Subject Knowledge Enhancement courses (SKEs)

What are SKEs?

Subject Knowledge Enhancement courses are designed to help you gain the depth of knowledge you will need to teach your chosen subject before starting to train. They are available in shortage subjects where we need to train more teachers. They vary in length from 8 to 24 weeks  of study.

Watch this YouTube video of trainee teachers and a SKE coordinator clarify what a subject knowledge enhancement course is.

Who are SKEs for?

These courses are aimed at those who have been offered a place on a postgraduate initial teacher training course subject to completion of a subject knowledge enhancement course. You may be recommended to complete an SKE if your degree is not in the subject you want to train to teach or if it has been some time since you studied your subject. We welcome career changers and mature candidates as well as new graduates.

What SKE courses are on offer at UWE Bristol?

  • Mathematics (8 or 16 weeks)
  • Science: Chemistry or Physics (8 or 12 or 24 weeks)
  • Science: Biology (8 or 16 or 24 weeks)
  • Geography (eight weeks)
  • Design and Technology - this course is no longer available at UWE Bristol in 2016/2017. The Olympus Academy Trust are running an SKE Course in Design and Technology (Product Design).


To be eligible for an SKE course you need:

  • To be a graduate
  • To demonstrate at interview the necessary attributes for teaching
  • Ideally to have already gained some recent experience of observing your subject being taught in a UK Secondary school
  • To obtain an offer of a place on a teacher training course conditional on completing a SKE course.

Where are they held?

The taught sessions will be held in the Department of Education and Childhood, S Block, UWE Bristol, Frenchay Campus, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol BS16 1QY and run during the daytime.


The Mathematics SKE at UWE Bristol is a full-time course run between March and July which will enable you to prepare for the PGCE course the following September. We would expect you ideally to have a good A-level and some further experience of the subject, for example within a related degree or through vocational experience. Participants on the Mathematics SKE course have previously come from various backgrounds with degrees in economics, engineering, accounting, law and psychology.

The 16-week SKE runs from Monday 13 March 2017 – Wednesday 12 July 2017.

The eight-week course starts on Monday 22 May 2017 – Wednesday 12 July 2017 for those with more experience of mathematics.


The course provides subject knowledge for those wishing to teach A-level geography and for those who may not have an A-level in geography or who have a degree which is not 100% geography-related.

The Geography SKE at UWE in Bristol offers the flexibility of either an eight-week or 12-week course depending on an applicant’s individual need. Both courses run on Saturdays beginning in March and ending in the second week of July.

  • The eight week course involves 16 days (face-to-face sessions) with the remaining delivery through online learning.
  • The 12 week course has 24 days (face-to-face sessions) including a number of week days in June and July.
  • With the remaining delivery through online learning, for both courses.

In addition to a personalised plan of face to face teaching by experienced A-level Geography practitioners there is online tutorial support and guided learning.

Through active hands on activities in taught sessions course participants will learn how to teach both physical and human geography for the current A-level themes including:

  • water and carbon cycles
  • coasts
  • hot deserts
  • cold environments
  • hazards
  • global systems and global governance
  • population
  • urban environments and water
  • energy security.

Science: Biology or Chemistry or Physics

The suite of science courses offer a flexible approach to SKE through distance learning with a two-week attended practical module which is delivered by the Department of Education and Childhood at UWE Bristol, starting on 18 July 2016. You can only take a course in the subject of your PGCE, although online GCSE optional modules in all three sciences are made available to candidates on the longer courses. You will have opportunities in the practical weeks to learn how to teach as well as what to teach.

The short eight-week courses are for those who want to improve their science subject knowledge up to GCSE level, and are suitable only for those training to teach science up to age 16.

The medium 12-week (chemistry and physics) or 16-week (biology) courses are for those wishing to teach up to A-level in the subject. You will need to have a science degree related to your PGCE subject (eg engineering, biochemistry or pharmacology) and an A-level in the subject.

The 24-week courses in all three sciences are for those wishing to teach A-level with a starting point of a degree which is not closely related to your PGCE subject. You will have an A-level in your subject or experience of working in the subject area.

The course runs throughout the academic year and has multiple access points, which means you can apply anytime between January and Thursday 30 June 2016, and learn at your own pace as long as you complete the course modules before the course end date (end of August 2016).

View further details and apply online.

Funding for SKE Courses

All SKE courses are funded by the NCTL and attract a bursary of £115 per week.

The University can offer a supplementary payment to trainees that need additional financial support who would otherwise be unable to undertake the programme.

There are significant shortages of teachers of mathematics, physics, chemistry and design and technology. The Government offers bursaries to attract the best candidates to train to teach these subjects.

How to apply

For further information about any of the SKEs, and to apply, please contact the Admissions office:

Telephone: +44 (0)117 32 83333


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