Occupational Therapy (BSc)

The School of Healthcare Sciences is the leading provider of education and research for Allied Health Professionals in Wales, and one of the leading Schools in the United Kingdom.

The 2012 Times Good University Guide ranked the University as joint 4th in the UK for the quality of its healthcare programmes ('Subjects Allied to Medicine') on the basis of student satisfaction, entry standards and graduate prospects. Our students also rate their experience highly: overall student satisfaction with teaching was 90% in 2011, one of the highest scores in the University.

Approved by the Health & Care Professions Council and accredited by the College of Occupational Therapists, the BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy degree offers excellent career opportunities. You will spend much of the course – at least 1,000 hours – on clinical placements throughout Wales and beyond, applying your skills alongside practising professionals.

The fees for students from the UK and European Union are paid by the Welsh Government - who commission around 47 trainee undergraduate Occupational Therapists in Cardiff each year - and you will also be eligible for a non means-tested bursary of £1,000 and possibly up to a further £5,000 in means-tested bursaries.

The School also provides pre-registration programmes recognised by the UK Health & Care Professions Council, in Operating Department Practice, Physiotherapy, Diagnostic Radiography and Radiotherapy & Oncology. These professional strengths contribute to vibrant inter-disciplinary environment, with opportunities for shared learning and inter-professional education that are not available at many institutions.

A wide range of post registration and postgraduate programmes are also offered, supported by a rapidly developing research profile. Substantial investment is taking place to ensure that the facilities and staff - the environment within which you will be studying – are at the forefront of the expansion of knowledge and expertise in healthcare.

Entry Requirements

Information on alternative entry requirements and our selection and interview processes can be found on our admissions criteria pages.

International applicants

We regret that this course is unable to accept applications for the 2016/17 intake (including deferred applications to 2017/18) from international fee-status applicants due to the association with the National Health Service (NHS) and the restrictions on funding and clinical placements.

Key facts

UCAS CodeB920
Duration3 years
AccreditationsHealth Care Professions Council (HCPC)
British Association of Occupational Therapists and College of Occupational Therapists (BAOT)
Typical places availableThe School typically has approx 590 places available.
Typical applications receivedThe School typically receives approx 5500 applications.
Scholarships and bursaries
Typical A level offerABB from three GCE A-levels achieved in one sitting
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerWBQ core will be accepted in lieu of one A-level (at the grades specified above).
Typical International Baccalaureate offer35 points and at least one subject must be offered at Higher Level grade 5. In addition, English, Maths and Science must be offered at Subsidiary or GCSE level
Other qualificationsBTEC Science and BTEC Health Studies – DDMApplications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome.

Detailed alternative entry requirements are available for this course.
QAA subject benchmark

Occupational Therapy

Academic School
Admissions tutor(s)

Ms Alison Seymour , Admissions Tutor

    Mrs Nina Cogger , Admissions Tutor

      Mrs Denise Russell , Course Administrator

        Welsh medium provisionThis course offers elements that are taught through the medium of Welsh. Please contact the Admissions tutor for more information.

        Occupational therapy is based on a humanistic view of an individual's ability to influence his or her own health role and quality of life. It uses occupations or people's everyday activities and ideas to help them overcome physical or psychological disabilities.

        Placements in various parts of Wales and England are an important part of the course and are based around the problem-solving process of assessment, planning, intervention and evaluation. Your performance while on placement is assessed and contributes to the awarding of the degree. Completion of the degree leads to eligibility to apply for registration with the Health & Care Professions Council and professional membership of the College of Occupational Therapists.

        The programme is structured into 12 modules that introduce concepts of learning and Occupational Therapy, and four practice education modules, which reflect the integration of knowledge and the sequential development of your skills in the practice education environment. Modes of study include formal sessions, self-directed and peer-directed study, as well as practice education. All modules and their assessments, together with all practice education modules, are required to be passed to be awarded the degree.

        Key modules relate to: Professional studies; occupational engagement; occupational interruption; practice education – assessment, planning, intervention and critical evaluation; research; and a negotiated study opportunity. The integration of occupationally based study together with contributory sciences across the boundaries of these modules, mirrors the approach to problem solving used by occupational therapists and will enhance your ability to become reflective practitioners.

