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Study Physiotherapy at Otago

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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Why study Physiotherapy?

Career opportunities

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.

Physiotherapy at Otago

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.

BPhty(Hons)

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.

International applications

Persons who do not hold New Zealand citizenship or permanent residency should contact the University's International Office.

Postgraduate physiotherapy

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

Background required

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.

Requirements

PHTY papers

Paper Code Year Title Points Teaching period
PHTY250 2024 Anatomy (for BPhty) 26 Full Year
PHTY251 2024 Physiology (for BPhty) 17 Semester 1
PHTY254 2024 Physiotherapy Rehabilitation Science 1 48 Full Year
PHTY255 2024 Physiotherapy Clinical Practice 1 17 Full Year
PHTY256 2024 Physical Activity for Physiotherapy Practice 12 Semester 2
PHTY353 2024 Pathology (for BPhty) 15 Semester 1
PHTY354 2024 Physiotherapy Rehabilitation Science 2 70 Full Year
PHTY355 2024 Physiotherapy Clinical Practice 2 35 Full Year
PHTY455 2024 Physiotherapy Clinical Practice 3 24 Full Year, 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period, 3rd Non standard period, 4th Non standard period, 5th Non standard period, 6th Non standard period, 7th Non standard period, 8th Non standard period
PHTY456 2024 Physiotherapy Clinical Practice 4 24 Full Year, 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period, 3rd Non standard period, 4th Non standard period, 5th Non standard period, 6th Non standard period, 7th Non standard period, 8th Non standard period
PHTY457 2024 Physiotherapy Clinical Practice 5 24 Full Year, 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period, 3rd Non standard period, 4th Non standard period, 5th Non standard period, 6th Non standard period
PHTY458 2024 Physiotherapy Clinical Practice 6 24 Full Year, 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period, 3rd Non standard period, 4th Non standard period, 5th Non standard period, 6th Non standard period, 7th Non standard period, 8th Non standard period
PHTY459 2024 Research for Physiotherapy 24 Full Year, 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period, 3rd Non standard period, 4th Non standard period, 5th Non standard period, 6th Non standard period, 7th Non standard period, 8th Non standard period
PHTY468 2024 Physiotherapy Clinical Practice for Honours 90 Full Year, 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period, 3rd Non standard period, 4th Non standard period, 5th Non standard period, 6th Non standard period, 7th Non standard period, 8th Non standard period
PHTY469 2024 Physiotherapy Research for Honours 30 Full Year, 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period, 3rd Non standard period, 4th Non standard period, 5th Non standard period, 6th Non standard period
PHTY501 2024 Biomedical Science in Physiotherapy 30 Semester 1
PHTY530 2024 Theoretical Constructs in Clinical Practice 30 Semester 2
PHTY535 2024 Neurorehabilitation 30 Semester 2
PHTY539 2024 Occupational Health Physiotherapy 30 Not offered in 2024
PHTY542 2024 Sports Physiotherapy 30 Semester 2
PHTY543 2024 Orthopaedic Manipulative Therapy 30 Semester 1
PHTY545 2024 Advanced Studies in Physiotherapy 30 Semester 1, Semester 2
PHTY561 2024 Clinical Practice 30 Semester 2
PHTY610 2024 Research Methods 30 Semester 1
PHTY650 2024 Research Project 30 Semester 1, Semester 2

More information

Contact us

School of Physiotherapy
Email physio.academic@otago.ac.nz
Web otago.ac.nz/physio

Studying at Otago

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Regulations on this page are taken from the 2024 Calendar and supplementary material.

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