Physiotherapists are health professionals essential to the rehabilitation and maintenance of optimal physical ability and healthy lifestyles.
They treat people of all ages and from all sorts of backgrounds – they might have a painful back, occupational work- related injury, cystic fibrosis, asthma, stroke, or have recently given birth or suffer from osteoarthritis or diabetes.
Patients could be recovering from an accident, a sporting injury, or may have undergone heart surgery.
Physiotherapists are educated to assess, treat, and prevent a wide range of physical limitations and dysfunction.
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What is a physiotherapist?
Physiotherapists are educated to assess, treat, prevent and minimise risk for a wide range of physical limitations and bodily dysfunction. They use therapies such as exercises, manual and electrotherapeutic techniques to assist their patients to lead active and productive lives.
Applying new technologies, physiotherapists also empower their patients to take a more active role in their own rehabilitation and personal healthcare. This makes physiotherapy a very rewarding career.
The best physiotherapists are those with exceptional communication skills and a genuine desire to improve the wellbeing and quality of life of others.
What will I study?
The University of Otago Bachelor of Physiotherapy (BPhty) is a prestigious four-year programme. It is internationally renowned for excellence because its graduates are among the best, and because it ensures its clinical teaching and research programmes are continually refined and improved, to keep in step with leading edge physiotherapy practice and informed by the latest research.
The first year comprises the University of Otago Health Sciences First Year (HSFY) programme. This is a prescribed set of papers designed to provide a broad understanding of the scientific principles and communication skills which will underpin your further studies.
In the second year, the programme focuses on the scientific knowledge you will need as a physiotherapist, including anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and an introduction to physiotherapy science and clinical practice.
The third year builds on your understanding of the human body and introduces pathology and some of the broader issues encountered in practice, including management skills, and engagement with the community. Clinical practice is also a key element of the third year programme.
In the fourth (final) year, you will be based at one of the School’s clinical centres in Dunedin, Christchurch, or Wellington. You will spend the majority of the year undertaking supervised clinical practice around New Zealand. This means you will be able to sample many different fields of physiotherapy practice, and be better prepared to make decisions about your future career. You will also have the opportunity to undertake a research project.
Top-achieving students in Year 3 of the programme are invited to undertake an honours programme in the fourth year – the Bachelor of Physiotherapy with Honours (BPhty(Hons)). This qualification will enable direct entry to a research career.
There are no subject requirements for entry into the Health Sciences First Year (HSFY) programme, but you will be better prepared if you have completed chemistry, physics, and biology at Year 13.
HSFY must be your first year of university study. If you are considering tertiary study before enrolling, you are strongly advised to contact the Health Sciences Admissions Office beforehand.
Admission to the programme
Admission to Physiotherapy is competitive; each year approximately 85 of the 120 domestic places go to students who have completed the Health Sciences First Year (HSFY) programme at the University of Otago. Selection depends on your grades in the HSFY papers. The minimum grade point average requirement is a B- (65%).
Applications are also considered in the Two or More Years of University Study category, the Graduate category, and the Alternative category (for allied health professionals and mature graduates).
Applicants who are of Māori or Pacific Island (Polynesian) descent may request this be taken into account as part of their application.
Single Programme Preference is available for students wishing to apply only for Physiotherapy. The Admissions Committee will select first from those applicants who are applying under Single Programme Preference. Thereafter if domestic places are still available, the Committee will select from the group of applicants that have applied to multiple Health Sciences professional programmes.
How do I apply for admission to Physiotherapy?
Application information for admission into the Health Sciences professional programmes is available online at otago.ac.nz/healthsciences.
Persons who do not hold New Zealand citizenship or permanent residency should contact the University’s International Office.
Qualified physiotherapists help patients of all ages to lead independent, healthy, and fulfilling lives.
The more we learn about how the human body operates, the greater the opportunities there are for qualified physiotherapists to practice and undertake research – throughout New Zealand and across the globe.
Physiotherapists are valued for their work in hospitals, aged care facilities, and rehabilitation centres and private practices. They are responsible for helping people maintain peak physical condition, as integral members of sports teams, fitness centres, and sports clinics.
Others find employment with schools or community care organisations, and many establish their own private practices.
A growing awareness of the importance of keeping workers healthy and productive in today’s workplaces has also created employment opportunities within large companies as occupational health and safety professionals and in the areas of health management and policy.
Postgraduate physiotherapy study at Otago aims to develop and extend your clinical and research skills. Our postgraduate qualifications allow you to meet an ever-changing world of challenges and career options.
