Physiotherapy - BSc (Hons)
Training you for success as a modern, proficient, up-to-date and research-informed physiotherapist.Take a look
- Physiotherapy Researcher
Important notice – campus change Students will complete the next two years on the Jordanstown campus (academic year 2019/20 and 2020/21). Thereafter, from 2021, they may transition campuses. Precise timings will be communicated as we progress through the final stages of the build of the enhanced Belfast campus. Find out more
In this section
Training you for success as a modern, proficient, up-to-date and research-informed physiotherapist.
Are you aware that physios work in all areas of health (e.g. elderly care, community care, intensive care, respiratory care, stroke care, mental healthcare) not just in musculoskeletal/sports injuries? Are you willing to put patients first in everything you do, and treat all with respect, dignity & compassion? Do you realise that, for the safety of their patients, all physio students are required to be vaccinated and to pass both a medical and an enhanced criminal record check? Do you appreciate that physio students are expected to act in the role of patients for their classmates during practical classes, and that this can mean you undressing to your underwear? Are you prepared to put in a lot of work (20+ in-class hrs/wk in Year 1, plus plenty of home study)? If so, this may be the course for you.
We will train you to cope with virtually all situations that physiotherapists meet professionally. We will also focus on your academic development, leaving you able to identify problems that need solving, seek out related information and critically appraise its value, come up with solutions for the initial problem, and produce a report/presentation with which to transmit your recommendations to an audience.
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About this course
In this section
“The BSc Hons Physiotherapy programme at Ulster is, quite rightly, a very highly regarded pre-registration programme in the UK” (External Examiner based in another UK University).
Physiotherapists use a range of mainly physical approaches to help their patients regain their original levels of health. If this is not achievable (maybe due to a worsening degenerative condition) then physiotherapists help their patients achieve the maximum that is now possible.
We will train you to be able to cope with virtually any of the day-to-day situations that present to a modern physiotherapist. You will study alongside other students who share your desire to help others. As well as attending lectures and seminars, you will take part in practical classes. In these classes, you will practice the skills that you will eventually use on placement.
You will complete a minimum of 1,000 clinical hours spread over five 6-week placements in Northern Ireland. On placement, you will work in a wide range of physiotherapy disciplines (such as neurology, cardiorespiratory, orthopaedics, burns & plastics, musculoskeletal outpatients).
Ulster has a well-developed postgraduate research group. This means that, once you graduate, you will have the opportunity to continue your studies here working towards a Masters or Doctoral degree.
The presence of our active research group ensures you will be taught by lecturers who are fully up-to-date in the latest research, as well as leaders in their various clinical fields. These lecturers will strive to give you the best possible start on your own professional journey. We take great pride in meeting/reading of past students who are now our peers, being experts in their own right.
You will be part of a strongly-knit team of supportive students. With this support, you have every reason to be confident that you will achieve your goal of becoming a physiotherapist.
Ours is a 3-year, full-time course. In addition, two of your 6-week placement blocks occur in summer semesters (that is, at a time when you would otherwise be on your summer holiday). One placement occurs at the beginning of the summer holiday before Year 2, and one occurs at the end of the summer holiday before Year 3.
In Year 1, you can expect to attend 5 days per week. You will have approximately 20 hours of staff contact time and 30 hours of self-directed study per week. In subsequent years, the amount of staff contact time reduces and the amount of self-directed study increases.
As part of our commitment to supporting you through your time at university, we will monitor your attendance closely and follow-up any non-attendance.
This course is currently the subject of consultation regarding its future location. No such relocation is due until Sept 2020 at the earliest.
- September 2020
Teaching, Learning and Assessment
You will work both individually and in groups. You will be taught in lectures (approx. 60 students), seminars (approx. 20 students) and practical classes (approx. 20 students). The majority of the course is delivered in practical classes where you will learn and practise the various practical skills needed by a physiotherapist. In these classes, you will alternate between taking on the role of physiotherapist and patient.
You will be assessed in a variety of ways, such as sit-down class tests, practical skills tests, presentations, oral tests, essays, dissertation, etc. You will also be assessed on your performance on placement.
The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.
Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:
- the relevant generic national Qualification Descriptor
- the applicable Subject Benchmark Statement
- the requirements of any professional, regulatory, statutory and accrediting bodies.
Attendance and Independent Study
As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.
Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10- or 20-credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate course typically 15- or 30-credit modules.
The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.
Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.
Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.
Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessment. The precise assessment will depend on the module and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification and the assessment timetable. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised.
Calculation of the Final Award
The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).
Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.
All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Master’s degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.
The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 59% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.
Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (25%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (18%) or Lecturers (57%).
We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic staff (81%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.
The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.
Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.
Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.
Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.
In this section
This module provides students with knowledge and understanding of the role of the physiotherapist in the management of the spontaneously breathing patient with respiratory compromise. Students will develop new physiotherapy assessment and treatment skills relevant to common clinical respiratory disorders.
