Occupational Therapy BSc (Hons)

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Course starts: 16 September 2019Apply now

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Embrace the power of occupation to transform lives through a diverse and rewarding career in Occupational Therapy. Gain real-life experience through practice placements and apply your learning to real-life situations. Graduate with the knowledge and skills to enable people to facilitate their recovery and overcome any barriers preventing them from doing the activities (or occupations) that matter to them.

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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 the goal and main tool of 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.

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 and teaching across the course. This ensures that you develop your skills prior to practice placement and receive feedback in a safe and secure learning environment. Through this process you will be more confident and competent when engaging with people on placement which will support your learning in practice to flourish.

Please note we are now accepting direct applications for September 2019.

RCOT accredited logo

Mock flat with person who is an expert by their experience of using health and social care services

Why us?

  • Our recent multi-million pound investment includes a fully functional independent living environment, a multi-media workshop and a suite of rehabilitation laboratories
  • Inter-professional learning facilities include four simulation acute hospital wards, a simulation mental health / learning disability ward, patient diagnostic suite, two immersive simulation suites and multiple practical assessment suites
  • This course is approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and is accredited by the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT)
  • Access our excellent links with local placement providers including NHS Trusts, Local Authorities and a range of non-traditional and emerging providers
  • 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
  • Opportunities to collaborate with physiotherapy, nursing (adult, mental health and learning disability), pharmacy, paramedic science, medicine, sports science, social work and psychology

Course structure

You will be taught by a highly-skilled and motivated team of lecturers, visiting practitioners and volunteers who are experts by their lived experience. Teaching methods include lectures, seminars, workshops, online tutorials and problem-based learning activities. A strong professional identity and confidence to learn and work with other professional groups is an essential part of the course. You will have the opportunity to work and learn alongside students from other professions and to learn about the other professions through participation in inter-professional education. As this course leads to a professional qualification a minimum attendance level of 80% per semester is required.

You will be assessed through written assignments, critical reflection, presentations and practical and written examinations. You will be required to successfully complete all modules to progress through the course. Simulated practice is integrated into the course to provide opportunities to practise skills prior to placements and to help bridge the theory / practice gap. 

Practice placements form a significant part of this course. You will successfully complete a minimum of 1000 hours practice placement. During placement, you will be supervised by a practice placement educator alongside support from academic staff. You will need to complete a Practice Assessment Document and will be assessed in terms of your competence. You may be required to work an altered shift pattern and seven day work patterns while on placement. Please note placements can take place anywhere within the North East region and some take place outside the normal University academic calendar.

Year 1 (national level 4):

Core modules:

  • Introduction to Research 1 (10 credits)
  • Personal and Professional Development 1 (10 credits)
  • Foundations and Skills for Practice (40 credits)*
  • Human Function and Lifespan Development (20 credits)
  • Occupational Engagement; Psychosocial Factors (20 credits)
  • Occupational Engagement; Biological & Physical Factors (20 credits)

 * A practice placement is aligned to this module

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

Year 2 (national level 5):

Core modules:

  • Evidence-Based Practice and Research 2 (10 credits)
  • Personal and Professional Development 2 (10 credits)
  • Occupational Disruptions (40 credits)*
  • Professional Reasoning and Intervention Strategies (20 credits)
  • Enhancing Skills for Practice (40 credits)*

 * A practice placement is aligned to this module

Year 3 (national level 6):

Core modules:

  • Dissertation for Occupational Therapy (40 credits)
  • Personal and Professional Development 3 (20 credits)
  • Occupation in Complex Contexts (40 credits)*
  • Occupation for Health in Communities (20 credits)

 * A practice placement is aligned to this module

  • You can access free Wi-Fi throughout the University campus, so you can work from anywhere. If you don't want to carry a laptop around, just use one of the University’s PCs or Apple Macs. We have hundreds of computers for you to use in the Murray Library, St Peter's Library, and the David Goldman Informatics Centre. If you ever have any technical problems, just ask the friendly helpdesk team.

    IT provision
  • 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
  • The Living Lab at the University of Sunderland was opened by Professor Lisa Bayliss-Pratt, Chief Nurse of Health Education England in 2016, following significant investment and major redevelopment of the ground floor of Fleming Building in the Sciences Complex. Our aim is to provide a state-of-the-art venue for all forms of healthcare related simulation based education.

    The Living Lab boasts the region’s only immersive simulation room allowing participants to experience events in simulated environments. An adjacent task trainer room which can be used flexibly can aid with the development of clinical and non-technical skills. Integral cameras enable participants to view live or recorded footage in our dedicated debrief room. The Lab also has a 7 bedded ward and Point of Care Testing (POCT) facility along with an OSCE suite and seminar rooms.

