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BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy video
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  • UCAS Code:
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  • Delivery:
    Full time according to Funding Council definitions

On this course you will learn about the best ways to enable people to engage in their daily lives by maximising their functional potential and adapting to their environment.

As you'd expect, there is a strong practical focus on this course, through both the placements you undertake and the use of our excellent clinical skills facilities. These include various skills rooms and a daily living suite and kitchen, where you will make use of the latest equipment and learn how to tackle common situations encountered by occupational therapists.

Watch a webinar presentation about our Occupational Therapy course here. Find out more about student life, financing your studies and accommodation options by registering for a webinar.

Our students have recently voted that they're 100% satisfied with the quality of the course, why not visit us so you can find out about the course for yourself?

All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.

Key information

Next start date:

September 2017, September 2018


Bournemouth University, Lansdowne Campus


3 years, including mandatory placements


Health & Care Professions Council and College of Occupational Therapists

Relevant subjects:

Sociology, Psychology, Physical Education, Human Biology or Health and Social Care

Entry requirements:

For 2017 entry: (we will use the new UCAS tariff) 128 tariff points from 3 A-Levels or equivalent qualifications. BTEC Extended Diploma of DDM. Offers will be subject and grade specific, particularly in the science subjects. For more information check out our 2017 entry requirements page

International entry requirements:

If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS (Academic) 7.0 with minimum 6.5 in each of the 4 components or equivalent.

For more information check out our international entry requirements page

Course details

You will study anatomy, physiology, sociology, psychology and occupational science which will form the ground work on which the study of the occupational therapy process is based.

Our course design utilises a range of diverse teaching and learning strategies with a strong emphasis on problem based learning, which involves groups of students working on real life scenarios in order to gain knowledge and understanding of occupational roles and how health and wellbeing can affect their functioning.

You can view information on our facilities and take a 360 tour of our simulation suites here.

On this course you will usually be taught by a range of staff with relevant expertise and knowledge appropriate to the content of the unit. This will include senior academic staff, qualified professional practitioners, demonstrators and technicians. You will also benefit from regular guest lectures from industry.

Year 1

Core units

  • Becoming an occupational therapist: This introductory unit explores occupational science concepts, theory of humans as occupational beings, key OT concepts and stages in the OT process.
  • Skills for therapy practice: During this unit you'll develop effective and transferable communication skills that value diversity.
  • Occupational therapy in action 1: You'll discover how to implement OT practice with diverse clients in a variety of settings, as well as learn how to gather information through assessment, collaboratively goals and identify appropriate occupation-focused approaches to intervention.
  • Analysing occupation: You'll gain an understanding of human anatomy, physiology, psychology, sociology and occupational functioning.
  • Occupational therapy portfolio 1: This placement unit enables you to apply the theoretical skills you’ve learnt in your first year to practical environments.

Year 2

Core units

  • Reasoning for occupational therapy practice: You'll explore the relevance of clinical reasoning and best evidence in relation to decision making and intervention planning.
  • Occupational therapy in action 2: Developing your skills of implementing OT practice, you'll be able to select, apply and critique a broad range of approaches to a diverse range of situations.
  • Exploring evidence to guide professional practice: You'll reflect on how professional practice can be enhanced in ways that emphasise human sensitivity and individual worth in accordance with value bases for professional practice across disciplinary boundaries.
  • Promoting health and wellbeing: This unit investigates the development and delivery of non-judgmental, sensitive health promotion, and evidence based practice.
  • Occupational therapy portfolio 2: This placement unit will help you plan, analyse and apply OT theories, knowledge, legislation and clinical governance in practice.

Year 3

Core units

  • Research for occupational therapy practice: You'll investigate the role of research in practice by exploring research approaches and relate research findings to a specific area of practice.
  • Innovation in occupational therapy: Drawing on experiences of different sectors and wider economic and socio-political issues, you'll evaluate an innovation of your choice.
  • Service improvement project: This group project will explore a service area of health care where you can enhance the experiences of people using the service.
  • Occupational therapy portfolio 3: This final placement will ensure you qualify as a confident and proficient professional, capable of providing high quality, autonomous practice.

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

Contact hours

In addition to the scheduled teaching and learning activities you will spend 1000 hours undertaking clinical placements where you gain the practical skills necessary to work as an occupational therapist. Your study time at BU will be split between scheduled learning and teaching activities and guided independent learning, such as preparing for and writing up coursework assignment, and group work.

