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Occupational Therapy (BSc)

Entry year

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.

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Occupational Therapy student with patient

Course overview

Ranked joint 1st in the UK by the Complete University Guide 2019, our Occupational Therapy programme aims to prepare you for your chosen career as an occupational therapist. Once you have successfully completed 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).

With over 50 years of experience in delivering occupational therapy education, our three-year, full-time BSc (Hons) is a stimulating programme that provides the opportunity to engage in both academic study and practice-based placement learning. Our programme is approved by the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT), which means that your qualification will be recognised in around 60 countries worldwide, enhancing your opportunities for international employment.

As a qualified occupational therapist you will work in partnership with and empower a broad spectrum of people who, for reasons of ill-health, disability, trauma or adverse social circumstances, face barriers and challenges which prevent them from undertaking the activities (or occupations) that matter to them.  Our curriculum emphasises the centrality 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.     

The programme fosters a commitment to lifelong learning among its students and you will actively engage in continuing professional development throughout the three years, reflecting upon and recording your individual learning needs and achievements. 

You will receive close academic support from experienced personal tutors and be taught and supported by experienced staff whilst sharing ideas within a close-knit student group.  An emphasis on academic study also ensures that you enter the profession as a research-capable practitioner equipped with the skills and confidence to contribute to the evidence base which supports and informs current and future occupational therapy practice.

We have close working relationships with a range of service providers across Wales and you will benefit from practice placements facilitated by experienced occupational therapy educators who will help support you in becoming the best occupational therapist you can be. 

A varied profile of placement experience undertaken across the three years of the programme will allow you to integrate academic theory with actual occupational therapy practice and gain insight as to the wide-ranging employment opportunities available to you upon qualification (e.g. within NHS, Local Authority, private and third sector settings). That’s why 95% of our occupational therapy graduates are in professional employment or further study six months after completing the programme (Unistats 2017/18).

Distinctive features

The distinctive features of the course include:

  • The Complete University Guide 2018 ranked Occupational Therapy at Cardiff University first in the UK, based on student satisfaction, entry standards, student-staff ratios and graduate prospects.

  • The School of Healthcare Sciences has recently invested in new facilities and equipment, including a Clinical Simulation Suite, aiming to provide some of the best technology and modern facilities at your disposal. Skills facilities available to occupational therapy students include an Activities of Daily Living (ADL) suite of rooms which simulate a living space with bedroom and bathroom areas, as well as a clinical space for treating children with developmental disabilities.

  • The School provides pre-registration courses recognised by the UK Health and Care Professions Council in radiotherapy and oncology, occupational therapy, operating department practice, physiotherapy and diagnostic radiography and imaging. It also provides pre-registration courses in nursing and midwifery. This contributes to a vibrant interdisciplinary environment, with opportunities for shared learning and inter-professional education not available at many institutions.
  • Completion of each course leads to eligibility to apply for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council and professional membership of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists.


UCAS codeB921
Next intakeSeptember 2020
Duration3 years
ModeFull time

Ranked joint 1st in the UK by the Complete University Guide 2019.

Entry requirements

The entry requirements shown are for students starting in 2019. Entry requirements for 2020 will be available in August 2019.

Grades ABB (General Studies, Critical Thinking and Citizenship not accepted).  The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will be accepted in lieu of one A-Level. Please visit Other essential requirements for the School of Healthcare Sciences

Additional Requirements

During your application to the course you will be required to demonstrate that you meet the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) good health and character, 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 on this will be provided at application stage

Extended Project Qualification: Applicants with grade A in the EPQ will typically receive an offer one grade lower than the standard A level offer. Please note that any subject specific requirements must still be met.

The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.

Typical BTEC Extended Diploma offer: DDD

35 points to include 5 in a science subject at Higher Level.

Alternative qualifications may be accepted. For further information on entry requirements, see the School of Healthcare Sciences admissions criteria pages.

IELTS (academic)

At least 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each sub-score.


At least 90 with minimum scores of 17 for writing, 17 for listening, 18 for reading and 20 for speaking.

PTE Academic

62 with a minimum of 51 in all communicative skills.

Trinity ISE II/III

II: at least two Distinctions and two Merits.
III: at least a Pass in all components.

Other accepted qualifications

Please visit our English Language requirements page for more information on our other accepted language qualifications.

Typical European Bacc offer: Diploma with a final overall mark of at least 77% Typical Access to HE Diploma offer: 30 Distinctions and 15 Merits at level 3  Any specific GCSE requirements (other than standard Grade C in English): Five GCSEs at grade A-C or grade 8-4, to include English, Maths and Science Typical offers for other qualifications:  Irish Leaving Certificate: A minimum of H3 H3 H3 H3 H5 H5 with a minimum of H3 in Science Scottish Advanced Highers: BCC   English Language Requirements for non-UK applicants English language requirements are in line with regulatory body (HCPC) guidelines: ‘Applicants whose first language is not English and who are required to provide a language test certificate as evidence of their proficiency must ensure that it is, or is comparable to, IELTS level 7.0 with no element below 6.5’ (HCPC) IELTS (academic) At least 7.0 overall with no less than 7.0 in speaking and a minimum of 6.5 all other sub-scores TOEFL iBT At least 100 with minimum scores of 24 for writing, 22 for listening, 24 for reading and 25 for speaking Pearson Test of English (academic) 70 with 70 in speaking and no less than 62 in any of the other skills   It is essential that before commencing any of our undergraduate healthcare programmes, you must have obtained a satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. In addition, before enrolling on your programme, you will be required to complete an Occupational Health Questionnaire, attend any subsequent appointment(s), and receive all of the necessary vaccinations to undertake clinical placements safely.   Any questions contact: 