Development of the physiotherapist as a professional and Professional practice placement 1
This module will prepare the physiotherapy student for life as a professional particularly in relation to clinical placement. It will address professional codes of conduct and how these need to be adhered to. It will also prepare the student for clinical placement through an understanding of how it is managed and allocated, their role and that of the educator and the academic staff. It will introduce them to reflective practice and portfolio keeping which will be an integral part of the placement.
Fundamentals of Rehabilitation
This module will introduce physical activity and exercise as a core physiotherapy modality to be used with a range of client groups. There will be a strong emphasis on behaviour change and the need to engage the patient in their own care.
Rehabilitation of Conditions
This module will introduce the student to physiotherapeutic specific skills in the assessment and management of a number of rheumatological conditions, fractures and soft tissue musculoskeletal disorders. The students will begin to foster an awareness of what it means to work professionally as a healthcare professional and develop clinical reasoning skills.
Structure Function and Assessment
This module gives the student a firm knowledge base in anatomy and function of the upper and lower limbs. It introduces students to simple clinical pictures and clinical reasoning strategies to make the anatomy meaningful, and introduces them to a basic diagnostic assessment of the peripheral joints.
Knowledge and Skills for Personal & Professional Development
This module provides opportunities to learn in an interprofessional context. Students will acquire skills for both academic and practice based learning. It will provide them with an opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills on issues relating to professional practice and personal development within a supportive environment.
Health Science Research
The module develops research knowledge and skills for using published evidence to inform practice and for designing and conducting research and clinical audit post-registration. The focus is on research design and qualitative and quantitative methods appropriate for healthcare research. A series of lectures and seminars will develop research knowledge and its application in using and producing research evidence. Workshops will provide practical experience of research activities including data analysis. In addition, course specific seminars will provide guidance on the development of a research idea and presentation of an outline research proposal.
This module develops student knowledge of neuroanatomy, neurophysiology and normal movement analysis and relates this information to the management of people with a range of neurological conditions.
Professional Practice Placement 2
This is the second of five integrated practice-based learning modules and will equip students. It will give students the opportunity to acquire knowledge of practical skills relating to clinical practice within a supportive environment designed to meet level 5 learning outcomes.
Physiotherapy Practice in Context
This module will enhance the student's knowledge of physiotherapy practice in context through analysis of more complex patient presentations in neurological conditions with additional problems in the cardiorespiratory system, and the clinical specialties of paediatrics and learning disability.
Musculoskeletal Assessment & Management: Peripiheral
In this module, students will further develop their ability to assess, clinically reason and diagnose musculoskeletal conditions of the peripheral body. The students' range of treatment options will be expanded to cover techniques from different manual therapy schools including Mulligan and Cyriax.
This module should leave students able to competently assess a range of peripheral musculoskeletal conditions, arrive at a working diagnosis and suggest a reasonable management plan.
Musculoskeletal assessment and management: Spinal
In preparation for this module on assessment and management of spinal dysfunction the student is introduced to the anatomy and biomechanics of the spine, pelvis and trunk. This module then introduces the student to the assessment, management and prevention of vertebral dysfunction through a manual therapy approach incorporating evidence based practice and psychosocial issues using a clinical reasoning approach.
In this module students will develop research skills by undertaking a research study on a topic related to practice. Each student, with support, will have an opportunity to undertake one of the following types of research project: (i) a systematic critical review to inform practice;(ii) a research protocol involving the design of a research study or health promotion activity or (iii) a research report involving the collection and/or analysis of data to produce evidence to inform practice. Lectures and clinics, supplemented by online material, will provide the theoretical knowledge and guidance required to undertake the research task. Workshops will provide support for practical skills such as systematic searching for literature, using critical appraisal tools and data management and analysis.
The Person with Complex Needs including Professional practice placement 3
This module will enable students to synthesise knowledge and theory with the application of their professional skills to enhance their clinical reasoning skills in the management of complex problems in relation to rehabilitation and palliative care for older people with long term conditions.
Professional Practice Placement 5
This is the final integrated practice-based learning module. This module will prepare students for practice and provide a fifth placement experience. This will provide students with a range of comprehensive placement during the 3 years of the BSc (Hons) course. It will give students the opportunity to develop further knowledge of practical skills relating to professional practice within a supportive environment designed to meet level 6 learning outcomes.
This module enables students to synthesis and evaluate evidence relating to the role of the physiotherapist in the management of the critically ill patient.
Professional Development and Employability (incorporating Professional Practice Placement 4)
As well as including the students' fourth placement block, this module focuses on preparing students for the task of securing a job at interview. Students work in a self-directed manner on group tasks. Assessment involves delivery of presentations and a simulated interview.
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.
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The A Level requirement for this course is BBB to include a grade B from one of the following: Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Double Award Life & Health Sciences (grade BB) or Double Award Applied Science (grade BB).
Applied General Qualifications
Overall BTEC Level 3 QCF Extended Diploma with profile DDD in a relevant science based BTEC.
BTEC Level 3 RQF National Extended Diploma with profile DDM in a relevant science based BTEC.
You may also meet the course entry requirements with combinations of different qualifications to the same standard (provided subject requirements are met). Examples of combinations include:
A levels with BTEC Level 3 QCF Subsidiary Diploma or BTEC RQF National Extended Certificate
A level with BTEC Level 3 QCF Diploma or BTEC Level 3 RQF National Diploma.
