Undergraduate Course

BSc Occupational Therapy

BSc Occupational Therapy


The details
Occupational Therapy
October 2022
3 years
Colchester Campus

Our BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy course helps you to develop the knowledge, skills and attributes to enable you to work with clients of all ages who may have physical, mental health, learning difficulties or social challenges to address.

There's never been a better time to train as you can now apply for a £5000 grant that you won't need to pay back! There is also an extra £3000 funding available depending on your personal circumstances. You can find more information about eligibility and how to apply on the HSC Scholarships and Funding page.

This three-year 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 course provides you with an opportunity to access a professional qualification in occupational therapy.

The cost of required uniform will be fully covered by the school.

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, mental health, learning difficulties or social 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.

Making your application

Before you make your application, take a look at our frequently asked questions section at the bottom of our undergraduate department pages. Here you will find hints and tips on what we are looking for.

DBS and Occupational Health Checks

This course requires a satisfactory Occupational Health Check and enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check (including child and adult barred list check) - both of these are organised by the University. Please contact our DBS team if you have any questions relating to getting your DBS check.

A satisfactory Overseas Criminal Record Check/Local Police Certificate is also required, in addition to a DBS Check, where you have lived outside of the UK in the last 5 years for 6 months or more. Further information about how to obtain an Overseas Criminal Record check can be found on the Gov.uk website.

Why we're great.
  • We're in the top 25 for overall student satisfaction for Counselling, Psychotherapy and Occupational Therapy in the National Student Survey 2021.
  • 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.
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

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 Selena Hammond. Selena qualified as an Occupational Therapist in 2003, and has practised in a variety of settings, including inpatient orthopaedics, A&E, and Hand Therapy.

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 HSC 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.

97% of our School of Health and Social Care students are in employment or further study (Graduate Outcomes 2020).

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

UK entry requirements

GCSE: 5 GCSEs at C/4 or above (to include Maths, English and Science). Acceptable alternatives to our GCSE Maths and English requirements are listed further down this page.

Plus one of the following

  • A-levels: BBC
  • Access to HE Diploma (in a relevant pathway, e.g. Health Professions, Social Sciences): 45 level 3 credits at merit or above.
  • This Access diploma must be supported by level 2 Maths, Science and English (either as GCSE or Functional Skill - Level 2 qualifications), if relevant units not taken as part of the Access Diploma.

  • IB: 29 points or three Higher Level certificates with 554.

We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programmes at both Higher and Standard Level. Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information. Maths in the IB is not required if you have already achieved GCSE Maths at grade C/4 or above or 4 in IB Middle Years Maths. We accept grade 4 in either Standard Level Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches or Standard Level Mathematics: Applications and Interpretation.

GCSE/level 2 requirements

All applicants must have, or be working towards, acceptable level 2 Mathematics, English and Science qualifications such as GCSE grade C/4 or equivalent.

  • We can accept GCSE Science, Science units from an Access to HE Diploma at either level 2 or 3, or a level 3 qualification which covers Science.
  • We can accept a number of level 2 Maths qualifications in place of GCSE Maths C/4, including Functional Skills level 2, Key Skills level 2 or numeracy units taken as part of an Access to HE Diploma.
  • If you do not require a Student visa and are either a first language English speaker or have a lived in the UK for over three years, we can accept a number of level 2 English qualifications, including Functional Skills level 2, Key Skills level 2 or literacy units taken as part of an Access to HE Diploma, in place of GCSE English C/4.
  • If you have not listed a suitable Maths or English qualification in your application this may form part of any offer given to you.

Additional requirements

Study towards admitting qualifications within the last 5 years is required. Please get in touch if you think you might not meet this requirement.

Alongside academic criteria, applicants need to demonstrate knowledge of the scope of Occupational Therapy and practice settings, together with effective communication skills.

You must also have a satisfactory Occupational Health Check and enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check (including child and adult barred list check) - both of these are organised by the University. Please contact our DBS team if you have any questions relating to this.

A satisfactory Overseas Criminal Record Check/Local Police Certificate is also required, in addition to a DBS Check, where you have lived outside of the UK in the last 5 years for 6 months or more.

For 2021 entry, applicants must be aged 18 or over on 1 January 2022.