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2020/21)

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 outside the EU (2020/21)

An NHS placement is a required part of this course. The NHS only makes placements available to students who are eligible to pay UK/EU 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.  In addition, applicants are advised that there may be travel and accommodation costs associated with compulsory periods of practice placement. Students are provided with a uniform for placement, however you will need to meet the cost of appropriate footwear.  


We have a range of residences to suit your needs and budget. Find out more on our accommodation pages.

Course structure

This a three-year full-time programme.  There are four core 30 credit modules within each academic year (120 credits in total), other than in the final year which is made up of two 30 credit modules, a 20 credit module and a 40 credit module. The programme is structured to ensure a spiral curriculum, whereby modules build on each other to scaffold the students learning and spiral through each year by increasing the depth and range of topics learnt.  There is an assessed practice placement within each academic year. Students must successfully complete 360 credits and pass each of the practice placements in order to achieve the award of a BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy and be eligible to apply for professional registration to practice as an occupational therapist.    

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2020/21 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2020.

Year one

Occupational therapy uses occupations or people's everyday activities and ideas to help them overcome physical or psychological disabilities.

The year one modules introduce concepts of learning and occupational therapy theory, including occupational science, plus practice education modules, which reflect the integration of knowledge and the sequential development of your skills. The focus of the first year is on assessment that occupational therapists employ in a variety of settings.

The taught modules in year one total 120 credits. All are core (compulsory).

Year two

The integration of occupationally-based study together with contributory sciences across the boundaries of modules mirrors the approach to problem solving used by occupational therapists and will enhance your ability to become reflective practitioners. This year will focus on occupational therapy interventions and the underpinning theory of these interventions.

The taught modules in year two total 120 credits. All are core (compulsory).

Year three

In year three the Critical Evaluation module, worth 40 credits, aims to build on the skills of occupational therapy assessment, planning and intervention and to develop your critical evaluation within the practice education setting. This will give you the opportunity to integrate theory and practice and continue to develop skills including communication, organisation and management, reflective, professional and inter-professional abilities.

It will also encourage you to consolidate your skills for the promotion and application of team working and collaborative practice within health and social care.

The taught modules in year three total 120 credits. All are core (compulsory).

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 experience, skills and knowledge that you as an individual bring to the learning environment. The programme will facilitate your personal and professional development by providing a collaborative, learner-centred environment that encourages self-direction, promotes life-long learning and fosters creative and critical thinking.

The curriculum is delivered through problem-based learning (PBL) and appreciative inquiry (AI); innovative, evidence-based approaches to learning that are consistent with the need to promote active, student-directed learning with a real-world focus and application.

Throughout much of the programme, you will work in tutorial groups to identify and investigate issues relevant to occupation and occupational therapy based on purposefully-designed, creative trigger material that stimulates and inspires learning.  Collaborative learning in the academic environment encourages the development of professional communication and team-working skills and therefore underpins and enhances the learning which occurs during practice placement. Traditional face-to-face learning strategies such as lectures, workshops and seminars will be complemented by interactive online opportunities and resources designed to enhance your overall learning experience and enable you to acquire the knowledge, skills and capabilities that are a requirement of contemporary occupational therapy practice.

Though the majority of practical skills teaching occurs within the practice placement elements of the programme, 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 e.g. manual handling, splinting, interviewing skills etc. are facilitated by both academic staff and visiting lecturers who are practising occupational therapists.  You are also afforded valuable opportunities to learn from the authentic voices of service users and carers who contribute to the programme as experts by experience.
This programme offers elements of provision through the medium of Welsh.

How will I be supported?

You are allocated a personal tutor who is a member of the academic staff group and a qualified occupational therapist.  You will be encouraged to arrange 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 (see Student Handbook for further information).  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 second year of the programme you will be allocated an academic supervisor who will support you in designing and undertaking a small-scale research project and in producing your final-year dissertation.  

During periods of practice placement you will be supported by a named practice educator who has received guidance and/or formal training and accreditation (e.g. under the Royal College of Occupational Therapists’ APPLE scheme) in relation to facilitating student learning and assessment.  You will also be assigned a named contact from the 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 and 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. 

How will I be assessed?

Assessment of academic and professional competencies is essential in ensuring that you meet the regulatory standards and entry-level profile of an occupational therapist and that they are fit for practice.  The curriculum incorporates a diverse and creative range of assessment strategies and methods which are reflective of an inclusive, learner-centred approach and aligned to the intended learning outcomes of the programme. 

