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Occupational and Vocational Rehabilitation


School - School of Health Sciences

Subject area - Sport, Exercise and Physiotherapy

Start Dates(s): September


MSc (one year full-time or three years part-time)
PgDip (one year full-time or two years part-time)
PgCert (one year part-time or five months full-time)
Selected stand-alone module (30 Master-level credits over five months)


Part-time - £1,230 per 30 credit module

UK - £7,380

In Brief:

  • You will gain inter-agency and inter-professional perspectives that will enhance your future collaborative practice
  • Your learning experience will be designed to support your current practice and career aspirations
  • In addition to knowledge, skills and valuable new contacts, you'll receive a highly-regarded qualification that will enhance your employability
  • Part-time study option

Course Summary

The course examines health, wellbeing and work (or other meaningful occupation), bringing together the disciplines of occupational and vocational rehabilitation. A bio-psychosocial model will be explored, with a work focused approach, as opposed to a condition-focused one, in order to facilitate and support people to stay in work or return to work. 

During your time with us, you'll consider the health and wellbeing of employed and unemployed individuals as well as the perspectives of a range of key players such as the employer, human resources, managers of people, health and social care professionals, occupational health practitioners, employment advisers, case managers, the voluntary sector etc.

The aim is to develop your critical awareness of the issues that play a part in the areas of occupational and vocational rehabilitation, the perspectives of key stakeholders and strategies to improve practice and collaboration. The course takes a systematic, multi-disciplinary approach - one grounded in research and ethical principles.

This course is important because there is so much still unknown about helping and supporting people with health conditions, either directly into work or helping them retain work. We’re learning all the time. It’s about making a difference to an individual’s life.

Nicholas Edwards, MSc Occupational and Vocational Rehabilitation graduate

Course Details

  • Examine the social, organisational and political contexts of employment
  • Explore the relationships between health and work; building your skills for analysing and improving practice in relation to the individual needs of the client/patient
  • Learn preventative and rehabilitative strategies focused on the needs of individuals and organisations
  • Examine the current social, organisational and political context of employment, from different perspectives
  • Develop your knowledge and skills in relation to occupational and vocational assessment and rehabilitation
  • Acquire crucial skills in evaluating, challenging, developing and implementing evidence-based practice that has real-world application

Course Structure

The course has a full-time and a part-time route:

  • Full-time - three 14-week semesters over one year
  • Part-time - six 14-week semesters over three years

Full-time route

Semester 1
(September to January)

This module covers a range of theoretical principles and research evidence, including: 

  • Legislation and policy
  • Quality assurance
  • Culture   
  • Relationships between health, work and wellbeing

You will also develop your own personal-development plan.

This module will equip you with knowledge and skills in relation to evaluation, research and service redesign that will be applicable to your day to day practice. You will examine organisational strategies for health and wellbeing in the workplace, through a short observational placement (up to 3 days or the equivalent).

Semester 2
(February to May)

This module looks into a range of physical, psychological, and organisational topics. You will focus on assessments to identify potential obstacles and facilitators to rehabilitation, and strategies for effective rehabilitation. You will also have the opportunity to develop a focus that is relevant and applicable to your practice area.

This course examines long-term conditions in relation to work and identifies quality case management principles for client-centred rehabilitation, as applied to a range of complex presentations and perspectives.Content includes:   

  • Building effective relationships   
  • Interpersonal skills   
  • Effective communication   
  • Behaviour change and empowerment   
  • Models of case management and integrated care   
  • Effective inter-professional and interagency working   
  • Disability management in the workplace

Semester 3

You will carry out an in-depth enquiry into a topic of your choice, after negotiation with your tutors, and you will have the opportunity to produce a paper for publication. Hence, your output will have potential for real world impact.The emphasis on this course is on independent learning, but you will be allocated a supervisor to facilitate your learning and development throughout the process.

Part-time route

Year 1, Semester 1

  • Professional and Ethical Practice in Occupational and Vocational Rehabilitation (30 credits)


  • Designing and Evaluating Workplace Strategies for Health and Wellbeing (30 credits)

Year 1, Semester 2

  • Assessments and Interventions for Occupational and Vocational Rehabilitation (30 credits)


  • Long Term Conditions and Vocational Case Management (30 credits)

Year 2, Semester 1

  • Professional and Ethical Practice in Occupational and Vocational Rehabilitation (30 credits)


  • Designing and Evaluating Workplace Strategies for Health and Wellbeing (30 credits)

Year 2, Semester 2

  • Assessments and Interventions for Occupational and Vocational Rehabilitation (30 credits)


  • Long-Term Conditions and Vocational Case Management (30 credits)

Year 3, Semesters 1 and 2

  • Research Project (60 credits)

Entry Requirements

You should have either an:

  • Honours degree – normally a 2.2 or above -  in a relevant subject
  • Equivalent academic or professional qualification from the UK or elsewhere

If you do not meet our academic entry requirements, but do have alternative qualifications and/or significant relevant experience in a related field /subject , you may still be successful in your application if you meet the criteria laid down in the Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) route. For more information, please email

If your first language is not English, you will need to demonstrate your proficiency in the language: we require an overall International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 6 with a minimum of 5.5 in any component. Find out how to take an IELTS test.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

We welcome applications from students who may not have formal/traditional entry criteria but who have relevant experience or the ability to pursue the course successfully.

The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process could help you to make your work and life experience count. The APL process can be used for entry onto courses or to give you exemptions from parts of your course.

Two forms of APL may be used for entry: the Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) or the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).

