE is for primary and secondary school teaching. 
  • Content focus: a PGCHE focuses on adult education and higher education teaching practices, whereas a PGCE covers early years to teenage education methods. 
  • Professional outcomes: a PGCHE develops your existing teaching practice and enhances credentials for teaching in universities and colleges, while a PGCE aims to help you gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), which you will need for school-level teaching. 

In summary, the PGCHE is aimed at those involved in or aspiring to teach in higher education institutions, whereas the PGCE is geared towards those aiming to teach in schools.  

Why study a PGCHE with Falmouth University? And why online?  

Our online PGCHE has some key differences to those offered by other institutions.  

Firstly, the course is delivered entirely online through our bespoke virtual learning environment, meaning you can study flexibly around your work and other commitments. The course is also condensed into two study blocks, meaning you complete the course in a shorter period and gain your qualification sooner than some other providers.  

Our online PGCHE focuses on developing your practice in effective design and delivery of online and blended learning approaches, considering how implementation, evaluation and use of technology can enhance and support student learning in HE environments. 

A further benefit to being online is the international network; students on the course share practice, learn from and collaborate with other HE teachers working in range of different providers, subject disciplines and countries, and so helps to develop teaching practices across a wide range of HE contexts.  

For full module information for the PGCHE, as well as course aims and assessment criteria, discover the full course details. 



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