Year 1 – 28% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

  • Learning and teaching: 422 hours
  • Independent learning: 514 hours
  • Non-assessed learning and teaching: 45 hours
  • Placement hours: 264

Year 2 – 21% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

  • Learning and teaching: 210 hours
  • Independent learning: 540 hours
  • Non-assessed learning and teaching: 17 hours
  • Placement hours: 450

Year 3 - 10% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

  • Learning and teaching: 120 hours
  • Independent learning: 780 hours
  • Non-assessed learning and teaching: 8 hours
  • Placement hours: 300 

77% of the course is assessed by coursework

  • Year 1: 80%
  • Year 2: 83%
  • Year 3: 67%

In addition to coursework assessments which allow you to combine your practice and theoretical learning you will experience assessed practical exams and there is also a small amount of written exam work to complete.

Programme specification

Programme specifications provide definitive records of the University's taught degrees in line with Quality Assurance Agency requirements. Every taught course leading to a BU Award has a programme specification which describes its aims, structure, content and learning outcomes, plus the teaching, learning and assessment methods used.

View the programme specification for BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the programme specification, the information is liable to change to take advantage of exciting new approaches to teaching and learning as well as developments in industry. If you have been unable to locate the programme specification for the course you are interested in, it will be available as soon as the latest version is ready. Alternatively please contact us for assistance.

*All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.

Placement opportunities

Over the three years of the course and in order to provide you with the necessary breadth of clinical experience, you will undertake the following placements across Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire:

• Year 1: 1 week and 6 weeks
• Year 2: 8 weeks
• Year 3: 10 weeks and 8 weeks

You’ll be supported by a practice placement educator throughout your practice placements.

What hours do you work?

When you start each placement you will be assigned a practice placement educator (PPE) and, as a general rule, you'll follow their shift pattern. This may include weekend and shift working, but you will not be expected to work more than 37.5 hours a week. If you do work on a Saturday or Sunday, you will usually receive a day off in lieu in the week, although this can vary from place to place.

Placements and travel costs

Your learning will be based at our Lansdowne Campus, while clinical placements will be in a variety of places within Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire, in order to provide the necessary breadth of experience. This will involve travel, and may require you to find short-term accommodation in order to participate in placements.

Your placement travel expenses will be reimbursed from the Department of Health and Student Finance England.

Placement locations

Each of our NHS-funded training courses contains a significant amount of placement experience, with this often being undertaken in outlying areas rather than solely in towns/cities. You need to consider this when making your application and be clear about what you will be undertaking. If your placement locality is to be assigned for the full length of the course, i.e. for Nursing, Midwifery and ODP, you will need to consider the realities of training within that geographical area and be specific about which would be suitable for you – whilst being flexible may in some circumstances increase your chances of success, being unrealistic will lead to problems. Don't forget to ensure that you take note of the locality you have been assigned when you receive your offer letter and arrange your accommodation accordingly.

You can find out more about our placement locations here.

Your application

Background and experience

Further to the academic entry requirements, we are looking for applicants who can show a clear insight into Occupational Therapy, demonstrated by having gained hands-on experience in a variety of different healthcare settings in which Occupational Therapists work.

It is recommended that you undertake some relevant paid or voluntary work experience before applying.

Our courses are built around the NHS’ constitution values, and when assessing your application we will take these values into consideration:

  • Working together for patients
  • Respect and dignity
  • Commitment to quality of care
  • Compassion
  • Improving lives
  • Everyone counts.

Find out more about the NHS Constitution principles.

Selection methods

We’ll use the UCAS applications to create a shortlist of candidates that we would like to find out more about. You can find some handy hints about filling in your UCAS form on our how to apply webpages.

Please note that interviews are part of our selection process and you must be able to demonstrate at interview that you show the necessary insight into Occupational Therapy, as well as the motivation and commitment to become an Occupational Therapist.

What to expect at interview

This will be a group interview which should last no longer than 4.5 hours. The day will start at approximately 9:00 - 9.30am. Firstly, you will be met by a member of the Admissions Team who will register your attendance. The interview session includes an introductory talk, group task, individual interviews and a tour of our facilities given by current Occupational Therapy students.

Find further information about interviews with the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences.

Additional reference

In addition to the reference on your UCAS form, once we’ve received your application we will contact you to ask for a second reference; this can be a different teacher/lecturer, employer or person who knows you in a professional capacity.

