BEd Post-Primary - Learning & Teaching


At St Mary’s we aim to provide a high quality learning environment that embeds intellectual curiosity, innovation and best practice in learning, teaching and student support to enable students to achieve their full academic potential. On the BEd (Hons) Post-Primary Programme we do this by providing a range of learning experiences which enable our students to engage with subject and professional experts. Students are supported in developing attributes and perspectives that will equip them for life as a professional teacher, while enhancing their development as independent, lifelong learners. The results of the National Student Survey have consistently shown that students rate the quality of teaching and learning in the College very highly. The College has recently completed an extensive refurbishment of the Student Centre, providing welcoming areas for students to meet and socialise. Additionally, the College has on its compact campus a modern, well-stocked library, an IT Open-Access Suite, dedicated workshop areas, a fitness suite and a specialist PE Centre. As St Mary’s students are also students of Queen’s University Belfast, they have access to facilities at Queen’s, including the Students’ Union, libraries, IT facilities, Chaplaincy, Queen’s PEC and the Student Guidance Centre. Examples of the opportunities provided for learning on this course are:

  • Lectures: Lectures are used to provide students with essential information and an understanding of topics often as a starting point for further self-directed private study/reading. Lectures also provide students with opportunities to ask questions and gain some feedback and advice on assessments (often delivered in large groups to all year group peers).

  • Seminars/Tutorials: Significant amounts of teaching are carried out in seminars and tutorials with small groups (typically 8-20 students). These provide an opportunity for students to engage with academic staff who have specialist knowledge of the topic, to ask questions of them and to assess their own progress and understanding with the support of peers. Students should also expect to make presentations and other contributions to these groups.

  • School-based Work: Working in schools forms an essential part of the BEd Post-Primary programme. Students spend over a quarter of their total time (at least 32 weeks over the four year programme) teaching and gaining professional experience in schools where they develop the professional skills required to become a qualified teacher. School experience is essential in helping students acquire the skills and competences required for professional registration with the General Teaching Council Northern Ireland.

  • Workshops/Practical Work: Students will have opportunities to develop the competences required to teach their selected subjects and cross-curricular aspects such as literacy/communication and using mathematics in dedicated workshop sessions. Where students have chosen specialist subjects with a strong practical component (such as Technology and Design), much of the associated learning will take place in practical classes.

  • Self-directed Study: This is an essential part of life as a St Mary’s student, when important private reading, engagement with e-learning resources, reflection on feedback to date and assignment research and preparation work is carried out.

  • E-Learning Technologies: Information associated with lectures and assignments is often communicated via a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), using the College Intranet site. A range of e-learning experiences are also embedded in the degree through, for example, interactive group workshops; sessions on the use of ICT in schools; web-based learning activities; opportunities to use IT programmes designed for use with pupils in schools, etc.

  • Supervised Projects: In final year, students are expected to undertake a supervised project which requires them to carry out a significant piece of research on a topic that they have chosen. They receive support from a supervisor who will guide them in terms of how to carry out their research and who will provide advice during the write up stage.

  • Personal Tutor: Undergraduates are allocated a Personal Tutor on entry to the programme. The Personal Tutor is available to meet with them and to give advice throughout their time at St Mary’s, in support of their academic development and to help students find support where required.

  • Writing Centre and Peer Tutoring: St Mary’s operates the first Higher Education writing centre to be established on the island of Ireland. Through this students are assisting in developing their writing skills. For example, students may bring writing assignments to the Writing Centre to work with other students or “peer tutors” who function in a collaborative role, helping the students to discover what they want to write and how to develop as university-level writers. Incoming students have found the Writing Centre a valuable resource and often continue visiting the Centre throughout their university career.

  • Study Abroad Opportunities: Students have the opportunity to spend time studying in one of over 40 European and North American universities and colleges with which the College has developed links. For example, this could take the form of a semester’s study in Norway, Belgium, Spain, etc, (for which credits are transferred back to your degree here in St Mary’s) or a one year placement in a North American college as part of the Study USA initiative.