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Overview

What is a physiotherapist?

Physiotherapists are educated to assess, treat, and prevent a vast range of physical limitations and bodily dysfunction. By using therapy such as exercises and manual and electrotherapeutic techniques, physiotherapists assist patients to lead independent, healthy, and fulfilling lives. This makes physiotherapy an extremely rewarding career.

The best physiotherapists are those with exceptional communication skills, a genuine desire to improve the wellbeing and quality of life of others, and a good level of physical fitness.

What will I study?

The 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 modern physiotherapy practice, the latest research, and current thinking on teaching methodologies.

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 that 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, physical activity, 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 in a variety of rotations around the city, as well as in other towns and cities in the surrounding provinces. You will also undertake a research project.

This means you will be able to sample many of the different fields of physiotherapy practice, to help you make decisions about your future career.

Entry requirements

The Physiotherapy Admissions Committee considers applications from candidates in the following categories:

Single Programme Preference

Single Programme Preference is available for domestic and international students wishing to only apply to Physiotherapy.

  • Goal: The School of Physiotherapy, with support of its professional bodies, wishes to recruit students who have signalled a strong commitment to its programme.
  • Eligibility: To be eligible students must meet an academic threshold. For details please refer to the main categories below.
  • Application: To apply students will select their single programme (Physiotherapy). However students are still able to apply for Dental Technology, Oral Health, Radiation Therapy or any programme outside of the Health Sciences Undergraduate Professional Programmes.
  • Selection: Admissions Committees will firstly select from those applicants who are applying under Single Programme preference. Thereafter if places are still available, the Committee will select from the group of applicants that have applied to multiple Health Sciences Undergraduate Professional Programmes.

University of Otago Health Sciences First Year (HSFY) category

To be considered for admission in the HSFY category an applicant must be enrolled in the HSFY at Otago and have passed all the papers prescribed for Health Science First Year (HSFY), at first attempt, with a minimum average of 65%. Selection for applicants who have met these criteria will be based on their academic score.

Applicants must have passed the HSFY English Diagnostic Test or have passed ENGL 128.

Single Programme Preference applicants must pass all the prescribed HSFY papers and achieve a minimum average of 65% or better.

First offers are made to single programme preference applicants. Thereafter, if there are domestic places still available, offers will be made to applicants who have applied to more than one professional programme.

Scoring Example HSFY Category (PDF)

You can contact us via AskOtago if you have any questions.

HSFY category checklist

Two or More Years of University Study category

Applicants who are not finalists and have completed two or more years of full-time study at a university in New Zealand will be considered for entry into Physiotherapy.

Applicants are advised that their second year of study must include at least three papers at 200-level. Applicants must not have failed more than two papers in any one year subsequent to a first year of study.

The Admissions Committees will score the best 240 points according to the following rules:

i. Best 3 × 200-level papers scored,
ii. Balance of the 240 points from the best scoring remaining papers (scoring a maximum 120 points at 200-level),
iii. With 100-level papers weighted × 0.5, and all other papers weighted at × 1.5

Due to the scoring system for admission to the Professional Programmes, we are unable to score papers that have a pass / fail grade, nor are we able to score aegrotat passes.

Applicants who are offered a place in second-year Physiotherapy, and are missing the First Year papers (or their equivalent) listed in the BPhty Schedule, will be required to undertake a prescribed course of study.  When the Physiotherapy Admissions Committee offer a place, applicants will be advised which papers they must complete, as well as the grades that must be attained in order to be eligible to be admitted to the second year of the BPhty.

Selection for applicants will be based on their weighted GPA, see scoring example:

First offers are made to Single Programme Preference applicants. Thereafter, if there are domestic places still available, offers will be made to applicants who have applied to more than one professional programme.

Applicants offered a place under the Two or More Years of University Study category may be required to pass prescribed papers, to a standard determined by the Committee, before being admitted to second-year classes.

You can contact us via AskOtago if you have any questions.

Two or More Years of University Study category checklist

Graduate category

To be considered for entry in the Graduate category, applicants must have completed, in the minimum academic time and within three years of the date of application, the requirements of a first degree awarded by a university in New Zealand.