Our offer making process

Our offer making will typically be based on your three main graded qualifications, including any required subjects. Additional study may be valuable for breadth of study, and we will look at a range of qualifications and subjects, including the Extended Project Qualification and General Studies, although these may not be part of our offer.

If you do not meet the criteria of your original offer, we may still offer you a place. We will review your whole application and consider all academic qualifications (including those not in the offer) and the rest of the application to see if you have the academic potential to succeed on the course. If we feel the answer is yes, we will still confirm your place.

How we'll assess your application

We look at individual applications and make a tailored offer based on your potential to succeed on the course considering a range of factors, including your academic achievements, work and other experience, predicted grades, reference and personal statement, and in some cases, your performance at an interview/selection test.

If you meet one or more of our contextual data indicators for educational disadvantage (such as being in care, living in a low participation neighbourhood or in an area with less advantaged socio-economic characteristics), your offer could be between 6-20 points below the published tariff.

Unconditional offer scheme 

Our Unconditional Offer Scheme seeks to reward exceptional applicants who are predicted to achieve top academic results. The scheme is offered to applicants on all courses who are predicted AAA at A-level/DDD in BTEC Extended Diploma, or above, or equivalent, subject to any course selection measures and meeting other entry criteria (i.e. required qualifications).

We believe that unconditional offers will reduce pressure on applicants who will continue to strive to achieve the best grades possible. International qualifications are considered in the scheme; however applicants must satisfy the English language requirements.

2017 entry requirements

The new UCAS Tariff will be used for September 2017 entry

The entry requirements for this course are 128 tariff points from 3 A-Levels or equivalent qualifications. BTEC Extended Diploma of DDM. Offers will be subject and grade specific, particularly in the science subjects.

UCAS have created a helpful calculator so you can calculate points to use for courses starting from September 2017 onwards.

Relevant subjects: Sociology, Psychology, Physical Education, Human Biology, Health and Social Care.

Excluded subjects: This course does not accept General Studies A or AS-level but Critical Thinking is accepted.

GCSEs: This course requires a minimum of 4 GCSEs grades A*-C (or grade 4 or above in the newly reformed GCSE grading)including Maths and English or equivalent qualification. 

Numeracy and Literacy: We need to be sure that you can express yourself in written English and have basic numeracy skills. We look at level 2 of the National Qualifications Framework, which includes, but is not limited to GCSEs, iGCSEs, Key Skills and Functional Skills level 2. If you do not have formal qualifications to this level or have alternatives, we may still be able to consider your application – please contact the askBU Enquiry Service to find out more.

If English is not your first language, you will need IELTS (Academic) 7.0 with minimum 6.5 in each component or equivalent. This is a Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) requirement.

Other qualifications

We have outlined below other qualifications that we consider for this course. If you are studying a qualification that is not listed, please contact the askBU Enquiry Service – it may be that we can still consider it.

Access Courses: BU welcomes Access to HE Diploma applicants. This course requires applicants to Pass the Access to HE Diploma (with 60 Credits - at least 45 at level 3 remainder at level 2 or equivalent). Offers will be subject and grade specific, particularly in the science subjects; any combination of grades to meet the overall tariff is acceptable.

BTEC Qualifications

  • Extended Diploma: This course requires Distinction, Distinction, Merit from the Extended Diploma. Distinctions are required in relevant subjects. Offers will be subject and grade specific, particularly in the science subjects.
  • Diploma: This course requires a Distinction, Merit in addition to an A-Level to achieve the overall tariff. Offers will be subject and grade specific, particularly in the science subjects.
  • 90-credit Diploma: The 90-credit Diploma will be accepted as part of your overall tariff but it must be accompanied by A-Levels or equivalent qualifications. Offers will be subject and grade specific, particularly in the science subjects.
  • Subsidiary Diploma: The Subsidiary Diploma will be accepted as part of your overall tariff but it must be accompanied by A-Levels or equivalent qualifications. Offers will be subject and grade specific, particularly in the science subjects.

A combination of BTEC qualifications to meet the overall course tariff is also acceptable.

Cambridge Pre-U Diploma: We welcome applicants studying the Cambridge Pre-U Diploma or a combination of Pre-U subjects and A-levels.

European Baccalaureate: Applicants are required to achieve a minimum score of 75%.

International Baccalaureate (Diploma): The IB Diploma is welcomed as part of the International Baccalaureate (IB). This course requires 32 points including 5 points from each of the 3 Higher Level subjects.

