BlogUQWhat It’s Like Studying a Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Honours) at UQ

What It’s Like Studying a Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Honours) at UQ

UQ Physiotherapy - Fact Sheet

Are you searching for a rewarding career that cares for people with musculoskeletal, neurological, respiratory and other conditions? Perhaps UQ Physiotherapy is a degree you’ve been looking into.

If you have a desire to heal people by using techniques to reduce pain, improve movement and restore muscle control for better mobility and function, then a Bachelor of Physiotherapy at UQ could be well suited to you.

Let’s have a look at everything that this degree and university has to offer!

What is a Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Honours) at UQ?
Core Units for this Degree
How to Get into a Bachelor of Physiotherapy at UQ
What’s the Teaching Format?
What’s the Faculty and Culture Like?

What is a Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Honours) at UQ?

The Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Honours) at the University of Queensland is a four-year degree that examines the theory and practice behind physiotherapy. The course program prepares students for a rewarding career taking care of people and helping those who suffer from musculoskeletal, neurological, respiratory and other physical conditions to get moving again!

This degree will qualify you to become a skilled and empathetic health professional who helps improve clients mobility and function, whilst reducing pain. The course aims to prepare you for the workforce and equip you with the practical, theoretical and psychological tools to ensure a successful career as a physiotherapist.

During your studies, you will build a strong foundational knowledge of medical science, physiotherapy science, anatomy, professional ethics, psychology and therapeutic science! 

Not only will you be optimising potential ability and physical function, but you will also be helping people regain their independence and quality of life through rehabilitation practices. 

This career goes much deeper than the physical, as your role has the potential to beneficially influence clients’ emotional and mental health.

UQ Physiotherapy - Quote


The Bachelor of Physiotherapy at UQ includes an Honours year in your 4th year. During this year, you must choose 4 units that are dependent on whether you wish to pursue professional practice or a research project.

Students in their Honours year must also do 12 set units of professional and integrative professional practice.

The ‘Professional Practice’ units are clinical placement courses that are delivered in multiple non-standard teaching periods throughout the academic year. If you choose to do the Health Sciences Research Advanced Project, you will undertake study over more than one semester. 

Career Paths

A degree in physiotherapy will prepare you to become accredited health professionals and will set you up for a rewarding career within the healthcare industry.

A physiotherapist graduate may choose to specialise in areas such as sports, musculoskeletal, paediatrics, neurology, cardiorespiratory, orthopaedics, or work in research or consultancy roles in educational, industrial or government institutions.

Some of the careers that you could pursue as a graduate are:

    • Physiotherapist in hospitals, school programs and private practice
    • Occupational therapist
    • Rehabilitation therapist
    • Community physiotherapist
    • Sports physiotherapist
    • Research and teaching
    • Industry consultant 

As the Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Honours) at UQ is accredited by the Australian Physiotherapy Council, graduates will have the opportunity to register with a number of organisations that will keep them connected with fellow professionals and help them to excel in their career.

Once you graduate, you may be eligible to become a member of the Australian Physiotherapy Association. You may also be eligible for registration with the Physiotherapy Board of Australia. 

My understanding of the most common career pathways is generally split between private and public.


In hospital, you can work in cardiorespiratory, neurological rehab, outpatient musculoskeletal, surgical ward rehabilitation and medical ward rehabilitation. In private, you can work in occupational health, private practice (most common physiotherapy role), aged care, mobile rehab and NDIS, and sports (most competitive).” — Tom James

Core Units for this Degree

A unique aspect of the Physiotherapy (Honours) degree at UQ is that all the units are set throughout the course. The set units are dependent on the year you enrolled in and may be subject to change for other cohorts enrolling in different years. 

However, when you reach your Honours year, you will have a choice in whether you wish to pursue professional practice courses or research based projects.

