MSc Occupational Therapy Practice Placements

Practice Placements play a large part in the development of students as Occupational Therapists. On this programme students undertake a total of four practice placements; two in each year of the programme, to develop their practice skills and to obtain a minimum of 1000 hours of successfully completed practice experience required by the RCOT (COT, 2014)

Placements allocations are overseen by the Occupational Therapy Practice Placement Lead working in close conjunction with the Work Based Learning Team to ensure students are provided with a broad range of experiences of Occupational Therapy and meet the practice placement requirements of the regulator (the Health & Care Professions Council) and professional body (Royal College of Occupational Therapists). The Practice Placement Lead aims to ensure that all students have the opportunity to work with a range of people of all ages;

  • "from different socio-economic and cultural perspectives;
  • with recently acquired and long-standing occupational needs;
  • with different aspects of physical and psychosocial functioning;
  • within a range of organisational settings" (page 19 COT 2014)

In order to achieve this aim students should expect to complete placements within a variety of settings, for example:

  • Physical Health
  • Mental Health
  • Social Care
  • Community Settings
  • Third Sector / Contemporary Settings

The range of placement experiences for students reflects the nature of contemporary Occupational Therapy practice, recognising the diverse settings in which Occupational Therapists work, and the importance of working with inter-professional teams and carers. Placements may take place in traditional settings (such as the NHS or social services) or in non-traditional settings (forensic units, re-ablement services or the third sector)

Placement sites and students are normally notified of allocations a minimum of 6 weeks before a placement is due to commence. For further guidance about the practical arrangement of placement, see relevant links.

Aims and Learning Outcomes for Practice Placements

Year 1 practice learning placements are embedded within H14300 and HI4302 ,the two Theory and Practice in Occupational Therapy modules (1) and (2). These are both six week full-time placements. In Year 2 the third placement is linked into HI4304 Leadership and Entrepreneurship in Occupational Therapy, this is an eight week full time placement and placement four in the module HI4305 Evaluation in Practice a ten week full time placement. Please check the course calendar for information about placement dates, and contact the Work Based Learning Team initially regarding placement queries.

As the placement blocks are embedded within modules the course team will be supporting students to integrate their practice and theory based learning. As students’ progress through the four placements there is an expectation that students will demonstrate development in their knowledge, skills and competencies taking an increasingly active role in the management and delivery of occupational therapy to service users. This development will be documented through each placement learning agreement. All placements are assessed on a pass/fail basis and this assessment if part of the assessment schedule for each of the modules they are attached to. (See the placement assessment section for further detail)

The overall aim of practice learning placement blocks are to:
• provide students with practice based opportunities to apply and develop campus based learning,
• enable students to develop further knowledge, understanding and the professional skills required for contemporary Occupational Therapy practice.
• provide opportunities for students to work and learn alongside other health and social care professionals
• support students to develop as reflective Occupational Therapy practitioners.

Each placement has a set of learning outcomes outlined in the Learning Outcomes section (see link) The practice placement lead, visiting tutor ( and the wider Occupational Therapy course team) as well as the practice educator will provide support to students throughout practice placements, however it is the students responsibility to be aware of these placement aims and learning outcomes prior to going on placement, actively make attempts during placement to meet them.

There will be opportunity for students to undertake a contemporary placement experience in either placement 3 or 4 blocks. Contemporary placements fit in to the non-traditional placement settings and can be described as settings where the Occupational Therapy role is not yet fully established. (These types of placement are also sometimes described as role-emerging placements). This means that there may not be an Occupational Therapist based within the setting. Because of this an “on-site supervisor” (who is not an Occupational Therapist) is appointed to provided day-to-day support to the student/s in the setting and long-arm supervision is provided by an Occupational Therapist (who is the practice educator) either from another practice setting or from the University. The practice educator and on-site supervisor work closely together to provide a clear and robust supervision framework and support to the student/s on the placement.

Individual students or small groups of students may be placed in a contemporary placement. Allocation of contemporary placements will be dependent on the learning needs of students. The Occupational Therapy Placement Lead will work closely with student/s, practice educators and on-site supervisors when arranging the contemporary placement experience.

Contemporary placements will be subject to the same quality assurance systems as the more traditional placements and on-site supervisors and long arm practice educators will be required to attend the same initial and ongoing training as other practice educators.

 Programme Overview