Study Physiotherapy: A Comprehensive Subject Guide

Embarking on a journey to study physiotherapy in the United Kingdom is not just a pursuit of knowledge but a commitment to helping individuals regain their physical well-being. In this comprehensive subject guide, we will navigate the intricacies of physiotherapy education in the UK, shedding light on the educational pathways, admission requirements, and the promising career opportunities that await aspiring physiotherapists. Whether you’re a prospective student or simply curious about this noble profession, join us as we unravel the fascinating world of physiotherapy studies in the UK.


Table of Contents

What is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy, often known as physical therapy in some regions, is a healthcare profession that focuses on helping individuals restore and maintain their physical function and mobility. It is a holistic approach to healthcare that addresses a wide range of conditions, injuries, and illnesses that affect a person’s musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, and cardiovascular systems.

The primary goal of physiotherapy is to enhance an individual’s quality of life by promoting movement, reducing pain, and improving function. Physiotherapists, who are trained healthcare professionals, work with patients of all ages and backgrounds. Here are some key aspects of physiotherapy:

  1. Assessment and Diagnosis

  2. Treatment and Rehabilitation

  3. Pain Management

  4. Improving Mobility

  5. Education and Prevention

  6. Rehabilitation

  7. Sports and Performance

  8. Chronic Condition Management

Why Study Physiotherapy?

Studying physiotherapy in the UK offers a wealth of compelling reasons for anyone considering a career in this field.

1. Making a Meaningful Impact:

One of the most gratifying aspects of pursuing a degree in physiotherapy is the opportunity to make a profound difference in people’s lives. As a physiotherapist, you’ll work closely with patients, helping them regain mobility, alleviate pain, and enhance their quality of life. It’s a profession driven by compassion and a desire to improve the health and well-being of others.

2. High Demand for Professionals:

The healthcare sector in the UK consistently demands skilled physiotherapists. With an ageing population and a growing awareness of the importance of physical health, the need for qualified physiotherapists is on the rise. This translates to excellent job prospects and career stability for those entering the field.

3. Diverse Career Opportunities:

Studying physiotherapy opens up a diverse range of career pathways. Whether you aspire to work in hospitals, clinics, sports teams, or even in private practice, a physiotherapy qualification provides the flexibility to choose a career that aligns with your interests and passion.

4. Intellectual Challenge:

Physiotherapy is a dynamic field that combines elements of anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, and clinical reasoning. The intellectual challenge of diagnosing and developing treatment plans for a wide range of conditions keeps the profession intellectually stimulating and engaging.

5. Global Recognition:

A degree in physiotherapy from the UK is highly regarded worldwide. This recognition allows you the opportunity to explore international career opportunities if that’s something you aspire to in the future.

6. Personal Satisfaction:

Beyond the professional rewards, studying physiotherapy can also provide a profound sense of personal satisfaction. Knowing that your work directly contributes to the betterment of others’ lives can be incredibly fulfilling.

Best Universities for Physiotherapy in the UK

Here is a list of the top UK universities in this field according to the latest QS World University Rankings:

RankInstitutionEntry StandardsStudent SatisfactionResearch QualityContinuationGraduate prospects outcomesGraduate prospects on trackOverall Score
1University of Birmingham1773.643.6399.196.096.0100.0
2University of East Anglia UEA1703.713.3497.1100.0100.099.2
3Robert Gordon University2164.472.53100.0100.0100.098.7
4University of Liverpool1634.093.22100.096.0100.098.6
5University of Nottingham1573.823.5398.9100.0100.098.6
6University of Southampton1684.143.5798.
7University of Brighton1724.263.2298.794.094.098.5
8Northumbria University, Newcastle1574.123.4298.1100.0100.098.4
9Ulster University1603.673.29100.096.0100.097.9
10University of Plymouth1783.993.0194.
11Glasgow Caledonian University2144.333.41100.
12University of Bradford1523.982.9998.4100.0100.096.8
13Manchester Metropolitan University1573.893.3196.598.094.096.5
14Cardiff University1573.863.3995.698.088.096.2
15Leeds Beckett University1554.183.0395.6100.094.096.2
16Canterbury Christ Church University1583.502.86100.095.9
17Bournemouth University1453.532.7298.1100.0100.095.1
18University of Worcester1424.272.6197.5100.0100.095.1
19Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh4.202.8494.1100.092.095.1
20University of Salford1434.233.0198.996.094.095.0
21University of Hertfordshire1544.213.2198.692.084.094.9
22Bristol, University of the West of England1554.113.1393.698.092.094.9
23Keele University1493.673.5194.896.0100.094.9
24King's College London, University of London1553.663.6495.690.090.094.5
25York St John University1524.052.3493.2100.0100.094.4
26University of Central Lancashire1463.833.0095.2100.072.093.0
27Brunel University London1324.153.1793.696.096.092.7
28Sheffield Hallam University1373.442.6997.
29Coventry University1573.58100.
30University of Huddersfield1384.262.6696.888.096.091.9
31University of Gloucestershire1513.622.7589.791.6
32University of East London1364.392.7693.392.096.091.5
33Oxford Brookes University1493.523.09100.
34St George's, University of London1563.2092.996.0100.090.5
35University of Essex1433.753.0094.384.082.090.1
36University of Wolverhampton1404.3292.3100.080.089.5
37University of Winchester1443.6596.889.5
38Teesside University, Middlesbrough1383.572.9284.896.088.088.4
39London South Bank University1383.062.9093.
40University of Leicester1453.9889.887.4
41University of Cumbria1323.3597.

