November 26, 2019, by Dr. Meghan Gray

Hugh’s experience on the MSci Physics with Science Education course

Science education is a important career path for some of our graduates, and we offer a number of options for physics students to gain practical experience in schools during their undergraduate studies. For example, the third-year PJU project module run by the School of Physics and Astronomy is open to application from any BSc or MSci student and offers supported placements to students who can demonstrate that they are committed to and suited to working in schools.

MSci Physics students in their 2nd year who are committed to education as a career may also apply to transfer to the MSci Physics with Science Education course. Offered in conjunction with the School of Education, this integrated course leads to a Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) upon completion.

In this guest post, 4th year student Hugh Baxter describes how he undertook a variety of teaching placements and training as part of the MSci Physics with Education degree.

The MSci Physics with Science Education course is available to second years studying physics to transfer into; it provides a training towards a teaching qualification (QTS) as well as a masters in physics. The course consists of school placements in and around the main body of the physics course with only the fourth-year physics content being reduced to make way for education work.

The spread-out structure of the course has allowed me to gradually exit my comfort zone to develop myself as a teacher; I never felt like I had been thrown in at the deep end (something I imagine is easy to do with teaching experience). The initial primary school placement was a stress-free and enjoyable fortnight where I built relationships with pupils and made focussed observations on teaching. The next placement in September, before the start of my third year, was at a secondary school where I worked with individuals and groups of pupils, observing teachers all the while. The focus activities given to me helped me to focus my observations and reflect on things such as the techniques and strategies used by teachers which I would have to integrate into my own teaching. My observations and experiences in the classroom led to me feeling confident and well prepared for my first lesson teaching during my placement in the third-year PJU project module run by the School of Physics and Astronomy. I had learnt so much about how I should teach without actually taking a lesson by myself. The great benefit of this was that it allowed me to give good lessons early on. The positive experiences and feedback this led to, encouraged me to continue and improve.

The great things about my time teaching have been the rewarding experiences, where whole classes have shown their interest and engagement in what I’ve been teaching them; the relationships built, both with pupils and teachers; and my personal development: building on transferable skills such as communication and organisation skills.

Before going on placements, I had worries about going into schools. I worried I might find that there wasn’t anything worse than going back to school, having only just left a couple of years before. But I am so glad that I set those worries aside to find out just how much I enjoy working in the classroom. I urge anyone considering teaching to gain practical experience in it while at uni, either by trying it out through the PJU project module, outreach and internships or through the MSci course for anyone committed to a career in teaching and looking to gain Qualified Teacher Status as well.

If you are interested in finding out more about the MSci Physics with Science Education course or the postgraduate Initial Teacher Training route to a PGCE, please contact Wendy Dewick in the School of Education:

Posted in CareersStudent LifeTeachingUndergraduates