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Study plan - Bachelor in Physiotherapy

Autumn 2024

Central to physiotherapy is the understanding of how the human body, movement, and function are interwoven with both internal and external health conditions. Given the constant changes in our social and environmental surroundings, we approach the field with a holistic view. We take pride in equipping our students with the knowledge and skills to promote health across all levels of society and contribute to an inclusive and sustainable healthcare service.

Our education is built on a symbiosis of disciplines, weaving together natural science, humanities, and social science perspectives. This multidisciplinary approach cultivates a strong professional identity and prepares students to navigate an ever-changing healthcare system. With a foundation in evidence-based practice, students are ready to shape and meet the continuous needs of society.

Our curriculum lays the groundwork for a deep understanding and reflection on both patient care and broader health challenges. We promote an analytical and critical approach to clinical work, emphasizing adaptive learning within movement and function. This is key to developing physiotherapists who are proficient in making well-considered assessments and prioritizations. Referring to other health and social care services is part of this, ensuring the best for the patient. Students are encouraged to integrate theoretical knowledge and practical experience to provide personalized treatment.

We strive for our students to be able to provide equitable health services to all community groups. Physiotherapeutic work spans different individuals and arenas and is built on communication and interaction. Treatment, habilitation, rehabilitation, prevention, and health promotion are fundamental methods in our profession. Our physiotherapists contribute to interdisciplinary teams to strengthen public health and the sustainability of society.

After completing their clinical rotations, HVL graduates will possess a broad competence and be able to tackle the diverse challenges of the Norwegian healthcare system, today and in the future. The education is designed for lifelong learning and is closely connected to the practical field and relevant subject areas, with the user perspective as a central element.

The bachelor's program is a full-time study that awards 180 ECTS credits over three years

Suitability Assessment
The education has a suitability assessment. The purpose is to determine whether students pose a possible danger to the vulnerable groups they come into contact with during their education or in future professional practice. Ongoing assessment of all students takes place throughout the course. A separate customs assessment must take place if there is reason to doubt whether a student is customs. A student who is not in good standing can be banned from education for up to five years, and cannot receive a diploma. For more information, see the Suitability Assessment page on HVL’s website.

Criminal record certificate
All students must provide a criminal record certificate in order to participate in the practical training and clinical teaching components (cf. Chapter 6 in the Regulations relating to admission to higher education). The certificate must have been issued within the last three months.

Students who do not provide a criminal record certificate will not be allowed to partake in the practical clinical studies. A workplace or HVL may request a new criminal record certificate at any time during the course of the programme.

Upon completion of the programme and once the candidates receive their certificates, those who participated in the authorisation scheme are granted authorisation (cf. § 48 in the Act relating to health personnel etc. (Health Personnel Act)).

The curriculum for the bachelor’s degree in physiotherapy is based on the Regulation relating to the common framework plan for health and social studies courses, and the Regulation relating to the national guidelines for physical therapy training.

The undergraduate programme at HVL is a full-time course totalling 180 credits taught over three years.

Learning outcomes

A candidate who has completed the qualification shall have achieved the following final learning outcomes, categorised as knowledge, skills or general competence:

The graduate...

  • has a broad knowledge of the structure, functions and development of the body as a prerequisite for health, activity, participation and mastery
  • has broad knowledge of the relationship between health and illness and how education, work and living standards can affect the individual
  • is familiar with the different perspectives on health and illness, the body, movement and function
  • has broad knowledge of the conditions that can positively and negatively affect the body and the significance that meaningful activity and participation in work can have for one’s health
  • has broad knowledge of the factors that can promote and hinder the development of movement, learning and control and what impact this has on function and the change in how one functions
  • has knowledge of the organisation, tasks and laws and regulations pertaining to the health services and which guide the work of physiotherapists, as well as of political priorities and the decision-making process on different levels
  • is familiar with the resources and the dissemination of such resources, and with appropriate welfare technology for promoting function and participation, at both the individual and system levels

The graduate...

  • can examine and treat patients in different phases of their lives and facing different issues relating to function, levels of pain and challenges
  • can critically analyse, interpret and react to the findings of assessments, present clinical diagnoses as the basis for implementing measures and evaluate whether the patient needs to be referred further
  • can plan and implement measures based on the overall target of promoting health and implementing prevention work
  • can plan, implement and coordinate habilitation/rehabilitation processes and prepare and follow up on individual plans in cooperation with patients, relatives and other practitioners
  • can map out environmental factors and assess the risk of unwanted incidents that may affect the patient’s level of function and health
  • can apply their relationship, communication and guidance skills when it comes to understanding, motivating and working with users, patients and relatives who are going through learning, mastery and change processes

General competence:
The graduate...