For further information on the entry requirements for this course please contact the administrator as listed in Contact details.
Irish Leaving Certificate
Overall Irish Leaving Certificate Higher grades H3,H3,H3,H3,H3 to include two H3 Highers in the following: Maths, Biology, Physics or Chemistry. Plus English and Mathematics Grade H6 at Higher level or Grade O4 at Ordinary level.
Access to Higher Education (HE)
Overall Access profile pass with an overall mark of 65%, including 65% in each level 3 module to include two level 3 modules from the following: Maths, Biology, Physics or Chemistry, NICATS maths (25 credits) or maths 1 & 2 or GCSE grade C Maths.
GCSE Profile to include English Language and Mathematics at grade C/4.
Essential/Key Skills in Application of Number is not regarded as an acceptable alternative to GCSE Mathematics.
English Language Requirements
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 7.0 with no band score less than 6.5.
Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.
Additional Entry Requirements
Satisfactory performance in the HPAT-Ulster selection test is also required. More information on the Health Professions Admissions Test (HPAT-Ulster) can be found at www.hpat-ulster.acer.org. Please note that there is a cost to undertake the test.
Applicants should note that, as they will be engaged in 'regulated activity' involving children or vulnerable adults as part of their course, there is a compulsory, legal requirement to obtain an Enhanced Disclosure from AccessNI. The cost for this is payable by the applicant and is currently £33. More information on Enhanced Disclosures may be accessed by www.accessni.gov.uk (http://www.accessni.gov.uk).
You will also be required to demonstrate good health prior to commencing the course. You will therefore complete a health declaration form which will be screened by Occupational Health who will confirm your medical fitness to undertake the course. Following the screening, you may be required to undertake a vaccination programme. You will be liable for the cost of both the health screening and vaccinations. Costs will be confirmed.
HND (science related) entry requirement:
Pass HND with overall Merit to include 60 distinctions in level 5 credits/units.
HNC (science related) entry requirement:
Pass HNC with overall Distinction to include 90 distinctions in level 4/5 credits/units.
OCR National Diploma and BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/BTEC National Extended Certificate
Ulster Foundation Degree
Pass in Foundation Degree in a science related area with an overall mark of 55% in level 5 modules. Applicants will be considered for year one entry only.
Careers & opportunities
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Graduates from this course are employed in many different roles. Here are some examples:
- Physiotherapy Researcher
Physiotherapists work in both public, community and private settings such as hospitals, GP practices, industry and private practice. There are also opportunities for our graduates to go on to complete higher degrees at Masters and Doctoral level.
Work placement / study abroad
Work placements are integral to this course. All students have to complete at least 1,000 hours of clinical practice. There are five 6-week placements. The first of these is split into one week of observation (in January of Year 1) and five weeks of hands-on placement (in June-July at the end of Year 1).
Most placements occur in Northern Ireland. It might be possible for one placement to occur outside Northern Ireland.
Approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) for the purpose of providing eligibility to apply for registration with the HCPC as a physiotherapist.
Endorsed by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP).
Fees and funding
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Fees (per year)
Important notice - fees information
Fees illustrated are based on 19/20 entry and are subject to an annual increase. Correct at the time of publishing. Terms and conditions apply. Additional mandatory costs are highlighted where they are known in advance. There are other costs associated with university study.
Visit our Fees pages for full details of fees
To find out more about fees related to this course please visit
Scholarships, awards and prizes
At present, the awards/prizes that are available to our BSc Hons physiotherapy students are:
- The Ryan X Seeley Award for the first year who is most supportive of fellow first year students
- The Physiotherapy Educators: Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, NI Board Prize for the final year student with the highest aggregate placement mark.
- The Collette Downey Memorial Prize for the final year student with the highest-scoring dissertation.
- The Northern Ireland Board of Chartered Society of Physiotherapy Prizefor the final year student with the highest overall mark.
In addition, the names of all first year and second year students who achieve a year average of at least 70% will be placed on the Dean's List.
Additional mandatory costs
Additional costs include - AccessNI Check, Health Screening, Membership of Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, Placement Expenses, Uniforms, Books.
Uniforms – as part of your course, you will be required to purchase a uniform during the first week of the semester. 2018/19 costs were approx. £80.
Placement Expenses – students may incur expenses during periods of placement. Some placements may be outside Northern Ireland and will incur additional costs.
Membership of Chartered Society of Physiotherapy – The School of Health Sciences feels that it is in the best interest of students to join as student members of their chosen profession. The current cost of student membership is approximately £40 per year.
Books - In 2018/19, buying the Year 1 required reading books new cost approximately £450; the Year 2 books cost approx £300, and there were no additional required books in Year 3.
Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges), and normal living are a part of university life.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.
We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.
There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees.
Please contact the course team for more information.
Admissions contact regarding application process:
Mrs Julie Nesbitt
Admissions Support Assistant
Course director regarding content of course:
Dr Jackie Gracey
For more information visit
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