Occupational Therapy - Placements | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Accessibility links

Occupational Therapy - Placements

The occupational therapy program at UniSC provides an integrated occupation-centred curriculum.

The sequence of courses, from introductory concepts to advanced application of skills and knowledge, facilitates structured knowledge acquisition around the central concept of occupation.

Courses are structured along a lifespan approach, with mental and physical health being drawn together in a functional manner.

This enables students to consider the impact of dysfunction and the implications for therapy using a broad, holistic understanding of clients.

Extensive use of case-based learning and assessment throughout coursework, and the positioning of fieldwork placements in each year of the program, strengthen the links between theory and practice.


The World Federation of Occupational Therapy Guidelines requires all students to undertake a minimum of 1000 hours of fieldwork. In this program, practice education experiences are distributed throughout all four years.

Placements are normally undertaken in a full-time capacity over 4-10 weeks but where required reasonable accommodations can be made to allow for part time or flexible placement options. It is important to note that in order to practice as an Occupational Therapist in Australia graduates must be eligible to register with the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia through the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. Students should familiarise themselves with both the program specific inherent academic requirements and the registration standards of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (common and discipline specific).

Students will be provided with experiences across a broad range of settings, client ages, conditions and placement models.

Over the course of the program, graded introduction to work as an occupational therapist is provided. Practice Education placements have been scheduled and developed following the same principles as used to develop the whole program. In all placements, students are expected to actively participate within the scope of the placement learning objectives and within the limits of their professional knowledge and skills.

Early placements in the first 3 semesters (across first and second years) are group-based to encourage discussion, reflection and investigation, and incorporate briefing and debriefing as part of the learning experience. Students are assessed through reflective journaling to demonstrate their application of theory to their placement observations.


Placement learning objectives in second and early third year, focus on development of professional identity, broad professional skills (eg communication, self-management) and team skills. Placements at the end of third year and the start of fourth year add the expectation of developing competence in OT assessment, service delivery and service evaluation. Throughout practice placements, progressive development of professional knowledge and expertise is expected.

To be eligible to commence placement, students must complete the following Mandatory Checks and upload required documents to their Sonia Online account.

NOTE: some of the mandatory checks can take quite some time to organise and students are advised to commence working on obtaining their specific mandatories as soon as they have accepted their offer.

* Access to Sonia Online for current enrolled students only.

Placements are administered on a statewide basis in collaboration with all OT programs in Queensland, and therefore students may be placed anywhere in Queensland. At least one practice education experience will be in, or around, the Sunshine Coast geographical area.

Travel costs and other expenses incurred during placement (including travel to and from, accommodation is placed away from home) are the students’ responsibility. It is expected that students commence their planning for placements from the first year of the program e.g. prepare to undertake full-time placements that may be away from their primary place of residence. Students are also advised that they may not be able to continue with external work or volunteer commitments during placements and must consider this in their planning.

The following provides a brief overview of each of the 3 ‘blocks’ of placements.

1. Orientation to Human Occupation

These placements are embedded within the OCC101, OCC102, OCC201 and OCC301 courses in the first three semesters (first and second year) and are tied directly into content, learning objectives and assessment of the theoretical components of each course. The provision of meaningful, practical and appropriate learning experiences for students at this stage enables them to develop a deeper understanding, integration and application of core theory. The placements include experiences with paediatric, adult and older persons populations, to give students early experience in working with people from a range of age groups and disabilities and injuries.

Students' broad professional skills (communication, personal presentation etc) are observed by University tutors and they are assessed through the completion of reflective journals.

Specific courses are:

  • OCC101 Concepts in Human Occupation
  • OCC102 Participation in Occupation
  • OCC201 Occupational Therapy Theory
  • OCC301 Enabling Occupation: The Child and Adolescent
2. Foundation skills

These placements are stand-alone courses (OCC232 and OCC331) that occur in semesters 4 and 5 of the program (second and third year) use part-time and short block placements to primarily develop the students’ professional skills, and to help build their identity as trainee “Occupational Therapists”. Students also have the opportunity to extend their knowledge and skills in specific areas that are compatible with their level of training.