  • can apply relevant theoretical perspectives and critical thinking in dealing with professional and ethical issues, and can reflect on power relations, professionalism, and their own role as a practitioner, with an understanding of the importance of professional integrity and responsibility.
  • can acquire new knowledge, make professional assessments and prioritizations, make decisions, and act in accordance with evidence-based practice, including the ability to communicate effectively, give and receive constructive feedback for continuous professional development and improvement of patient care.
  • has insight into how one's own and others' competence can be used in interdisciplinary collaboration to develop a user-adapted service offering at various service levels and understands the importance of collaboration and teamwork in comprehensive patient care.
  • has insight into the individual's right to autonomy, participation, and shared decision-making, can act professionally responsible, and show respect and empathy in meetings with patients/users, relatives, and other actors, and recognizes the importance of self-reflection in this work.
  • has insight into the history and development of physiotherapy, trends in society, and the physiotherapy profession's societal mission.
  • can apply knowledge of clinical reasoning to document, ensure quality, evaluate, and communicate physiotherapeutic practice adapted to different target groups.
  • can plan and conduct physiotherapy activities in accordance with current legislation.
  • can plan and participate in service innovation and systematic and quality-improving work processes and use these in the development of their own field of expertise.


In line with the national guidelines on physiotherapy training, the programme of study is based on seven competence areas. The programme will ensure that candidates acquire skills within the following competence areas:

I. The body, movement and function II. Assessment, evaluation, diagnosis and measures III. Interaction and communication IV. Habilitation and rehabilitation V. Ethics and cultural understanding VI. Critical thinking, quality assurance and innovation VII. Society and public healthhttps://lovdata.no/dokument/SF/forskrift/2019-03-15-410

(Cf. § 4 Regulations for the national guidelines for physiotherapy training.)

The competence areas are integrated throughout the programme’s 14 courses, which are spread over six semesters. The Building and Academic Craft course is common to all bachelor’s degree programmes at HVL and is taught during the first semester. Undergraduate students in the Department of Health and Functioning will meet on campus for a total of three weeks of in-person instruction for this course.

The courses reinforce each other and place progressively greater demands on the student’s competence, independence and ability to reflect on their own specialised knowledge.

The mobility window is usually offered during the fourth semester.

Each year of study consists of both theoretical and practical courses.

In the first year of study, the foundation is laid for the development of knowledge, skills and general competence of physiotherapeutic assessment and management. This includes knowledge of the anatomy, physiology, movement and functions of the body. Close attention is paid to facilitating students to develop a theoretical and practical basis for understanding general physiotherapy principles for the performance of assessments. Practical knowledge and skills are integrated into assignments. The focus is on ensuring that students are familiar with how characteristics of the individual and environment can affect movement and function. The learning experiences facilitate students to develop a basic understanding and analysis of movement and function in relation to different theories and models. The students explore their own experiences and preferences in respect of movement. The core elements of certain systems of movement are presented as a foundation for understanding the body and movement as the centre of all experiences, one’s own history, and culture.

The second year of study focuses on further developing knowledge, skills and general competence of the physiotherapy process. That means a deeper dive into assessments, clinical reasoning, management and evaluation. Concepts such as treatment planning, evaluation tools, (re)habilitation, inter-professionality, shared decision-making and autonomy are discussed and contextualised within the work of the physiotherapist. In this year of study, there is also a focus on the skills required for finding, assessing and reflecting on how different types of knowledge can be utilised in different physiotherapy-related contexts. This year entails a longer internship as practical component. In the final part of this year of study, the focus is on health promotion and preventative work. It includes work on enhancing knowledge and skills together with measures to reduce risk factors and improve personal and environmental factors that can help improve health.

In the third year of study, students are challenged to integrate the knowledge and skills developed over the previous courses, as well as being presented with new topics that will prepare them for the last internship. The main theme here is clinical reasoning and physiotherapy judgments based on assessments, setting targets and the evaluation processes in the central areas of knowledge. Inter-disciplinary cooperation and the treatment of patients in different treatment courses and with different functional challenges, as understood from a life-cycle perspective, are at the core of the teaching this year. Ethics and communication when interacting with others are also focused upon. Further is carried out on topics such as health, illness and function and concepts such as social inequality, medicalisation, discrimination, inclusion, roles and professionalisation. The students prepare a bachelor’s dissertation in which they demonstrate their understanding of the subject.

A more detailed description of the learning outcomes, content, work requirements and forms of assessment used on the programme can be found in the course plans.

The electronic learning support system and pedagogical tool used for this programme is Canvas.


Clinical placements are parts of the study that take place in authentic professional situations. Clinical placements constitute 45 ECTS credits and are spread over 30 weeks throughout the study. This includes patient days, fieldwork, introductory practice, observational practice, and Clinical practice. During the practice period, students will receive guidance from a physiotherapist with relevant professional knowledge. It is desirable that the supervisor has formal mentoring competence.

