Physiotherapy at the University of Birmingham is based in the world-leading School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences. You will study at a research-intensive university that offers teaching excellence and a long tradition of physiotherapy education.
Our four-year MSci Physiotherapy programme provides the time and space to ensure students optimally develop their clinical skills and experience alongside academic excellence.
Teaching on the programme is delivered using a range of contemporary methods such as small group tutorials, practical classes, lectures, seminars and laboratory-based workshops as well as lectures. There is an emphasis on inert-disciplinary and inter-professional learning and we increasingly take a blended approach to education.
Year by year
Year One of the programme provides an introductory year for students transitioning to higher education. The year is shared with BSc Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences. You will have weekly tutorials with a personal tutor to support the development of your academic and professional skills while also studying the basic and applied sciences underpinning physiotherapy (anatomy and movement, human physiology and exercise, exercise and health psychology).
In Year Two, there is a strong emphasis on developing your clinical knowledge and related physiotherapy skills. Physiotherapists work in diverse settings (e.g. hospital-based acute care and rehabilitation, community-based rehabilitation for long term conditions, clinic-based physiotherapy for musculo-skeletal disorders) and you will be prepared for practice-based placements in each of these areas; the first of these takes place towards the end of Year Two.
In Year Three, you will complete two practice-based placements and further develop your clinical reasoning. University-based study will focus on more complex clinical cases and other specialist areas where physiotherapists practice. You will continue to develop your academic and research skills, completing a literature review in an area of interest and studying a module focusing on research design and service evaluation. You will also select and study two optional modules. Current options include (but are not limited to) Analysis of Motor Performance, Exercise as Medicine, Athletic Training and Conditioning, Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation, Mental Health and Sport.
In the summer period/holidays between Years Three and Four, you will complete an elective placement. Students arrange these placements themselves (with support) and often travel to different countries, providing a unique opportunity to experience healthcare in an unfamiliar setting. Elective placements also provide an opportunity for students to gain experience in a specialist clinical area of particular interest.
In Year Four you will complete your final two practice-based placements, developing your critical thinking and clinical reasoning based on these experiences. This work will prepare you for employment as a physiotherapist and your continuing professional development post-registration. Another major focus in your final year will be your research project. Options here are varied, reflecting the diversity of research in the school with many opportunities to undertake laboratory or field-based studies exploring contemporary issues relating to exercise, health and rehabilitation.
Practice-Based Education Placements
(You should note that placement providers may require evidence of your Covid-19 vaccination status before permitting you to commence work in the placement setting).
Practice-based education placements occur across the final three years of the programme and you will be assessed on each according to the stage of the programme.
Learning in practice-based settings is a critical and compulsory part of the programme. All students have to successfully complete a minimum of 1000 hours of practice-based education during the programme.
We take a patient-centred approach to preparing students for placements, with time for reflection on these experiences, ensuring our graduates are prepared for a career as a physiotherapist in a range of contemporary and culturally-diverse healthcare settings.
You will be allocated to a range of diverse and exciting placements, where you will gain a variety of experiences with a wide range of client groups, under the guidance of skilled clinicians.
Placements vary as to the experience offered; you may work within the hospital environment, in community-based environments such as clinics or schools, and within the independent and voluntary sectors. You may experience a variety of working practices including extended hours and seven-day working.
In the summer period/holidays between Years 3 and 4, you will complete an elective placement. Students arrange these placements themselves (with support) and often travel to different countries, providing a unique opportunity to experience healthcare in an unfamiliar setting. Elective placements also provide an opportunity for students to gain experience in a specialist clinical area of particular interest.
Please note, there may be expenses incurred with travel and/or accommodation on practice-based education placements.
You will have access to a comprehensive support system to help you make the transition to Higher Education.
- Personal tutors - You will be assigned your own personal tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies. They will provide academic support and advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.
- Wellbeing officers - We have dedicated wellbeing officers who provide professional support, advice and guidance to students across a range of issues. They can meet with you to discuss extensions, disabilities, reasonable adjustments, extenuating circumstances, or talk through any problems you might be experiencing, and help you access wider support on campus and beyond.
- Academic Skills Centre - The centre aims to help you become a more effective and independent learner through a range of high-quality support services. The centre offers workshops on a range of topics, such as note-taking, reading, academic writing and presentation skills.
- Student experience - Our Student Experience Team will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They will offer research opportunities, study skills support and help you prepare for your post-university careers. They will also organise social events, such as field trips, to help you meet fellow students from your course.
During your first year it is important that you have a smooth transition into university. You will be able to talk to your tutors about this and discuss if there are particular areas where you need support.
Seminars and tutorials
A wide variety of teaching methods to facilitate learning such as small group teaching sessions, tutorials, practical and seminar work are used. You are encouraged to take responsibility for your own learning through identification of your learning needs and development of self-directed study skills through enquiry-based learning.
Lecturers and world leading researchers
You will be taught by subject-leading academics and health professionals who are passionate about sharing their knowledge and expertise with you. You will become part of the School’s academic community, which includes professors, lecturers, visiting experts, postgraduate students and researchers.
Alongside their expertise in teaching and research, our world-leading academic staff act as consultants to schools, local education authorities, national governing bodies of sport, charities, businesses and government departments in the UK and abroad. This enables academics to bring a real-world perspective.
Resources and facilities
Our state-of-the-art sports centre sits on the corner of Bristol Road and Edgbaston Park Road, and is a gateway to the University for students, staff and our local community.
The £55 million centre encompasses a unique raft of facilities, including Birmingham’s first 50-metre swimming pool, as well as a large multi-sport arena, a range of activity and fitness studios, an extensive gym, six glass-backed squash courts and various other facilities. The centre underlines the University of Birmingham’s commitment to sport at all levels. In conjunction with the new athletics track and astroturf facilities, it is a home for our many sports clubs, allowing them to train and compete at the highest level.
When not on placement, you can typically expect around 12 hours contact time per week. This contact will be spread across the week.
During placement blocks (36 weeks in total across the programme), you should expect to spend 30 hours working across 4 days. You will typically also be required to attend sessions at the university on Wednesdays.
You will be assessed in a variety of ways. These include:
- Exams (e.g. multiple choice and short answer questions, essays)
- Coursework (e.g. reflective writing, oral and poster presentations)
- Practicals (e.g. Objective Structured Clinical Examinations, or OSCEs)
At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed. You will receive feedback on each assessment within three weeks, so you can learn from each assignment as you move through the programme.
Your performance on practice-based placements is also assessed; see the Common Placement Assessment Form (CPAF)