Physiotherapy (BSc)

Our Physiotherapy BSc (Hons) programme aims to support you in becoming a physiotherapist who can practise using an evaluative and problem-solving approach.

Physiotherapist with patient

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 Complete University Guide 2015 ranked physiotherapy first in the UK on the basis of student satisfaction, entry standards, student-staff ratios and graduate prospects. Our students also rate their experience highly: overall student satisfaction with teaching was 100% in 2014, one of the highest scores in the University.

Validated by the Health & Care Professions Council and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, the BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy degree offers excellent career opportunities. Students on the course spend at least 1,000 hours on clinical placements throughout Wales and beyond, applying their skills alongside practising professionals.

The fees for students from the UK and European Union are paid by the Welsh Government - who commission approximately 100 trainee physiotherapists each year - and students 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 Occupational Therapy, Operating Department Practice, Diagnostic Radiography and Radiotherapy and Oncology. The provision of high quality multi-and inter-professional learning enables students to work together to develop their collaborative problem-solving skills and gain a broader perspective to support inter-professional patient care.

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 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 students 

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 CodeB160
Entry pointAugust 2016
Duration3 years
Studying in WelshThis course offers elements that are taught through the medium of Welsh. Please contact the Admissions tutor for more information.
AccreditationsHealth Care Professions Council (HCPC)
Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP)
Typical places availableThe course typically has approximately 120 places available.
Typical applications receivedThe course typically receives approximately 1100 applications.
Typical A level offerAAB to include Biology or Human Biology
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerWBQ core will be accepted in lieu of one A-level (at the grades specified above) excluding Biology or Human Biology.
Typical International Baccalaureate offerOverall points score of 34 with 3 Higher Level subjects 6,6,5 to include a minimum of Biology Grade 6.
Other qualificationsBTEC Science – DDD is a typical offer. Combinations of A-levels and BTECs may also be considered. All BTEC students should contact us before submitting an application.

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

Health Care Programmes - Physiotherapy

Admissions tutor(s)

Mr Timothy Sharp, Admissions Tutor

Important Legal Information: The programme information currently being published in Course Finder is under review and may be subject to change. The final programme information is due to be published in July 2016 and will be the definitive programme outline which the University intends to offer. Applicants are advised to check the definitive programme information after the update, to ensure that the programme meets their needs.

Physiotherapists work in a variety of settings, treating patients with conditions ranging from breathing difficulties and neurological problems to muscle and skeletal injury. Working as independent caring and compassionate clinicians, physiotherapists need to motivate, teach, reassure, and empathise.

Our Physiotherapy BSc aims to help you become a physiotherapist who can practise using an evaluative and problem-solving approach. Throughout the course, you are given opportunities to develop knowledge and understanding of clinical sciences, in particular musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiovascular and respiratory physiotherapy.

You will spend at least 1,000 hours on clinical placement throughout Wales and possibly further afield. These placements provide the range of working environments you may experience during your career, from hospital-based physiotherapy departments to community-based practice based within urban centres and more rural locales.

The programme is validated by Cardiff University, the Health & Care Professions Council and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. We have an excellent graduate employment record, with our alumni specialising in clinical work, NHS management, research and education.

The wide variety of practical and theoretical work means each day is different! It could range from massage, dissection and electrotherapy to hydrotherapy, body paint...and so much more! The lecturers are committed to helping you not only gain a degree but deliver the best possible care to patients

Lizzie Russell, physiotherapy student

Year one

Foundation studies, which include the Biomedical and Human Sciences, commence in year one (level four) alongside Physiotherapy Studies in which knowledge of the theory and practice of the profession allows you to begin to acquire basic therapeutic skills. It is important to be aware that the practice of these skills, under supervision, will take place on fellow students and your acceptance of a place on this programme implies your consent to this practice. Level four is assessed through a range of examinations including written assignments, practical and  coursework components throughout the year.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Practical Skills 2HC112020 credits
Personal and Professional Development and Communication 1HC112120 credits
Practical Skills 1HC111720 credits
Physiotherapy Theory, Physical Activity & ExerciseHC111920 credits
PhysiologyHC111820 credits
AnatomyHC111620 credits

Year two

Assessment and treatment skills are extended in the second year (level five) of study. Students apply these skills, using a problem solving approach, in the clinical situation and begin to develop an understanding of evidence based practice. Continuous assessment, including assignment writing, practical examination and placement learning assessment occurs during level five.

