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Occupational Therapy (Apprenticeship) BSc (Hons)

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Learn about the philosophy, theory and research that supports Occupational Therapists as independent practitioners.

Healthcare apprenticeship event


Occupational Therapists work with people of all ages to enable participation in the occupations that they want and need to do. Underpinned by the professional belief that occupation and wellbeing are linked, Occupational Therapists use occupation as both a goal and a main tool for intervention. During the lifespan, occupational participation may be disrupted by ability, a condition, an illness, an injury or a state of mind that can cause a mismatch between the person’s ability, the demands of the occupation and/or the environment. Occupational Therapists enable participation through modifying occupations, promoting new skills or approaches, adapting environments or a combination of these.

This programme is a Higher Degree Apprenticeship and, as such, you will spend 80% of your time learning in your place of employment. The remaining time will be either in the University or on practice placement. You will have the opportunity to learn from people who are experts by their own lived experience, who have used health and social care services and who are fully integrated into the learning, teaching and assessment throughout the course.

Why us?

  • This course is approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and is accredited by Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT)
  • Inter-professional learning facilities include four simulation acute hospital wards, a simulation mental health/learning disability ward, patient diagnostic suite, two immersive simulation suites, a multi-sensory environment, and multiple practical assessment suites
  • Opportunities to collaborate with physiotherapy, nursing (adult, mental health and learning disability), pharmacy, paramedic science, medicine, sports science, social work and psychology
  • People who are experts by their own lived experience who have used health and social care services are integrated in the teaching and positively contribute to your learning and development through assessment and feedback
  • Our Senior Lecturers maintain their professional practice through honorary contracts with local providers ensuring that you learn from academics who continue to be immersed in relevant and contemporary practice

Course structure

You will be taught on campus by a highly skilled and motivated team of lecturers and visiting practitioners from across the world. Teaching methods include lectures (online, live and recorded), seminars, workshops and practical sessions, where problem-based learning activities are used. You will have the opportunity to work with Apprentices from a range of courses across the whole university.

You will be assessed through written assignments, presentations, practical demonstrations and via practice placements. You will need to successfully complete all modules to progress through the course and achieve at least 1000 hours of successful practice placement. During your practice placement you will benefit from the supervision from a practice placement educator as well as support from academic staff. You may be required to work an altered shift pattern and may be required to work weekends. Placements can take place anywhere in the North East region and some placements (especially any re-sits) take place outside of the normal university calendar.

Level 4:

Semester 1 - September to December

  • Research 1 (10 credits)
  • Personal Development 1 (10 credits)
  • Occupational Performance: Biological and Physical Factors (20 credits)
  • Occupational Performance: Psychological factors (20 credits)

Semester 2 - January to April

  • Foundations and Skills for Practice (40 credits)
  • Human Function and Life-span Development (20 credits)


Level 5:

Semester 3 - May to August

  • Strategies for Intervention and Professional Reasoning (20 credits)
  • Enhancing Skills for Practice (40 credits)

Semester 4 - September to December

  • Research 2 (10 credits)
  • Professional Development 2 (10 credits)
  • Occupational Disruptions (40 credits)


Level 6:

Semester 5 - January to April

  • Dissertation for Occupational Therapy (40 credits)
  • Occupation for Promoting Health Inequalities (20 credits)

Semester 6 - May to October

  • Professional Development 3 (20 credits)
  • Occupation in Complex Contexts (40 credits)

Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article.

  • Helen McArdle House is based on our City Campus and has benefitted from a multi-million pound investment in modern facilities in recent years.

    Many of our healthcare courses are taught here, including Nursing, Paramedic Science, and Healthcare Sciences.

    The building is made up of a variety of teaching and learning spaces, including mock hospital wards, OSCE suites, the Patient Diagnostic Suite, Mental Health and Wellbeing Suite, and seminar and IT classrooms.

    A lot of academic staff offices are based here, with an open-door policy in place.

    View our AccessAble accessibility guide for Helen McArdle House.