        As well as the three-year full time BSc programme, we also offer a four-year part time BSc programme and a two-year, full time Postgraduate Diploma (although the part time route is currently in abeyance). Each includes an integrated mixture of University-based study and at least 1,000 hours of practice-based education within a range of health and social care settings. Completion of each programme also leads to eligibility to apply for registration with the Health & Care Professions Council and professional membership of the College of Occupational Therapists.

        Year one

        Year two

        Year three

        Module titleModule codeCredits
        Research 3HC309230 credits
        Critical EvaluationHC309540 credits
        Professional Studies 3HC309120 credits
        Evaluating Occupational InterruptionHC309320 credits
        Negotiated StudyHC309410 credits
        The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

        The School of Healthcare Sciences has an international reputation for its education provision, rating strongly in formal audits of its programmes, as well as by the students themselves. The School has scored consistently highly in the National Student Survey, in 2011 scoring 88% for overall student satisfaction with teaching. Within the survey, areas relating to learning & assessment score strongly, particularly 'Teaching on my course' (87%), 'Learning Resources' (93%) and 'Personal development' (91%).
        The 2012 Times Good University Guide ranked the University as joint 4th in the UK for the quality of its healthcare programmes ('Subjects Allied to Medicine') on the basis of student satisfaction, entry standards and graduate prospects.

        All our programmes of study have been designed to be stimulating, flexible and relevant to the needs of a professional healthcare career. Great emphasis has been placed on the practical and clinical aspects of the programmes, all of which have been accredited by the relevant professional bodies.

        A diverse range of learning and teaching methods are used throughout the School's Programmes, reflecting the module content students' developing knowledge and expertise. All modules have a formalised teaching and learning structure which will employ, for example, formal lectures, seminars, workshops, skills laboratories and case scenarios, as and when appropriate.

        The modular structure also includes and embraces the teaching and learning opportunities available in the clinical environment, where you will spend over 1,000 hours on placement. The acquisition of knowledge and skills through the practical experience in which you engage is key to the Cardiff Occupational Therapy degree.

        As in the professional environment, a greater emphasis is being placed in working in a multi-disciplinary team, and opportunities for shared learning and inter-professional education – training alongside students from other disciplines – are increasingly embedded.

        Information technology

        The School of Healthcare Sciences has a wide range of information systems and facilities available to students, designed to support your learning and development. Our virtual learning environment is accessible on a variety of desktop and mobile devices, and ensures students have access to a variety of electronic resources from anywhere in the world. In addition, onsite dedicated computer labs, student study rooms, campus-wide WiFi networks, printing facilities and a brand-new Healthcare library are available year-round for students' use. Staff are also available onsite to assist students in getting configured and to provide support and advice.


        The School of Healthcare Sciences has recently implemented an unprecedented level of investment in new facilities and equipment, ensuring some of the best technology and modern facilities at your disposal throughout your career as a student. These include a dedicated Research Centre for Clinical Kinesiology with cutting-edge equipment, a completely refurbished radiographic imaging suite, a Virtual Environment Suite allowing for 3D simulations and brand-new dedicated occupational therapy and operating department suites, allowing for training and research in industry-standard environments reflecting real-world conditions.


        The School of Healthcare Sciences is committed to engagement within the community, with programmes such as 'Physios supporting athletes across all abilities', an all-Wales initiative that will give participants the chance to feed into a world-class volunteer support service provision for all international teams based in Wales prior to the 2012 Games in London and establishing a legacy network of support for sport in Wales well beyond 2012 (and which is open to students across the School, not just those in Physiotherapy). The School has also recently launched App Iechyd Da, a mobile app highlighting the importance of the Welsh language within allied healthcare in Wales, and providing information about a variety of Welsh language-specific initiatives such as demographic trends, political directives, economic influences and useful Welsh language communication guides. The app is freely available to all via the Apple App Store. Further investment in engagement is planned with the opening of a community children's play clinic as well as a physiotherapy clinic, both open to the public.

        Our graduates have the third highest job prospects of the 72 institutions in 'Subjects Allied to Medicine' in the Times Good University Guide 2012, and within 12 months 82% of our 2011 graduates had found graduate employment or gone on to further study. Employers included: NHS Trusts, private clinics, community health services, local government social service departments plus organisations such as Age Concern and the Cardiff Blues rugby team. Career destinations included: occupational therapist, physiotherapist, diagnostic radiographer, therapeutic radiographer and operating department practitioner.

