About the course
Our MSc Occupational Therapy (pre-registration) programme helps you to develop the knowledge, skills and attributes to enable you to work with clients of all ages who have physical, mental health or learning difficulties. If you already have a degree, and have carried out some relevant experience, then this programme could be your route into occupational therapy.
This pre-registration course is a two-year accelerated programme which enables you to take advantage of interprofessional learning (IPL), encouraging professionals to learn with and from each other – an understanding that helps to ensure you have the expertise to respond adequately and effectively to the complexity of your clients’ needs, and ensures that care is safe, seamless and of a high standard.
Central to the philosophy of our programme is the value attached to ‘occupation’ and ‘activity’ as a means to achieving the health and wellbeing of individuals, which enhances their quality of life, thus enabling them to achieve their desired goals.
In order to prepare you for the work-place and enrich your learning, we organise the practice placement education for you with multi-professional health care teams in a wide range of settings. You will gain experience of working as part of a multidisciplinary team with people who have physical and mental health care needs.
Over a thousand hours will be spent in the practice environment, where you will apply the theory and practice of occupational therapy.
Whilst on placement you will have an educator allocated to you, and contact with a member of the academic team.
Placements encompass a variety of multidisciplinary health and social care settings based within the NHS, the Private Sector, Social Services, Voluntary Organisations and Primary Health Care Services.
“Studying to be an occupational therapist was, in some ways, the most difficult but easiest decision I ever made! At 42 years of age, with a well-paid job and young children, giving up our family security seemed rather risky. Nevertheless, I knew I needed to work with people and do something purposeful, that made a difference."
Susan McGill, MSc Occupational Therapy
Completing our course enables you to become an occupational therapist, and makes you eligible to apply for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and professional membership of the College of Occupational Therapists (COT).
HCPC registration is required to work as an occupational therapist in the UK, and once you are registered you are able to practice in a wide variety of clinical settings.
We are committed to embedding the NHS Constitution Values (which are strongly reflected in our University values) into everything we do. They define the behaviours and expectations of all our staff and students underpinning the work we do in the university, clinical arena and other workplaces.
We understand that not all of our students and staff are employed within the NHS, but these values uphold the underlying principles of excellent care as a standard and as such we expect that anyone who has any aspect of their work which ultimately cares for others will aspire to uphold these values.
For us, involving not only our students but service users, experts by experience, carers and NHS/non NHS professionals in the creation and delivery of all programmes is vital.
Our expert staff
A unique feature of our School is that most of our staff work or have worked within clinical practice. This enhances our grasp of the contemporary links between academic research, the major issues of the day and real-life practice.
Occupational Therapy is taught by registered experienced staff with a variety of different backgrounds. The course is led by Dr Wendy Bryant, who is also the university’s subject lead for occupational therapy. Wendy practised as an occupational therapist in a range of health and social care settings from 1984 until becoming an academic in 2003. She was awarded the UKOTRF Institute of Social Psychiatry Scholarship for research into mental health service-user experiences of occupational therapy facilities in an acute mental health unit in West London.
We also have expertise in the areas of dementia, occupation therapy for children, and the assistance of dogs in treatments. Specialist guest lecturers additionally lend external expertise to our academic staff. Full details of our staff can be found on our HHS Staff Profiles.
Within our School of Health and Human Sciences, we have a range of specialist clinical laboratories and IT facilities to assist you with the effective learning and acquisition of new skills; for students of our MSc Occupational Therapy, we have a specialist lab at our Colchester Campus which provides you with access to kitchen, bedroom, and wheelchair facilities to help develop your skills in helping people in the home.
We also arrange off-site visits to farms and other specialist external facilities to assist in your learning, and offer excellent physical and online resources in terms of libraries, computer labs, datasets, archives and other research materials.
Our student-run Occupational Therapy Society is also involved in many internal and external events.
Successful completion of our MSc Occupational Therapy (pre-registration) programme leads to eligibility to apply for registration as an occupational therapist with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), which then allows you to practise as an occupational therapist in the UK.
If you are a self-funding international student interested in working outside of the UK we would advise that you check registration procedures with the relevant professional body in that country.
Please note that our MSc Occupational Therapy (pre-registration) programme is an intensive two year course based at our Colchester campus.
Postgraduate study is the chance to take your education to the next level. These carefully selected modules will give you the chance to explore, question, and create powerful ideas. Picked to give you an extensive and in-depth education, they’ll equip you with the specialist knowledge, vital transferrable skills, and the confidence to make a genuine difference to the world around you.
We’re reactive, we’re pioneering, we never stand still, so modules might change from year to year in response to new developments and innovation. Those listed below show how a typical course might look, but more detail on course structure, including details of all optional modules, is available on our Programme Specification.
Building on concepts covered in earlier modules, you will further develop your understanding of therapeutic activity and occupation in occupational therapy.
What demands does normal activity place on the human body? You will explore the answer to this question from a biopsychosocial perspective; studying the major systems of the body and analysing the stresses placed on them as a result of activity. You will use this to look at where and how people may experience functional difficulties in their lives and identify possible treatment options and solutions.
