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

Postgraduate Certificate

The University of Stirling is ranked top 10 in the UK for Education (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018).


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


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

GTCS logo 2015

Key information

EU Applicants
EU students enrolling for a postgraduate taught degree in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 academic year will be admitted as Scottish/EU fee status students and will be eligible for the same tuition support as Scottish domiciled students.

  • Qualification: Postgraduate Certificate
  • Study methods: Part-time, Mixture of online and classroom delivery, Campus based
  • Duration: One year
  • Start date:


  • Course Director: Dr Kevin Brosnan
Download postgraduate prospectus

Dr Kevin Brosnan


Faculty of Social Sciences
Room 2T1
R G Bomont Building
University of Stirling

Course objectives

The Stirling TQFE programme has been offered for 15 years and is a well respected programme. The programme was commended in June 2012 when reviewed by the GTCs. The Stirling TQFE programme (at both UG and PG levels) integrates a range of pedagogic techniques which aim to encourage students to engage with academic and policy literature and to communicate with their peers as part of a ‘professional learning community’. Both face-to-face (on campus or on college based sites) sessions and a variety of online technologies are used to achieve the overall aims of the programme.

The Teaching Qualification in Further Education (TQFE) is designed to meet the needs of the contemporary Scottish Further Education (FE) sector. The content is based on the professional standards for FE staff as laid down by the Scottish Government and is fully accredited by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS).

The course is suitable for:

  • In-service: Lecturers currently employed in Further Education colleges
  • Individuals who work in other education and training contexts in post-compulsory education

What makes us different?

World-class library and teaching facilities

Studying for a degree means learning in different ways; managing your own time; conducting research; mastering new computer skills. We have the facilities and advice on hand to help you do all this - and do it well.

Learn more

Library shelves

Life at Stirling

Of the many reasons students come to Stirling, such as academic reputation and research standards, one factor is always cited: the outstanding beauty of the University's Stirling campus. View our online films to get a picture of what it's like to live and study on our beautiful campus.

Watch our videos now

Live Life

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

A minimum of a second class honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent in a relevant subject.

Candidates 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.

Students on the in-service course must be employed in an appropriate work environment (e.g. a college or similar organisation).

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: 6.5 with 6.0 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade B
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 60 with 56 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 90 with no subtest less than 20

For more information, go to English language requirements.

If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard. View our range of pre-sessional courses.

Flexible Learning

If you are interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email graduate.admissions@stir.ac.uk to discuss your course of study.

Application procedure

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

Application Enquiries

Student Recruitment and Admissions Service
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

Fees and costs


2017/18 Overseas n/a
2017/18 Home/EU £1,786


2018/19 Overseas n/a
2018/19 Home/EU £1,790


Fees for all new applicants to postgraduate taught courses are held at the level set upon entry.

Please note there is an additional charge should you choose to attend a graduation ceremony. View more information

Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

Scholarships & funding

SAAS Postgraduate Loans

The Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) is now offering a generous loan scheme to assist eligible Scottish and EU-domiciled students pursuing a Masters at the University of Stirling during 2018/19. Find out more about SAAS Postgraduate Loans

Part-time In-service students working a maximum of 15 hours per week may be eligible for the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SASS) funding.

information on possible sources of funding

Scholarship finder

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

You will complete three of the following modules:

TQFP001 Learner Identity and Diversity 20 credits Core module
The broad purpose of the module is that the students, employed as lecturers in Further Education colleges in Scotland (PG), will gain deeper and more critical understanding of their role and practices in the support and guidance of their students and in learning support. To this end the module aims to develop student understanding of the significance of learner identity in engagement in learning, to identify and critically assess the lecturers’ role and practices in support and guidance and learning support to particular students and groups, and to research and critically evaluate current institutional and wider practices, policies and research regarding support and guidance and learning support.
TQFP002 Teaching and Assessment 20 credits Core module
In this postgraduate module students encounter and critically examine some of the main theories of learning, teaching and assessment. Key to the work is the idea that practice can be informed by reflection, engagement with colleagues, with the practice setting and, importantly, through relating theory to the practice to teaching and assessing learners. This module focuses on the planning and enactment of a research-informed innovation in practice.
TQFP003 Professional Practice 20 credits Optional module
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.
TQFP004 Professional Experiential Learning 20 credits Optional module
Those students who successfully complete the module will be expected to be able to undertake a self-directed study of a chosen aspect of their professional context/practice in a scholarly manner informed by appropriate literature. The outcomes from the study will be of benefit to the local institution, TQFE peers and the student themselves. As a consequence of completing this module students will have developed independent thinking skills, the ability to identify and frame in an appropriate way issues within their professional context/practice that are of particular relevance to them and to communicate with peers and tutors clearly and effectively about their study.

Delivery and assessment

The course is taught using a combination of lectures, seminars and materials made available via Succeed, the University of Stirling's chosen online learning environment.

The attendance requirement for most modules is three days per module, with all course materials available online in advance. 

