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Pre-Registration Occupational Therapy (MSc)

  • Duration: 2 years
  • Mode: Full time

This course is open to UK applicants only.
Start date

Conversion course

This is a conversion course. Conversion courses allow you to study a subject unrelated to your undergraduate degree or current career, and support you with a change of career path.


Open day

Find out more about studying here as a postgraduate at our next Open Day.

Why study this course

This programme is designed for those who hold a degree, and provides a two year fast-track route into a professional career in Occupational Therapy.


Ranked 1st in the UK

for pre-registration education in Occupational Therapy (Complete University Guide 2023)


State of the art facilities

including a simulated home and an in-house Occupational Therapy Clinic


Full funding available

providing you meet eligibility requirements


A range of placements

giving you valuable clinical exposure, and opportunities to work or volunteer abroad


Professionally accredited

our programme is approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and accredited by the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT)

Our MSc Pre-Registration Occupational Therapy programme is designed for those who already hold a degree and it provides a two year fast-track route into a professional career in Occupational Therapy. On successful completion of the programme, you will be eligible to apply for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as well as professional membership of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT). Our programme is also recognised by the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT).

Our course fully prepares you to join the future generations of occupational therapists. It focuses on developing your competence and capability in key areas such as critical thinking, problem solving, professional reasoning, research, and leadership. You will also learn professional values and behaviours and develop an understanding of the nature and meaning of occupation in human life, the relationship between occupation, health and wellbeing and the power of occupation to transform the lives of individuals, groups, and communities.

A varied profile of placement experience undertaken across the two years of the programme will allow you to integrate academic theory with actual occupational therapy practice and gain an insight into the wide-ranging employment opportunities available to you upon registration. Your practice-based learning will be facilitated by experienced occupational therapy practice educators who will support you in becoming the best occupational therapist you can be.

We promote compassionate and aspiring leadership. You will be introduced to the NHS Wales Gwella Leadership Portal as a key learning resource. We also use the Cardiff University ‘Becoming a Caring & Compassionate Practitioner’ website-hub to support your learning and reflection on effective and evidence-based leadership models.


Where you'll study

School of Healthcare Sciences

Our courses are designed to provide you with the knowledge and experience you need to embark on a professional healthcare career.

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  • Telephone+44(0) 29 2068 7538
  • MarkerUniversity Hospital of Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff, CF14 4XN

Admissions criteria

This is a conversion course. Conversion courses allow you to study a subject unrelated to your undergraduate degree or current career, and support you with a change of career path. No prior knowledge or degree in the subject is required.

In order to be considered for an offer for this programme you will need to meet all of the entry requirements. Your application will not be progressed if the information and evidence listed is not provided.

With your online application you will need to provide:

  1. A copy of your degree certificate and transcripts which show you have achieved a 2:1 honours degree in any subject area, or an equivalent international degree. If your degree certificate or result is pending, please upload any interim transcripts or provisional certificates.
  2. A copy of your IELTS certificate with an overall score of 7.0 with 6.0 in all subskills, or evidence of an accepted equivalent. Please include the date of your expected test if this qualification is pending. If you have alternative acceptable evidence, such as an undergraduate degree studied in the UK, please supply this in place of an IELTS.
  3. Two references (academic or professional) which confirms your suitability for the programme.
  4. A personal statement (maximum 600 words) which must evidence the following criteria:
  • Demonstrate a desire to study occupational therapy.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the nature of occupational therapy. This may be evidenced through research or through undertaking visits/discussions with occupational therapists.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the expectations and demands of problem-based learning and master’s-level study.

Application Deadline

The application deadline is 31st January.  If you submit an application after this date, we will only consider it if places are still available post-interview.

Selection process

We will review your application and if you meet the entry requirements, we will invite you to attend a Multi Mini Interview (MMI) process. The MMIs are made up of a series of short, carefully timed interview stations designed to enable applicants to critically appraise information, to communicate ideas and demonstrate that they have insight into the values, conduct and ethical expectations that are important to the occupational therapy profession. Following interview, offers will be made to the highest scoring candidates.

Additional requirements

You will be required to demonstrate that you meet the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) good health and character and fitness to practise requirements. This will be achieved by providing a satisfactory Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificate.

All successful applicants will be required to have a satisfactory health screening prior to enrolment on this course which is conducted independently by the University’s Occupational Health Department. There will be a need to adhere to any immunisation requirements identified. Full guidance will be provided during the application and enrolment process.

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Student visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements.

