Thinking a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (OT) at UQ could be right for you?
In other words, you’re a regular people pleaser who wants to make a career where you can help people everyday. Luckily for you, we’re here to do the exact same thing, but we’re going to do it by helping you to see if UQ is where you’ll start your OT career path.
From core units, entry pathways and the general culture of the course, we’ll cover pretty much everything you need to know to figure out if this degree is a good fit for you.
So, let’s jump right into it then!
What is a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy at UQ?
First off, let’s talk a little bit about Occupational Therapy. If you’re reading this, you probably have a pretty good idea of what the job entails.
Though, we’ll bet you’ve been met with a little bit of confusion when announcing your university plans to your friends. This is probably because the work of an Occupational Therapist is quite varied, so not everybody really knows what it means.
The job can put you into a lot of different contexts, with each day being a little bit different. You could be based in a school, nursing home, or hospital, helping people from all walks of life to better achieve their daily activities (i.e. their occupations!).
You might be helping children develop handwriting or computer skills, maybe you’ll be identifying the needs of a client returning to work after a motor vehicle injury, you could even be assisting someone to recover from cognitive impairment following a stroke. In other words, you will be helping a lot of people with a lot of different things, hence the confusion.
Now for the good news, a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy at UQ will prepare you for all of this. It’s a four-year course filled to the brim with both practical and theoretical OT-related study. It also includes 6 months worth of work experience in your final year that will leave you 100% ready for your exciting career.
One thing to keep in mind before you start is that while Honours is included in the program, your ability to graduate with Honours is dependent on your grade point average in Years 2-4. For more information about progression rules, make sure to check out their Honours degree policy!
It goes without saying that this course prepares you for a very specific career path. I mean, come on, it’s right there in the name!
All jokes aside, the majority of people finishing a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy at UQ will go on to take the official title of an occupational therapist. This, however, does not mean that everyone does this!
Yes, just like every other degree there are other possible career paths for an OT graduate. Here are just a few examples of where else the degree could take you:
- Rehabilitation consultant
- Health consultant
- OT researcher
- Clinical educator
- Medico legal
- Adaptive equipment development/sales
- Public health policy developer
As you can see these career paths are all somewhat related to OT. They’re basically positions that utilise your specific skill set without actually involving the therapy part of OT.
So, if by the end of your prac you find yourself feeling a little bit like being an OT might not be for you, you have lots of different options to choose from!
Core Units for this Degree
Like pretty much every other health-related degree, electives, majors and core units don’t really exist. This is because the entire degree is built up of core units.
The degree is specifically designed to prepare you for a career as an OT, so it wouldn’t really make much sense to have electives and majors.
Basically the course already has a specific path designed for you, which means you need to pass every single course in order to progress through the degree. It also means that you’ll be progressing through the program with the same cohort every year (pretty much like high school). This is definitely a big perk of the course.
Progressing through the program with the same cohort will give you the chance to make friends that you’ll keep for life (seriously, everyone is super close!).
So, let’s break down each year to see what your degree will look like!
First year is the academic overload year! Basically you’re going to be dumped with a lot (and we mean a lot) of theoretical courses. We’re talking anatomy, psychology and an introduction to OT itself.
This year might be a little overwhelming, and you might even find that it’s a little too varied. Fear not! You need to trust the program. All of this knowledge will absolutely come in handy once you start working as an OT.
This year might be a little bit more exciting for you as a budding OT. It will feel much more focussed, centring more on OT than the first year. Essentially, each course will give you an introduction to different areas of OT, such as working with children, treating physical and mental health conditions, or assisting human function in relation to disease.
The dreaded third year! We’re kidding, it’s not that bad, though you might feel a little thrown in the deep end. Why? This is the year you’ll be doing the first half of your prac!
In the first semester you’ll continue on with your OT courses, but with a specific focus on preparing you for your prac. Then, in your second semester you’ll be off working as an OT in training!
Note: A great thing about UQ is you can specify what area you want to do your prac in i.e. hospital, clinical practice, school etc. You’ll also have the chance to work at two different locations in the second semester of your prac.