    The facility currently has 2 SimMan 3Gs, a SimNewB, a SimMom birthing simulator and 2 TraumaFX simbodies. A range of other clinical equipment and part task trainers as well as a pop-up ambulance are available to complement the facilities.

    The Living Lab
  • Map and directions


This course is based in the Sciences Complex in our City Campus, which has benefited from a recent multimillion pound investment. Teaching takes place in multi-media classrooms with state-of-the-art resources for learning. 

The Darwin Building includes a simulated living suite and multi-media workshop alongside two rehabilitation labs. It has shared spaces for Physiotherapy and Sport and Exercise Sciences which include a fully-equipped gym with a range of cardiovascular and resistance training equipment.

Entry requirements

Our typical offer is 112 UCAS points or BBC, from a minimum of 2 A level passes or equivalent, which must include a health or science related subject. Please note we do not accept General Studies AS or A Level.

Find out how many points your qualifications are worth using the UCAS Tariff calculator.

We also require at least five passes at GCSE grade C (numerical grade 4) or above which must include English Language or equivalent, Mathematics and Science.

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.

Access to Higher Education Diploma accepted: 60 credits in total, with a minimum of 45 credits at Level 3 with at least 30 credits at Merit or Distinction. Access to HE courses should be related to Health and Social Care or Science.

Your completed application form will be reviewed by our Admissions Team to ensure that you have the required entry qualifications. If you meet these requirements, then your application and personal statement will be individually assessed by the Admissions Tutor and if successful, you will be shortlisted for interview.

Please note we are unable to accept applications from international students.

Values-based interview

All shortlisted applicants must attend an individual and group interview as part of the selection process. Your values, behaviours, problem solving and communication skills will also be assessed. The interview panel will include academic staff, Occupational Therapy practitioners and experts by their lived experience. 

Fitness to practise

Medical assessments and disclosure of criminal convictions apply 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 will be subjected to fitness to practise procedures.

This means you are required to complete two self-declaration forms, one about your health and the other about your conduct. If you are successful, you will also need to complete these self-declaration forms annually for the duration of the course. UK students are required to obtain an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. The cost of the DBS check is covered by the University.

A Fitness to Practise information pack containing the relevant documents will be sent to you once you hold a conditional firm offer with us. These forms are then reviewed alongside your application, and you must meet both the academic and fitness to practise requirements before you will be given an unconditional offer. These checks enable us to make safer recruitment decisions by identifying candidates who may be unsuitable for certain activities. Further information can be found on the HCPC and HEOPS websites.

Health and social care experience

You will preferably have some experience of health and social care prior to applying, of delivering care in a vocational or voluntary capacity though this is not essential as long as you can articulate an understanding of the occupational therapy profession and a genuine, reasoned commitment to studying occupational therapy in your personal statement. If you do not have any experience then we would encourage you to visit if possible or talk to an occupational therapist about your career plans. The Royal College of Occupational Therapists offer a careers advisory service and their website is a good starting point.

Second reference

You will be asked to provide a second written reference as part of the interview process. The reference can be from your current employer, character reference (e.g. former employer, colleague, teacher, advisor, etc.) or from a supervisor at a voluntary role. You will be asked to bring this along to your interview. If you are currently employed, the reference should be from your employer. Please note this must not be the same reference you have submitted as part of your application.

Personal qualities

We select students 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

If English is not your first language, you need an overall IELTS score of 7, with at least 6.5 in each band.

Fees and finance

The annual, full-time, fee for this course is:

  • £9,250 if you are from the UK / EU

We are unable to accept international applicants.

This course is an Allied Health Profession and is therefore approved under HCPC pre-registration healthcare funding regulations. Please see our Student Financial Guidance for further information.

In addition, you will be expected to buy your books, stationery, travel and accommodation. For practice placements you will be provided with a uniform by the University.

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

This information was correct at the time of publication.

City Campus by night


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.


As you may be expected to travel long distances, start your shift in the early hours, or finish your shift late at night, you could be entitled to Travel and Dual Accommodation Expenses (TDAE) which allows you to make a retrospective claim for excess travel costs and/or expenses for temporary accommodation near to the location of your placement. Find out more from the Learning Support Fund (LSF).

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.


On successful completion of the BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy course, you will be eligible to apply for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as a Graduate Occupational Therapist and can apply for professional membership of the professional body the Royal College of Occupational Therapists.

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