Selection or interview process

Applications to the MSc pre-registration Occupational Therapy Programme are made via the Cardiff University online application system. Applicants who are successful in both the academic and non-academic screening process will be invited to attend a Multi Mini Interview (MMI) process. The MMI process is an opportunity to address interviewees in person and to assess information that is not always readily forthcoming in traditional application processes.

The MMIs are made up of a series of short, carefully timed interview stations designed to enable applicants to critically appraise information, to communicate ideas and demonstrate that they have insight into the values, conduct and ethical expectations that are important to the occupational therapy profession.

If you have a disability or specific learning need, please contact the admissions tutors for the programme so that reasonable adjustments can be made to the application and interview process.

Additional requirements

Preferably, one academic reference is required. Alternatively, we will accept a reference from your current employer.

During your application to the programme, you will be required to demonstrate that you meet the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) good health and character and fitness to practise requirements. This will be achieved by providing a satisfactory Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificate. All successful applicants will be required to have a satisfactory health screening prior to enrolment on this course which is conducted independently by the University’s Occupational Health Department. There will be a need to adhere to any immunisation requirements identified. Full guidance will be provided during the application and enrolment process

Criminal convictions

You will be required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check if your application is successful. If you are applying from certain countries overseas, a Certificate of Good Conduct may be required.

If you have a relevant criminal conviction, this will be stated in the check and may affect your ability to enrol on the course. Applicants who are on the barred list should be aware that applying to this course is likely to be considered a criminal offence.

Course structure

This full-time programme is delivered over two years (45 weeks of learning per year). There are seven taught modules, four in year one (90 credits) and three in year two (90 credits). All modules must be undertaken and passed (180 credits in total).

In addition, there are three full-time practice-based learning placement modules which are required to be successfully completed for you to be awarded the MSc pre-registration Occupational Therapy and confer eligibility for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council. There are two placements in year one and one placement in year two.

There are seven weeks of annual leave per year, typically two weeks at Christmas two weeks in the spring and two to three weeks in the summer.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2024/25 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2024.

Year one

In Year One, you will undertake four taught core level 7 modules.

These modules are designed to enable you to acquire a sound foundational knowledge and understanding of occupational therapy to begin to develop confidence in your unique professional identity, role, and purpose as an occupational therapist.

Firstly, you will begin to learn about the history and philosophy of the profession and the origins of occupational science theory that underpins occupational therapy before moving on to understand the relationship between occupation, health, and wellbeing. The nature of occupational performance, participation and analysis is fundamental to the learning in the first module before you begin to consider the impact of occupational disruption upon individuals across the lifespan and ways these can be prevented or minimised.

Professional practice and occupational disruption modules are designed to help you develop your professional reasoning and apply creative problem-solving skills in relation to assessment, planning and intervention in occupational therapy. The theory learnt in these modules is undertaken prior to each practice-based learning placement to encourage the application of theory to practice across the first year.

Alongside these modules, you will undertake a research methods module which shares online, digital learning resources with the MSc pre-registration Physiotherapy programme. This will build on your previous knowledge of research gained in your undergraduate degree and equip you with the skills to develop an MSc research protocol for a profession specific occupational therapy study that you will undertake in year two.

In the first year you will also be introduced to principles of leadership and quality improvement and will begin working in interprofessional (IPE) study groups with your peers from the MSc pre-registration Physiotherapy programme, exploring key learning activities related to your continuing professional development.

Year two

In Year Two of the programme, you will undertake three core taught level 7 modules.

Building upon the foundations laid in the first year of the programme, you will continue to develop the core knowledge, skills and professional attitudes required of an emerging occupational therapist and be supported to assume increasing autonomy as a self-directed learner. The modules in the second year are designed to foster a critically evaluative approach to the practice of occupational therapy as well as to your own personal and professional development and employability.

There will be a focus on developing your knowledge, understanding and application of compassionate leadership principles, quality improvement and innovation in occupational therapy practice and you will explore the potential of occupational therapy in areas of developing and non-traditional practice resulting in designing innovative product/service change or improvement.

Alongside this you will build on your research skills from year one through planning, gaining ethical approval and carrying out a relevant, postgraduate level, occupation-based research study. You will also consider a range of research dissemination methods culminating in participation in an interprofessional peer led student showcase event at the end of the programme where you will also have the opportunity to present a community-based heath or social care project undertaken in your interprofessional study group.

During the second year you will complete your final practice-based learning critical evaluation placement which is designed to consolidate the occupational therapy problem solving approach as well as the core values, beliefs, knowledge, and skills commensurate with an entry level occupational therapist and reflected in the four Pillars of Practice (RCOT Career Development Framework 2021).