All applicants in the Graduate category are ranked on the basis of a score derived from the grades achieved in:

  • A bachelor's degree
    or
  • An undergraduate bachelor’s honours degree
    or
  • A bachelor's degree, followed without break in study by a postgraduate diploma or postgraduate honours year

No preference is given to degree qualification or major subject.

The qualifying degree is the first university degree awarded to the applicant.

The average grade for all papers in the qualifying programme must be at least a weighted grade point average of 4.

The score for candidates applying is based on the following:

  • Papers are given a weighted academic score and are ranked
  • Total points scored would be as per the requirement for the relevant degree (typically 360 points for a three-year degree)
  • Using the regulations for a standard three-year Otago Bachelor's degree as an example, the admission score would be calculated as follows, in order of precedence:
    • Best scoring (maximum of) 120 points at 300-level
    • Best scoring of 200-level and 100-level papers to 360 points
    • With 100-level papers weighted × 0.5, 200-level papers weighted × 1.0, and 300-level papers weighted × 1.5

Please refer to the scoring example below to get indication of your weighted GPA score. Please note that your weighted GPA score will be confirmed as part of the application process in December, and that this spreadsheet is for example purposes only.

Due to the scoring system for admission to the Health Professional Programmes, we are not able to score papers that have a pass / fail grade, nor are we able to score aegrotat passes.

Weighted GPA spreadsheet (XLSX)

Selection for applicants will be based on weighted academic score, see scoring example.

Applicants offered a place under the Graduate category may be required to pass prescribed papers, to a standard determined by the Committee, before being admitted to second year classes.

First offers are made to Single Programme Preference applicants. Thereafter, if there are domestic places still available, offers will be made to applicants who have applied to more than one professional programme.

You can contact us via AskOtago if you have any questions.

Graduate category checklist

Alternative category

To be considered for admission under the Alternative category, a candidate must not be eligible under any other admission category and meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Hold a degree from a New Zealand university
    or
  • Have completed a degree at an overseas university at a standard of at least New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF) Level 7
    or
  • Hold a master’s or doctoral degree
    or
  • Demonstrate health-related professional experience in a relevant field to a standard acceptable to the Committee

Applicants offered a place under the Alternative category may be required to pass prescribed papers, to a standard determined by the Committee, before being admitted to second year classes.

Selection of applicants who have met these criteria will be based on academic merit, a single programme preference for Physiotherapy and a possible interview.

Alternative category checklist

  • Completed online application form
  • Curriculum vitae including names, addresses, and email contacts of three people who may be contacted for a confidential reference
  • Official academic documentation for all previous study
    • University of Otago records will be accessed directly and do not need to be provided
    • If any further academic documentation is required, this will be requested via your eVision portal
  • Statement of interest; A short statement outlining the reasons for wanting to enter the course headed: Statement of reasons for wanting to enter the Bachelor of Physiotherapy. This must be on one A4 page and include your name and Otago student ID

Equity groups

Te Kauae Parāoa is the policy on admissions for domestic students to the health professional programmes offered by the Division of Health Sciences. This policy supersedes the former Mirror on Society Selection Policy.

Te Kauae Parāoa promotes and facilitates equity for students from underrepresented priority groups with the aim to produce a workforce that represents the communities it serves to improve health outcomes for all.

Applicants may also be considered in one or more of the following sub-categories:

  • Māori (see note)
  • Indigenous Pacific (see note)
  • Socioeconomic Equity
  • Refugee Background
  • Rural

Note: An applicant in either the Māori, or Indigenous Pacific, or both of these sub-categories requires verification of ancestry by the University. You can apply for verification of ancestry from the 'My details' section of your eVision portal, and we would encourage you to request this as soon as possible if you are intending to apply for the health sciences professional programmes, to minimise delays in processing your application.

Māori equity group

Applicants wishing to be considered under the Māori equity group must indicate this at the time of application by ticking the Māori equity group box in the online application. Using the form below, applicants will also be required to complete and upload a written personal supporting statement.