You may also develop stronger professional networks and gain transferable skills such as organisation, teamwork, and clinical management.
Explore your study options further. Refer to enrolment information found on the following qualification pages:
- Bachelor of Physiotherapy (BPhty)
- Bachelor of Physiotherapy with Honours (BPhty(Hons))
- Postgraduate Certificate in Physiotherapy (PGCertPhty)
- Postgraduate Diploma in Physiotherapy (PGDipPhty)
- Master of Physiotherapy (MPhty)
Bachelor of Physiotherapy (BPhty)
Note: Students enrolled in the Health Sciences First Year course will be required to achieve a satisfactory mark in a standard diagnostic English test or another approved measure of achievement.
PHTY 250 Anatomy (for BPhty)
PHTY 251 Physiology (for BPhty)
PHTY 252 Pharmacology (for BPhty)
PHTY 254 Physiotherapy Rehabilitation Science 1
PHTY 255 Physiotherapy Clinical Practice 1
PHTY 353 Pathology (for BPhty)
PHTY 354 Physiotherapy Rehabilitation Science 2
PHTY 355 Physiotherapy Clinical Practice 2
PHTY 455 Physiotherapy Clinical Practice 3
PHTY 456 Physiotherapy Clinical Practice 4
PHTY 457 Physiotherapy Clinical Practice 5
PHTY 458 Physiotherapy Clinical Practice 6
PHTY 459 Research for Physiotherapy
Bachelor of Physiotherapy with Honours (BPhty(Hons))
PHTY 468 Physiotherapy Clinical Practice for Honours
PHTY 469 Physiotherapy Research for Honours
Note: Papers in the First, Second, and Third Years are the same as in the Schedule for the ordinary degree of Bachelor of Physiotherapy.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a selection of on-campus papers will be made available via distance and online learning for eligible students.
Find out which papers are available and how to apply on our COVID-19 website
|Paper code||Year||Title||Points||Teaching period|
|PHTY250||2021||Anatomy (for BPhty)||26 points||Full Year|
|PHTY251||2021||Physiology (for BPhty)||17 points||Semester 1|
|PHTY252||2021||Pharmacology (for BPhty)||12 points||Semester 2|
|PHTY254||2021||Physiotherapy Rehabilitation Science 1||48 points||Full Year|
|PHTY255||2021||Physiotherapy Clinical Practice 1||17 points||Full Year|
|PHTY353||2021||Pathology (for BPhty)||15 points||Semester 1|
|PHTY354||2021||Physiotherapy Rehabilitation Science 2||70 points||Full Year|
|PHTY355||2021||Physiotherapy Clinical Practice 2||35 points||Full Year|
|PHTY455||2021||Physiotherapy Clinical Practice 3||24 points||Semester 1, Full Year, 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period, 3rd Non standard period, 4th Non standard period, 5th Non standard period|
|PHTY456||2021||Physiotherapy Clinical Practice 4||24 points||Semester 1, Full Year, 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period, 3rd Non standard period, 4th Non standard period, 5th Non standard period|
|PHTY457||2021||Physiotherapy Clinical Practice 5||24 points||Semester 1, Full Year, 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period, 3rd Non standard period, 4th Non standard period|
|PHTY458||2021||Physiotherapy Clinical Practice 6||24 points||Semester 1, Full Year, 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period, 3rd Non standard period, 4th Non standard period|
|PHTY459||2021||Research for Physiotherapy||24 points||Semester 1, Full Year, 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period, 3rd Non standard period|
|PHTY468||2021||Physiotherapy Clinical Practice for Honours||90 points||Full Year|
|PHTY469||2021||Physiotherapy Research for Honours||30 points||Full Year|
|PHTY501||2021||Biomedical Science in Physiotherapy||30 points||Semester 1|
|PHTY530||2021||Theoretical Constructs in Clinical Practice||30 points||Semester 2|
|PHTY535||2021||Neurorehabilitation||30 points||Not offered in 2021|
|PHTY539||2021||Occupational Health Physiotherapy||30 points||Semester 2|
|PHTY542||2021||Sports Physiotherapy||30 points||Semester 2|
|PHTY543||2021||Orthopaedic Manipulative Therapy||30 points||Semester 1|
|PHTY545||2021||Advanced Studies in Physiotherapy||30 points||Semester 1, Semester 2|
|PHTY561||2021||Clinical Practice||30 points||Semester 2|
|PHTY610||2021||Research Methods||30 points||Semester 1|
|PHTY650||2021||Research Project||30 points||Semester 1, Semester 2|