Physiotherapy: Bachelor of Health Science

Theo Manuel
Student Profile – Theo Manuel

AUT impressed him with its hands-on learning through labs and clinics, says Theo Manuel who now works as a rotational physiotherapist at North Shore Hospital. Read more of Theo’s story

AUT offers one of the largest physiotherapy programmes in the Southern Hemisphere, and the only one in the North Island. AUT's physiotherapy degree develops physiotherapists who are recognised throughout the world for their knowledge and leadership in health care. Graduates from AUT are at the forefront of a profession that maintains and improves people’s health and wellbeing.
Physiotherapists help people improve their quality of life by working with them to overcome physical problems affecting their movement and function. This includes circumstances where movement and function are threatened by ageing, injury, diseases, disorders, conditions or environmental factors.

A lot of people come into physiotherapy training thinking that it's all about sports injuries. That's because most people learn about physiotherapy after they've had an injury of their own. As well as direct patient care, physiotherapy also covers public health strategies, advocating for patients and health, teaching and research and developing and implementing health policy. The profession is regulated by the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand and is one of the most highly respected professions.

Over the course of the four-year physiotherapy degree you learn to apply the skills of assessment, diagnosis and treatment to almost any problem with the physical body, and will leave with a better idea of where you want to practise.

Want to enrol in a programme: Apply online

Quick facts

Programme code: AK3313
Level: 7
Points: 480
Duration: 4 years full-time
Venue: North Campus
Start date: 27 February 2017

AUT encourages early application. There are limited places available for this qualification.

Admission and entry requirements

Selection criteria

  • Preference will be given to applicants with the highest rank scores and/or accomplishments in the relevant field
  • An interview may be required


Below is a summary only. For a comprehensive overview of this qualification, please refer to the Academic Calendar

Year 1

You do eight papers in Year 1, including four common core health science papers. In the second semester of your physiotherapy degree you explore fundamental approaches to assessment and therapeutic touch. You will also develop your understanding of some of the core theoretical dimensions of practice and physiotherapy's emerging role in primary health care.

Semester 1 - Core papers
555201 Human Anatomy and Physiology I
555101 Lifespan Development and Communication
555301 Knowledge, Enquiry and Communication
555401 Health and Environment OR 555339 Māori Health, Development and Environment

Semester 2 - Core physiotherapy papers
546112 Therapeutic Touch in Physiotherapy Practice
546113 Fundamentals of Movement
546114 Physiotherapy and Health Priorities
546115 Passport to Practise I

Year 2

You will be introduced to the management of abnormal function and physiotherapy assessment, including clinical reasoning principles, evidence-based practice and a range of physiotherapeutic techniques. The focus of Year 2 is on developing an understanding of the rehabilitation of disorders of movement and function, exercise-based rehabilitation and clinical science reasoning. You will also be provided with a one-week observation of practice opportunity.

546222 Principles of Movement and Function I
546223 Body Systems and Health Conditions in Physiotherapy Practice
546229 Exercise-Based Rehabilitation I
546230 Principles of Movement and Function II
546231 Analysing Health Needs
PHTY601 Functional Anatomy and Biomechanics

Year 3

You will be introduced to a wider range of complex acute and community health issues in Year 3 of your AUT physiotherapy degree. This requires more detailed assessment, clearer clinical decision-making skills and more advanced treatment strategies, together with an understanding of reflective, professional and ethical practice. You will also be provided with a two-week student assistantship.

547331 Exercise-Based Rehabilitation II
547339 Managing Neuromuscular Disorders
547335 Acute Care
547336 Musculoskeletal Disorders: Diagnosis & Rehabilitation
547333 Managing Complexity in the Acute Care Environment
547337 Managing Complexity in the Community Environment
547338 Passport to Practice II
537334 Rehabilitation and Participation OR 527872 Māori Health Promotion OR 567431 Applied Primary Māori Mental Health

Year 4 (includes clinical practice)

The majority of the year is spent in a clinical centre, completing approximately 1,000 hours of supervised physiotherapy practice experience required for registration, as well as a Research Project paper that is normally completed in pairs.

547441 Research Project
PHTY701 Physiotherapy Practice I
PHTY702 Physiotherapy Practice II
PHTY703 Physiotherapy Practice III

Te Ara Hauora Māori papers

Students who wish to seek careers with a Māori development perspective should select 2 papers as electives.
555339 Māori Health, Development and Environment (instead of 555401 Health and Environment)
527872 Māori Health Promotion Or
567431 Applied Primary Māori Mental Health (instead of 537334 Rehabilitation and Participation)

We will support Te Ara Hauora Māori students to form relationships with Māori health providers, industry stakeholders and communities, and AUT Māori staff and students.

Video: A globally recognised physiotherapy degree

Career opportunities

In New Zealand, about 60% of physiotherapists work privately treating acute sport and accidental injuries, chronic pain, back and neck problems. Many other physiotherapists work in the public health system, and you will find a physiotherapist working on most hospital wards and in many general practices.

Physiotherapists specialise in some of these areas:
  • Acupuncture
  • Cardiothoracic illness (like asthma, chronic lung disease and heart failure)
  • Hand therapy
  • Health promotion and primary health care
  • Manual therapy (including acute and chronic pain, injury, back and neck problems)
  • Mental health
  • Neurology (for conditions like spinal cord injury, stroke, Parkinson's Disease, multiple sclerosis)
  • Occupational health (including ergonomics)
  • Older adults
  • Paediatric (including developmental, orthopaedic, neurological and respiratory problems)
  • Research
  • Sports (injury management, exercise prescription, prevention and promotion)
  • Teaching
  • Women's health

Read more about careers in physiotherapy

Graduates and students of health science

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Last updated: 19-May-2016 10.02am

The information on this page was correct at time of publication. For a comprehensive overview of AUT qualifications, please refer to the Academic Calendar.