Māori – Supporting Statement form (PDF)

In order to be eligible for the Māori equity group your ancestry needs to be verified by the University. You can apply for verification of ancestry from the 'My details' section of your eVision portal.

Successful applicants from the Māori equity group are required to attend a mihiwhakatau (greeting) at the commencement of classes in Dunedin. Whānau are welcome and encouraged to attend.

It is recommended that students wishing to apply under the Māori equity group attend a relevant information session held by the Division of Health Science Māori Health Workforce Development Unit ( MHWDU ) and/or contact the MHWDU to arrange a meeting with staff or for further information:

Email mhwdu@otago.ac.nz

New Zealand Resident Indigenous Pacific Origins (NZRIPO) equity group

An application via the NZRIPO equity group requires verification of ancestry for one or more of the following Pacific nations:

  • American Samoa
  • Cook Islands
  • Federated States of Micronesia
  • Fiji
  • French Polynesia
  • Hawaii
  • Kiribati
  • Marshall Islands
  • New Caledonia
  • Niue
  • Palau
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Rapanui (Easter Island)
  • Rotuma
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Tokelau
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu
  • Vanuatu
  • Wallis and Futuna

Applicants wishing to be considered under the NZRIPO equity group must indicate this at the time of application by ticking the NZRIPO equity group box on the application form.

In order to be eligible for the NZRIPO equity group your ancestry needs to be verified by the University. You can apply for verification of ancestry from the 'My details' section of your eVision portal.

Using the form below, applicants must also complete and upload:

  1. An endorsement of your application by a leader of a Pacific Island Community Group
    and
  2. A written personal supporting statement (500-word limit) giving your reasons for applying under the NZRIPO sub- category.  Please explain your understanding of the NZRIPO subcategory, and outline your commitment to and interest in the health of the Pacific Island Community in New Zealand.

New Zealand Resident Indigenous Pacific Origins (NZRIPO) endorsement and statement form (PDF)

Successful applicants from the NZRIPO equity group are expected to be connected and contribute to the Health Sciences Pacific support network.

It is highly recommended that students wishing to apply under the NZRIPO equity group contact the staff in the Pacific Islands Research and Student Support Unit, in the Office of the Associate Dean (Pacific):

Email vot@otago.ac.nz

Socioeconomic Equity group

To be eligible for the Socioeconomic Equity (EQ) group, you must be a domestic student who has attended a New Zealand secondary school that was decile 1, 2 or 3 until 2024, or has an Equity Index (EQI) number of 479 or greater. You must have attended during Years 11, 12 and 13 within the last five years.

You can apply for Physiotherapy under the Socioeconomic Equity group via the HSFY, Two or more Years of University Study or Graduate categories of Admission.

Applicants wishing to apply under the Socioeconomic Equity group must indicate this at the time of application by ticking the Socioeconomic Equity group box in the online application and provide the following supporting information:

  1. An official letter from your secondary school(s) confirming its EQI number of 479 or greater (or decile 1–3 until 2024) and your enrolment in years 11, 12, and 13 within the last five years. Email your school letter to: health-sciences@otago.ac.nz and EQ.project@otago.ac.nz
    School letter template (DOCX)
    and
  2. Using the form below, write a personal statement (500-word limit) explaining your understanding of the reasons for the Socioeconomic Equity group, how socioeconomic background impacts practice as a health professional, and of your
    aspirations and commitment to make a positive contribution to the health needs of lower socioeconomic communities
    Socioeconomic Equity Supporting Statement form (PDF)

It is strongly recommended that students wishing to apply under the Socioeconomic Equity group contact the Division of Health Sciences, EQ Project team (Raukaha Workforce Development - Kōhatu Centre for Hauora Māori).
Email eq.project@otago.ac.nz
Website otago.ac.nz/equity

Note: Successful applicants from the Socioeconomic Equity group are expected to maintain engagement with the EQ/Raukaha team throughout their studies.

Refugee Background equity group

In order to apply under the Refugee Background equity group you must have either been granted refugee status in New Zealand, or have a parent(s)/primary guardian(s) who has been granted refugee status in New Zealand. The Refugee Background equity group applies to all categories of admission.