Year three

During level six, students will develop their understanding of managing patients with complex conditions and multi pathologies. They also extend their understanding of research and evidence based practice. Continuous assessment at level six includes placement learning, coursework, a portfolio and a research dissertation.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Placement Learning 8HC313310 credits
Research 2HC312240 credits
Placement Learning 6HC313110 credits
Personal and Professional Development and Communication 3HC312120 credits
Physiotherapy Practice 2HC311920 credits
Placement Learning 7HC313210 credits
Placement Learning 5HC313010 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 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 of 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 Schools Programmes, reflecting the module content, students' developing knowledge and growing 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 Physiotherapy 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 provides students with an opportunity to 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 dedicated Healthcare library are available year-round for students' use. Staff are also available onsite to assist students and to provide support and advice.


The School of Healthcare Sciences has recently implemented an unprecedented level of investment in new facilities and equipment, aiming to provide 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, a radiographic imaging suite, a Virtual Environment Suite allowing for 3D simulations and 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.  Previous examples of this include programmes such as 'Physios supporting athletes across all abilities', an all-Wales initiative that provided participants with 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. This has helped to establish a legacy network of support for sport in Wales well beyond 2012. The School has also 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 evidenced with the opening of a community children's play clinic as well as a physiotherapy clinic, both of which are 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 80% 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.


  • Physiotherapist


3 Year(s)

Next intake

August 2016

Places available

Typical places available

c90 Home/EU Welsh Government funded place

Applications received

Typical applications received



QAA subject benchmark

QAA subject benchmark

Health Care Programmes - Physiotherapy

Overview and aims of this course/programme

The programme at Cardiff University is designed to enable graduates to achieve the professional characteristics required to practice as a physiotherapist, ensuring they do so through the application of relevant evidence and by securing the patient/service user as central to their management and clinical decision making.  The content of the programme is designed to prepare graduates for the demands of evidence based practice, enhancing their ability to adapt to the changing needs of contemporary health and social care. 

The programme provides opportunities for learning through integration of theoretical and practical skills, therefore, the ‘hands-on’ application is a major component of the programme.  Placement Learning is an essential element of the learning and it contributes directly to the preparation of students for their post-registration careers. 

The programme will provide opportunities for students to develop and demonstrate knowledge, understanding, intellectual (thinking) skills, practical skills and the personal skills and attributes necessary for the safe and effective practice of physiotherapy.  It also recognises that components of these are essential for employment in general and for life as a responsible citizen.  These have been referred to as transferable skills and the programme has been designed to facilitate the development of these versatile characteristics.

What should I know about year five?

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.  Equally, students will be required adhere to the principles of professional confidentiality in all forms of communication, with particular regard to the use of social media. Students will be encouraged to consider the implications of un-professional behaviour when outside the University. University attendance is required at all timetabled sessions other than those marked ‘optional’ 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 or the Programme Manager.  The timetable generally occurs between the hours of 9:00am – 4:30pm but there is occasional need to extend these hours. This also applies to placement learning.

More than 5 absences in 1 term will require the student to ‘sign in’ at the School office for 1 month.  In these cases, students will be monitored by the Board of Studies and if the students’ development is deemed to have been affected, the Board will recommend that the student’s progress is delayed. Students who fail to adhere to this will initially be considered through the professional unsuitability/fitness to practice 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 physiotherapy. Each instance will be considered on its own merits, but examples of grounds for exclusion from the programme because of professional unsuitability, as indicated by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and Cardiff University are as follows:

  • Conduct that could bring into disrepute the University and/or the profession of physiotherapy 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 University 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 course/programme structured?

The programme is presented in a full time modular format over 3 academic years with each level of study being composed of 4 module themes; 120 credits will be studied each year.

Although the Modules will be delivered and assessed individually, each Module will be a co-requisite for the particular level and a pre-requisite for the Modules in a succeeding year. All Modules are compulsory. Some themes will be presented at one or two levels whilst others will be presented at all three.

During the second and third years of study, students take part in placement learning.  This occurs throughout Wales and beyond.  Each placement is 4 weeks duration and there are 4 placements in each of the two years.  When taking part in placement learning, students are expected to maintain a highly professional attitude.  They will be working as a member of the physiotherapy staff with appropriate levels of guidance from a Clinical Educator.