During the practice periods, the students are under the constant supervision of a physiotherapist with relevant professional knowledge. Preferably the supervisor will have formal guidance training.

The practical placements are usually in Western Norway, Rogaland and parts of Agder. Physiotherapy students must be prepared for practical placements outside of the Bergen region. Practical placements are organised by the university. Students can apply for facilitation for the practice period in line with the Regulations relating to studies and examinations at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (see Chapter 7 § 7-6 Facilitation for supervised professional training placements).

Students must obtain their own housing and pay for their own travel expenses during the practice period. Some of these expenses are covered by the applicable regulations.

The practical placements are compulsory. 90% attendance is required for all practical courses (cf. Regulations relating to studies and examinations at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL) and Guidelines for the implementation and assessment of practical placements at the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences (FHS).


Our education is committed to providing teaching anchored in the latest research, professional development work, and valuable experiential knowledge, with a pedagogical approach that promotes collaboration, active and engaged learning. Teaching and learning methods are dynamic and adapt to the needs of the various subjects, as detailed in each course plan.

A full-time study is expected to engage the student in a study effort of 40 hours per week, where both theoretical knowledge and practical skills are emphasized through varied and interactive learning activities.

Clinical action competence, along with personal, professional, and practical skills, is fundamental throughout the entire course of study. This is achieved through various activities such as interaction-based learning and guided skill training, taking place in SimArena – a state-of-the-art simulation centre equipped to meet the learning needs of all students at the faculty.

Mandatory learning activities require the active participation of the student throughout the learning process. (Cf. Assessment at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences.) The mandatory learning activities are designed to require collaboration and active participation from the student, and support a deeper understanding and reflection on the subject matter. Key learning activities include, but are not limited to, group work, guidance, reflection, skill training, seminars with plenary presentations and critical discussion, written assignments, tests, preparation for practice, practical studies, and student-active learning.

Details on what activities are mandatory are specified in the course plans or timetables, and 80% attendance is required for all compulsory teaching. Absence is handled in accordance with the Regulations for studies and examinations at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL).


Assessment refers to all formal testing required for the programme, which is listed in the individual course plans. All compulsory learning activities must be passed before the student can sit the exam for the course or participate in the practical placement (cf. the Regulations for studies and examinations at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL)).

The forms of assessment used in this programme include written examinations, take-home examinations, assignments, projects, oral examinations, practical oral exams and practical placements.

Marking is carried out on a pass/fail basis and graded on a scale of A–F. The practical placements are assessed on a pass/fail basis.

Required progression

In order to achieve the learning outcomes of each level of the degree programme, certain requirements are in place for the student’s study progression.

Specific courses may require prerequisite knowledge for admission to a course. The practical courses may have a further requirement for the student to have passed all previous practical courses.

All first semester courses, as well as FYS 140 in the second semester, must be passed before the student can begin the second year of study. All first-year courses and the Part 2 Practical Examination for FYS 200 must be passed before the student can begin the fourth semester. All third semester courses must be passed before the student can begin the fifth semester. All second-year courses must be passed before the student can begin the sixth semester.

Previously acquired knowledge and its application are required in all subsequent courses.

Students who do not fulfil the requirements for progression will be moved down a cohort to repeat the year and will receive an adjusted individual education plan in order to satisfy the unfulfilled requirements. When a student is moved to a new cohort, the curriculum for that year applies.


All courses in the physiotherapy program have a clear international profile. This includes, among other things, the use of relevant English-speaking and other Scandinavian literature, discussion of international professional issues in the various subjects also with international students, and teaching and guidance by international lecturers. The course 'Physiotherapy in Health Promotion and Preventive Work' in the 4th semester is an exchange course, and the teaching is in English with students from other countries participating.

In the second or third year of study, some students may take courses at universities abroad, either for 3 months as a practical course/campus course, or in some cases, an entire semester.

In all years, it is possible in some cases to participate in an online course with 1-2 weeks of intensive course, corresponding to courses in the current academic year.

The education has partnership agreements with physiotherapy programs in the Nordics, Europe, Africa, Australia, the USA, and Brazil. When suitable, an exchange stay abroad with one of the partners is approved as part of the study.

The list below shows the universities we are currently collaborating with:
Ghent University, HAN University of Applied Sciences, Karolinska Institute, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Polytechnic Institute of Setúbal, The University of Dublin, Trinity College, University College Absalon, University of the Balearic Islands, Palma Mallorca, VIA University College, ARCADA Polytechnic, Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre, Haydom Hospital Arusha, Universidad Francisco de Vitoria UFV Madrid