Hartpury College

Veterinary Physiotherapy

Lecturer placing boots on horse

Course Overview

The MSc Veterinary Physiotherapy programme is designed to optimise and enhance the competencies of Chartered Physiotherapists to produce technically competent, effective and safe veterinary physiotherapy practitioners in line with current professional standards. Individuals will be encouraged and supported through critical reflection on the similarities and differences relating to practice in the human field of physiotherapy.

In particular the course promotes the philosophy of life-long learning and encourages students to develop their skills in critical thinking. You will be encouraged to critically analyse research and evidence and apply your findings to practice.

The course is accredited and endorsed by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and is being run with input from the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Animal Therapy (ACPAT).

The course aims to help you recognise your role and responsibilities in the field of veterinary physiotherapy and animal welfare. It will enhance your clinical skills as well as your capacity to deal with complex relationships between animals, their owners/handlers and other healthcare professionals. The course will also introduce you to the legal, ethical and financial issues involved in veterinary physiotherapy/ private practice.

Hartpury College will provide a stimulating, supportive and sensitive learning environment which will enable you to maximise your learning and facilitate your development as a self-directed and reflective learner.

Hartpury College has a high standard of teaching facilities and an excellent library. Information technology facilities include multimedia laboratories and various health and social care and veterinary databases enabling you to carry out searches of available literature relating to topics of interest. Modules tend to be taught in two day blocks. This means that the teaching is condensed to allow the Masters study to occur round other commitments in our students' lives.

The campus is equipped with excellent equine and animal science facilities including laboratories, hydrotherapy both canine and equine, treadmills both canine and equine, a world class championship arena and much more.

For further information on the programme, please contact Gillian.Tabor@hartpury.ac.uk 

Our students have gone on to some fantastic careers in a wide range of industries and enjoyed some exceptional work placements all over the world, helping them open doors to their dream careers. You can read our students’ stories here

Entry Requirements


You must be a Physiotherapist registered with the Health Care Professions Council. You will also need to be a member of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, having first completed a BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy, and be a category B member of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Animal Therapy (ACPAT) for insurance purposes. You must also demonstrate the ability and motivation to study at M Level.  A minimum of one year post graduate experience of working as a human Physiotherapist is desirable.

 Applicants whose first language is not English must have a minimum IELTS score of 7 overall with a minimum of 6.5 in any section (or equivalent).

 Finally, you will need to demonstrate a strong desire to work with animals and their owners/handlers and have previous experience of handling a range of animals either paid or unpaid.

All suitable applicants will be interviewed either in person or by telephone prior to being accepted.

Applications should be made via Hartpury College by completing the Postgraduate Study Application Form.

For the most up to date information on your programme, you can find your course information sheet here


Next Open Day

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21 Jan 2017 Postgraduate Open Day - 21st January 2017

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In Brief


3 Years

Tuition fees

Please note that non-standard fees apply to this programme, for further detail on fees please contact admissions@hartpury.ac.uk 

When should I apply

Applications for postgraduate study can be submitted at any point through the year; however as places are limited on some courses, we recommend that you apply early. You can apply for September 2016 entry now.

How to apply

Please complete the on-line application form

Click to see more course information


  • Preparation For Clinical Practice (15 credit module). This module aims to establish the students understanding of normal and abnormal animal behaviour and its link to pain physiology. It also covers current legislations pertinent to veterinary physiotherapists; including the veterinary surgeons act and animal welfare act. The module also encompasses animal handling to establish and develop a good working relationship with potential clients. The module also includes equine nutrition and condition scoring of canines and equines. The module is delivered by members of the team and outside lectures including vets and nutritionists.
    Placement days: 4
    Days in college including assessments: 4 days
    Assessment: written case studies, clinical placement portfolio and oral exam

    Comparative and Applied Anatomy, Physiology and Biomechanics (15 credit module). Anatomy is an essential component for a physiotherapist; this module introduces the student to comparative equine and canine anatomy. The content includes an introduction to equine and canine exercise physiology, veterinary terminology, canine and equine thoracic, pelvic and axial skeleton and the equine foot. The module is delivered via lectures from the teaching team and external lectures. To support this module there are there are excellent learning resources available at Hartpury. The module introduces the students to hands on palpation of animals.
    Placement days: 0
    Days in college including assessment: 6 days
    Assessment: written exam

    Understanding Veterinary Diagnostics and Veterinary Physiotherapy Assessment (30 credit module). This module introduces the student to the relevant veterinary diagnostic procedures and tests for both canine and equine patients. It includes relevant pathogenesis of common disease conditions affecting animals. The module introduces, builds on and develops the student’s clinical reasoning and decision making processes for the physiotherapy assessment of canine and equine cases. The physiotherapy assessment includes gait analysis, history taking and objective examination, rider assessment and note writing. Saddle fitting is also included. As part of this module there are clinical placement days with vets, ACPAT A physiotherapists as well as practical days at Hartpury. At the end of the module there is a formative assessment as well as a written assignment and a portfolio of case studies.

    Placement days: 3 days with a veterinary surgeon and 4 with a category A ACPAT physiotherapist.
    Days in college including assessment: 11 days
    Assessment: clinical practice portfolio and a written assignment

    By the end of the first year, the aim is to produce students who are competent in animal handling with sound clinical reasoning who are able to assess animals with a range of conditions.

  • Research Methods (15 credits). The module will help you gain experience in designing a sound experimental protocol in order to answer a research question. You will gain knowledge of the statistical and analytical techniques that can be applied to data and how to present material in an appropriate scientific format.

    Placement days: 0
    Days in college including assessments: 5 days
    Assessment: written assignment and oral presentation

    Applied Business Management (15 credits). The purpose of this module is to develop your understanding of small rural businesses in context through exposure you to a wide range of academic material, as well as public information. This will be supported by exercises that aim to assist you in questioning and evaluating current debates, and develop your ability to think critically. The module does not aim to teach the students how to become small business owners. However, regardless of your work place destination, whether self-employed or working for an organisation, you need to be aware of basic business concepts. Through completion of this module you will be able to: Demonstrate a knowledge of the environment within which small rural business management takes place; conduct accurate and contemporary appraisal and evaluation of current small rural business management; plan and evaluate business activities within the limitations given by a portfolio and stated criteria.
    Placement days: 0
    Days in college including assessments: 4 days
    Assessment: written assignment and oral presentation

    Veterinary Physiotherapy Rehabilitation (30 credits). This module introduces the role of the medical and surgical veterinary approaches in the treatment, rehabilitation and maintenance of common conditions of animals. It also introduces veterinary physiotherapy treatments with a strong emphasis on current evidence based treatments and clinical reasoning. The topics covered include neuro-musculoskeletal techniques, pain management, electrotherapy modalities, hydrotherapy, exercise prescription therapy including taping, pole work and training aids. Post-operative care of the animal is also included. Throughout the module students are encouraged to build strong links with the interdisciplinary team. The delivery team involve vets, dentists, physiotherapists, hydrotherapists and coaches.
    Placement days: 14
    Days in college including assessments: 13 days
    Assessment: clinical practice portfolio, written assignment and case study presentation

  • Post-graduation dissertation (60 credits). Veterinary physiotherapy is a growing profession which needs a greater amount of scientific evidence. In this module students are encouraged to build on their experiences and produce a post-graduation dissertation which we hope will start to provide some much needed research in this field. There is an excellent team of knowledgeable and experienced staff to support students in their projects.

    Previous titles included: Surface electromyography of the equine rectus abdominis during walk and trot on a treadmill and surface electromyography of the rectus abdominis during baited stretches

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