Entry Requirements for a Physiotherapy Degree

Entry requirements for a physiotherapy degree in the UK can vary slightly between universities, but they generally have common elements. Here are the typical entry requirements for a Bachelor of Science (BSc) or Master of Science (MSc) in Physiotherapy in the UK:

1. Academic Qualifications:

  • A-levels or Equivalent: Most universities require A-levels or their equivalent in relevant subjects. Commonly accepted subjects include biology, chemistry, physics, or physical education. Specific grade requirements can vary, but AAA or equivalent is often preferred.

  • Scottish Highers or Advanced Highers: For universities in Scotland, the entry requirements may include Highers or Advanced Highers in relevant subjects.

  • International Baccalaureate (IB): Many universities accept the IB Diploma with specified higher-level subjects and grades.

2. Educational Background:

  • GCSEs (or Equivalent): You will typically need a good GCSE (or equivalent) grade in English and mathematics, often at grade C/4 or above.

3. Health and Disclosure Checks:

  • Health Screening: Physiotherapy programmes often require students to undergo health screening to ensure they can safely participate in clinical placements. Criminal record checks (DBS checks) may also be necessary.

It’s essential to check the specific entry requirements for the universities you are interested in, as there can be variations in terms of subject requirements, grades, and additional assessments. Additionally, the application process for physiotherapy programmes in the UK is often coordinated through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), which has its own deadlines and procedures. Therefore, it’s advisable to visit the websites of the universities you are considering and the UCAS website for the most up-to-date information on entry requirements and application procedures.

Jobs for Physiotherapy Graduates

Physiotherapy graduates have a wide range of job opportunities available to them across various healthcare settings and industries. Here are some of the common job opportunities for physiotherapy graduates:

  1. Clinical Physiotherapist

  2. Sports Physiotherapist

  3. Orthopaedic Physiotherapist

  4. Neurological Physiotherapist

  5. Cardiorespiratory Physiotherapist

  6. Paediatric Physiotherapist

  7. Geriatric Physiotherapist

  8. Home Health Physiotherapist

  9. Occupational Health Physiotherapist

  10. Educator and Researcher

  11. Private Practice Owner

  12. Consultant or Advisor

  13. Telehealth and TeleRehabilitation

The job opportunities for physiotherapy graduates are diverse, and they can choose paths that align with their interests and career goals. Additionally, as the healthcare industry continues to evolve, new opportunities in areas such as telehealth and community health are emerging, providing further career options for physiotherapy professionals. 

Where Do UK Physiotherapy Graduates Primarily Work?

Fifteen months after graduation, the majority of UK physiotherapy graduates (93%) are employed as therapy professionals, predominantly in health-related roles (96.8%). A small percentage is engaged in childcare, health, and education (1.1%), retail, catering, and customer service (0.6%), other professionals (0.5%), and various other sectors (1%). This highlights their substantial presence and contribution to healthcare within a relatively short timeframe after completing their studies.

Salary for Physiotherapy Graduates

Check out the average salary for graduates in this field: 


Topics for Physiotherapy Dissertation

Below, we present a diverse array of research areas, each offering an opportunity to delve into the complexities of physiotherapy and make a significant contribution to its advancement:

  1. The Efficacy of Tele-rehabilitation in Physiotherapy: Investigate the effectiveness of remote physiotherapy sessions, especially in light of the increased use of telehealth technologies.