Students are assessed with modified versions of the Student Practice Evaluation Form – Revised Ed (SPEF-R), a student performance assessment tool that is used nationally. The final grade for these placements is Ungraded Pass / Fail.

Specific courses are:

  • OCC232 Foundational Placement Competencies in Allied Health
  • OCC331 Foundational Placement Competencies in Occupational Therapy
3. Integration

These placements are longer, full-time placements run as stand-alone courses (OCC322 and OCC401) in semesters 6 and 7 (third and fourth years) to enable students to integrate theoretical and practical knowledge from disparate areas of the curriculum in an organised and coherent manner. Emphasis during these placements is on the application of specific skills and the therapeutic reasoning process to understand and manage specific clinical issues. Block placements also encourage students to contextualise occupational therapy practice in a variety of work areas and workplaces. Students are required to demonstrate effectiveness and efficiency in managing caseloads appropriate to their level of training and experience.

Students are assessed using the full SPEF-R. The final grade for these placements is Ungraded Pass / Fail.

Specific courses are:

  • OCC322 Consolidation of Occupational Therapy Practice Competencies 1
  • OCC401 Consolidation of Occupational Therapy Practice Competencies 2

All placements are sourced, allocated and graded by the OT Practice Education team within years 1-3 of the OT program. The 3rd and 4th year 10 week block placements are coordinated by the Practice Education Coordinator, Michelle Nash, via a state-wide OT university placement network. Students are not permitted to arrange their own placements within the OT program.

The full Occupational Therapy student uniform consists of:

  • Navy shirt with OT program name and UniSC logo embroidered on it (purchased by student) *
  • Navy, charcoal or black tailored trousers or shorts (knee-length)
  • Navy, charcoal or black closed-in shoes
  • Student ID badge (ordered by the Clinical Coordinator at no cost to the student) **
  • A plain, dark coloured jacket, jumper or cardigan may be added in cool weather
  • Jewellery, make-up and scent (eg perfume, deodorant, aftershave) is to be kept to a minimum.
  • Hair, whatever the style, should be professional looking and tidy. If any student is unclear about this then they should speak with the Clinical Co-ordinator before going out on any placement.

The full uniform is to be worn on all placements unless otherwise indicated by the placement tutor or the Practice Educator/ placement site. When the uniform is not required, the dress standards of the setting should be adhered to.

* Occupational Therapy shirts can be ordered via MyPrint. 

See the online instructions and shirt specifications including the expected wait time, as these uniforms are made to order.

** Student ID Badges:
ID badges will be provided to all students, at no cost, at the commencement of the Program. These are to be worn at all times while on placement unless advised otherwise by the Practice Educator.
Replacement badges are to be organised by students, at the student’s own expense.

Please contact SHSSplacements@usc.edu.au for further information regarding name badges.

No remuneration or payment is made by the placement organisation to the students or to the University for hosting the student. Students undertaking an approved placement are covered by the University’s insurance policies.

More information

Additional information about placements can be found in the relevant course outlines:

  • OCC101 Concepts in Human Occupation
  • OCC102 Participation in Occupation
  • OCC201 Occupational Therapy Theory
  • OCC232 Foundational Placement Competencies in Allied Health
  • OCC331 Foundational Placement Competencies in Occupational Therapy
  • OCC322 Consolidation of Occupational Therapy Practice Competencies 1
  • OCC401 Consolidation of Occupational Therapy Practice Competencies 2

Enrolled students can also find additional information at the OT Community - Placements Blackboard site. **

** Access with student login and password only


For further enquiries about Occupational Therapy placements please contact:

Michelle Nash
Occupational Therapy Placement Coordinator
School of Health and Behavioural Sciences