        We are committed to supporting the School's recent graduates in finding meaningful employment. Bespoke online and text message-based early warning systems have been established to highlight job postings, relevant courses that would strengthen CVs, advice on job applications and plenty of other useful information to help in the preparation of job applications, such as writing a personal statement and practice interview questions.


        • Occupational therapist

        International applicants 

        Academic IELTS (International English Language Testing System) with an overall score of 7.0 with not less than 7.0 in listening and reading and not less than 7.0 in writing and speaking. (Please note: this applies to overseas students who have pre-arranged application arrangements.)

        The School will also consider applications from international fee-status students subject to the availability of suitable clinical placements. Such students will need to make their own arrangements to meet tuition, placement and living costs.


        3 Year(s)

        Next intake

        September 2016

        Places available

        Typical places available

         approximately 47 Home/EU Welsh Government funded places; self funders - accreditted for up to total of 64 places

        Applications received

        Typical applications received



        QAA subject benchmark

        QAA subject benchmark

        Occupational Therapy

        What are the aims of this Programme?

        Occupational Therapy is based on a humanistic view of an individual’s ability to influence his/her own health, roles and quality of life. It views the active involvement of the individual in his/her own treatment as paramount helping services users/patients to reach their maximum potential in all areas of work, leisure and daily living activities required or to which they aspire.

        This programme provides the qualification to allow eligibility for its graduates to apply for registration as an occupational therapist with the Health & Care Professions Council.

        What is expected of me?

        As this is a programme which leads to a professional qualification, professional behaviour towards staff, peers and service users is expected at all times both in University and on placement. Students will also be encouraged to consider the implications of un-professional behaviour when outside of the University. The amount of required university attendance will decrease over the three levels although work will still be expected to be completed in a more self directed manner. Generally placement attendance will remain consistent throughout the levels (see later).

        There is an expectation that all students will attend all of the sessions unless there are evidenced extenuating circumstances such as maternity leave, illness or bereavement. In these instances students are expected to liaise with their personal tutor. Students are expected to attend the institute for academic studies for a minimum of 80% of the designated time. Should attendance fall short of 80% for any module then the student would normally be withdrawn from completing the attached assessment and will be required to re-register for the module. There are also aspects of the curriculum which students will be required to attend (where non-completion will require alternative arrangements to be made) and these will be made explicit at the beginning of each Level. Students who fail to adhere to this will initially be considered through the professional unsuitability process.

        Circumstances may develop when a student who has been accepted onto the programme is considered professionally unsuitable to continue his/her studies towards a qualification to practice occupational therapy. Each instance will be considered on its own merits, but examples of grounds for exclusion from the programme on grounds of professional unsuitability, as indicated by the College of Occupational Therapists and Cardiff University are as follows: Compensation for failure in the assessment of professional suitability will not be permitted in another area.

        • Conduct that could bring into disrepute the profession of occupational therapy or is prejudicial to the best interests of patients and clients.
        • Theft, deliberate falsification of facts or records, as in lying, cheating, fraud or attempting to defame colleagues and or patients/clients.
        • Breaches of confidentiality, misuse of confidential material relating to a patient or client.
        • Assault, violent behaviour or serious acts of insubordination/conduct demonstrating inappropriate emotional involvement with patients.
        • Serious negligence which causes unacceptable loss, damage or puts staff or visitors at risk.
        • Misuse of equipment or materials, or deliberate damage to the educational setting or the practice placement.
        • Incapacity for work (both in college and on placement) due to alcohol or the influence of illegal drugs.
        • Involvement in offences concerning the illegal use, or possession of drugs.
        • Lack of application to work and study due to poor motivation and/or to ill-health.

        How is this Programme Structured?

        This modular programme is offered in a full time format over three academic years, with 120 credits being studied each year.  Students must successfully pass all components before being able to proceed into the following year

        Will I need any specific equipment to study this Programme?