We welcome applications for Year Two or final year entry, but they must be submitted by 30 April 2021. These applications will need to go through the APEL process, as applicants are required to have studied a comparable first year at another institution and (where applicable) to have completed comparable Professional Capabilities through placements. Applicants for Year Two and Final Year also need to meet the GCSE Maths, Science and English, or acceptable alternatives, requirements.

Application process

If your achieved or pending qualifications meet our requirements, you will be invited to attend a compulsory interview via Zoom.

Flexible offers

Eligible applicants that choose us as their firm choice will be able to take advantage of a flexible offer. This offer will specify alternative entry requirements than those published here so, if your final grades aren’t what you had hoped for, you could still secure a place with us. Visit our undergraduate application information page for more details.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please select your country page where you'll find this information.

English language requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 7.0 overall with a minimum of 6.5 in each component (or equivalent).

Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels listed above. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications

If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

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.


Course structure

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.

Teaching and learning disclaimer

Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.

The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently approved for 2022 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.

Components and modules explained


Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

Status What this means
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.


Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

HR 100  4  FY

The department or school the module will be taught by.

In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

The module number. 

The UK academic level of the module.

A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

The term the module will be taught in.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms


Interprofessional Working and Development

The aim of the module is to introduce the concepts of professional and inter-professional practice and provide opportunities to develop understanding of the role of continuing professional development for health professionals.

View Interprofessional Working and Development on our Module Directory


Occupational Being

In this specific occupational therapy module you will work in learner led small groups and be involved in interactive, dialectical learning supported by key lectures. Individual study and key note lectures will develop your skills in areas such as observation, communication and occupational analysis. While this module does not include placement experience, you will progress in occupational therapy practice and self-directed study through the exploratory nature of this module.

View Occupational Being on our Module Directory


Practice Placement One: EXPLORE

In this first four week placement, you will learn to develop an occupational focus, seeing people as occupational beings and using the occupational therapy process to understand their progress through a service. You will explore how this focus contrasts and complements the work of multi-disciplinary teams and other services. You will explore how the core values, skills and beliefs you have learned about so far are enacted in the placement setting, including communication skills and occupational theories.

View Practice Placement One: EXPLORE on our Module Directory


Informing Sciences 1

The module supports students to develop a sound knowledge and understanding of the informing sciences. Students will be introduced to the basic sciences that inform professional practice, including anatomy, physiology, psychology and sociology and will complete a workbook throughout the module. Work will also be conducted in small study groups and there will be practical sessions focusing on biologically-based equipment.

View Informing Sciences 1 on our Module Directory


Engagement in Occupation

Using students’ experiences from their first exploratory placement, this module will develop understanding of the occupational nature of human beings and explore how people engage in their occupations and identify the influences on their performance. Students will develop an understanding of occupational therapy theoretical framework through lectures, independent study, small-group activity and online support and resources.

View Engagement in Occupation on our Module Directory


Informing Sciences 2

Developing on knowledge gained from previous modules, this module will focus on the biopsychosocial impacts upon health and wellbeing. Students will develop applied knowledge to further advance understanding of anatomy, physiology, psychology and sociology, to understand health and ill health. Learning will be a mixture of key note lectures focused on core concepts, individual study, small-group activity and online support and resources.

View Informing Sciences 2 on our Module Directory


Concepts of Therapy

Drawing from placement experiences, this module will develop an understanding of the professional role and the role of others. There are many concepts and skills that are common between interprofessional colleagues, and in this module students will develop an understanding of the relative role, value and impact of therapy within multiple context and environments. The emphasis of this module is on further developing self-directed learning and engagement, which is supported by tutor-led and small study group activities.

View Concepts of Therapy on our Module Directory


Professional Reasoning

This module introduces students to the theory and practice of professional reasoning. Throughout the module students will draw on and extend their current knowledge and transferable skills in order to progress occupational therapy identity and skills. Small group work, tutorials and seminars will form the basis of the learning methods within this module.

View Professional Reasoning on our Module Directory


Practice Placement Two: INITIATE

This six week placement requires active participation in practice; initiating elements of the occupational therapy process and sharing your professional reasoning at each stage. Your reasoning will involve thinking critically about the different aspects of practice and the knowledge and evidence which informs your practice. You will use reflection to develop awareness of yourself as a practitioner and identify areas for further learning. You will initiate interactions with other team members and those involved in this setting, based on the understanding of the contexts for practice.

