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Study Physiotherapy, why & how to study

Physiotherapists provide treatment to restore or improve patients’ mobility. Read about studying for a Physiotherapy degree to see if this career is for you.

Physiotherapist helping man in gym

CONTENTS

  1. What’s Physiotherapy?

  2. What Physiotherapy degrees can you study?

  3. What do you need to get onto a Physiotherapy degree?

  4. What topics does a Physiotherapy degree cover?

  5. How will you be assessed?

  6. Why study Physiotherapy?

  7. What do Physiotherapy graduates earn?

  8. What jobs can you get as a Physiotherapy graduate?

  9. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

  10. Similar subjects to Physiotherapy

  11. Have any questions?

What’s Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is a specialist branch of medicine that helps improve impairments in movement. It aims to improve a patient’s quality of life through physical intervention to help mobility and function.

Physiotherapists play an important role in treating a wide range of conditions, including:

  • Neurological (stroke, Parkinson’s)
  • Neuromusculoskeletal (sports injury, arthritis)
  • Cardiovascular (rehabilitation after a heart attack)
  • Respiratory (cystic fibrosis, asthma)

Specialists work with patients on a regular basis, helping them through exercise, massage, the use of specialist equipment and many other methods. They form treatment plans and also advise people on how to prevent injury.

What Physiotherapy degrees can you study?

The Physiotherapy subject area also includes degrees focusing on sports rehabilitation, such as:

  • Clinical Exercise and Rehabilitation Science BSc
  • Integrated Master's in Physiotherapy MSc
  • Physiotherapy BSc
  • Sports Rehabilitation BSc
  • Strength, Conditioning and Rehabilitation BSc 

Degrees may include an integrated foundation year or master’s. Courses usually include placements working with members of the public.

Degree apprenticeships in Physiotherapy may be available, where you can work and earn while gaining your qualification. You must apply through an employer, and you won’t have access to student grants.

What do you need to get onto a Physiotherapy degree?

Most undergraduate Physiotherapy courses ask for 96–136 UCAS points. Not every university will base their offer on UCAS points and some courses may have lower or higher requirements. Qualifications may include:

  • A Levels: AAB–CCC
  • BTECs: D*DD–MMM
  • Scottish Highers: AAAAA–BBCC (Advanced Highers: ABB)
  • International Baccalaureate: 33–24
  • Universities will usually ask that you have studied: an A Level or Higher in biology, human biology or PE

Other good subjects to have studied include:

  • You’ll also need five GCSEs (grade C/4 or above) including in English, maths and science
  • General subjects may not be acceptable, such as A Level general studies

Experience that would look good on your application:

  • Shadowing or talking to a physiotherapist – contact your local NHS service or try private clinics, sports clubs or charities providing rehab support
  • Work experience in a hospital, health or physiotherapy clinic, sports clinic, or nursing home
  • For sports-related degrees, involvement with sports groups or clubs
  • Volunteering for organisations such as St Johns Ambulance, or St Andrew’s First Aid in Scotland
  • Independent reading into the subject, or areas of research at your chosen uni – and check out the website of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) or Physios in Sport

Other requirements for this subject include:

  • Pass in the practical element of science taken at A Level
  • Interview
  • Because you may be working with vulnerable people or children, you’ll need to complete Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS) checks (PVG scheme in Scotland)

What topics does a Physiotherapy degree cover?

Typical modules for courses in this subject include:

  • Contemporary physiotherapy practice
  • Foundations of anatomy and clinical practice
  • Injury and rehabilitation
  • Motor control and decline
  • Musculoskeletal practice
  • Physiotherapy theory and practice
  • Psychology of exercise, health and sport
  • The human cardiorespiratory system

How will you be assessed?

You'll be heavily assessed while working on placement, based on a framework of knowledge and skills that'll be fully explained to you once you begin the course. Other assessment methods include:

  • Case study presentations
  • Essays
  • Exams (written and practical)
  • Multiple choice questions
  • Portfolios of evidence
  • Poster presentations
  • Video analysis

Why study Physiotherapy?

A clear reason why you might study Physiotherapy is to help those who are in pain. A physiotherapist can make an invaluable contribution to a person's quality of life, effectively treating many serious health problems.

Career-specific skills:

  • Applying theory and critical reasoning to assess and evaluate a client’s health and the appropriate course of treatment
  • Competence in assessment and treatment techniques, including gait analysis
  • Ability to engage with clients and the wider healthcare team

Transferable skills:

  • Communication (written and oral)
  • Interpersonal skills
  • IT literacy and numeracy
  • Problem solving
  • Self-directed learning
  • Team working
  • Time management

Professional accreditation: 

  • Degrees must be approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and may be endorsed by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP)

What do Physiotherapy graduates earn?

Physiotherapy graduates can expect an entry-level salary of around £25,500 (NHS Band 5). With experience, those who specialise or take on managerial roles could be paid £47,000–£75,500 (NHS Band 8a–8c). You could even set up your own practice and be self-employed.

Sports therapists may earn between £24,000–£45,000.

What jobs can you get as a Physiotherapy graduate?

Most Physiotherapy students become professional physiotherapists. Alternatively, you could find opportunities in the armed forces, sports and fitness, research or teaching.

Specialisms in Physiotherapy include:

  • Geriatric medicine
  • Intensive care
  • Mental health
  • Outpatients
  • Orthopaedics
  • Paediatrics
  • Stroke services

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

If you have a first degree in a related discipline, you can take a graduate-entry pre-registration course to qualify as a physiotherapist. Other postgraduate degrees offer the chance to specialise, for example:

  • Advanced Physiotherapy: Cardiorespiratory MSc
  • Exercise as Medicine MSc
  • Physiotherapy PhD
  • Sports Physiotherapy MSc

Similar subjects to Physiotherapy

Other subject areas that might appeal to you include:

Have any questions?

Ask our experts! You can email ask@thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk with your question about studying Physiotherapy – we’ll be happy to hear from you.

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