University of Melbourne physiotherapy FAQs

8 May 2014

What are some key features of the Doctor of Physiotherapy at the University of Melbourne?

The Doctor of Physiotherapy (DPT) commenced in 2011 at the  University of Melbourne and is the first three-year physiotherapy graduate entry master’s level program, providing a benchmark for physiotherapy education in Australia. In addition to core hands-on practical physiotherapy skills, key program features include advanced theoretical knowledge in areas such as pharmacology, radiology, leadership and management, sports physiotherapy and inter-professional education, including a faculty student conference. Students will be well prepared for the changing roles of the physiotherapist in areas such as acute care, chronic disease management, health promotion, emergency medicine, private practice and sports medicine. The course provides a vertically integrated community group health promotion project that culminates in a presentation and possible publication at the end of three years of study. The clinical program builds progressively to independent practice, with approximately 37 weeks of clinical practice. There is also the potential for an overseas clinical experience to add depth of understanding in global healthcare.

University of Melbourne Physiotherapy School
Study physiotherapy at Melbourne

The vision of this program is to be a world-recognised leader in graduate-entry physiotherapy educational standards, research and practice. The new curriculum is aligned with the newly developed graduate attributes, advanced learning outcomes and the Australian Physiotherapy Association 20/20 vision. The new program has an innovative approach to physiotherapy training and aims to meet the current and future needs of students, patients and the changing nature of the health workforce and industry. Graduates will become leaders in physiotherapy clinical practice, clinical research and knowledge exchange. They will be primary contact health practitioners who will be widely recognised for their ability to contribute to the health and well-being of the community in which they practice. These features of the course will enable graduates to have high-level knowledge, skills and attitudes that will enable them to be work-ready and practice ethically, safely and effectively in both national and international environments.
Studying physiotherapy at the Melbourne Physiotherapy School will also provide a campus experience within the Parkville precinct which is one of the premier health and research precincts in the world.

Why is the Doctor of Physiotherapy at the University of Melbourne 3 years when other programs for Graduate physiotherapy are 2 years?

The course structure of the Doctor of Physiotherapy was developed following significant research and consultation with leading health and research sector stakeholders, nationally and internationally, to determine the future needs of the physiotherapy profession. A three-year program allows the curriculum to move beyond core, basic-level physiotherapy skills and develop more advanced clinical skills in areas such as advanced radiology and pharmacology, leadership and management and sports medicine to prepare graduates well to practice as primary health practitioners. It has been widely agreed by industry stakeholders that a graduate-entry physiotherapy program that is able to extend over 3 years would provide increased opportunity to produce more work-ready graduates for the healthcare profession.
Three years allows for a more extensive clinical program to be developed which provides experience not only in the core areas of musculoskeletal, neurological and cardiorespiratory physiotherapy but to also move into clinical areas across the lifespan including paediatrics, aged care / rehabilitation as well as essential areas of future healthcare practice in chronic disease management and health promotion. The final, third year also enables DPT students to undergo a capstone Work Readiness clinic and culminate their extensive clinical experiences with an extended clinical selective in a variety of clinical areas of personal interest such as private practice or undertake an independent research project.
Essentially, the three-year program will ensure that graduates from the Melbourne Physiotherapy School’s Doctor of Physiotherapy will be academically excellent, work ready and highly employable in the workforce.

What are some other advantages of physiotherapy being taught at a DPT level Melbourne?

Students in the DPT will already have a cognate undergraduate degree and will be mature learners. Due to this fact, the difference in pedagogy that is able to be delivered will include

  • increased use of e-learning: in classroom teaching (e.g., audience response technology, use of tablets for e-Notes and videoconferencing); for independent learning (e.g., virtual clinics, streamed lectures, use of podcasts, wikis, on-line communities); in clinics (e.g., discussion boards, blogs) and assessment (e.g., e-learning formative assessment packages, group production of podcasts and wikis)
  • use of adult learning principles including reflection and debriefing, self-directed learning, collaborative learning projects and choice in assessment tasks
  • increased use of learning outcomes set at the higher levels of learning; use of master classes, classroom debates and critical reflections; critical reasoning and clinical reasoning skills will be emphasized early in all subjects using small group learning
  • an increased contextualizing of all subjects within local, national and international healthcare systems, with attention to patient voice, advocacy and evidence-based outcome measures
  • integration of evidence-based practice and research-led teaching in all subjects
  • systems-based biomedicine with integration of basic science and physiotherapy into more complex problems
  • increased focus on primary health care (wellness, health promotion and chronic disease management)
  • extended period of study in year three in a selected area of practice or research
  • advanced theoretical knowledge in areas such as pharmacology, leadership and interprofessional education

What is the typical time commitment within a DPT week?

A typical week within the DPT requires a time commitment of anywhere between 15 to 32 hours across the 3 years of the program. During periods of clinical placements, students are required to attend clinics for up to 7 hours per day.

Apply to the Melbourne Physiotherapy School!


Curious about studying physiotherapy at the Melbourne Physiotherapy School? Email OzTREKK’s Australian Physiotherapy Schools Admissions Officer Sarah Bridson at or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.