Applicants wishing to apply under the Refugee Background equity group must indicate this at the time of application by ticking the Refugee Background equity group box in the online application and providing the following supporting information:

If you are applying as a person who has been granted refugee status then you must provide:

Either

  • Certified copies of your Certificate of Identity or your passport confirming refugee status and Permanent Residency
    or
  • A letter from Immigration New Zealand confirming your status as a permanent resident was obtained on the basis of being a refugee. This must include your full legal name and date of birth
    or

If you are applying as a child or dependent of a parent(s) / primary guardian(s) who was granted New Zealand Residency as a refugee, you must provide:

1. A letter from Immigration New Zealand confirming that your parent(s)/primary guardian(s) was granted NZ residency on the basis of their status as a former refugee. This letter must include their full name and date of birth. If Immigration NZ is not able to provide such a letter, equivalent official documentation can be submitted and will be considered for acceptability. Please contact Dr Jackie Tagg in the Health Sciences Divisional Office for advice.
Email jackie.tagg@otago.ac.nz
and
2. A document that confirms they are your parent(s)/primary guardian(s), for example your birth certificate, a joint passport, or adoption papers

Using the form below, your application under the Refugee Background equity group must include a personal supporting statement (500-word limit) outlining your understanding of the Refugee Background equity group, how your refugee background will impact your practice as a health professional, and your commitment to the health of former refugees.

Refugee Supporting Statement form (PDF)

It is strongly recommended that students wishing to apply under the Refugee Background equity group contact the Refugee Background equity group support person, Dr Jackie Tagg, in the Health Sciences Divisional Office:
Email jackie.tagg@otago.ac.nz

New Zealand Rural Origins equity group

In order to apply in the New Zealand Rural Origins equity group, candidates for admission must:

  • Have undertaken a minimum of four years of their pre-tertiary education at a school in a rural area of New Zealand
    or
  • Have resided in a rural area of New Zealand for a minimum of four consecutive years following the completion of their secondary education
    or
  • Have undertaken a combination of pre-tertiary education at a school in a rural area of New Zealand and residence in a rural area of New Zealand, for a minimum of four consecutive years

(Please note "pre-tertiary" means primary, intermediate and secondary/high school.)

Applicants wishing to have their New Zealand Rural Origins status considered with their application must indicate this at the time of application by ticking the New Zealand Rural Origins equity group box in the online application.

Applicants must provide the following supporting information:

either

  • An official letter from the pre-tertiary regional / rural education institution they attended, outlining:
    • The duration of their study,
      and
    • The physical location of the institute

or

  • A statutory declaration, made before an authorised person, confirming residency of four years or more in a rural location (this declaration must specify which years are being claimed as the four qualifying years). A statutory declaration can be used for your residential address only. It cannot be used to confirm school attendance.

An authorised person is a person listed in the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957 as able to take declarations. This person could be a:

Students within New Zealand may wish to check justiceofthepeace.org.nz for a list of Justices of the Peace in their area. Students from remote areas who do not have access to anyone in the approved categories should visit AskOtago for advice.

For applications based on a rural residential address or attendance at a rural school(s) the University classifies rural as per the Geographic Classification for Health (GCH). For the purposes of this policy, applicants will be eligible if the address or school(s) on which the rural equity group application is based on, is classified within Rural 1–3.

Using the map image in the link below, you can undertake an informal check of the classification of the residential area provided in your application.

It is important to note that this should be considered as a guide only. The Statistical Area 1s (SA1s) of the residential address and/or the school(s) provided will be checked against the GCH database during the assessment of your application. If your application is found to not be eligible under the rural category you will be notified, and your application will be processed under the general category.

Students will not be bonded after graduation.

Application process

Online application and enrolment

New and returning students are required to complete their application through eVision.

You should apply in the first instance to the 'Health Sciences Undergraduate Professional Programmes' and then select 'Physiotherapy' from the list.

If you have any questions regarding your application please contact AskOtago:

Tel 0800 80 80 98 (from within New Zealand)
Tel +64 3 479 7000 (from overseas)
Email ask@otago.ac.nz
facebook.com/otagouniversity
Contact AskOtago

Supporting documentation

For details regarding other required documentation, consult the appropriate checklist available at the end of each section.