English Language Requirements

This programme is not open to international students.

Suitable For

This Masters programme is for you if you work with – or want to work with – individuals who are struggling to stay in, return to, or enter the world of work due to ill health, injury or ongoing physical, mental or social obstacles.

The course is particularly appropriate if you are a practicing:

  • Physiotherapist
  • Occupational therapist
  • Nurse
  • Sports rehabilitators
  • Exercise professional
  • Psychologist
  • Counsellor
  • Social worker
  • Case manager
  • Vocational rehabilitation practitioner
  • Occupational health practitioner
  • Employment advisor
  • Human resource professional
  • Line manager

Applicant profile

You should be an enthusiastic individual seeking to develop your critical-thinking skills and keen to challenge and improve your practice.

You must want to improve your ability to learn and collaborate effectively in practice, and provide co-ordinated and integrated services that meet the occupational and vocational needs of those you are working with.

You should also be keen to use research evidence to develop your knowledge and your functional and intellectual capacity in this complex and specialist area.

Fees 2017-18

Type of StudyFee
Part-time£1,230 per 30 credit module

Scholarships and Bursaries

For more information please see our funding section.

Additional costs

You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.


If you take the course on a full-time basis, you will be required to complete two 30-credit modules per semester, across three semesters over a year.

As a part-time student, you'll take one 30-credit module per-semester, and two semesters each year over a three year period.

The course is delivered through:

  • Face-to-face taught sessions on-campus
  • Online learning through our virtual learning environment

You will explore the course material via lectures, engagement in tutor and peer-led group work, and study in our virtual classroom. You will also receive support in setting up and familiarising yourself with relevant IT and media resources. 

You will also have the chance to participate in academic tutorials via email, telephone or Skype. And you will have full access to our online library resources and other student support services.

You will also be assigned a personal tutor who will act as a mentor and guide for the duration of your journey through the programme.


Modules run over a 14-week semester with three semesters per academic year:

  • Semester one – September to January
  • Semester two – February to June
  • Semester three – July to September

Each module sits within one of these semesters and whether you choose to study part or full time determines whether you will do one or two modules per semester. The only module that runs across semester three is the Research Project (if you are taking the full-time route). There are no modules running over the summer for the part-time route.

For each module time on campus will be organised in blocks: one week (30-34 hours) at the start of the module (plus a campus assessment day at the end of some of the modules). However, there may also be some flexibility and potential for use of online assessment in some circumstances.

There is independent/directed study (some online) to further your learning and development when not in University.


Some course modules include room for negotiation with your tutors about how you will be assessed. This is to ensure that the methods of assessment meet your learning needs, your interests and the demands of your workplace.

Assessment methods can include:

  • Written assignments
  • Oral presentations
  • Poster presentations
  • Portfolio
  • Reflective assignment
  • Personal development plan
  • Empirical research/ evaluation project
  • Literature review
  • Paper for submission to a journal

Postgraduate Staff Profile

Christine Parker, Programme Leader

Christine has extensive experience as a physiotherapist, particularly involving complex rehabilitation cases in community settings. She has also acted as clinical lead for a growing and developing Interdisciplinary Pain Management Service.

Christine moved into teaching and research in 2005 and is now a Senior Lecturer at the University of Salford. She has developed a work and health focus in the undergraduate physiotherapy programme and has run the standalone postgraduate module on ‘Vocational Rehabilitation’, which is now superseded by this new Postgraduate Occupational and Vocational Rehabilitation programme.

Christine's research interests centre on health, work and wellbeing and she is currently working towards a PhD, exploring the perspective of the employer in managing sickness absence and sickness presenteeism, and how we can bridge the gap between healthcare and the workplace.

View Christine's full profile

It’s about making a difference to an individual’s life. It’s not about making grand sweeping changes and things that will happen overnight, you have to be there for a long time to make sustained changes, the important part of this role is the change that you can make for others.

It’s not until you’re actually doing the work of occupational and vocational rehabilitation that you realise how isolated people can be. On many scales you’re supporting them to make changes, and those can be small things. Quite often people won’t have the confidence, or know what to say to their doctors, in terms of their condition. If you’re helping them to do that, then that’s moving forward.

Nicholas Edwards, MSc Occupational and Vocational Rehabilitation graduate


Career Prospects

This course will demonstrate how to solve complex problems and think critically and creatively to achieve goals in assisting people to stay in work or return to work.

These skills are highly sought after in occupational and vocational rehabilitation practice industries that are placing ever greater emphasis on evidence-based, cost-effective and efficient service provision.

These skills are also vital for those working in organisations managing staff health and wellbeing and sickness absence. 

The course programme will also enhance your cognitive abilities and effectiveness in inter-professional collaboration – skills and attributes that will make you very attractive to a prospective employer.

You should consider taking this course to progress in an industry that you already have experience in, re-skill for a different career path or continue the studies you took as an undergraduate.

Links with Industry

Guest speakers make a valuable contribution to the course, and bring a real-world perspective to the academic delivery of the modules. These sessions allow you to mix with professionals from industry, make contacts, set up placements and conduct research.

Further Study

Graduates from the MSc Occupational and Vocational Rehabilitation may choose to consider ongoing research based study.

This course has broadened my perspective and given me a deeper understanding of what and why I do things in practice and ideas for ways in which I can develop further. Everything I learnt is now embedded into my routine work. In particular, I feel that this course has given me more credibility and confidence when pitching for business – worth all the hard work!

Deborah Harrison, MSc Occupational and Vocational Rehabilitation, 2015

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