During the first semester, you’ll be off doing your second prac. Then in the second semester, you’ll use your newly attained, professional knowledge to conduct a research project.
Also, you’ll have your first and last elective! Essentially, you’ll be able to choose whether or not to conduct a research project, an academic analysis, or more practical work. This is a way to give students the option to head toward a research career if they so choose.
How are the pracs allocated?
Since the clinical practice is a compulsory part of the program, you’re probably wondering how exactly you go about locking one down.
Well, luckily for you, UQ’s Occupational Therapy Faculty will pretty much do all the work for you. All you need to do is specify which specific area you want to work in and they’ll find your perfect match.
Note: All of the universities in Queensland work together to allocate the pracs. This means that your spot is pretty much guaranteed.
How to Get into a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy at UQ
Considering the course has a limited intake capacity, the entry requirements are relatively high. Firstly, you’ll need an ATAR of 94.90. Then, you’ll also need to have taken General English and either Biology, Chemistry, or Physics as prerequisites.
Since the entry requirements are quite high, UQ offers a range of adjustment schemes for Year 12 students. Adjustment schemes are essentially a way to increase your chances of getting in if you don’t meet the ATAR requirements.
UQ offers 3 subject incentive schemes. Subject incentives are an adjustment scheme based on the subjects that you take. Essentially, if you take a certain subject you will be eligible to receive 1-2 adjustments per subject. Here’s a list of the subjects:
- 2 adjustments for achieving a grade of C or higher in Units 3 and 4 of an approved language other than English subject (or an equivalent subject from another approved senior program)
- 2 adjustments for achieving a grade of C or higher in Units 3 and 4 of Queensland Specialist Mathematics (or equivalent)
- 1 adjustment for successfully completing a university-level enrichment course concurrently with your senior program (e.g. our Enhanced Studies Program).
Keep in mind that you can receive a maximum of 5 adjustments.
Rural Access Scheme
If you’ve lived in an Australian rural area, you will be eligible for the Rural Access Scheme. The Rural Access Scheme provides 2 adjustments for all undergraduate programs at UQ.
What about scholarships?
UQ has a few scholarships relative to this program. For more information head over to their scholarships page to find the right one for you!
The program also includes rural grants for students that choose to undertake their prac in a rural area. The grant is $1000, and you’ll be eligible to apply for it more than once if you choose to study in a rural area for your second prac.
What’s the Teaching Format?
Firstly, you’ll be very happy to know that UQ uses a semester system (and not trimesters, thank goodness). What this means for you is that you’ll have four courses each semester (unless you’re doing your prac), across two semesters a year on a full-time load. That’s eight courses per year in total!
UQ’s Occupational Therapy courses can take many different shapes. For the most part though, you’ll be doing lectures, tutorials and field work.
The contact hours will really vary each semester depending on your courses, but the average is about 15 hours per week (sometimes more, sometimes less).
Also, because you progress through the program with the same cohort, your class size during lectures will always be the same size (something between 50 to 100 students). For tutorials and field work, the classes will be divided up to prevent overloaded classrooms.
Each course will have one lecture session a week, which will run for 1-2 hours. Lectures in OT are pretty much exactly what you would expect. They are presentational style classes where the course convenor will introduce the content.
During your lecture there will probably not be much interaction between you and the professor. In fact, all of the lectures are recorded so you can watch them online, meaning you don’t even necessarily need to be there (though we recommend you do go!).
Lectures may be less hands-on than tutorials, but they’re still very important. Considering the amount of content you’ll be taking on, it’s important that you pay attention so you’re prepared for assessments.
Tutorials are much more intimate, regardless of the subject, with the cohort split down in two. Tutorials relate directly back to the lectures and run for 1-2 hours as well.
They require preparation, which will be introduced in the lectures. You will probably be given preparation questions that you spend the tutorial answering. The teacher is there to help you out and it’s much easier to ask questions than in the lecture theatre.