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.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

In choosing to study occupational therapy at Cardiff University you will pursue a programme that is inclusive, creative, transformative, and forward-thinking in its design. Our educational philosophy echoes that of occupational therapy in that we acknowledge and value the rich store of prior experience, skills, and knowledge that you as an individual bring to the learning environment.

The programme is taught primarily through blended learning methods underpinned by the adult learning principles of problem-based learning. This collaborative teaching approach promotes active, student-directed learning, promotes life-long learning, and fosters creative and critical thinking.

Blended learning is an instructional method that includes a combination of online and in-person learning activities. Face- to face teaching will be complemented by high quality online learning opportunities using a range of digital platforms including Zoom and Blackboard Collaborate. Online learning will include a mixture of real time synchronous and asynchronous activities which you can carry out at your own pace. Digital literacy is an essential requirement of contemporary occupational therapy practice and utilising these methods as a student will enable you to acquire the confidence, knowledge, skills, and capabilities necessary for your forthcoming career. Combining face to face learning with digital learning experiences enables the programme to be delivered in a flexible way, aiding sustainability and reducing travel requirements. You will be taught by a highly experienced, inter-professional academic team with extensive knowledge and expertise in the fields of occupational therapy education, leadership, and practice. You will also benefit from inter-professional education, learning with other students and practitioners in relevant health and social care professions.

Throughout the programme, you will work in small groups to identify and investigate issues relevant to occupation and occupational therapy practice based on purposefully designed, creative trigger material that stimulates and inspires learning. Collaborative and inter-professional learning in the academic environment encourages the development of professional communication and team-working skills necessary for your practice-based learning placements and for your future practice as an occupational therapist. Though most of the professional practical skills teaching occurs whilst you are out on placement, there is an emphasis on ‘learning by doing’ throughout the curriculum. Environmental resources such as the activities of daily living suite afford opportunities to develop and practise skills within a simulated home environment, while practical workshops such as manual handling, splinting, and interviewing skills are facilitated by both academic staff and visiting lecturers who are practising occupational therapists.

Our teaching and learning methods are purposefully designed to support in developing core professional skills relating to collaborative working (including an appreciation of the role and contribution of others), lifelong learning and continuing professional development (CPD), evidence-based practice and digital literacy.

How will I be assessed?

Assessment of academic and professional competencies is essential in ensuring that you meet professional and regulatory standards and the required entry-level proficiency of an occupational therapist and that you are fit for practice. The curriculum incorporates a diverse and creative range of authentic assessment strategies and methods which are reflective of an inclusive, learner-centred approach and aligned to the intended learning outcomes of the programme. Academic assessment is carried out at level 7 with a pass mark for all academic assessments of 50%. You are required to pass all academic assessments and practice-based learning placements.

Each module within the programme incorporates formative assessment and feedback that is designed to support your learning and to assist you in identifying strengths and areas for development of you as an individual learner as well as a member of a group/team. Examples of methods of formative assessment include reflective feedback on individual and group presentations and written work. As part of your ongoing personal and professional development you will be encouraged to evaluate your own progress as well as that of your peers, thus becoming confident and competent in giving and receiving feedback. Throughout your time on the programme, you will also be supported and encouraged to engage in continuing professional development (CPD) and to record, evaluate and share this with your personal tutor and with others.

Formative assessment and feedback help to prepare you for summative assessment which is formally marked and therefore contributes to progression and the final classification of the MSc pre-registration award. The goal of summative assessment is to indicate how well you have succeeded in meeting the intended learning outcomes of a module and the feedback provided will enable you to identify areas for further development.

A variety of summative assessments have been designed to evaluate a range of abilities and to emphasise the diversity of knowledge, skills and attitudes required of an occupational therapist. The assessment schedule reflects both the breadth of the curriculum and the depth of study expected at postgradute level. Examples of assessments used on the programme are written academic essays, individual presentations, an online screening assesment and reflection, a design ‘pitch’ to your peer group, a research protocol and research study report. Assessments can be undertaken through the medium of Welsh.

How will I be supported?

You are allocated a personal tutor who is a member of the occupational therapy academic team. You will have regular meetings with your personal tutor throughout your time on the programme, during which you can reflect on your overall progress and development and access pastoral support and academic guidance in keeping with your individual needs. Personal tutors will also assist in signposting you to other sources of support such as the school and programme student disability contact and University-wide services including Student Support and Wellbeing and the Academic Skills and Mentoring Team.

Welsh-speaking personal tutors are available to you if your preference is to access support through the medium of Welsh.

