Physiotherapy

BSc Physiotherapy (Hons)
School of Physiotherapy

What you will study

The Physiotherapy programme for School Leavers and Mature Entry students is delivered over four years, with two semesters per year:

  • Foundation Year Physiotherapy*
  • First Physiotherapy
  • Second Physiotherapy
  • Final Physiotherapy

*Graduate Entry students are exempt from Foundation Year Physiotherapy and enter directly into First Physiotherapy.

Throughout the Physiotherapy programme, an emphasis is placed on the development of independent learning, problem-solving, clinical reasoning and critical appraisal skills. You will learn these skills through a variety of teaching methods, including lectures, practicals, tutorials, seminars and case study presentations.

You will also learn about the role of the physiotherapist within the multidisciplinary team by participating in shared lectures and clinical practice sessions with your future colleagues in Medicine and Pharmacy.

For approximately two-thirds of the programme, you will be based on RCSI’s main campus in the city centre, learning clinical skills, which you will put into practice for the remaining one-third when you are primarily based in a clinical setting. This training model allows for the immediate real-world application of students’ developing clinical skills, under the supervision of dedicated clinical tutors.

Curriculum

Length and structure

Foundation Year (FY) consists of two semesters – delivered from September to May of the first year.

  • Semester 1 (FY1) – from September to December
  • Semester 2 (FY2) – from January to May

Each semester comprises 12 direct-contact teaching weeks, one week of revision and two weeks of examinations.

FY will provide you with a solid grounding in the biomedical sciences and professionalism as well as providing you with the necessary IT skills to operate effectively within the College's virtual learning environment (VLE).

The course is delivered as a series of stand-alone five credit modules taught in a single semester and integrated, systems-based modules, delivered across two semesters. The Introduction to Physiotherapy Practice module provides you with an appreciation for the array of clinical specialties and settings in which physiotherapists work. It also presents the first opportunity for a clinical visit.

The FY structure is as follows:

First semester

  • Fundamentals of Medical Physics (5 credits)
  • Fundamentals of Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry (5 credits)
  • Fundamentals of Human Biology (5 credits)

Second semester

  • Disease Diagnostics and Therapeutics (5 credits)
  • Introduction to Physiotherapy Practice (5 credits)

Both semesters

  • Musculoskeletal System, Nervous System, Skin, Special Senses, Reproduction and Endocrine Systems (10 credits)
  • Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Immune, Gastrointestinal and Excretory Systems (10 credits)
  • Professionalism in the Health Sciences (10 credits)
  • Biomedical Laboratory Sciences (5 credits)

Teaching styles

FY is delivered as:

  • Lectures
  • Tutorials
  • Small group teaching
  • Laboratory practicals
  • Electives

Tutorials serve to reinforce and enhance your understanding of the fundamental concepts covered in lectures and test basic understanding through applied problems in a practical context.

Elective opportunities facilitate your growing awareness of the crucial roles that communication, culture, collaboration, critical thinking, medical ethics, information literacy, project management and self-reflection play in the professional practice of physiotherapy, and provide students with an opportunity to work collectively with the Medicine and Pharmacy programmes.

Assessment

Each module is assessed independently by a combination of continuous assessment (laboratory write ups, mid-semester MCQ assessments, reflective assignments, group projects) and summative end of semester MCQ and short note question (SNQ) papers.

Timetable

Below is an example of a typical week for a FY student.

Morning
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Tutorial   Tutorial Tutorial IPE tutorial
Small
group
tutorial
  Chemistry
practical
(group 3)
Chemistry
practical
(group 4)
Tutorial
Chemistry
practical
(group 1)
      Lecture
Afternoon
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Lecture Lecture Tutorial Tutorial Lecture
Lecture Chemistry
practical
(group 2)
    Lecture

Inter-Professional Education (IPE)

IPE is an important step in developing competent healthcare professionals, who work in teams with professionals from different disciplines and specialties.

At RCSI, students in Medicine, Physiotherapy and Pharmacy work in teams on inter-professional themed projects. Through learning together, you will understand more about the healthcare professionals you will work with in the future.

Throughout your course (from first to final year, in the classroom and clinical setting) you will come together with your colleagues in Pharmacy and Physiotherapy in a range of IPE-themed activities from stroke care, to diabetes, low back pain, frozen shoulder and infection control. Working in small groups, facilitated by your lecturers and tutors, you will work through clinical scenarios together; each student bringing their professions' perspective to the discussion to develop an appropriate care plan for the patient.