Field work is kind of like a practical component that you do throughout the semester. It’s much less intense than the actual clinical practice, only taking place once a week for a period of around five weeks, and running for 4 hours.
Much like the clinical practice, field work could have you working in a range of different OT settings.
What are assessments like?
Considering it’s a Bachelor’s degree for the allied-health industry, the assessments are quite practical. In fact, you can pretty much expect one third of your assessments to be mock scenarios where you will be tested on your ability to react to real-life scenarios in a simulated environment. These style of exams are called viva, short for the latin phrase viva voce, which basically just means that it’s an oral exam.
In some courses, you might get one big group project that lasts for the whole semester. Essentially, You’ll be given the task to create a therapy plan for a patient.
A lot of assessments are also just reflective pieces on your time during the field work, or documentation assessments where you can practise tracking the progress of a patient. For the most part, you shouldn’t really expect very many traditional exams or assessments like you had in high school.
What you should expect is a lot of group assignments (and we’re not kidding when we say a lot). I know, you’re probably shuddering at the thought of lots of group assessments, but trust us when we say it’s great practice for the real world.
As an OT, you’ll be working with lots of different specialists. From Speech Pathologists to Psychologists, OT is certainly a profession that requires a lot of cooperation.
Skills You Refine and Learn
Since Occupational Therapy is quite a Jack-of-all-trades profession, you will definitely find yourself with a diverse skill set by the end of this degree. Not only will you have all the skills to work proficiently as an OT, but you’ll have a lot of transferable knowledge to help you communicate with the other professionals you’ll be working with in the field.
You’ll know how to assess someone physically and psychologically, and you’ll know how to put a splint on their arm (pretty cool right). Speaking of communication, this will probably become your greatest and most useful skill. After all of those viva exams you’ll be doing, you’ll be a master communicator.
The practical experience sprinkled throughout the program will also make you super confident before you even start your first contract. You’ll also learn to think on your feet so you’re ready for any kind of situation that might come your way. Basically you’ll have the standard skillset of any good OT!
What’s the Faculty and Culture Like?
Here comes the good part! The faculty and culture of the Bachelor of Occupational Therapy at UQ is honestly one of the best parts of the entire program.
As we said earlier, you progress with the same cohort throughout the entire program. The result? A group of friends that you can honestly call friends for life. Everybody knows everyone’s name and there’s a massive community vibe.
You’ll never be scared to talk to somebody sitting next to you in the lecture theatre, or to ask for lecture notes. This is definitely a rare and beautiful thing for a university degree (your friends studying Arts degrees will definitely be jealous).
The same goes for the faculty. All of the professors and tutors are really approachable and nice. They even make the effort to learn the names of the entire cohort. As the degree progresses you’ll become closer and closer to the extent that you’ll probably even find yourself chatting with the teaching staff about their kids!
What about the OT Students Association?
UQ is quite generous when it comes to funding the Occupational Therapy Students Association. This means there are ample resources for events throughout the program.
There’s a first year barbecue every year, a different annual event for every year level and generally some mixed events with all of the different year levels. Just a heads up, you should practise your lawn bowls before first year because there are a lot of lawn bowls events!
The OT Association also organises peer mentoring, which pairs the third years with the fourth years. This gives the third years a chance to ask the fourth years about their experiences during the clinical practice.
UQ also offers generalist mentoring programs but for the most part we would suggest sticking to the OT association for advice. Since the program is so specific, it definitely makes more sense to seek help from the people that have actually experienced the program. But, hey, it never hurts to branch out either!
Cody Williams is a Content Writer at Art of Smart Education. While Cody studied a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and French Studies at UNSW, he quickly realised that his dream job would have him sit happily behind a keyboard. Cody’s digital writing career started with an internship at Bauer Media where he was writing for ELLE and Harper’s BAZAAR’s online publications. Once he had a taste for writing he never looked back, moving to Brisbane soon later to work as a Producer for Channel Nine Queensland. After a year in television media, he dusted off his online writing shoes so he could put them to good use, stamping out some scorching-hot career and educational resources at AOS.