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



Where can I gain practical and hands-on experience that allows me to enhance my teaching experience? 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 and other post-compulsory education settings?

‌The Teaching Qualification in Further Education (TQFE) It is the recognised teaching qualification for individuals who are currently employed as lecturers in Further Education (and other settings) and will provide you with a recognised teaching qualification for the FE sector.

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 and who successfully complete the course will 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. 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. Feedback from previous students has been very positive about these features of the course.

These different aspects of the TQFE course at Stirling underline its distinctiveness among the providers in Scotland.

Key information

EU Applicants
The Scottish Government has confirmed that EU students enrolling in the 2018 and 2019 academic year will be entitled to free tuition fees in Scotland. EU Students will retain that status for the duration of their four year degree.

  • Qualification: BA
  • Study methods: Part-time, Mixture of online and classroom delivery, Campus based
  • Duration: One year
  • Start date: September with a programme induction taking place in August.
  • Faculty: Faculty of Social Sciences
  • Location: Stirling Campus
Download course leaflet
Download undergraduate prospectus

Dr Kevin Brosnan, Course Director


View fees and finance


GTCS logo 2015

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

What makes us different?

Why study the Teaching Qualification in Further Education (TQFE) In-Service at Stirling?

Our expertise

The TQFE course is delivered by staff who are both research active and have teaching expertise in the further education sector, which ensures the practical focus is complemented by a strong research base.

Our blended learning approach

The course at Stirling is offered through a blended learning approach with both face-to face and online learning and teaching.

Recognition of practice experience

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 student practice.

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.

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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.

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Entry requirements

Academic 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 may be recognised include:

  • A Part III, full technological certificate
  • City and Guilds ‘Professional Recognition Award’ – Affiliateship Level
  • Senior Award from the City & Guilds of London Institute

Other qualifications which are of an equivalent standard to the above may be accepted where applicants provide appropriate evidence of equivalence.

Candidates for both qualifications must also have both literacy and numeracy skills which meet 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.

Alternative routes

Recognition of Prior Learning

If candidates have any of the following prior Professional Development Awards (PDA's) they undertake a 20 credit APL module as their final module on the course:

  • 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’

Postgraduate candidates who have the DELTA (or equivalent) award are exempt from the final module (spring semester).

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. Where exemptions are granted, a reduced fee is charged. 

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

Fees and costs

If you plan to commence your studies at the University of Stirling in January 2018, please note you will be subject to our 2017/18 fees. Please contact us for 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. 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.

You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.

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

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

You will follow the course which leads to a 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.
  • Adult Education: TQAU901 (Optional)
    This is an optional module within the TQFE (BA) programme. The module examines the history, traditions, policy and practice associated with adult education. Adult education is by definition a very diverse field of practice, with no fixed identity, where educators draw upon a wide range of theories and understandings in their work. This module addresses how adult education overlaps with or differs from other sectors of post-compulsory education in Scotland such as further education or community learning and development.  Students will examine some of the defining features of adult education and what this means in concrete terms for developing their own teaching practices and professionalism in Further Education settings.
  • Accreditation of Prior Professional Development Award: TQFU9A3 (Optional)
    This optional module provides a mechanism whereby students can claim university credit in relation to the Professional Development Award (Teaching in Further Education). The Accreditation of Prior Learning module involves students completing a reflective, analytical review of the portfolio of evidence they submitted as part of the PDA award.  The reflective review requires students to critically examine their development as a professional teacher in further education and to critically reflect upon aspects of their practice as examined within the PDA award.  Students will be expected to identify and discuss particular aspects of their professional practice using supporting evidence from the portfolio submitted as part of their PDA.  The examination of aspects of their professional practice will make use of relevant academic literature to enhance the discussion.  Students will also be required to discuss, briefly, possible methods of professional development in relation to one aspect of the professional practice.

Delivery and assessment

What's involved?


Whilst attending teaching days (7 teaching days are offered either on campus or at college based sites), either on campus or at college based sites, you will experience large group lectures delivered by TQFE staff and invited guest lecturers. The lectures provide an opportunity for key concepts and issues to be highlighted and for you 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 those 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 teaching days.

In the seminars and workshops, you will be encouraged to draw upon your 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 Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) is used extensively as a significant element of the TQFE course. A wide variety of digital resources will be 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 VLE 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 you to engage in ‘professional dialogue’ to clarify and deepen your 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.


You will complete three formal written assignments of 2,000 words. Your teaching will also be observed on two separate occasions and you will be required to write a reflective review of the observed lesson. One of the observations may be undertaken by suitably qualified college based staff.

Related degrees


Recommended reading

  • Avis, J., Fisher, R., & Thompson, R. (2014) Teaching in Lifelong Learning A Guide to Theory and Practice (2nd ed.). Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill International (UK) Ltd.
  • 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. London: Bloomsbury.
  • Huddleston, P., & Unwin, L. (2013) Teaching and learning in further education diversity and change (4th ed.). New York: Routledge.
  • Weyers, M. (2006) Teaching the FE Curriculum. London: Continuum.

Modes of study


Find out more


Example timetable

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

As this is a work-based course, professional practice in your college/work environment is an integral part of the learning experience. You will attend approximately seven on-campus teaching days throughout the academic year, which will consist of individual tutorial support followed by a lecture, seminar and a workshop. There is no fixed weekly timetable. 

Why Stirling?


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)
  • 5th in the UK (The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, 2017)

Displaying our commitment to achieving 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.

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014

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.

International Students

The University of Stirling welcomes applications from all countries.

Study abroad opportunities

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


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 Programme 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 currently employed as lecturers in colleges or similar post-compulsory education environment.

Our staff

Kevin Brosnan is a Senior Teaching Fellow within the Faculty of Social Sciences 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 in-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

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 qualification. 

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

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