The core units of Physiotherapy are anatomy and physiology, then later the practical components of rehabilitation in the private and hospital settings. There are no majors.” — Tom James

Degree Structure

To give you an idea of what your degree will look like, here is an example of a course outline:

Semester of StudyCourse Titles
Year 1, Semester 1- Systematic Anatomy
- Molecular & Cellular Biology for Physiotherapists
- Physiotherapy Foundations I: Physiotherapy Profession & Basic Processes 
- Introduction to Psychology: Developmental, Social & Clinical Psychology
Year 1, Semester 2- Regional Anatomy
- Professions, People and Healthcare
- Introduction to Principles of Physiotherapy Assessment and Management
- Principles of Exercise in Physiotherapy Practice
Year 2, Semester 1 - Functional Anatomy (Physiotherapy)
- Foundations of Physiotherapy Practice
- Physiotherapy Specialties: Musculoskeletal IA (Lower Limb)
- Physiology I
Year 2, Semester 2- Physiotherapy Specialities: Musculoskeletal IB (Lumbar Spine & Pelvis)
- Physiotherapy Across the Lifespan A
- Physiotherapy Foundations II: Physiotherapy Practice and Modalities 
- Physiology II
Year 3, Semester 1- Health Sciences Research Discovery I
- Physiotherapy Specialties: Musculoskeletal IIA (Upper Limb)
- Physiotherapy Across the Lifespan B
- Physiotherapy Specialties: Neurology
Year 3, Semester 2- Health Sciences Research Evaluation I
- Physiotherapy Specialties: Cardiothoracics 
- Physiotherapy Specialties: Musculoskeletal IIB (Cervical and Thoracic Spine)
- Health Promotion, Participation and Preparation for Physiotherapy Practice
Honours Year (4th):

Students must choose 4 units from this list:

  • Integrative Professional Practice 1 (2 units) AND
  • Professional Practice 6 (2 units) or Research Project (Systematic Review) (2 units)


  • Health Sciences Research Advanced Project I (4 units)

Students then have to do 12 set units of professional and integrative professional practice, with each course being 2 units. These units include Professional Practice 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and Integrative Professional Practice 2. 

There are no majors in this degree or specialisations that take students on a different degree path.

Instead, each student in the degree gets a taster of each speciality within the set course units. Specialities explored in this degree are Musculoskeletal focused units and Cardiothoracics.

Placements/Work Experience

In terms of work experience, this degree is particularly exciting as it includes built-in placements throughout your degree that will give you real-world experience working in a clinic environment.

During these courses, students will develop the ability to integrate the knowledge and physical skills that are necessary to function as a competent physiotherapist. Students will undergo professional practice, whereby they work with standardised patients and complete a range of learning tasks such as, evidence-based practice and clinical reasoning.

The main goal of these built-in placements are to develop students’ knowledge and skills in order to work autonomously as a primary health care practitioner in a variety of contexts! 

Throughout my degree at UQ there was an opportunity to do a placement overseas. The ones offered when I was eligible were in Belgium, and South-East Asia.


Typically, students had to fund these themselves and were not paid during this placement. However, there was one placement when I was studying which was a paid 5-week placement at a meat works in the occupational health environment.” — Tom James


How to Get into a Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Honours) at UQ

If you are looking for guaranteed entry into this exciting course, you will need to aim for an ATAR of 98, an OP of 2 or an IB of 40. Those were the lowest adjusted scores that the university made an offer to in Semester 1 of 2020. 

You must also make sure that you meet the course prerequisites:

    • Queensland Year 12 (or equivalent) General English subject (Units 3 & 4, C)
    • One of Biology, Chemistry or Physics (Units 3 & 4, C)

Additional Requirements

Before applying for the course, it is essential that you ensure that you’re able to meet placement requirements outlined here. These requirements will include your Immunisation Record, Blue Card, National Police Certificate, First Aid, Queensland Health checklists etc. 

Pathways and Admission Schemes

If you need that extra bit of help meeting the entry requirements, you can learn about pathway options here! 