Individual module leads, the Programme Manager and the Professional Head of Occupational Therapy can offer support in relation to your overall experience as a student of the programme, including any feedback or concerns you might have in relation to quality. In the first year of the programme, you will also be allocated an academic research supervisor who will support and supervise you throughout the two research modules.

During the practice-based learning placements, you will be supported by a practice educator who has received guidance and/or formal training and accreditation in relation to facilitating student learning and assessment. You will also be assigned a named contact tutor from the occupational therapy academic staff group who will offer support before, during and after a placement and who will facilitate a formal review of your progress at the half-way point. A dedicated placement support team will also be available to you, alongside formal mechanisms, and procedures to support your learning and progress to address any issues or problems that may arise. The placement team will attempt to source Welsh-speaking educators or bilingual placement learning opportunities and Welsh-speaking named contacts from the academic setting upon request.

From the beginning of the programme, you will be a member of an interprofessional study group with MSc pre-registration Physiotherapy students. Supported by an academic member of staff these groups will inform your professional development as a healthcare student and emerging practitioner through reflection, self-directed learning and specific interprofessional education activities that are embedded within the modules.

All modules within the programme make extensive use of Cardiff University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Learning Central, on which you will find course materials, links to related materials and assessment exemplars. Normally, lectures are recorded via a variety of electronic platforms, and are available for you to view throughout your programme.  

What skills will I practise and develop?

The Learning Outcomes for this Programme describe what you will be able to do as a result of your study at Cardiff University. They will help you to understand what is expected of you.

The Learning Outcomes for this Programme can be found below. On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

Knowledge & Understanding:

  • Critical evaluation of the development and evolution of the occupational therapy profession including occupational science and practice theory, the occupational nature of human beings and the impact of occupation on health and wellbeing.
  • A critical appreciation of the unique, occupation-focused philosophy and values of the profession as applied to the whole person-centred practice across the lifespan for individuals, groups and communities.
  • Critical evaluation and application of the bio- psychosocial theoretical model on occupational performance, participation, wellbeing and disruption across the life span.
  • Critical evaluation and application of theoretical professional knowledge underpinning the occupational therapy problem- solving process across a range of practice contexts.
  • Critical evaluation application of the profession’s regulatory and professional body standards concerning continuing professional development, leadership, research, and evidence-based practice for development, delivery and evaluation of occupational therapy and the autonomous practitioner.

Intellectual Skills:

  • Proficiency in the selection, analysis, synthesis, and critical evaluation of contemporary evidence-based information, drawing logical and reasoned conclusions in the formation of professional decisions and judgements.
  • A creative and appreciative approach to problem-solving in the academic and practice setting, including innovative thinking, problem solving and justifying realistic solutions.
  • Competence in contributing to a professional knowledge and evidence base through the selection, justification and application of ethically sound research design and the identification of effective dissemination strategies.
  • Enhanced professional reasoning skills in relation to the relevance and value of occupation and occupational therapy within multi-disciplinary/professional teams.

Professional Practical Skills:

  • Professional values and behaviours in keeping with professional body/regulator expectations, including the ‘Professional standards for occupational therapy practice, conduct and ethics (RCOT 2021) and ‘Guidance on conduct and ethics for students’ (HCPC, 2016).
  • Effective and appropriate collaborative working practices and relationships with users of services, multi and interdisciplinary team members and other practice partners.
  • Non-discriminatory occupational therapy practice valuing individual, group and community diversity of experience and perspective.
  • Competence in assessment methods and techniques to identify occupational needs and in analysing tasks, activities, and occupations as a core professional skill.
  • Sound professional reasoning skills in identifying, planning and evaluating evidence-based interventions for the facilitation of occupational performance and participation.
  • Critical evaluation of leadership, service, and quality improvement within occupational therapy practice.
  • Application of knowledge of the socio-political and legal environment as it impacts upon health, wellbeing, and occupation within the practice context of individuals, groups, and communities.

Transferable/Key Skills:

  • A creative and innovative approach to problem-solving in the academic and practice environment, including the application of enterprise and entrepreneurship within the context of health and social care.
  • Active engagement in continuing personal and professional development underpinned by critical reflection and a commitment to lifelong self-directed learning.
  • Enhanced communication skills in the academic and practice environment to collaborate and work in partnership with other people across a range of settings.
  • Effective self-management and an advanced ability to teach, mentor and motivate others, drawing upon fundamental leadership and management skills in identifying methods and strategies for quality improvement.
  • Effective and responsible engagement with digital education and practice technologies relevant to changing working environments in diverse health and social care settings.


