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Physiotherapists are health professionals essential to the rehabilitation and maintenance of optimal physical ability and healthy lifestyles. They work with people of all ages to maintain and promote health, and to restore physical function, independence and well-being, always working in partnership with the patients, clients and their whānau.
The main methods of managing patients include specific exercise prescription for mobility, strength, balance and health- related fitness; manual techniques, such as manipulation and massage; application of other modalities including heat and electrotherapy; education of the condition, and the best way the patient can assist in their own recovery and achievement of individual goals.
The University of Otago’s School of Physiotherapy has an excellent teaching environment. It is a purpose-built facility that includes spacious laboratories and state-of-the-art equipment of an international standard. Highly-skilled physiotherapists also work in the School’s own clinics which are open to the public.
The Physiotherapy programme is also able to draw on the strengths and expertise of staff at the Faculty of Medicine and other departments in Health Sciences and Science. The School is well known for its clinical teaching programmes delivered in Dunedin, Wellington and Christchurch, and in its teaching hubs.
Students applying for the School of Physiotherapy’s Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programme must have a recognised Master's degree (with thesis component) in Physiotherapy/Physical Therapy or a related area. Students with a Physiotherapy / Physical Therapy qualification must either have a current Annual Practising Certificate or obtain Special Purpose Scope of Practice from the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand before beginning their PhD.
Students must have a supervisor for this programme. Before acceptance can be granted applicants must work with their potential supervisor to submit a draft proposal with their application. For assistance with finding a supervisor please contact the Research Administrator.
Graduates are eligible to register with the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand as soon as they are awarded their degree and must register in order to practise. The qualification is internationally recognised. Work environments include practice in acute hospitals, rehabilitation centres, private practice, occupational health, in schools with children with special needs, sports clinics, industry, with the elderly and in research.
Entry to second-year classes is competitive and based on admission levels set by the School of Physiotherapy Admissions Committee.
Admission to the second-year classes of the four-year Bachelor of Physiotherapy (BPhty) requires students to pass all Health Sciences First Year (HSFY), compulsory papers with a minimum B- (65%) average to be considered for admission. There is a 'two year plus' category for applicants who have completed two or more years of university study towards a degree, and have completed three or more papers at the 200-level and passed the HSFY papers or their equivalents. Applicants must have a minimum of a B- across all papers.
Applications are considered from graduates who have completed a first degree, first degree followed by honours or first degree followed by a postgraduate diploma similar to an honours programme from a university in New Zealand normally within the minimum time and within the past three years.
Applications are also considered from people who do not satisfy the normal requirements, but who may warrant admission for particular reasons, such as those with a relevant health-related employment background who can show evidence of academic ability to an appropriate level. Successful applicants in this category will be required to complete the HSFY or equivalent, before a place in the second-year class can be confirmed.
Single Programme Preference (SPP)
In considering applications from domestic students, the School of Physiotherapy Admissions Committee will first select from those applicants who have specified that they are applying for Physiotherapy only, and not also to another professional programme. It is important that students seek advice on what is the best application option for their career goals before applying. The SPP does not apply to the Alternative category.
Note: There is a subcategory for Māori and New Zealand resident Pacific Island applicants in each of the four categories.
The four-year Physiotherapy programme is physically demanding and prospective applicants need to be aware of this when considering their ability to apply for entry to the programme and later when seeking registration with the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand. If you have any doubts about your health or ability to cope with the course, you should contact either the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies (Physiotherapy) or the University Disabilities Officer for advice. Questions are dealt with in confidence.
200-level and beyond
Subjects studied in the three years following HSFY include:
- Functional Anatomy
- Physiotherapy Rehabilitation Science
- Physiotherapy Clinical Practice and Research.
Supervised clinical experience of around 1,000 hours must be completed during the course.
In your fourth year, you’ll be assigned to one of the School’s clinical centres in Dunedin, Christchurch or Wellington, and clinical sites associated with the centres.
Top performing students in Year 3 may be invited to undertake an honours programme in Year 4. The final year involves supervised clinical practice and an individual research project. Students graduate with BPhty(Hons) and, like the BPhty graduates, are then eligible for registration.
Health and Conduct
The Division of Health Sciences requires all applicants applying for any of its health professional programmes to declare any criminal or disciplinary charges they have faced, or are facing, and any health status issues which could affect their participation in clinical aspects of the programme or their overall fitness to practise.
Contact the Health Sciences Admissions Office for information.
The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 is aimed at providing better protection for vulnerable children. One of the ways it aims to do this is by introducing 'safety checking'. Applicants who enter the programme will receive further information regarding the timing of these checks.
School of Physiotherapy
- 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)
See the full list of Physiotherapy (PHTY) papers.
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.
- Physiotherapy infosheet (PDF)