Teaching Qualification in Further Education (TQFE) - In-service

Study Teaching Qualification in Further Education (TQFE) and graduate with a university degree

Where can I gain practical and hands-on experience that allows me to qualify to teach in a Further Education College? How can I best support effective learning? How can I ensure that all learners feel valued, safe and included? What does research tell us about teaching and learning in colleges?

‌The Teaching Qualification in Further Education (TQFE) is the recognised teaching qualification for individuals who currently work as lecturers in Further Education. It gives you the recognised teaching qualification for the FE sector and provides opportunities to progress onto further qualifications.

This qualification is recognised throughout the UK and abroad.


GTCS logo 2015

This course is accredited by the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

Entrance requirements

University Diploma

Students must have a relevant Higher National Certificate (HNC) at Level 7 on the Scottish Credit Qualification Framework (SCQF) or equivalent. This pathway is for students where an HNC is the highest qualification available in the UK in that subject area.


Students must have a relevant Higher National Diploma (HND) at Level 8 on the Scottish Credit Qualification Framework (SCQF) or equivalent. Equivalent Qualifications which are recognised are:

  • A Part III, full technological certificate
  • Professional Recognition Award - Licentiateship Level 4
  • Senior Award from the City & Guilds of London Institute
  • In certain areas, other qualifications which are of equivalent standard to those listed above

Candidates for both qualifications must also have both literacy and numeracy skills which meets the demands of the course. The normal entry requirement will be:

  • A National Qualification Course award in English at level 6 on the SCQF (or suitable evidence of being able to attain this standard) or SQA communication level III
  • A National Qualification Course award in numeracy or Mathematics at level 4 on the SCQF (or suitable evidence of being able to attain this standard)

Candidates should have Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills equivalent to Intermediate 2 (i.e. level 5 on the SCQF). This level of skill in the use of ICT is required partly in order to be able to fully participate on the TQ(FE) course and partly in order to be able to function effectively in the working environment.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS: 6.0 with 5.5 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade C
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 54 with 51 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 80 with no subtest less than 17

More information on our English language requirements

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

Modes of study

In-service students are part-time.

Course contact

Course Secretary University of Stirling
+44 (0)1786 467934 www.stir.ac.uk/education

Course Director

Dr Kevin Brosnan

Alternative routes

Recognition of Prior Learning

If candidates have any of the following PDA’s they will be given exemption to ‘Professional Practice’ or ‘Professional Experiential Learning’ and will do a 20 credit APL module instead:

  • Group Award Code: G85D 18 ‘Advanced Diploma Teaching in Further Education’
  • Group Award Code: GG87 49 ‘PDA Teaching Practice in Scotland’s Colleges’
  • Group Award Code: GG82 49 ‘Developing Teaching Practice in Scotland’s Colleges’

Reduction in fee: £303

Postgraduate candidates who have the DELTA (or equivalent) award are exempt from the Professional Practice module (spring semester).
Reduction in fee: £586

Candidates claiming any of the above exemptions must provide certificates at the point of application for the TQFE programme. Retrospective exemptions are not given once a candidate has started the course.

Find out more


Application procedure

All applicants should contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office to request an application form.

Application Enquiries

Student Recruitment and Admissions Service
Undergraduate Admissions Office
University of Stirling
Stirling FK9 4LA
Scotland UK

Tel: + 44 (0) 1786 467044
Fax: + 44 (0) 1786 466800
Email: admissions@stir.ac.uk

Degree course

You will follow the course which leads to an BA degree or a UG Diploma. Taken over the course of the academic year the TQFE comprises three modules at SCQF Level 9 worth 120 points. Students from the post-compulsory sector undertake the award on a part-time basis as their workplace teaching forms an integral part of studying on the course.