Application deadlines

Applications open 1 August.
Applications close 15 September.

Note: Applicants must have their personal and financial affairs in order when they apply so that if their application is successful, they are able to take up a place at the start of the first semester.

Outcome of application

You will be advised of the outcome of your application no later than 11pm (New Zealand Time) on 18 December.

Selection criteria

Selection of candidates for the second year of the Bachelor of Physiotherapy programme from among those meeting the eligibility requirements established by the programme regulations conforms to the following criteria:

  1. Those applying as members of an equity group undergo additional preliminary assessments:
    1. Applicants are confirmed as equity group members in accordance with the programme regulations.
    2. Confirmed equity group applicants are then considered by the Divisional Academic Board or its delegate against selection attributes for each specific equity group relating to the policy rationale of Te Kauae Parāoa. These attributes are approved by the Divisional Academic Board and published at Health Sciences Selection Attributes.

    On the basis of these assessments, confirmed equity group members who are also established as meeting the policy rationale of Te Kauae Parāoa will be prioritized in the selection process outlined below.

  2. Places in the second year of the programme are allocated between the Health Science First Year, Two or More Years of University Study, Graduate and Alternative categories, with typically 70% of places allocated to the Health Science First Year category, and the balance to the Two or More Years of University Study, Graduate and Alternative categories.
  3. Places in the second year of the programme are first allocated to the Alternative category. Alternative category applicants must submit a CV, an academic record, and a personal statement, in the form specified within the Guidelines. On the basis of these materials, a number of applicants will be selected using the following criteria, and may be required to attend an interview:
    • Motivation
    • Academic Aptitude
    • Life Skills and Life Experiences
    • Written Communication Skills

    Referee reports will be requested for all Alternative category applicants invited to interview. Candidates assessed as suitable for admission will be selected on the basis of their ranking calculated by reference to the Committee’s overall assessment of aptitude for the programme, taking into account written documentation, referee reports, and performance in interview if relevant.

  4. Final selection of candidates in the Health Science First Year, Two or More Years of University Study, and Graduate categories is on the basis of academic ranking using the formulae specified in the Guidelines.
    Selections are made in the following sequence:
    1. Equity group applicants in the following sequence:
      1. Māori
      2. Resident Indigenous Pacific
      3. Refugee Background
      4. Socioeconomic Equity
      5. NZ Rural Origins
    2. General applicants
      1. Single programme preference general applicants
      2. General applicants who have applied to other professional programmes
  5. Offers will be based on 120 domestic places available. Applicants not initially made an offer may be allocated to a waitlist and subsequently made offers as appropriate to fill the places available.

Accepting or declining offers

If your application is successful and you receive an offer, this will include a deadline for accepting or declining it. If you do not respond to your offer by this deadline, the offer will be lapsed.

Please think carefully before making your decision; once you have declined your offer there is no opportunity to have the offer reinstated.

What is the waiting list?

If your Outcome of Application email indicates that you have been placed on the Waiting List, you will be contacted should a place become available. Waiting lists are programme-specific and you may not ask to be included on any waiting list other than the one(s) specified.

You could be offered a place from a waiting list any time right up to the time classes begin. It is important that you continue your enrolment process for any alternative programme of study you may be considering.

Deferral of entry

Successful candidates may request to defer their entry to the following academic year.

Requests will be considered on the following grounds:

  • Graduate category or Alternative category candidates who wish to complete current academic study (e.g. an honours year) that in the opinion of the Admissions Committee will enhance a student's future study in Physiotherapy. If approved, the Admissions Committee will advise of the minimum grade(s) that must be attained. Deferral requests, submitted under this criteria, must be received no later than the last day to add a first semester paper.
  • Serious medical grounds or other exceptional circumstances. Candidates that are approved deferral on medical grounds or exceptional circumstances will be required to provide evidence that they are able to resume study.

To apply for a deferral of entry please complete and return the deferral form (PDF)

Deferrals will only be granted for a maximum period of one academic year.