        There is no specific equipment that a student is required to provide

        What the University will provide:

        The Cochrane Building is situated on the Heath Park campus and houses one of the 16 site libraries of the Cardiff University Library Service.  Local holdings of books and journals are supplemented by the interlibrary loan service, which provides access to all Cardiff University holdings, the All Wales Healthcare Libraries journal holdings and the British Library Document Supply Centre.  In addition to the printed collection the Library Service, via the Cardiff University Library website maintains access to over 10,000 electronic journals and 200 electronic databases such as MEDLINE, CINAHL and AMED.  All libraries provide networked computing and printing facilities. Resources on the Cardiff academic computer network include word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software packages plus email and access to the internet.

        In addition to the networked computers in the Cochrane Building, there are additional University Computer Laboratories currently situated on the first floor of Tŷ Dewi Sant building – one with open access and the other dedicated to teaching.  Most of Cardiff University estate is equipped with wi-fi access.

        Other practical skills facilities available to Occupational Therapy students includes an Activities of Daily Living (ADL) suite of rooms which simulates a living space, with bedroom and bathroom areas.  This space enables the students to learn the skills of assessing an individual's home environment and to work out the best possible solutions to being able to be independent in the home.  In addition, this suite of rooms will be used for the treatment of children with both sensory and handwriting problems in the children's clinic.  Hand splinting skills can be learned and practised in a separate mould room.

        What skills will I practise and develop?

        Team-working is especially important and the programme, which uses group-work as a key learning approach, will equip students with a variety of ways to work in and manage teams. This will include opportunities to work with other health professionals both on placement and in University through the inter-professional learning sessions. 

        Students will become confident in the skills of searching, organising and reviewing academic material, secondary sources, academic texts and supplementary material.

        Presentation skills will be developed throughout the curriculum, to include practice in the variety of methods of information dissemination required at in practice and conferences. There will be many opportunities to use information technology resources to include PowerPoint informal and formal presentations. They will gain experience in facilitating journal clubs, seminars, workshops and discussions as well as designing and presenting innovative designs/service ideas.

        Students will develop skills of reflection and the ability to effectively monitor their own progress with regards to their professional roles and academic development. Skills of self and peer assessment will also be practised with academic support, reflecting the ability to develop the ability to select and adopt appropriate learning styles and strategies in relation to the demands of a wider range of tasks, both general and specific.

        Students will develop and demonstrate abilities as creative, independent learners in the wider context of their profession,seeking and utilising feedback as appropriate and developing and pursuing interests beyond the immediate curriculum.

        How will I be taught?

        A wide range of learning strategies will be used to facilitate learning and as the programme of studies progresses students will be offered opportunities to explore areas of specific interest through their preferred learning style.

        Practice education is an integral part of the curriculum and comprises a minimum of 1000 hours of assessed (and passed) practice for all students. This element is mandatory and students will not be eligible to apply for registration as occupational therapists if they do not complete and pass the minimum hours set. The practice education element runs throughout the programme allowing the two way transfer of knowledge and skills between practice and academic studies. The placements are structured around the themes of assessment, planning, intervention and critical evaluation to sequentially develop the student’s knowledge and skills in the occupational therapy process. Workshops are scheduled throughout the programme to facilitate preparation before the placement and post-placement consolidation of knowledge, skills and values. Placement experiences are also utilised in other modules to illustrate practice and facilitate debate of current and real issues. 

        Problem Based Inquiry Learning is increasingly used throughout the programme complemented by the use of Appreciative Inquiry. This concept suggests that students not only look for the challenges and problems, but also look for what works within a health and social care scenario. The tangible result of the inquiry process is a series of statements that describe where the service user wants to be, based on the high moments of where they have been. The same notion will apply to the student learning experience. Because the statements are grounded in real experiences and history, people know how to repeat their success.

        Student Directed and Peer Led Learning increases throughout the curriculum and is designed to utilise students' locality and college based study time in a constructive way. In addition, students will draw on, and share their own experiences with peers.

        Other examples of learning approaches within the classroom include:

        *Experiential learning                          *Demonstration/Exhibition      *Seminars                     *Self Assessment             *Virtual Learning Environment

        *Locality Based Study Groups           *Case History Analysis           *Debates                      *Problem Solving

        *Presentations                                     *Video Conferencing              *Project Work               *Journal Clubs

        How will I be assessed?


        The assessment schedule is designed to reflect the philosophy and aims of the programme.  The schedule is based on models of professional training, education and supervision and also with reference to the Code of Practice (Quality Assurance Agency 2000).

