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.
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.
Persons who do not hold New Zealand citizenship or permanent residency should contact the University's International Office.
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.
Learn more about postgraduate physiotherapy on the School of Physiotherapy website
How to apply
Application information for admission into the Bachelor of Physiotherapy (BPhty) programme is available on the Division of Health Sciences website:
Physiotherapy: Guidelines for Admission
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.