Applicants must have their personal and financial affairs in order when they apply so that if their application is successful, they are able to take up a place at the start of the first semester.

English language requirements

Admission to the programme shall be subject to applicants meeting an English language requirement as determined by the Physiotherapy Admissions Committee, dependent on the category under which the application is made.

International students

International students are defined as all those students who require a student visa to study in New Zealand. In any given year, a limited number of places in second-year Physiotherapy may be available to international students. To be eligible to apply for admission into Physiotherapy, international students must have completed all necessary prerequisites at a minimum standard, which is determined on a yearly basis.

Should an international student's residency status change prior to notification of the application outcome, they must notify AskOtago immediately and will have to compete for admission with other domestic students.

Important dates

  • Online application closing date: 15 September
  • Outcome of application emails sent out by: 18 December

Second-year start dates

Applicants offered a place in the programme will be advised of dates for the following:

  • Camp
  • Preliminary lectures
  • Classes begin

Introductory classes are compulsory. Students who fail to attend classes on the start date risk losing their place.

Health and disabilities

Please contact the University of Otago's Manager of Disability Information and Support, or visit AskOtago, if you have a health condition and/or disability that may affect whether or not you are able to meet the requirements of the programme or obtain professional registration.

Any applicant who has a mental or physical condition that could adversely affect their fitness to practice or is found to have failed to declare a condition may be declined admission to the programme by the Physiotherapy Admissions Committee on the recommendation of the Health and Conduct Review Group. Any offer of admission made before responses to medical requests or requests for information regarding an applicant's health status have been received is conditional on the information received confirming the applicant's suitability for admission.

Criminal offences

Any applicant who is, or has been, the subject of criminal convictions, or is, or has been, subject to disciplinary proceedings of a tertiary institution or professional body, or is found to have failed to declare a matter may be declined admission to the programme by the Physiotherapy Admissions Committee on the recommendation of the Health and Conduct Review Group. Any offer of admission made before responses to requests for information regarding an applicant's past conduct have been received is conditional on the information received confirming the applicant's suitability for admission.

As some convictions may prohibit registration, applicants are advised to consult the regulations of the registering professional body:

All applicants must consent to verification from the New Zealand Police and Department of Courts that there are no undeclared criminal charges or convictions.

Health and Conduct Review Group

The Health and Conduct Review Group considers a student's suitability for admission to a Health Sciences professional programme having regard to fitness to practice issues.

Health and Conduct Review Group – Terms of Reference (PDF)
Health and Conduct Procedure (PDF)

Children's Act 2014

The Children's Act 2014 is aimed at providing better protection for vulnerable children. One of the ways it aims to do this, is 'safety checking'.

If you will work with vulnerable children—as part of a specified organisation that provides regulated services—the Act requires you to be 'safety checked' at least once every three years.

The safety check involves:

  • Identity verification
  • New Zealand Police vetting
  • Reference checking
  • An interview
  • A risk assessment

Applicants who enter the programme will receive further information regarding the timing of these checks.

Further information

University of Otago Child Protection Policy
Oranga Tamariki (Ministry for Children)
Children's Act requirements (Oranga Tamariki website)

Culturally-sensitive issues

All students must participate in laboratory, practical and clinical activities, including those that may be unusual in some cultures. In Physiotherapy, some aspects of the teaching will require individuals to practise certain techniques on each other that may involve partially undressing or body contact with other students. Training occurs under close supervision and all students are required to participate, as it is essential for their acquisition of clinical skills.

First aid certificate

All candidates who accept a place into Physiotherapy must have a certified copy of an appropriate New Zealand first aid certificate before the start of the programme.

Applicants must gain this qualification through an NZQA-registered training provider who is authorised to assess NZQA first aid standards.

The certificate should include at least NZQA Standard 6401 and NZQA Standard 6402, but students are recommended to obtain a qualification which includes the higher NZQA Standard 6400.

The following are a selection of recommended training course:

Immunity status

All applicants who are offered and accept a place to the second year, or any subsequent year, will be required to provide evidence of their serology status.

Because of the nature of their practice, health professionals are required to take steps to ensure they neither acquire infections from their patients nor transmit infections to patients.