    Helen McArdle House
  • The Living Lab boasts a unique immersive simulation room, that allows participants to experience a range of simulated scenarios in a safe environment. The space is designed to make scenarios feel as close to reality as possible, to enable students to practise their clinical skills safely. An adjacent debrief room allows groups to observe the scenario in the immersive suite through a live stream (projected onto TV screens) and provide peer feedback and group discussion following the completion of the scenario.

    View our AccessAble accessibility guide for Fleming Building.

    Immersive Suite
  • Immersive Suite 360
  • We’ve got thousands of books and e-books on pharmaceutical and biomedical science, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. We also subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals so you can access the most reliable and up-to-date academic and industry articles.
    Some of the most important sources for your studies include:

    • Embase: A complex database covering drug research, pharmacology, pharmaceutics, toxicology, clinical and experimental human medicine, health policy and management, public health, occupational health, environmental health, drug dependence and abuse, psychiatry, forensic medicine and biomedical engineering/instrumentation
    • PsycARTICLES: Includes information about the psychological aspects of medicine, psychiatry, nursing, sociology, pharmacology and physiology
    • PubMed: Contains life science journals, online books and abstracts that cover fields such as medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine and health care
    • Science Direct: Offers more than 2,000 full-text journals published by Elsevier
    • Web of Science: Covers a broad range of science areas
    Library Services - sciences
  • Mock Hospital Ward 360
  • Occupational Therapists undertake some of their interventions in people’s homes. Our Mock House is the perfect space for you to simulate how Occupational Therapy is delivered in this setting. The house contains all of the rooms and amenities you would find in your own house, with a bedroom, bathroom, living space, kitchen and dining area, and allows you to simulate making adaptions to the home itself. You can practice using the equipment Occupational Therapists provide to facilitate independence too. The space is also used to learn about some of the psychosocial interventions Occupational Therapists provide, for example anxiety management and relaxation, play therapy and group work.

    View our AccessAble accessibility guide for the Mock House.

    Mock House
  • Mock House 360
  • The Occupational Therapy room is a multi-purpose space used to observe and engage in activities Occupational Therapists might adapt and use as an intervention. As well as being a creative space, with facilities to create artwork, pottery, horticulture and many other crafts you will also use this space when you are making thermoplastic splints.
    The room can be adapted to facilitate different styles of learning and a flexible approach to teaching.

    View our AccessAble accessibility guide for Darwin Building, 118 (Occupational Therapy).

    Occupational Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy 360
  • OSCE Suite 360
  • There are a range of simulation manikins used across most of our healthcare courses, giving you the opportunity to apply your training in a realistic, yet safe, setting.

    Our manikins range from various SimMan patient simulators (SimMan 3G, SimMan ALS, Sim Junior and Sim Baby to name a few) to CAE Apollo and Caesar manikins, to anatomically realistic SimBodies and lower-fidelity simulation manikins.

    SimMan and Apollo manikins can demonstrate realistic physiological behaviour, including blood pressure, a pulse, drug recognition technology (in SimMan 3G), and each model can be pre-programmed with various medical scenarios.

    Simulation Technology
  • The John Dawson Sciences Complex is based on our City Campus. It has benefitted from a multi-million-pound investment in modern facilities in recent years and continues to develop as our health sciences offer grows.

    It is the central hub for many of our health sciences courses and is made up of a variety of teaching and learning spaces, including labs, problem-based learning classrooms, and facilities that encourage interprofessional learning. A lot of academic staff offices are based here, with an open-door policy in place.

    The John Dawson Sciences Complex
  • Map and directions


This course is delivered from the City Campus at the University of Sunderland. A dedicated suite of facilities is available, including a simulation flat, creative activities room, telecare facilities and a therapeutic garden. In addition, sessions are also taught in the Universities simulation wards, immersive simulation suites, diagnostic suite, and sports facilities. Staff also facilitate teaching sessions in community settings, such as at the leisure centre, on the beach or in NHS or Local Authority facilities. Some sessions will be delivered on-line, to reduce the carbon footprint of Apprentices and staff. You will also have access to a wide range of University facilities.