Each module within the programme incorporates formative assessment and feedback which does not contribute to progression or degree classification decisions but, rather, is designed to support your learning and to assist you in identifying your own strengths and areas for development.  Examples of methods of formative assessment include reflective discussions and written pieces, group and individual presentations, quizzes, debate, simulated and practical tasks. 

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, 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 others.


Formative assessment and feedback prepares you for summative assessment which is formally marked and therefore contributes to progression or degree classification decisions.  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 any areas for further development.  Feedback on assessments will be timely, and will be provided to you within 20 working days of the submission deadline.  Examples of summative assessment methods within the programme include forms of coursework, individual presentations and projects and a final-year dissertation.

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:

Knowledge & Understanding:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • A comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the philosophical and theoretical concepts that underpin and inform occupational therapy practice; principally occupational science, the occupational nature of human beings and the impact of occupation on health and wellbeing.
  • A sound recognition of the fundamentals of human anatomy, physiology, psychology and sociology that underpin and impact upon occupational performance and participation across the life span, including the nature and meaning of disruption.
  • A critical appreciation of the unique, occupation-focused contribution of the profession within a range of practice contexts, to include traditional and newly-emerging areas of occupational therapy service provision for individuals, groups and communities.
  • An informed awareness of the social, economic and political dimensions of human occupation and their relevance to occupational therapy service provision, including an understanding of health and social care organisations as complex adaptive systems.
  • An in-depth understanding of the core principles and values that underpin collaborative practice in health and social care, including an awareness of the role and contribution of other professionals in ensuring the provision of high-quality, person-centred services. 
  • A sound appreciation of regulatory and professional body standards concerning continuing professional development, leadership research and evidence-based practice as relevant to the development, delivery and evaluation of occupational therapy services.

Intellectual Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • Proficiency in the selection, analysis, synthesis and critical evaluation of information from a wide range of sources, drawing logical and reasoned conclusions in the formation of sound decisions and professional judgements.
  • A creative and appreciative approach to problem-solving in the academic and practice setting, including imaginative thinking and the development of innovative solutions and ideas.
  • Competence in contributing to a professional knowledge-base through the selection, justification and application of ethically-sound research design and methods and the identification of effective dissemination strategies.
  • Enhanced professional reasoning skills, including the ability to engage in cogent debate in relation to the relevance and value of occupation and occupational therapy.
  • Effective use of reflection and reflexivity as tools to enable critical review and transformation of personal, professional and wider organisational values and practice. 

Professional Practical Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • Established professional values and behaviours in keeping with professional body expectations, including the ‘Code of ethics and professional conduct’ (COT, 2015), ‘Professional standards for occupational therapy practice’ (COT, 2017) and ‘Guidance on conduct and ethics for students’ (HCPC, 2016).
  • Effective and appropriate collaborative working practices with users of services, other team members and partners, drawing upon enabling, empowering and consultative approaches and valuing diversity of experience and perspective.
  • Competence in employing a broad range of standardised and non-standardised 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 and planning appropriate, evidence-based interventions for the facilitation of occupational performance and participation, respecting the rights, needs and preferences of the individuals and/or groups involved.
  • Flexibility in modifying and adapting plans in accordance with the changing needs and priorities of users and services, reflecting upon and evaluating the impact of occupational therapy and identifying appropriate methods to measure occupational outcomes. 
  • Critical review and application of methods and strategies for service evaluation and quality improvement within occupational therapy, synthesising professional philosophy to justify the involvement of users and carers in effecting meaningful change.
  • Effective prioritisation and management of time, working within given resources throughout the problem solving process and assuming leadership, responsibility and accountability for management and development of self and others.
  • A critically-evaluative approach to the socio-political environment as it impacts upon health, wellbeing and occupation within the practice context, analysing relevant local, national and global legislation and policies to inform professionally-reasoned decisions and actions.
  • Accurate record-keeping, including competence in producing and reviewing a range of documentation and communications related to occupational therapy practice in a specific context to ensure that they effectively convey and justify professional actions and intervention outcomes.
  • Advocacy and advisory skills to inform health and social care policy and practice, including a proactive approach to promoting and protecting the health and wellbeing of individuals, groups and communities and preventing ill health. 

Transferable/Key Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • 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 others across a range of sectors, build therapeutic and professional relationships and effectively articulate personal and professional abilities. 
  • 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 a range of digital technologies to communicate and collaborate with others and in relation to the retrieval, creation and critical evaluation of information. 
  • Application of the core professional beliefs and values of occupational therapy as they are aligned to the principles of social and environmental sustainability and contribute to ethically-responsible health and social care provision. 


Career prospects

As a School of Healthcare Sciences  97% of our graduates were in employment and/or further study six months after graduating.* Our courses offer a considerable amount of time on practical learning opportunities which help develop confidence, abilities and employability as a healthcare professional.

Employers can include: various Health Boards and NHS Trusts, Community Health Services, local government social service departments, international health services, higher education institutions, the private sector such as housing associations or care homes, and organisations such as Age Concern.

Career destinations can include: occupational therapist, researcher, and primary care graduate mental health worker.

*Graduate destinations statistics are based on HESA Destination of Leavers of Higher Education 2013/14 data.


  • Occupational therapist

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Saturday 14 September




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