Scottish Qualifications: Scottish Advanced Highers, Scottish Highers and other Scottish qualifications are all welcomed providing that your results meet the overall course tariff and include relevant subjects as appropriate.

Welsh Baccalaureate: The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma is welcomed alongside A-Levels or equivalent, to meet the overall course tariff.

Open University: If you currently have some academic qualifications but do not have Biology/Human biology and this is a required subject for your course we recommend you consider studying the Open University course SK277.

OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical Qualification: The OCR Extended Diploma or a combination of one Diploma and one Introductory Diploma is acceptable for entry to this course.

Extended Diploma: This course requires Distinction, Distinction, Merit. Offers will be subject and grade specific, particularly in the science subjects. Other combinations of OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical qualifications to meet the overall course tariff may be acceptable.

Extended Project Qualification:The grade achieved for the Extended Project may be taken into account when considering whether or not to accept a candidate who has marginally failed to meet the conditions of their offer.

Other Health Care Level 3 Qualifications and Bridging Programmes: We are aware that there are a wide range of health care qualifications which people undertake in their workplace. Find out more information about Bridging Programmes and some frequently asked questions about them here. If you would like to know if the qualifications you have or are working towards meet our entry criteria; please ring  01202 967307 or email us for further information and advice.

Deferred Entry: We are happy to consider applicants for deferred entry.

Non-academic requirements

Occupational Health (OH) Checks

Occupational Therapy is physically and mentally demanding and you will need to be mentally and physically able to undertake your chosen course. Places are offered subject to passing an OH check, and this will be carried out at the University Hospital Southampton. Health conditions  need to be dealt with on an individual basis e.g. deafness, blindness, eczema (or other dermatological allergic reactions) on exposed areas, epilepsy, back problems, or mental health conditions, eating disorders and other disabilities. These do not automatically exlude you but please ensure that you fully disclose your condition to OH. The University can then consider the recommendations made by OH and whether reasonable adjustments can be made to support you on your chosen course. If you require more guidance please contact us for more information.

You will be required to provide a record of your immunity status or be vaccinated or have the required blood tests. Please see this table for the required immunisations. You may need to ask your GP or current OH department or find your childhood vaccination record  for details of your past immunisation records. You should be aware that there may be charges made (for which you will be liable) relating to your gaining the appropriate immunity required prior to starting your training programme.

Refusing Immunisations

The University has an expectation that all students will comply with the vaccination programme.  This ensures that you will be able to undertake the wide range of training placements that your course will require. Occasionally some vaccinations  are contraindicated in certain medical conditions. OH will advise the University in these cases. The University will consider students on an individual basis. Refusal to have immunisations will result in the student not being allowed to attend practice placement and being withdrawn from the course. There is no opportunity to appeal against the requirements of the immunisation policy.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check (previously known as CRB)

All successful applicants will be subject to an Enhanced Disclosure and Barred List check; this will be a condition of offer and will need to be completed prior to commencing the course. Please see the Government website for the most up to date information.

International entry requirements

From September 2017 we will be welcoming international students to this course.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:

  • IELTS (Academic) 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component of writing, speaking, listening and reading or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

If you do not meet the English language requirement for your degree then why not join our Pre-Sessional English course. Successful completion of our Pre-Sessional English course will meet your English language requirement, without the need to re-take IELTS.

Academic entry requirements

You can find details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our entry requirements for non-UK students’ page.

We offer a number of preparatory programmes through the Bournemouth University International College. These courses offer you progression from High School in your home country to a Bachelor’s degree at BU.


If shortlisted for interview you will be notified of the interview arrangements once your application has been processed. 


  • Students in professional/managerial job six months after graduation: 100%*

There are a wide range of roles open to you once you qualify as an occupational therapist, not just in the NHS but also within local authorities, social services, schools and the private sector. Every role is rewarding in its own way and this course will prepare you to work as an OT in a variety of environments, helping people from all walks of life. You can specialise in paediatrics, mental illness and learning disabilities, among others, or you can go into teaching or research.

You will also be ideally placed to progress into a career as a clinical specialist, allowing you to focus on an area that particularly interests you, for example paediatrics or chronic physical disability. Other possible roles include:

  • Occupational therapist in the NHS
  • Occupational therapist in social care
  • Researcher
  • Teacher
  • Community learning facilitator.

Once you graduate, you can register as an occupational therapist with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC), which will allow you to work overseas as well as in the UK. You can also apply for professional membership of the College of Occupational Therapists (COT).