        • Technical rationale – to demonstrate basic competence for entry into the occupational therapy profession
        • Critical self-appraisal – to enable students to reflect autonomously on practice
        • Problem solving – to enable students to solve practical problems in practice
        • Reflective practitioner – to take reflection beyond critical self-appraisal and problem solving, in promoting these in action

        The assessment of academic and professional competencies is designed to meet the requirements of academic, professional and statutory bodies.  Within these assessments, students will be required to demonstrate their ability to investigate, select, synthesise, analyse, reflect on and evaluate information, meeting the learning outcomes for each module.  Evaluation and feedback are recognised as essential learning components and an integral part of the assessment procedure.


        Feedback will be provided both formally and informally and explicit reference as to its format and where feedback can be expected will be indicated at the commencement of the programme and at the start of each module.  Aspects of self evaluation will be considered in the formative assessment of relevant modules, and during practice education.  Students will be encouraged to evaluate their strengths and needs, accepting increasing responsibility for professional and academic development. 

        How will I be supported?

        Much of the general communication will take place using the VLE of Learning Central to which all students will have access. Prior to commencing the programme, students will have access to the Changing Gear website which helps to prepare new students for academic life in the School of Healthcare Sciences. Once studies officially commence, all handouts will be placed in this resource as and when required. Notifications will also be placed here and forwarded to the student University email address.

        There is access for all programme staff, students and placement educators to the Practice Education database. Here students will be able to view progress in relation to practice placements, to include details of placement allocation, and will also be able to contact all staff and students on an all Wales basis

        There are a variety of ways that you can expect to be supported throughout your studies:

        Personal Tutorial: On commencing the programme, each student will be assigned a personal tutor and this person will usually remain as such for the duration of the programme. This is a pastoral support mechanism and will normally take place at least twice during the first level and at the student or tutor’s request subsequently (see also 6.5). A record of each tutorial will be made and signed by both parties.

        Academic Tutorial: The focus of this is on the student’s academic progress through each of the modules. Academic tutors will change in line with each module studied and will also be assigned for each assessment (to include the final research project). During these tutorials the student’s preferred learning styles, strategies and results may be discussed and utilised to enhance academic understanding and/or its application in practice.

        Visiting Placement Tutor: When out on placement, all students will be assigned a University tutor who will support them during this time. For most students this will entail one half way visit (by phone or face to face) but will be available to answer any queries for the duration of the placement.

        Additional Support: For those students who have specific learning needs or require reasonable adjustments to be made to assist their studies (e.g. Dyslexia, physical or mental health problems) the programme has a Disability Officer who is specifically responsible for supporting students. All students will be introduced to the officer concerned during induction and will be encouraged to make an individual appointment should it be required. Advice will also be available on whether students may benefit from additional help from the Student Support Officer within the University.

        What are the Learning Outcomes of this Programme?

        Graduates from this programme will be able to:

        • use theoretical frameworks of occupational therapy to guide and inform practice.
        • adapt and respond to current and future patterns of service delivery.
        • work creatively to lead and maximise professional contribution.
        • analyse, select, adapt and use occupation and activity as therapeutic tools.
        • adopt a problem solving approach to service users’ needs with the safety of service users as paramount at all times.
        • understand and use the principles of evaluation and research to ensure best practice.
        • view the delivery of occupational therapy in an holistic manner working in partnership with the service user and other professionals.
        • continue personal and professional development throughout their career.

        Other information

        It is important to note that all modules within the curriculum are compulsory and failure to complete any successfully will require the student to withdraw from their studies. There will however, be many opportunities to negotiate and study specific areas of interest throughout modules (to include practice placement education). Opportunities will be identified at the beginning of the programme and/or during specific modules and It is strongly advised that students discuss any such requests as soon as they are aware of their learning needs. There are also opportunities for international travel and these can be discussed further with the programme's International Officer.

        Admissions tutors

        Ms Alison Seymour , Admissions Tutor

          Mrs Nina Cogger , Admissions Tutor

            Mrs Denise Russell , Course Administrator

              Key Information Sets (KIS) make it easy for prospective students to compare information about full or part time undergraduate courses, and are available on the Unistats website.