Immunity testing arrangements will be made known during December, preceding the start of the programme. It is the responsibility of the applicant to cover all costs associated with completion of immunisation screening and vaccinations.

Please refer to the Infectious Diseases Policy for Health Professional Students (PDF) for further details regarding immunity status.

Domestic place numbers

The maximum number of domestic student places available across all admissions categories for 2025 is 120.

Special examinations and adjusted paper marks

Applications from students sitting special examinations will be placed on hold until the special examination results are released. Once you receive your special examination results you must immediately advise AskOtago to ensure the processing of your application is completed.

As we do not receive special examination results automatically, it is applicants' responsibility to inform us of the results of special examinations, or adjusted paper marks, as soon as they become available.

Programme content

What will I study?

The first year of the programme is made up of the seven Heath Sciences First Year (HSFY) papers. Students either complete the HSFY in their first year of university study or complete the papers through their first degree.

In the second year, the course focuses on the scientific knowledge you will need as a physiotherapist. This includes the biomedical sciences of anatomy, physiology, and an introduction to physical activity, physiotherapy science and clinical practice.

Second-year students start interacting with patients straight away, under the supervision of physiotherapists working at Dunedin Hospital, the School's Physiotherapy Clinics, and at a number of other local physiotherapy practices.

Representing a full-time course load, there are five compulsory second-year papers totalling 120 points:

  • PHTY 250 Anatomy (for BPhty)
  • PHTY 251 Physiology (for BPhty)
  • PHTY 254 Physiotherapy Rehabilitation Science 1
  • PHTY 255 Physiotherapy Clinical Practice 1
  • PHTY 256 Physical Activity for Physiotherapy Practice

The third year builds on your understanding of the human body, and introduces pathology and some of the broader issues encountered in practice. These include management skills and engagement with the community.

Clinical practice is also a key element of the third-year programme. You will work with patients under the supervision of physiotherapists at Dunedin Hospital.

Representing a full-time course load, there are three compulsory third-year papers totalling 120 points:

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 in a variety of rotations around the city, as well as in other towns and cities in the surrounding province. It may also be possible for you to pursue an overseas clinical rotation. You will also undertake a research project.

The fourth-year programme explores all major fields of physiotherapy through supervised clinical practice, thus enabling you to make decisions about your future career.

Bachelor of Physiotherapy (BPhty) fourth-year papers

Most students undertake a course of five compulsory fourth-year papers, enabling them to graduate with a Bachelor of Physiotherapy (BPhty). These papers total 120 points, and represent a full-time course load. The BPhty fourth-year papers are:

  • 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)) fourth-year papers

Those students who excelled in third year are invited to enrol in the Bachelor of Physiotherapy Honours (BPhty(Hons)) programme, instead of the standard BPhty programme. To be considered for the honours programme, you must have passed all third-year BPhty papers with an average grade of at least A-.

The BPhty(Hons) qualification enables direct entry to a research career.

There are two compulsory BPhty(Hons) papers, totalling 120 points and representing a full-time course load:

  • PHTY 468 Physiotherapy Clinical Practice for Honours
  • PHTY 469 Physiotherapy Research for Honours

Careers

The more we learn about how the human body operates, the greater the opportunities there are for qualified physiotherapists to practise and undertake research—not only in New Zealand but around the world.

Physiotherapists are valued for their work in hospitals, aged care facilities, and rehabilitation centres. They are responsible for helping people maintain peak physical condition, as integral members of sports teams, fitness centres, and sports clinics.

Others find employment in 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 industrial environment has also created employment opportunities within large companies as occupational health and safety professionals, and in the area of health management.

Regulations

Regulations for the Degree of Bachelor of Physiotherapy (BPhty)

Disclaimer

The University of Otago makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information provided on its web pages. However the matters covered, including the availability and structure of courses, are subject to regular review and no warranty or representation can be provided regarding the accuracy of such information, and the University does not accept liability for any losses or damage arising directly or indirectly from reliance on the information.

While the University of Otago takes all due care in implementing the regulations, policies, and procedures that relate to the admissions process, it reserves the right to correct any administrative errors that may occur.

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