  • Learner Identity and Diversity: TQFU9E1 (Compulsory)
    The module provides an essential foundation for the TQFE course with its emphasis on a critical understanding of the diversity of students and the implications of this for pedagogic and professional practice. Having studied this module students will have developed a clear appreciation of concepts such as ‘learner identity’, learner biography’, ‘cultural diversity’, ‘differentiated provision’ and the relationship between these concepts and their practice as professional educators.
  • Teaching and Assessment: TQFU9E2 (Compulsory)
    The module aims to provide students with an active learning space for professional enquiry into teaching and learning processes, skills and awareness, and the assessment of learning in post-compulsory contexts. Teaching and Assessment draws upon the theories and concepts of teaching and learning with a particular focus on assessment in the autumn and in spring on vocational education pedagogy and Curriculum for Excellence.
  • Professional Practice: TQFU9E3 (Optional)
    The module aims to enable students to critically examine their role as a vocational educator in further education and to identify areas of their practice that could be changed to improve the learning experiences of their students. Students will be encouraged to examine various debates about professionalism within further education and the implications of these debates for their own professional practice. The module will also introduce students to different frameworks of quality enhancement within further education and students will be supported in critically examining how these frameworks can enhance or hinder their professional practice. The final part of the module will focus on different approaches to professional learning with a particular emphasis on networked professional learning communities.
  • Professional Experiential Learning: TQFU9E4 (Optional)
    This module provides students with the opportunity to explore and examine aspects of their professional context and practice through a self-directed professional enquiry study. It is designed to provide flexibility to students in deciding what aspects of their professional context/practice they will focus upon and to examine the influence between selected contextual factors and their own professional responsibilities and development. Participants will be encouraged to share the findings and outcomes of their study with their peers.

Module titles

TitleCreditLevelTeaching days
Learner, Identity & Diversity 40 9 3
Teaching & Assessment 40 9 3

Professional Practice


Professional Experiential Learning


















Teaching and assessment

What's involved?


Whilst attending teaching days (7 teaching days are offered either on campus or at college based sites) students will experience large group lectures delivered by TQFE staff and, on occasions, invited guest lecturers. The lectures provide an opportunity for key concepts and issues to be highlighted and for students to receive guidance about key aspects of assessment tasks. Lectures are recorded using the university’s ‘Listen Again’ system and can thus be easily accessed by students attending at college-based sites). The key concepts introduced via the lectures are explored in greater depth in small group seminars and workshops during the rest of the day. In the seminars/workshops students are encouraged to draw upon their own professional experience and context and to share ideas and knowledge with their peers. The opportunity to engage with peers from different subject areas is seen to be a key element of the face-to-face learning and this has been frequently highlighted in feedback from students.


The university’s VLE ‘SUCCEED’ is used extensively as a significant element of the TQFE course. A wide variety of digital resources are made available online including: recordings of all lectures (made available within 24 hours of their ‘delivery’ on campus); e-journals and e-books (made available via electronic reading lists). In addition to ‘in-house’ resources students are also provided with links to digital resources which are provided by various organisations in the FE sector including: ‘College Development Network’, Education Scotland, General Teaching Council Scotland. The wide variety of resources reflects contemporary issues and trends and enables students to interact in a variety of modes (visually and aurally).

The SUCCEED system is also used to support online interaction between TQFE staff and students and between the students themselves. Discussion spaces are used to support each module and these spaces provide a flexible opportunity for students to engage in ‘professional dialogue’ to clarify and deepen their understanding of key topics. The professional practice module (the final module in the programme) makes extensive use of these asynchronous discussion facilities and receives very positive student feedback as a consequence.


Three formal written assignments are required (where a student has not been granted any module exemptions) each of 2,000 words. Where the first submission is graded as a fail one resubmission attempt is allowed. Where the resubmission is graded as a fail the student must retake the module. The pass mark for undergraduate work is: 40%
A student is permitted a maximum of five assessment attempts (3 module registrations to include assessment only) per module.
In addition to the formal written assignments students are required to be observed teaching on two separate occasions and to complete a written reflective review of the observed lesson. One of the observations may be undertaken by suitably qualified college based staff.

Reading list

  • Avis, J., Fisher, R., & Thompson, R. (2009) Teaching in Lifelong Learning A Guide to Theory and Practice. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill International (UK) Ltd.
  • Ecclestone, K., & National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (England and Wales). (2005) Understanding assessment and qualifications in post-compulsory education and training : principles, politics and practice (2nd ed.). Leicester: NIACE.
  • Hillier, Y. (2012) Reflective teaching in further and adult education (3rd. ed.). London.: Continuum.
  • Huddleston, P., & Unwin, L. (2007) Teaching and learning in further education: diversity and change (3rd ed.). London: Routledge.
  • Tusting, K., & Barton, D. (2006) Models of adult learning : a literature review. Leicester: NIACE.
  • Weyers, M. (2006) Teaching the FE Curriculum. London: Continuum.

Example timetable

The timetable below is a typical example, but your own timetable may be different.

In-service students attend for approximately seven days throughout the academic year. As this is a work-based course, professional practice in their own college/work environment is an integral part of the learning experience.

There is therefore no weekly timetable. However, on the days that the TQFE students are on campus the day consists of individual tutorial support, and then a lecture, seminar and workshop.