You will also complete your practice placements in a range of organisations, for example within the NHS, Local Authority, voluntary organisations, private practice, and businesses.

You will learn to use a wide range of rehabilitation equipment and assessment tools. You will learn to use thermoplastic splinting materials and a variety of craft equipment.

Entry requirements

We don’t currently display entry requirements for United States. Please contact the Student Admin team on studentadmin@sunderland.ac.uk or 0191 515 3154.

You should discuss your plan to undertake this apprenticeship with your line manager to ensure that you meet your employer’s requirements prior to applying. The Admissions tutor is also available to discuss the academic requirements with you.

BTEC Extended National Diploma (Sport and Exercise Science, Health Science and Applied Science preferred) DDM. Other BTEC National Diplomas may be considered with AS or A2 Biology / Human Biology / PE at grade B.

Your completed application form will be reviewed by our Admissions Team to ensure that you have the required entry qualifications.

Recognition of prior learning can be discussed with the Occupational Therapy Admissions Tutor in collaboration with your employer.

You will be working and studying simultaneously and will have the support of a work-based mentor and an academic personal tutor.

Values-based interview

Your employer will have undertaken a values-based interview with you when you joined the organisation or when you approached them to consider putting you forward to become an apprentice.

An interview for your university place will be undertaken in April.

Fitness to practise

Medical assessments of your mental and physical health and disclosure of criminal convictions apply to all occupational therapy courses and are based on current HCPC requirements. Occupational Therapists are registered health care professionals and the ability to practise safely, effectively and professionally is essential, so all applicants are required to follow our fitness to practise procedures.

Your employer will undertake a DBS check and occupational health assessment. Please refer to the HEOPS occupational therapy student fitness standards.

Personal qualities

We select apprentices based on their knowledge, motivation, experience, values and behaviours, not just academic ability. You need to demonstrate an ability to:

  • Study academic subjects at the course level
  • Debate topics and issues
  • Draw on conclusions from written material
  • Study independently and as part of a group
  • Use computers and technology associated with teaching, learning and assessment
  • Interact with people in an appropriate manner demonstrating the values of the health and care professions
  • Demonstrate an understanding of, and commitment to, the course

Please note that completing an approved programme does not guarantee you will become registered as an Occupational Therapist with the Health and Care Professions Council. It shows the applicant meets the minimum professional standards and is eligible to apply for registration. The Health and Care Professions Council will request additional information from you so that they can verify your eligibility. Further details may be found on the Health and Care Professions Council website.

Applicants and enrolled students must be able to demonstrate that they meet the professional standards for practice, as well as the ethical and professional conduct expectations of our profession, throughout their time in training.

Fees and finance

Larger organisations can use their apprenticeship levy and government top-up to pay tuition and professional fees of higher apprenticeships.

For smaller employers, the government pays 95%, with the remainder co-invested by the business.

For a discussion around your specific requirements please call 0191 515 3361 or email apprenticeships@sunderland.ac.uk

This information was correct at the time of publication.

A wide shot of City Campus at night

Career ready

Occupational Therapists can work in a variety of settings including health organisations such as the NHS, social care, housing, education, voluntary organisations or as independent practitioners working with people of all ages. They can specialise in mental health, physical health and learning disabilities. The average starting salary for a registered occupational therapist working in the UK is in excess of £21,000. A more experienced occupational therapist can earn around £40,000, and a consultant occupational therapist can earn between £66,000 and £82,000.

Career prospects

Employment prospects for new occupational therapists are good though ensuring your application stands out from the crowd is increasingly important. This can be achieved by preparing a thoughtful application and demonstrating a commitment to the profession. Unlike graduates with qualifications that are not specifically career-orientated, new occupational therapy graduates have the advantage of a structured career path with good long-term prospects in this key worker profession.

Meet the students

  • I would encourage anyone thinking about it to enrol on an apprenticeship
    Emma Fail in her Occupational Therapy Apprenticeship uniform smiling at the camera

    Emma Fail

Meet the team — BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy (Apprenticeship)