What should I know about year four?

What the student should provide:

For the start of the first term, students will be expected to purchase several items for practical classes:

1 x 8" goniometer– 8" long armed protractor used to measure joints / joint angles

1 x tape measure– for measuring leg length, chest expansion

1 x marking pencil– useful for marking joint lines, the course of nerves and other anatomical features; an eye brow pencil is usually applicable

1 x pack of face paint crayons - useful for drawing muscles during surface anatomy practical classes - £1.98 Amazon

Skeletons– a life sized set of artificial bones modelled on human ones in a lockable storage box are available for you to hire from the School. Although it is not obligatory, hiring a skeleton is highly recommended to help support your learning of anatomy.

Hiring a skeleton costs £30 (non-refundable).

 Skeletons can be shared with a max group of four to help reduce the cost and to create a learning group.

 Stethoscopes will be available for students to use in class during their first year. Students will need to buy their own stethoscope to take out on clinical placement during their second year.

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.

The School houses the Research Centre for Clinical Kinesiology which was established in April 1999. It is a movement analysis laboratory which can be used to measure characteristics of any kind of human movement such as walking, jogging, sit-to-standing and standing balance for purposes of clinical rehabilitative research. Combined use of the equipment available enables elaborate biomechanical and observational analysis of the movement.

What should I know about year three?

Other skills that will be practised and developed:

  • Extended communication skills as a consequence of managing patients with varying levels of capacity
  • Self-directed, independent learning skills which will enable graduates to manage their continued personal and professional development.
  • Project management through their experience of managing large volumes of learning and management of their research projects and the writing up of their dissertation.
  • Professionalism, this is an innate part of students’ professional development.
  • IT skills including Word processing, Spreadsheets, PowerPoint, Data Analysis programmes and virtual learning environments.
  • Effective time and work-load management which will be essential for the successful outcome of this programme of study.
  • Adaptability particularly with regard to effective self-management in the context of on-going changes in the needs of the Health Service. This will also be evidenced by students’ ability to adapt to a range of placement environments.
  • Critical evaluation skills through their appraisal of peer reviewed literature and their identification of good and best practice.
  • An awareness of approaches to and methods of Service improvement
  • Effective approaches to job application and employment interviews

What should I know about the preliminary year?

The programme uses a range of learning and teaching methods which are applied through the medium of, for example, lectures, workshops, practical sessions and placement learning.  Lectures are presented to the whole cohort and an interactive approach is encouraged with students taking part in discussion of the topic of interest.  PowerPoint, videos, podcasts, flip charts, IT and whiteboards may be used as part of the presentations. Workshops and practical sessions are arranged in single or double tutorial groups.  During workshops, students work together to complete a set task using various resources available in the school.  These may include for instance, books and journal articles, software packages, body paints and anatomical models.  During practical sessions, students apply physiotherapy techniques to each other under the supervision of a qualified physiotherapist.

The Modules Personal and Professional Development and Communication at Levels 4, 5 and 6 and Research at Levels 5 and 6 will be taught via a mixture of shared/inter-professional and uni-professional sessions. You will be learning and being assessed within teams of: Occupational Therapists, Diagnostic Radiographers, Therapeutic Radiographers, Physiotherapists and Operating Department Practitioners.

Independent studies are also an important aspect of the programme. Specific work may be set for these sessions but students will also be required to identify gaps in their understanding and initially address these in self-study or independent learning sessions. Further clarification and explanation can then be sought during tutorial and/or practical sessions. Placement Learning provides the student with the opportunity to develop their clinical skills and knowledge under the supervision of their Clinical Educator.

Information to support teaching sessions is presented through the virtual learning environment (VLE) of Learning Central and includes PowerPoint slides, word documents and a range of other learning resources.  A Curriculum Handbook is also offered which itemises the topics covered in each teaching session.

Within the School we are increasingly looking for opportunities to explore issues such as the responsibilities of a professional, communication and team-working, working together for patient safety and quality improvement on an inter-professional basis - not only by collaborating within the School but also with other Schools such as Medicine and School of Social Sciences.

What should I know about year one?