Further study

Once you have completed an undergraduate Honours degree, you can further develop your education by studying for a postgraduate degree. Please visit our Postgraduate section for further details about our range of Master's degrees.

*All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.

Your lecturers

Our staff are actively engaged in research and professional practice in the nutrition sector which is integrated into the teaching of this course. Find out more about some of the staff and their research activities who will be teaching on this course below. 

Dr Saffron Scott

Dr Saffron Scott has a professional background in practicing and teaching occupational therapy and also works as an independent researcher. Her research interests are related to the impact on health and wellbeing of bereavement, illness and disability.

Sophie Smith

Sophie Smith joined the Occupational Therapy undergraduate teaching team at Bournemouth University in January 2009. Prior to this her main clinical experience had been within Adult Social Care teams and community Paediatric Services.

Sophie qualified at Southampton University in 1997 and in 2009 gained an MA in Design Research for Disability from London Metropolitan University. I then completed my Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education.

No hidden extras

Course specific material(s) included in your tuition fee:

  • Professional body accreditation of the course

  • Disclosure and Barring Service Check

  • Occupational Health Check

  • Uniforms

As a student at BU we will provide many things to support you and there will also be additional costs you may encounter whilst studying at BU. The information below will help you understand our provision and what you need to budget for.

What you can expect from us

All of your teaching and assessments are included in your tuition fees, including, lectures/guest lectures and tutorials, seminars, laboratory sessions and specialist teaching facilities. You will also have access to a wide range of support and services, many of these are included on the Next Steps insert enclosed with your offer letter.

  • One set of study-related consumables such as a memory stick/ DVD
  • Materials for laboratory and field-based teaching activity
  • Support for placements (UK or abroad) and fieldwork, and non-financial support whilst on placement
  • A range of student services – advisors, help desks, counsellors, placement support and careers service
  • The Library – access to a wide range of electronic resources (databases, e-journals and e-books), print and multimedia collections, subject librarians and study spaces
  • IT labs (some open 24/7), wireless network, AV equipment to borrow
  • Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) scheme
  • Disability and additional learning support
  • The BU Language Centre to help you develop/improve foreign or English language skills
  • 24 hours a day, 365 days a year security team.

Costs of living and other expenses you need to consider

  • Accommodation and living costs: view our price guide.
  • Text books: remember that our award-winning library is stocked with a large range of text books for all courses, as well as online resources such as industry journals, free of charge
  • General stationery and other supplies such as print and presentation materials: the Students’ Union shops stock a wide range of stationery supplies on both campuses
  • Travel to, from and between BU campuses: our bus service operates in the local areas offering a subsided travel rate; we also have a large number of secure bike storage compounds
  • SportBU membership: check out our student membership packages, sports events, varsity teams, information about our new facilities and more on the SportBU webpages
  • Optional fieldwork travel, outdoor wear and footwear (where applicable)
  • Telephone and travel costs incurred when undertaking interviews for coursework/securing placements.
  • A fee will be payable towards the cost of an Educational Psychology Assessment if this is required in connection with additional learning support. BU pays for approximately two-thirds of the cost of this assessment for UK students. For more details and current pricing please visit the Students section of the website.

Repeat units

If you need to repeat one or more units during the course of your studies (with or without attendance), you may be required to pay an additional fee of £1,500 per 20 credit unit. 

Financial help available from BU

We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to students who are beginning their studies at BU. Our website also provides details on living costs, budgeting and paying your tuition fees.

What our students say

Rebecca Hill

You get ample opportunity to focus on areas that interest you. The lecturers are extremely approachable with extensive practical experience. This allows them to give examples from practice, vital to understanding occupational therapy.

Hear from our alumni

Sharon Diaper

OT is a challenging but rewarding profession to enter into, it's more than a course, it's a new way of thinking. At BU you have the privilege of being taught by some of the best therapists.

What our students say

Gemma McCallum

The structure of the course provides an opportunity to openly discuss, debate and collate ideas within a close group of peers in a friendly environment.
student nurse

NHS bursaries for February 2017 entry

The NHS provides financial assistance to students studying eligible health and social care courses in February 2017 - learn more about the various bursaries.

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Open Days

We give a warm welcome to anyone who comes to meet us and we love showing off our campuses and Bournemouth to prospective students and their families. 

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NHS placement locations

Find out more about our NHS locations and where you may be based for some of your NHS placements.

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Community setting

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