What impact does physical and mental ill health have on occupational performance? You will explore a variety of conditions from a bio-psychosocial perspective and consider, using a reflective approach, the role of the occupational therapist in helping clients and their carers deal with the impact of physical and mental ill health.
You will have the opportunity to build on your existing knowledge of research by exploring a variety of methodologies. This will prepare you for your second year of study when you will conduct your own original research project in an area of interest that is relevant to health care practice.
Complex medical issues can be best addressed when interprofessional teams work together. The aim of this module is to develop your understanding of collaborative working practices by exploring current policy drivers, barriers and opportunities for team working, with the aim of improving patient care.
This eight week placement provides you with your first experience of observing and participating in a practice setting. The emphasis is on developing your understanding of the frameworks that underpin the practice and how they can be interpreted and applied. You will participate, with guidance, in the gathering and analysis of information, and the planning and implementation of intervention.
This second placement gives you the opportunity to build on your existing knowledge and to experience working with a diverse range of client groups. The emphasis is on developing your skills of analysis and application using a reflective approach to put your learning into practice.
Building on concepts introduced in earlier modules, you will further develop your understanding of therapeutic activity and occupation in occupational therapy. You will look at the components required to perform a skill; the factors that influence activity; and evaluate the ways in which occupational therapy can help people adapt to new situations, environments and needs.
The aim of this module is to develop your skills in relation to leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship in occupational therapy practice. You will look at the legal, political and cultural contexts in which practice occurs; explore the impact of developing societal trends, policies, legislation and ethics; critically appraise service delivery structures and identify innovative and emerging areas of practice to extend your learning.
The aim of this module is to further advance your research and problem solving skills enabling you to carry out your own research in your future practice. This will involve the critical appraisal of research from a variety of sources to inform your own practice.
This module consolidates your learning from the previous two years in order to demonstrate your competency to practice. You will critically analyse professional practice within political, legal, ethical, clinical and managerial frameworks and consider the influence of current trends and changing contexts on practice. Using evaluation and critical reflection, you will show that you can apply the philosophy, principles and theory behind the practice, to the level required for a competent practitioner.
This third 8-week module gives you the opportunity to experience work with a third client group. You will draw upon previous knowledge and experience and demonstrate your ability to put theory into practice by managing a small caseload or equivalent responsibility, under supervision.
In this final 8-week practice placement, you will demonstrate your competence to practice by effectively managing a small caseload. You will complete your CPD portfolio to provide evidence of critical evaluation of self in readiness for transition into professional practice.
- Teaching staff include clinically qualified lecturers in adult and mental health nursing, physiotherapy and pharmacy, as well as health psychologists, medical sociologists, social policy, informatics and management specialists
- The multidisciplinary nature of our School and its rapid growth has fostered a dynamic and innovative learning environment
- Half of your study time is spent on the University campus and half working in clinical settings – for example, a ward, a health centre, in clients’ homes
- You are assessed through coursework, presentations, essays, case studies/portfolios, reflective accounts, OSCEs, examinations and direct observation of practice by the mentor in clinical settings
- You also conduct a research dissertation
UK entry requirements
Please be aware that we are not able to accept applications for deferred entry for this course.
You should have:
- An honours degree, the minimum classification: Lower Second (2.2)
- For those students for whom English is not your native language, you need to successfully complete the IELTS testing with a score of 7.0 or above, with no element below 6.5.
- Successful performance at interview
- Evidence of recent academic study (By this we mean a course or module with an assessable component taken in the last 5 years)
You must also have: two satisfactory references (including an academic reference and a work based one), a satisfactory Work Health Assessment/Occupational health check and enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check (DBS formerly known as CRB) – both of these are organised by the University.
Eligibility, Fees and Funding
Access is supported by Health Education East of England consequently the course is only available to applicants classified as ‘home’ or ‘EU’ students for tuition fee purposes. In addition, applicants must also be able to meet the NHS funding criteria that you can find in the Frequently Asked Questions on the NHS bursary website.
Applications will be considered from full fee-paying international students for 2016 entry. As an international applicant you will be expected to meet the same minimum entry criteria as all other applicants, including evidence of a satisfactory work health check and enhanced criminal clearance prior to the start of the course – please contact us for further information firstname.lastname@example.org. If you aim to work as an occupational therapist in a country outside of the UK, you will need to check with the relevant regulatory body of that country to confirm suitability.
NHS Constitution and Values
As part of the selection process, students will be expected to demonstrate good knowledge and a clear understanding of the scope of work that an occupational therapist is required to undertake as well as the significance of the NHS Constitution and its core values (you can find further information on these on the Health Education East of England website and the Gov.UK webpages.
Interviews will take place in March and April 2016 for the September 2016 intake. If you are selected for interview, then you will also be required to sit a Literacy & Numeracy test.
Interviews for international applicants will be via Skype, details of which will be provided in advance.
Continuing Professional Development
If you are already a registered occupational therapist, please see Continuing Professional Development on our Health and Human Sciences web pages.
International and EU entry requirements
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries.
for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the
undergraduate qualification you have already completed or are currently taking.
IELTS entry requirements
IELTS 7.0 overall with a minimum component score of 6.5
If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.