A range of assessment methods is used enabling students to demonstrate their own particular academic strengths. Assessments include; written examinations, written assignments (including report writing), verbal presentation, practical examination, clinical assessment and the production of a research dissertation. 

Students receive specific feedback during all practical sessions and during lectures and workshops.  To prepare students to receive and use feedback, a writing study-day will be provided in the second term of Level 4. These activities prepare students for the next summative assignment and provide a foundation for the requirements of scientific writing. Such skills evolve throughout the BSc programme so that as well as testing students’ understanding of physiotherapy theory, written assignments are designed to nurture scientific writing skills. This forms an important aspect of the preparation required to complete the 10,000 word research dissertation in the 3rd year of study.

Students receive individual feedback on all assignments.  This is provided individually in written format within four weeks of assignment submission. Furthermore, generic feedback is presented to the whole cohort by one of the marking tutors during a time tabled session.  Students are also encouraged to meet with their personal tutor or programme manager and their project supervisor for on-going feedback of their progress.  

Other information

Much of the general communication will take place using the virtual learning environment (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 Studies. 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 are a variety of ways that you can expect to be supported throughout your studies:

Programme Manager. The day to day delivery of the programme is the responsibility of the Programme Manager.  The Programme Manager delegates individual student support to Personal Tutors but students are encouraged to share relevant issues with the Programme Manager so that all elements of available support can be considered and implemented.

Personal Tutorial: 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 and academic support mechanism and meetings will normally take place by prior arrangement at least once per term.

Project Supervisor.  During the 3rd year of study students’ research is supported by a named supervisor who has specific expertise in relation to the research being undertaken.  The method of supervision is established by mutual agreement between the student and the supervisor at the beginning of the research process.

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 topic 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.

Placement Liaison Staff: Teaching Staff are allocated to specific geographical regions for their liaison role.  This ensures that when on placement, students will be supported by Liaison Staff who will normally visit by prior appointment. Typically, this will entail one visit near to the mid-point of the placement (by phone or face to face).  Liaison Staff will also be available to answer any queries for the duration of the placement.

Marking Tutor.  These tutors are responsible for the management of specific assessments.  They will provide students with appropriate guidelines, organise marking moderation/standardisation and collate results. Marking Tutors also report on the outcome of the assessment at the relevant exam board.

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

Distinctive features

Graduates from this programme will be able to:

  • Apply the skills associated with the safe and effective practice of physiotherapy with due regard to the ethical, social and legal aspects of care
  • Act as autonomous and independent practitioners who critically evaluate and reflect on their practice
  • Work as members of a multi-professional team to provide patient-centred healthcare, ensuring the holistic management of patients of all ages and cultures.
  • Empower individuals to take responsibility for their own health
  • Adapt to the changing role, responsibilities, working practices and environments of health and social care provision adhering to the HCPC standards of conduct, performance and ethics (2009).
  • Communicate effectively verbally, visually and in writing ensuring the accurate giving and receiving of information to a diverse range of audiences.
  • Obtain and evaluate research evidence as a basis for their professional practice
  • Contribute positively to the development of research within the physiotherapy profession and in collaboration with other health professionals.
  • Take responsibility for their own lifelong learning within a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) framework.

How will I be taught?

During the taught element of the programme, students will complete the following compulsory, certified courses :-

  • All Wales Manual Handling Passport
  • Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation
  • Child Protection

Opportunities also exist for students to complete other certificated courses, for instance, the 1000 Lives Infection Control programme to enable them to become Healthcare Associated Infection Champions.

Students are encouraged to participate in professional body activities such as becoming CSP Champions and being Student Reps.

Students have the opportunity to take part in ‘Community Engagement’ projects which have the potential to extend many of the skills and clinical experiences of the BSc programme. Such opportunities have previously included participation in the ‘Inspire’ project which aims to support paralympic athletes in their training for the 2012 Games; the UrddEisteddfod and the Olympic Legacy as well as the provision of physiotherapy-related support for a variety of sporting events.

Other courses and experiences such as first aid; preparation for on-call, sports trauma and physiotherapy for sporting events may be offered in response to student interest, all of which aim to increase the employability of Cardiff Physiotherapy graduates.

Admissions tutors

Mr Timothy Sharp, Admissions Tutor

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.


Get information and advice about making an application, find out when the key dates are and learn more about our admissions criteria.

How to apply
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