Length and structure

School Leavers and Mature Entry students are joined by Graduate Entry students at this stage of the programme.

  • Semester 1 – from September to December
  • Semester 2 – from January to May

Each semester comprises 12 direct-contact teaching weeks, one week of revision and two weeks of examinations. Upon completion of examinations in the second semester, you will undertake your first (two-week) clinical placement in May.

First Physiotherapy will provide you with a sound scientific knowledge base to underpin the practice of physiotherapy. You will gain an understanding of the structure, function and inter-relationship of systems in the human body through studies in anatomy and physiology.

Classes such as Movement Studies are completed in parallel to core sciences in First Physiotherapy to facilitate the integration of learning. Movement Studies will introduce you to the analysis of the normal musculoskeletal system and its movements, which forms the basis for the development of the analytical skills required in the assessment and treatment of musculoskeletal problems.

The First Physiotherapy structure is as follows:

First semester

  • Anatomy I (5 credits)
  • Musculoskeletal I (5 credits)
  • Manual and Physical Therapies I (5 credits)
  • Movement Studies (5 credits)
  • Physiology (5 credits)
  • Methods of Enquiry (2.5 credits)
  • Physics (2.5 credits)

Second semester

  • Anatomy II (5 credits)
  • Musculoskeletal II (5 credits)
  • Manual and Physical Therapies II (5 credits)
  • Health, Behaviour and Patient Safety (10 credits)
  • Professional Development I (2.5 credits)
  • Clinical Placement 1 (2.5 credits)

Teaching styles

First Physiotherapy is delivered as:

  • Lectures
  • Small group practicals
  • Tutorials
  • Anatomy dissection
  • Projects, in collaboration with Medicine and Pharmacy students

RCSI is one of the few schools in Ireland and the UK to teach anatomy through cadaveric dissection, in the original, and historical, RCSI Anatomy Room.

Tutorials and practical classes serve to reinforce and enhance your understanding of the fundamental concepts and skills outlined in lectures and test basic understanding through applied problems in a practical context. Practical classes are delivered to smaller groups, in order to enhance your learning experience, afforded by lower student-teacher ratios.

Assessment

Each module is assessed independently by a combination of continuous assessment (e.g. seminars, anatomy card signings, assignments and group projects) and summative end of semester examinations (short note question (SNQ) papers, and practical exams).

Timetable

Below is an example of a typical week for a First Physiotherapy student.

Morning
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Lecture Lecture Lecture Lecture Lecture
Lecture Lecture M&PT
practical
(Group B)
Lecture Lecture
Movement
practical
(Group A)
MSK
practical
(Group A)
M&PT
practical
(Group A)
Lecture Movement/
MSK/M&PT
practical
(Group B)
Movement
practical
(Group B)
MSK
practical
(Group B)
  Lecture Movement/
MSK/M&PT
practical
(Group A)
Afternoon
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Anatomy
practical
Lecture Lecture Anatomy
practical
 
Anatomy
practical
Lecture   Anatomy
practical
 

Length and structure

Second Physiotherapy consists of two semesters:

  • Semester 1 – from September to December
  • Semester 2 – from January to May

Second Physiotherapy will build on what you have already studied in First Physiotherapy. In this year, the knowledge and skills of physiotherapeutic practice are further consolidated.

The focus is on the application and analysis of problems and their effects in core clinical areas, e.g. cardiovascular/respiratory, neurology and musculoskeletal. In this year, you will gain an understanding of the research process and develop an ability to appraise and evaluate research and literature. In Second Physiotherapy, clinical education blocks alternate with academic modules and are undertaken in a variety of clinical settings. In the clinical environment, you will develop an understanding of the context of physiotherapy practice.

The Second Physiotherapy structure is as follows:

First semester

  • Neuroscience Anatomy (5 credits)
  • Neuroscience Psychology (5 credits)
  • Respiratory/Cardiovascular I (5 credits)
  • Neurology I (5 credits)
  • Professional Development II (5 credits)
  • Clinical Placement 2 (5 credits)

Second semester

  • Advanced Musculoskeletal (5 credits)
  • Clinical Placement 3 (5 credits)
  • Respiratory/Cardiovascular II (5 credits)
  • Neurology II (5 credits)
  • Clinical Placement 4 (5 credits)
  • Research Methods I (5 credits)

Teaching styles

Second Physiotherapy is delivered as:

  • Lectures
  • Practical classes
  • Case study presentations
  • Simulation teaching
  • Tutorials

Assessment

A variety of assessment methods are employed including written and practical examinations, oral presentations and coursework assignments. Clinical placement performance is assessed by clinical tutors and clinical educators.

