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BSc Occupational Therapy

Why we're great

  • Small class-sizes enable close working relationships between students and staff.
  • You gain hands-on experience in a range of professional settings through practice placements.
  • Our close links with clinicians in practice will strengthen your career prospects.

Course options2017-18

UCAS code: B930
Duration: 4 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Health and Human Sciences
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £16,800
This course is only available to applicants from the UK or EU
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 873666

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About the course

Our BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy 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.

This four year part time programme enables you to take advantage of interprofessional learning (IPL), encouraging professionals to learn with and from one another - 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.

We combine a number of teaching styles such as lectures, seminars, enquiry-based and blended learning, as well as enabling you to undertake practice placements in the workplace. The use of peer support and self-directed learning enables you to take control of the learning experience and manage your development of knowledge and skills.

Successful completion of this four-year part-time course provides you with an opportunity to access a professional qualification in occupational therapy. It is designed for those who prefer an alternative to the more traditional three-year full time course.

Please note that a full-time version of this course will be available from 2017.

Placement Opportunities

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.

Professional accreditation

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 practise 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 Anita Steinberg. Anita qualified as an Occupational Therapist in Australia in 2001, and has practised in a variety of clinical settings, including adult and older adults' mental health, dementia, vision impairment, physical community rehabilitation, and inpatient orthopaedics.

The subject lead for occupational therapy is Dr Wendy Bryant. 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 learning disability, brain injury and hand therapy. Specialist guest lecturers additionally lend external expertise to our academic staff. Full details of our staff can be found on our HHS Staff Profiles.

Specialist facilities

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 BSc Occupational Therapy, we have a specialist lab at our Colchester Campus which provides you with access to relevant equipment and facilities within supported environments to further develop your skills in helping people in the home.

We also arrange off-site visits to 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.

Your future

Successful completion of our BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy 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.

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Example structure

For our BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy programme, attendance at our University is for two days per week, along with full time clinical placements (a 4 week placement in the first year, a 6 week placement in the second year, an 8 week placement in the third year, and a 10 week placement in the fourth year).

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.

Year 1

Year 2

This module draws on your own experience and that of other placement students and occupational therapists to help you understand the importance of reflective practice in occupational therapy. You will explore the theory behind the concept and look at ways in which reflective practice and a flexible approach can lead to improved performance.

This five-week placement provides you with the opportunity to experience a different service user environment. You will continue to observe and analyse the ways in which theory is interpreted and applied in a different setting and will actively participate in information-gathering. There will also be an emphasis on the planning and implementing of intervention to further develop your understanding of safe practice.

You will explore a number of issues from a bio-psychosocial perspective to understand how factors such as our biology, psychology and social/cultural environment interact to influence our health and mental wellbeing. You will consider the role of the occupational therapist in helping people and carers deal with the impact of ill-health using a reflective approach.

Building on the experience gained in earlier placements, you will continue to extend your knowledge of working with a diverse range of client groups and put your learning into practice by managing a small caseload or equivalent responsibility. You will work on developing your key skills in analysis and evaluation of client need to inform professional and safe practice.

Final year

You will continue to explore the bio-psychosocial perspective looked at in earlier modules, whereby different factors interact to influence health and mental wellbeing; with the aim of further developing your understanding of therapeutic activity and occupation in occupational therapy.

In this second 8-week module, you will have the opportunity to experience work with a third client group and to draw upon previous knowledge and experience to manage a small caseload, or equivalent responsibility.

How is data collected? How can you be sure that it is trustworthy? The aim of this module is to introduce you to different concepts of research and evidence based practice. You will explore different techniques and approaches to data collection and analysis by planning and conducting your own research in an academic setting, and will consider the issues of validity and reliability when interpreting your findings.

As an occupational therapist, you can work in many diverse areas of practice. The way you work and your practice-thinking will alter, depending on the context. This module aims to provide you with an understanding of these different contexts and consideration of the impact of developing social trends, government policy, research evidence, legislation and ethics. You will also focus on developing skills in areas of leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship, in relation to identifying and exploring new and emerging areas of practice.

Year 4

The aim of this module is to demonstrate your competence to practice. You will critically analyse professional practice within clinical, ethical, legal and managerial frameworks and consider the influence of other professionals and current trends on practice. You will need to prove your ability to integrate theory with practice and will be expected to manage a small caseload as part of an 8-week practice placement.

What is the role and relevance of research in practice? What implications can the quality of research evidence have on practice? Building on concepts introduced in earlier modules, you will focus on developing your understanding of research design and analysis by looking at quantitative and qualitative methodologies. You will also explore the concept of critical thinking and the philosophies and ethics behind different research approaches.

This module supports you in the preparation and submission of a research proposal and literature review. You undertake this in an autonomous fashion, under the supervision of allocated tutors. At the end of the module you will present the implications of your proposal for practice at an Inter-professional Conference.


  • This course combines University learning, e-learning and practice-based learning
  • Teaching staff include clinically qualified lecturers in occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, adult and mental health nursing, 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


  • You are assessed through coursework, presentations, essays, posters, portfolios, CPD profiles, examinations, innovative practice proposal and direct observation of practice by the mentor in clinical settings
  • You also conduct a research dissertation

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UK entry requirements

Please be aware that we are not able to accept applications for deferred entry for this course.

You must be able to demonstrate that you meet the following minimum entry requirements:

  • A-levels, normally at CC or equivalent (e.g. BTEC level 3 extended diploma at MMP; Access to HE Diploma with 45 credits at Level 3 at pass or above; or Advanced Diploma in Society, Health and Development with 160 points in total)
  • Evidence of recent academic study
  • Five GCSE’s – including Maths and English grade C or above or equivalent standard of literacy and numeracy
  • IELTS overall score of 7.0, with no component below 6.5, will be required if English is not your native language. While we will normally assess English language proficiency at interview, we may also ask for IELTS wherever this is required

We accept a wide range of other qualifications from applicants studying in the UK, EU and other countries. For further details about the qualifications that we accept, please e-mail us with information about the high school qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

You must also have: two satisfactory references (including an academic reference), a satisfactory Work Health Assessment/Occupational health 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.

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 from March 2016 for the September 2016 intake. If you are selected for interview, then you will also be required to sit a Literacy & Numeracy test.

Continuing Professional Development

If you are already a registered occupational therapist, please see Continuing Professional Development on the 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. Email for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the high school qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

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Visit us

Open days

Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. In 2017 we have three undergraduate Open Days (in June, September and October). These events enable you to discover what our Colchester Campus has to offer. You have the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.


Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.


To apply for this course, you will need to apply to our School directly using the following application documents:

Applications for the 2016 intake will be closing 18 March 2016. All supporting documents must be received by this date for your application to be considered.

Interview and tests

If you’re shortlisted for interview based on your application, you will be invited onto campus. As part of this visit you will complete a literacy and numeracy test. If you successfully complete this you will then have an interview on the same day. Offers for the course will only be made after a successful interview.

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Although great care is taken in compiling our course details, they are intended for the general guidance of prospective students only. The University reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University.

The full procedures, rules and regulations of the University are set out in the Charter, Statues and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.