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The Postgraduate Diploma in Rehabilitation (PGDipRehab) is a distance-taught, part-time course in rehabilitation that is typically completed over two years. The Diploma is designed for anyone interested in developing better skills and understanding in rehabilitation for people with disabilities or long-term conditions. The course attracts clinicians (such as nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech language therapists, social workers, psychologists and doctors) but also rehabilitation managers, vocational placement providers, policy makers and expert consumers (i.e. people with lived experience of rehabilitation who are interested in developing an academic career in the field). Our diverse student body creates rich and lively class discussions. The Diploma aims to provide a combination of rehabilitation theory and principles, integrated with training on specialist rehabilitation topics of interest.

People who complete this course report:

  • Feeling more confident in their knowledge of evidence-based practice in rehabilitation, and better able to apply evidence to clinical work
  • Being better able to demonstrate to potential employers and funders that they possess the necessary skills to get results in rehabilitation practice
  • Being better equipped to collaborate with rehabilitation professionals from other disciplines
  • Having confidence in their ability to communicate their expertise and knowledge within a team context and between funding, providers and users of rehabilitation services
  • Having a greater appreciation and understanding of cultural issues and person-centredness in practice
  • Being more able to take on leadership roles, such as driving quality improvement initiatives, in their place of work
  • Feeling enthusiastic about continuing education and keen to study more.

Course structure

This course is distance-taught, allowing students more flexibility to fit study in with their busy work and home life. Teaching occurs via regular interaction with classmates and paper tutors via Zoom videoconferencing and the online learning platform, Moodle. Additional online events are offered to support whakawhanaunatunga (establishing relationships), and skills development, within the broader Rehabilitation Teaching and Research Unit learning community.

The qualification is comprised of four 30-point papers: two compulsory papers and two papers of your choice from the list below. You may also substitute papers from other programmes if they meet the academic level and content required by the Board of Studies. It is necessary to have any substitution of papers approved by the Board of Studies. If you think you might wish to do this then please contact us in good time so we can discuss your programme of study. 

Compulsory papers

  • REHB 701 Rehabilitation Principles provides a strong foundation in rehabilitation theory, disability classification, cultural perspectives, rehabilitation processes, goal setting, teamwork & interprofessional practice, and the fundamentals of the business of rehabilitation.
  • REHB 712 Rethinking Rehabilitation provides students with the opportunity to rethink current rehabilitation practice by finding, evaluating, and applying existing research in combination with practical knowledge in their own field of expertise.

Optional papers

  • REHB 703 Musculoskeletal rehabilitation A specialist paper in rehabilitation assessment and management of musculoskeletal disorders, including chronic pain conditions, arthritis and amputation.
  • REHB 704 Neurological rehabilitation A specialist paper on rehabilitation for neurological conditions, including stroke, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury and Parkinson’s disease.
  • REHB 706 Work rehabilitation Modern management techniques for reducing worksite injuries and promotion early return to work – suitable for all health professionals wanting to learn more about work rehabilitation.
  • REHB 707 Rehabilitation for older adults Assessment, rehabilitation and management of conditions that cause impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions in old age.
  • REHB 710 Clinical rehabilitation – soon to be renamed “Rehabilitation service innovation and evaluation” – teaches the skills required for best practice service evaluation, design and monitoring in rehabilitation contexts. Graduates of this paper will be skilled to accurately scope projects, apply frameworks to lead project teams, gather and report information that robustly answers the intended question. Design and evaluation processes that fit te ao Māori and other world views will be addressed. The three major assignments (two written, one oral) are each proposed by students from their own contexts and anticipated to be readily applied to those contexts.
  • REHB 713 Goal setting & the therapeutic relationship A journey through contemporary theory, evidence, & application of person-centred goal setting to clinical practice – enhance service user motivation; address ethical issues; strengthen rehabilitation plans.
  • REHB 714 Personal & psychological factors in rehabilitation A course on psychological aspects of rehabilitation and recovery designed for non-psychologist – learn how to build on service users personal strengths to enhance recovery
  • REHB 715 Cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation A specialist paper for people interested in increasing their knowledge and skills in rehabilitation for people with cardiac and/or respiratory conditions.
  • REHB 716 Rehabilitation with children Evidenced-based, family-centred approaches to rehabilitation for infants, children, and teenagers with impairments, disability, and health conditions.
  • HASC 701 Working in interprofessional clinical teams Build better rehabilitation teams through the analysis and application of theory on team culture, roles, and processes – improve service quality & patient experiences; foster leadership excellence

Each paper runs for one half of the year, between March and November. Typically the course involves 8–12 hours of work (reading, writing, thinking and discussion) each week.

Course eligibility

The course regulations for the Diploma in Rehabilitation are set out in the annual University of Otago Calendar. Students are required to have a tertiary degree or equivalent qualification to undertake this course. 

Study opportunities after the PGDipRehab

Students who successfully complete the PGDipRehab with an average grade of B or better, in addition to a paper in research methods with a grade of B+ or better, may then go on to enrol in a Master in Health Science endorsed in Rehabilitation, using the papers completed in the PGDipRehab towards this higher qualification. 

To Apply

More information on fees and papers, and to begin the enrolment process


For more information, please contact the RTRU Programme Administrator at

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