Timetable

Below is an example of a typical academic week for a Second Physiotherapy student.

Morning
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Lecture Lecture Lecture Lecture Lecture
Practical
(Group B)
Lecture Small
group
tutorial
Lecture Lecture
Practical
(Group A)
Neurology
practical
(Group A)
Lecture Respiratory/
Cardiovascular
practical
(Group B)
Practical
(Group B)
  Neurology
practical
(Group B)
  Respiratory/
Cardiovascular
practical
(Group B)
Practical
(Group A)
Afternoon
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Lecture Clinical
skills
Small
group
seminar
Lecture Small
group
clinical
skills
tutorials
Lecture Clinical
skills
Small
group
seminar
Lecture Small
group
clinical
skills
tutorials

Academic blocks are integrated with full-time clinical placement blocks in both semesters as follows:

Semester 1

  • Academic block (five weeks)
  • Clinical block (five weeks)
  • Academic block (five weeks)

Semester 2

  • Clinical block (five weeks)
  • Academic block (five weeks)
  • Clinical block (five weeks)

Length and structure

Final Physiotherapy consists of two semesters:

  • Semester 1 – from September to December
  • Semester 2 – from January to May

Your final year will focus on the integration of the knowledge you've already obtained in the programme and understanding an advanced level of practice. Modules in Final Physiotherapy cover more specialised areas of practice, e.g. Sports Physiotherapy, Women’s Health, Care of the Elderly and Paediatrics.

Your ability to evaluate and undertake research is also developed further by completing a research protocol.

In the clinical setting, you will encounter a more diverse and complex range of client groups in your final year. Clinical placement modules include advanced respiratory paediatrics, advanced musculoskeletal and advanced neurology. Throughout the programme, clinical education is a central element, and you will undertake 1,000+ hours on a full-time block basis. This will assist you in gaining essential clinical experience under the supervision of physiotherapy clinical tutors and senior physiotherapy clinicians.

The Final Physiotherapy structure is as follows:

First semester

  • Advanced Physiotherapy Practice I (sports, women’s health, paediatrics) (15 credits)
  • Research Methods II (5 credits)
  • Clinical Placement 5 (5 credits)
  • Clinical Placement 6 (5 credits)

Second semester

  • Advanced Physiotherapy Practice II (10 credits)
  • Care of the Elderly (5 credits)
  • Research Methods II (10 credits)
  • Clinical Placement 7 (5 credits)

Teaching styles

Final Physiotherapy is delivered as:

  • Lectures
  • Practical classes
  • Case study presentations
  • Problem-solving workshops
  • Tutorials

Assessment

A variety of assessment methods are employed including written and practical examinations, oral presentations and coursework assignments. Clinical placement performance is assessed by clinical tutors and clinical educators.

Timetable

Below is an example of a typical academic week for a Final Physiotherapy student.

Morning
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Care of
the Elderly
lecture
Women’s
Health
lecture
Lecture Care of
the Elderly
lecture
Care of
the Elderly
lecture
Paediatrics
lecture
Women’s
Health
lecture
Small
group
tutorial
Paediatrics
lecture
Paediatrics
lecture
Sports
Physiotherapy
lecture
Sports
Physiotherapy
(Group A)
Sports
Physiotherapy
lecture
Sports
Physiotherapy
(Group A)
Sports
Physiotherapy
(Group A)
  Sports
Physiotherapy
(Group B)
  Sports
Physiotherapy
(Group B)
Sports
Physiotherapy
(Group B)
Afternoon
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Research
Methods
tutorial
Case study
presentations
Small
group
seminar
Women’s
Health
lecture
 
Research
Methods
tutorial
Case study
presentations
Small
group
seminar
Women’s
Health
lecture
 

Academic blocks are integrated with full-time clinical placement blocks in both semesters as follows:

Semester 1

  • Clinical block (five weeks)
  • Academic block (five weeks)
  • Clinical block (five weeks)

Semester 2

  • Academic block (five weeks)
  • Clinical block (five weeks)
  • Academic block (five weeks)