Depending on what you need help on, you can choose from: ‘Meet Subject Prerequisites’, ‘Increase Your Selection Rank’, and ‘Meet Subject Prerequisites and Increase Your Selection Rank’.

However, before you choose your pathway, please check if your previous study or experience can be used to gain a selection rank and ensure that you’re eligible for admission schemes that will help you gain entry.

Some admission schemes to give students an equal opportunity to study are:

    • UQ Subject Incentive Scheme: Year 12s studying certain subjects may be eligible for up to 5 adjustments towards your selection rank.
    • Educational Access Scheme: Provides additional support if you’ve experienced difficult personal circumstances that have negatively affected your most recent studies.
    • UQ Link Program: If you’ve experienced significant financial disadvantage, you may be eligible to receive 5 adjustments to your rank and a $3000 scholarship.
    • Rural Access Scheme: If you’ve lived in a rural area in Australia, you may be eligible for 2 adjustments towards your rank. 
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Admission Pathway: If you’re an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, you may be eligible for support to help you get into your preferred UQ program. 
    • Undergraduate Law Admissions Scheme: If you’re from an educationally disadvantaged or culturally diverse background, you may be eligible for support.


Students can make their university experience more affordable by applying for a scholarship. Scholarships include: 

    • Alumni Friends Founders Scholarship 
    • Aspire Scholarships
    • Flannery Foundation Scholarship
    • Macdonald/Leitch Scholarship

Find a full list of scholarships for Health and Behavioural Sciences here!

What’s the Teaching Format?

Full-time physiotherapy students at the University of Queensland are required to study two semesters a year. 

Class Structure

UQ Physiotherapy - Class Structure

Although each unit and its teaching format will vary, you can generally see yourself attending 3 lecture hours and either 2-3 practical/laboratory hours or a 1 hour tutorial per unit. Lectures and tutorials are offered both on-campus and online, including assessments.

A lecture theatre usually has just over 100 students attending, whereas tutorials and practicals are around 20. 

The types of topics that students will engage in during lectures and tutorials are anatomy, physiology, biology, basic physics and biomechanics in the first couple of years. From these foundational topics, you then delve into geriatric care, cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal physiotherapy and neurological rehabilitation in your final years.

In terms of activities that students will take part in, you can see yourself developing your communication, observation and palpation skills when in practical lessons.

The class format is usually a mixture of lectures and practical classes. During my time at UQ, there were usually both lectures and practical classes each day. Usually there were around >100 students in the lectures, and prac classes were split into smaller groups.— Tom James

How many hours do you have to go into University?

Depending on the units that you are studying per semester, you are looking at about 20 contact hours in your first year, which can then progress to 30 hours in your later years.

In terms of days on campus, students can come in from as little as 3 days to as many as 5 days, depending on the timetable of the units. To ensure you are content with your working hours, students are able to preference their timetable and organise their classes to suit their personal timetable before the session commences.

Clinical placement hours can vary depending on whether a research project is undertaken in Year 4 of the program.

Contact hours are high in this degree and require a lot of time on campus. I would estimate around 30 hours required each week for this degree.” — Tom James


Assessments in the Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Honours) at UQ do vary. However, you will be looking at an assessment structure that is a similar or a variant of these:

TaskWeighting (%)
Mid-semester practical examination30
End of semester written examination55


TaskWeighting (%)
Online quizzes throughout the semester5% per quiz
Meta-learning tasks2.5% each
Mid-semester exam30
End of semester exam45

Physiotherapy at UQ has both written exams and practical exams. In my first year, we had 8 exams in the 2nd semester of university, that is one practical and one written for each subject.


In the first year you can expect to do anatomy exams in the Gross Anatomy Facility (GAF), which involves walking around to different stations and explaining specifics around muscles, joints, nerves, bones and more.” — Tom James

Skills That You Refine and Learn

UQ Physiotherapy - Skills

During their studies, Physiotherapy students will be able to develop and refine a range of practical, theoretical and interpersonal skills.