View Practice Placement Two: INITIATE on our Module Directory


Therapy and Occupation

This module is designed to focus specifically on the practice of occupational therapy, and will develop students’ knowledge and skills in delivering occupational therapy. There will be opportunities to apply theoretical knowledge to develop evidence based occupational therapy skills and practice. Students will interact with occupational therapists and service users to share their knowledge and experiences relating to aspects of occupational therapy.

View Therapy and Occupation on our Module Directory


Professional Enquiry

With a mixture of interactive and practical classroom-based lectures, this module focuses on literature searching, synthesising literature within a critical review and identifying a topic for further professional enquiry. Students will gain practical experience of collecting and handling a variety of data and developing analytical skills to gain an understanding of evidence in its widest sense.

View Professional Enquiry on our Module Directory


Practice Placement Three: LEAD

This eight week placement will offer the opportunity for leadership, where you will demonstrate your practice based on decisions about how you work, using the best evidence, knowledge and understanding of the setting. This placement requires the development of innovative and creative ideas for practice based on sound theories. You will identify an issue arising from the context, generate and evaluate solutions and apply one as a practice innovation. You will also have the opportunity to discover quality monitoring processes and the implications of these in practice.

View Practice Placement Three: LEAD on our Module Directory


Leadership in Service Enhancement

This module is designed to enable students to develop effective leadership skills through the identification and development of an idea to enhance services drawn from practice placement experiences. Students will extend their understanding of the considerations required to positively affect change to enhance service delivery and benefit service users.

View Leadership in Service Enhancement on our Module Directory


Advancing Occupational Therapy Practice

This module will enable the student to investigate professional practice within clinical, ethical, legal and managerial frameworks in preparation for professional practice. There will be an opportunity to explore aspects of practice and examine the influence of current trends from a national and international perspective.

View Advancing Occupational Therapy Practice on our Module Directory


Employability in Occupational Therapy

The module prepares students for employment within occupational therapy settings. Students will draw upon and utilise transferable and core skills to prepare them from employment as an Occupational Therapist.

View Employability in Occupational Therapy on our Module Directory


Professional Enquiry Proposal

This module will develop evidence-based practice and research through self-directed learning. This autonomous working method will help to prepare students as pro-active professionals once qualified. Learners will work towards preparing and submitting an in-depth literature review and research proposal or service improvement project proposal.

View Professional Enquiry Proposal on our Module Directory


Practice Placement Four: MANAGE

This final ten week placement will require you to manage your own learning under supervision, fully engaging with the practice setting and its broader context. You will be required to demonstrate evidence of competent practice and readiness for transition from student to therapist. This placement requires demonstration of a highly professional level of skills and the use of critical evaluation and reflection to continually develop practice from a robust evidence base. You will be required to share your knowledge and skills.

View Practice Placement Four: MANAGE on our Module Directory


Transition from Student to Occupational Therapist

This module aims to provide you with opportunities to explore the concepts of the transformative process from competent student to a novice practitioner. You will draw on your learning and experiences gained over the duration of the programme and reflect upon the personal relevance in order to facilitate the transformation from student to occupational therapist.

View Transition from Student to Occupational Therapist on our Module Directory


  • 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

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee


The Learning Support Fund is available for healthcare students starting their course on or after 1 August 2017. Please see the NHS BSA for more info.

International fee


Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

Home/UK fees and funding information

International fees and funding information

What's next

Open Days

Our events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. We run a number of Open Days throughout the year which enable you to discover what our 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 book a campus tour here.

2021 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday, October 23, 2021
  • Saturday, November 13, 2021


Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.

Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.

The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are ‘L’ and ‘S’ respectively.

You can find further information on how to apply, including information on transferring from another university, applying if you are not currently at a school or college, and applying for readmission on our How to apply and entry requirements page.


If you are an undergraduate student who has received an offer from us to study with us from October 2021, you will be invited to interview with us by Zoom from the comfort of your own home. We use the interview as an opportunity to get to know you, to find out about your ambitions, and to hear about how prepared you are for the course. It’s important for us to be sure that you know what you’re signing up for, so we’d expect you’ve done some research about the course and the associated careers it may lead to. We have some more information about how to demonstrate you have what it takes at the bottom of ourundergraduate page.

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tours allows you to explore our University from the comfort of your home. Check out our Colchester virtual tour and Southend virtual tour to see 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.

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.

Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of 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. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

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