Tuition fees for 2024 entry

Your tuition fees and how you pay them will depend on your fee status. Your fee status could be home, island or overseas.

Learn how we decide your fee status

Fees for home status

A full NHS bursary, including tuition fees and a non-repayable bursary for living costs, is available for this programme. Further details are available on our NHS funding pages.

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national, your tuition fees for 2024/25 be in line with the overseas fees for international students, unless you qualify for home fee status. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.

Fees for island status

Learn more about the postgraduate fees for students from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Fees for overseas status

An NHS placement is a required part of this course. The NHS only makes placements available to students who are eligible to pay UK fees. Therefore, this course is not available for international students.

Additional costs

You will be responsible for meeting the costs of obtaining an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Certificate as a requirement of your application.

If you accept an NHS Bursary funded place you will still need to pay upfront travel and potential accommodation costs in relation to practice-based learning placements. In addition, although students are provided with essential uniform for placement, you will need to meet the cost of appropriate footwear.

If you have alternative funding such as through Student Finance England you are eligible to pay for all associated costs in relation to practice- based learning placements including travel costs, alternative accommodation, and uniform.

If you chose to participate in any international learning opportunities this would be at your expense.

Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?

You are not required to provide extensive equipment to pursue the programme but will want to equip yourself to take notes and produce assessed and formative work as an essential element of your studies.

Although there are computers available for use on campus and the Cochrane Building Health Library it is essential that you have access to your own desktop PC, laptop, or tablet device to participate fully in blended learning. This should include a suitable camera so that you can fully participate in teaching and learning activities. It is also recommended that you have access to a reliable and stable internet source.

You may choose to purchase some books to support your learning. However, this is not compulsory, and a diverse range of learning resources are available via the Library Services, including access to electronic journals and books.

Living costs

We’re based in one of the UK’s most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.


NHS funding for pre-registration Occupational Therapy and pre-registration Physiotherapy

Eligibility for NHS funding is subject to new students committing in advance to work in Wales for 18 months post-qualification.

Careers and placements

There are excellent employability options for those pursuing a career in occupational therapy and Cardiff University occupational therapy graduate prospects were rated at 95% by the Complete University Guide 2022.

This programme of study will equip you with a sound understanding of the changing landscape of health, social care, and wider community services, supporting your development as a creative, dynamic, and innovative occupational therapist and will provide opportunities to develop the leadership and research skills you will require to shape current and future services.

If you are in receipt of an NHS Wales Bursary you are expected to gain employment as an occupational therapist in Wales within three months of completing your programme and gaining registration with the HCPC. Traditionally Cardiff University pre-registration postgraduate students have been highly successful in securing posts in Wales and are considered very desirable employees by NHS and Local Authority employers.

In addition to these established traditional areas of practice within statutory sectors, the unique occupation-focused contribution of occupational therapists is increasingly recognised and valued within public organisations such as prisons and schools, private-sector organisations such as residential homes and housing associations and by third sector organisations such as charities and social enterprises.


All occupational therapy students must complete a minimum of 1000 hours of supervised and successfully assessed practice-based learning as a requirement of the professional body (WFOT 2016). The programme includes three placement modules which will enable you to apply and build upon the theoretical knowledge and practical skills you will have acquired in the academic setting. Practice-based learning placements occur in each year of the programme, they are all full-time and range in duration as follows:

Year One

  • Assessment and Planning Placement 8 weeks (February – March).
  • Intervention Placement 10 weeks (June – August).

Year Two

  • Critical Evaluation Placement 11 weeks (March – May).

During your first placement you will focus on developing your assessment and planning skills akin to the initial stages of the problem-solving process in occupational therapy. The focus of the second placement is on occupational therapy approaches and intervention and the third and final placement considers the implementation and evaluation of the complete problem-solving process as well as critical appraisal of your own personal practice and of occupational therapy service provision.

The development of inter-professional team-working skills will be a key focus of practice-based learning across the two years. You will therefore work with your fellow MSc pre-registration Physiotherapy students in an interprofessional study group to reflect on and support your learning and professional practice.

Practice-based learning placements will be carefully planned and organised for you to ensure that you complete the programme having experienced and been assessed in a range of practice settings. Our placement providers are primarily situated in health and social care settings across South East Wales, although you may also pursue non-traditional placements in the private and third sectors as well as non-frontline opportunities if appropriate to your learning requirements.

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Related searches: Occupational therapy, Healthcare, Healthcare sciences, OT

HESA Data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2021. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2019/20, published by HESA in June 2022.