Practical Skills

In regards to practical skills, there are a lot! Upon finishing their degree, students will learn physical methods to control pain, therapeutic exercise for impaired muscle systems, physical management of the cardio-respiratory system, and methods to improve balance and motor control for better performance and function.

Furthermore, you will have experience with neurological rehabilitation, including working with amputee patients.

Theoretical Skills

In terms of theoretical skills, students will gain a strong foundational knowledge and understanding of medical science, physiotherapy science, musculoskeletal anatomy, rehabilitation, professional ethics, psychology and therapeutic exercise.

Interpersonal Skills

Above this, physiotherapists must also have interpersonal skills that allow them to communicate effectively with their patients. This involves empathy, understanding and compassion.

During their studies, students will learn how to build rapport with their patients and develop thorough interviewing skills.

“Main streams of skills which you develop in your degree are musculoskeletal anatomy and rehabilitation of MSK injuries, cardiorespiratory conditions and management, neurological rehabilitation including working with amputee patients. Some soft skills you develop are building rapport with patients and thorough interviewing skills.” — Tom James

What’s the Faculty and Culture Like?


The Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences allows students to learn from world-leading experts and gain hands-on experience through practical industry placements.

Whether you are studying occupational therapy, nursing, dentistry or physiotherapy, this faculty is full of dedicated teachers who create programs that will provide you with the skills to detect and prevent disease. The primary focus of this particular faculty is to create better healthcare services and to help people understand how to promote and sustain good health.

“The standout lectures I attended at UQ were on management of the wrist and hand. Occasionally an orthopaedic or neurosurgeon would come in for a guest lecture which was also fascinating.” — Tom James


There are so many places to go and events to see while studying at any of the UQ campuses. During exam periods, you can head on down with your friends to the UQ library, the largest research library in Queensland.

If you’re looking for a study break with friends, there are food, drink and retail stores galore. You can find a full list of restaurants and stores here!

Throughout each semester, there are also a variety of events for you to choose from.

If computing is your thing, you can attend the “Girls in Computing” event or if you’re looking to gain an understanding of the future of jobs, you can book a spot at the “Careers that shape the world” seminar.

These are only just a couple of examples, but you can find more about events here.

There are a couple of different societies that are important, the most important while I was at UQ was the Student Physiotherapy Association. This was run by some of the students, who often did fundraisers so they could provide pub crawls and graduation dinner celebrations.” — Tom James

Mentorship/Support Programs

UQ has a range of services designed to give students support during their studies. These include:

    • Health and Wellbeing
    • Mentoring
    • Study Skills
    • Counselling
    • Diversity
    • Disability & Inclusion
    • Financial Support
    • Workshops

You can explore the list of student support services here.

When discussing mentorship, Tom focused on his tutors and the support that they gave him throughout his degree.

“In some of the subjects you study there are tutoring groups. When I was studying, the tutors were usually senior Physiotherapy students, so you had a chance to ask about what 3rd and 4th year Physiotherapy was like during those sessions.” — Tom James

And that’s a wrap. We have given you the lowdown on this highly rewarding and exciting degree. Now it’s your turn to take the next step. Apply right here!

Wondering what the pros and cons of this degree are? Check out our article here!

Thomasin McCuaig is a Content Writer at Art of Smart and an Arts graduate with majors in English and Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Sydney. Thomasin is a passionate writer, singer and drama teacher, who has had her work published in Holidays with Kids, Signature Luxury Travel and Style and Offspring Magazine. Thomasin also writes junior plays for her students and aims to publish a novel someday. During the COVID isolation period, Thomasin put her passion into practise and launched her own writing and editing business, ‘Re:Write Editing.’ In her spare time you will find her either napping, talking to her cats or looking up real estate for absolutely no reason at all. Fun fact: Thomasin appeared on Japanese morning breakfast show ‘ZIP!’ as a travel reporter, where she presented a six day exposé of Sydney!


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