Three formal assignments are required (where a student has not been granted any exemptions) each of 3,000 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 postgraduate work is:50%

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.


TitleCreditLevelTeaching days
TQFP001 Learner Identity and Diversity 20 11 3
TQFP002 Teaching and Assessment 20 11 3

TQFP003 Professional Practice


TQFP004 Professional Experiential Learning













1 (followed by online discussions)





Accredited Prior Learning

If candidates have any of the following PDAs 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: £293

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.

Recommended reading

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.

Gregson, M., & Hillier, Y. (2015) Reflective teaching in further, adult and vocational education (4th. ed.). London: Bloomsbury.

Gregson, M., Nixon, L., Pollard, A., & Spedding, T. (Eds.). (2015) Readings for Reflective teaching in further, adult and vocational education (4th. ed.). London: Bloomsbury.

Huddleston, P., & Unwin, L. (2013) Teaching and learning in further education diversity and change (4th ed.). New York: Routledge.

Tusting, K., & Barton, D. (2006) Models of adult learning : a literature review. Leicester: NIACE.

Weyers, M. (2006) Teaching the FE Curriculum. London: Continuum.

Modes of study


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.

Key principles underpinning the Stirling TQFE programme include:

  • Developing awareness of appropriate professional values and attributes of the vocational educator;
  • Encouraging innovation in teaching/learning and wider professional practice;
  • Supporting the development of a ‘professional enquiry’ approach throughout and beyond the programme.

Example timetable

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

In-service students attend for a total of seven days (excluding academic and administrative induction) over the academic year. As the course is a 'work-based' course students' professional practice in their own college 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 followed by a seminar and workshop.

Why Stirling?


In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, our Educational research had the highest quality of research outputs of any Scottish university, with 100% rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.


Currently, Education Studies ranks as:

  • 1st in Scotland and 12th in the UK (The Guardian University Guide, 2018) 
  • 7th in the UK (The Complete University Guide, 2018)
  • Top 5 in Scotland and Top 10 in the UK (The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, 2018)

Displaying our commitment to achieve a high level of Satisfaction with Course, Satisfaction with Teaching, Satisfaction with Assessment Feedback, Student/ Staff Ratio, Value Added, Career after 6 months, and research in Education. In the most recent study by QS, staff from the University of Stirling received 5 out of 5 star rating for teaching.

International Students

The University of Stirling welcomes students from around the world. Find out what studying here could be like for you .

Study abroad opportunities

Please consult the programme director as this is under development.


When attending study days on campus at the University of Stirling, a number of facilities are available to make your stay easier and more enjoyable.

The University of Stirling has an outstanding range of accommodation and catering facilities. Located within the historic Airthrey Estate, the stunning 330-acre campus grounds include an 18th Century Castle, loch and golf course, and have been described as ‘an exceptional place to study and work’.


The Stirling Court Hotel - one of only two venues in Scotland awarded the highly coveted Conference Centre of Excellence Award provides 100 bedrooms, 365 days a year and features conference, accommodation and dining facilities.

Other accommodation options in and around Stirling can be found at Destination Stirling.


The University of Stirling offers a wide range of catering options for students, staff and visitors, to suit all tastes and budgets.

The Pathfoot and Haldane's eateries are ideally suited for larger group lunches while other smaller coffee shop/café outlets such as Stir Café and The Bite Costa offer a lighter ‘on the move’ option.

  • Situated in the Atrium
    • Haldanes Eatery
    • Stir Café
    • Market Street
    • Sidewalk
  • Pathfoot Eatery
  • Willow Court ‘Refresh Bar & Bistro’
  • Bite Costa
  • Clive Ramsay’s Cafés within the Macrobert arts centre and Sports Centre
  • Stirling Court Hotel
    • Abbeycraig restaurant
    • Bar menu 


University of Stirling students have access to a wide range of facilities and activities within the stunning campus grounds including:

Our 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, TQFE Programme Director


Careers and employability

Career opportunities

As the recognised teaching qualification for individuals who are employed in Scottish Further Education, the TQFE provides you with a highly relevant and marketable postgraduate qualification. 

Students achieving the Postgraduate Certificate award may progress to the MSc in Professional Education and Leadership, EdD Educational Doctorate or the part-time PhD programme.


98% of our postgraduate leavers are in employment or further study withing six months of graduating - Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2015/16

The course enables students to enhance their understanding and professional practice within the FE sector. This personal and professional development enables students to adopt greater responsibility and leadership within their own work environments.

Industry connections

The course involves extensive links across a network of partner colleges within the FE sector in Scotland. Students are supported to engage with their peers across this network to enhance their own and their colleagues’ professional development. Students also have access to experienced and qualified staff in partner colleges who provide guidance in relation to the work related aspects of the TQFE PG Certificate.

As well as working with our partner colleges in the development and ongoing support of the programmes the GTCs is also involved on an ongoing basis.

© University of Stirling FK9 4LA Scotland UK • Telephone +44 1786 473171 • Scottish Charity No SC011159
Portal Logon