  2. Pain Management in Fibromyalgia: A Comprehensive Approach: Explore various physiotherapy interventions for managing pain and improving the quality of life in individuals with fibromyalgia.

  3. The Impact of Yoga on Balance and Mobility in Older Adults: Study the benefits of incorporating yoga into physiotherapy programmes for older adults to enhance balance and mobility.

  4. Neurorehabilitation Techniques for Stroke Patients: A Comparative Analysis: Compare and evaluate different neurorehabilitation approaches for stroke patients to identify the most effective strategies.

  5. The Role of Physiotherapy in Managing Chronic Respiratory Conditions: Investigate how physiotherapy interventions can improve the quality of life and respiratory function in individuals with conditions like COPD or asthma.

  6. Exercise Prescription for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Research and develop exercise programmes tailored to the unique needs of individuals with autism to improve their physical and social well-being.

  7. The Impact of Posture Correction on Musculoskeletal Health: Examine the effects of posture correction interventions on musculoskeletal health and pain reduction.

  8. Physiotherapy Interventions for Managing Chronic Low Back Pain: Evaluate the effectiveness of different physiotherapy techniques in managing chronic low back pain and improving functionality.

  9. Rehabilitation Following Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Reconstruction: Investigate the best practices in post-surgical rehabilitation for ACL injuries, with a focus on restoring strength and function.

  10. The Influence of Virtual Reality in Paediatric Physiotherapy: Explore the use of virtual reality technology as a motivating and effective tool for children undergoing physiotherapy.

  11. Physical Activity Interventions for Managing Depression and Anxiety: Investigate the impact of physical activity and exercise programmes on mental health outcomes in individuals with depression and anxiety disorders.

  12. Ergonomics and Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders: Analyse the relationship between workplace ergonomics and the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders among employees.

  13. Aquatic Physiotherapy for Neurological Conditions: Assess the benefits of aquatic therapy in improving mobility and function in individuals with neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy.

  14. The Role of Physiotherapy in Managing Chronic Headaches: Investigate physiotherapy interventions for reducing the frequency and severity of chronic headaches, including tension-type and migraine headaches.

  15. Exercise and Rehabilitation for Individuals with Chronic Kidney Disease: Explore the impact of exercise and physiotherapy on the physical and functional well-being of individuals with chronic kidney disease.

How Much Does it Cost to Study in the UK

One of the most important things to consider is how much the degree is going to cost. Here is a general guide for 2023/2024:

  • For home students in England, universities can charge up to a maximum of £9,250 per year for an undergraduate degree.
  • In Wales, institutions can charge up to £9,000 for home students. However, Welsh students can apply for a fee grant to cover some of the cost of their tuition fees. This grant is currently not repayable or income-assessed.
  • Northern Irish universities will charge up to £4,275 for home students and may charge up to £9,250 for students from elsewhere in the UK.
  • Scotland does not charge home students fees at the undergraduate level; however, students from England, Wales, or Northern Ireland are expected to pay up to £9,250 per year. International students from outside of the UK will pay significantly more to study in Scotland.
  • International students can expect to pay between £10,000 and £26,000 annually for lecture-based undergraduate degrees at universities across the UK. An undergraduate medical degree can cost overseas students up to £58,600 per year. As for postgraduate degrees, the average cost is estimated to be around £17,109 per year.
Besides the tuition fees, there are also several other cost considerations such as food, accommodation, phone bills, books, social life, memberships, and others. Remember to check out our free student budget calculator

Other Subjects to Consider

Given that you are interested in this subject area, you might also want to consider the following options: 

Frequently Asked Questions

Consider your interests, passions, and career goals. Research various degree programmes and their content to see which aligns best with your aspirations.

While earning potential is important, it’s also crucial to select a degree that you’re passionate about and suits your skills. A balance between your interests and potential career prospects is ideal.

Location can impact your overall university experience. Consider factors like cost of living, proximity to industry hubs, and personal preferences.

Evaluate tuition fees, available scholarships, and potential for part-time work. Create a budget to ensure you can manage your finances during your studies.

Consider combining your passions with practical skills. For example, if you love art but want job security, explore fields like graphic design or digital marketing.

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