The University of Stirling is one of the three Scottish universities endorsed by the Scottish Government to offer the TQFE course. The TQFE at Stirling is unique in a number of ways. Firstly, all undergraduates who enter the course with an HND graduate with a BA Tertiary Education with TQFE. Secondly, we are the only TQFE provider to offer a pre-entry course for those who wish to progress to teaching in a college. Thirdly, the course at Stirling is offered through a blended learning approach with both face-to-face and online learning and teaching. 

Our feedback from students is that they enjoy learning on campus. In addition, we make extensive use of our Virtual Learning Environment and ensure that all of the course information, and student support material is available electronically.  Lastly, we place a significant emphasis and value on the knowledge and skills that the students bring to the course and base much of our teaching on critical reflection of the students’ practice. Through this, we have a significant focus on peer learning and peer assessment, and feedback from students has been very positive. These different aspects of the TQFE course at Stirling underline its distinctiveness among the providers in Scotland.

Study abroad

Please consult the programme director as this is something that is under development.


In The Research Excellence Framework 2014 (REF), the School of Education had the highest quality of research outputs of any Scottish University, with 100% of research impact activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.

In The Guardian University Guide 2015, the School of Education is ranked first in Scotland and eighth in the UK. Criteria include; Satisfaction with Course, Satisfaction with teaching, Satisfaction with Assessment Feedback, Student/ Staff Ratio, Value Added, Career after 6 months.

The Independent Complete University Guide for 2015 has rated the School of Education, as fourth in the UK as a provider of Education programmes and for its research in Education.


The course was reviewed by GTC (on behalf of the Scottish Government) in June 2012 and was commended for the quality of its teaching and learning. In addition, the course is guided and informed by a Professional Advisory Group made up of colleagues from further education colleges. Staff who deliver the TQFE course have both further Education and research experience and this synergy of professional enquiry and Further Education teaching practice experience impacts positively on the TQFE course and further enhances the provision.

In addition, all TQFE students have to undertake two observations of their teaching and these are carried out by core staff on the TQFE programme as well as college partners which further strengthens our links with the college sector. 

Academic strengths

The TQFE course is delivered by staff who are both research active and have teaching expertise in the further education sector. This enables the course to adopt a practice focus complemented by a strong research base. Course assignments are designed in such a way that students are supported in making links between professional practice and current research ideas and concepts.  Through the research and scholarship activities undertaken by staff on the course the research knowledge base is continuously reviewed, updated and enhanced and this further informs practice.

Our students

Our students are drawn from two specific groups. One group consists of lecturers currently teaching in colleges or similar post-compulsory education environment. The second group consists of those who have other teaching experience but who wish to gain the TQFE qualification in order to work in the further education sector. 

All students are mature students.

Alumni viewpoint

"…students thrive off the lecturer’s energy, which makes the course extremely enjoyable. This involvement brings something very special to the TQFE. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience and it remains the best learning experiences of my life".

Eunice Skinner, Postgraduate Certificate in Tertiary Education with Teaching Qualification (Further Education), 2009; BA Film & Media Studies, 2007; Master of Science Professional Learning and Leadership, due to graduate, 2013)

Our Staff

Kevin Brosnan is a Teaching Fellow within the School of Education and the Course Director for the Teaching Qualification for Further Education (TQFE).

Kevin started his teaching career in further education before moving on to teaching in higher education. He has worked closely with colleges as part of externally funded projects and has a particular interest in the use of ICT to support the professional development of college based staff.

The further education sector is varied and complex and needs the highest calibre of teaching staff to achieve its varied purposes. The pre-service TQFE course provides a stimulating and supportive environment in which the next generation of FE staff can develop to meet the exciting challenges of the sector.

Dr Kevin Brosnan BA (Hons), PGCE, MSc, PhD, TQFE Programme Director

96% of our students are in employment or further study within six months of graduating. (Destination of Leavers from Higher Education, 2015)

Career opportunities

We would expect those who complete the course to progress to work in the Scottish Further Education sector. However, others who have undertaken the qualification have worked as adult learning tutors or trainers in the police, fire and ambulance services as well as training providers, charities and other adult learning organisations.

Students achieving the BA award may progress to the MSc in Professional Education and Leadership.

Please note there is an additional charge for the conferral of your degree. This will be charged at the rate applicable when you complete your studies. View more information


Please note: Scottish and EU students can apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have tuition fees paid by the Scottish government.

Please note: Students from the rest of the UK can apply for financial assistance, including a loan to cover the full cost of the tuition fees, from the Student Loan Company.

Teaching Qualification in Further Education (TQFE) - In-service
  • Degree award BA
  • Type Part-time
  • Duration one year
  • Start date September with a programme induction taking place in August.
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