Bachelor in Occupational Therapy - BERG

Short description

Our society is in constant development and change. This has a great impact on citizens and their possibilities to be included in and to participate in society. This also influences the possibility of individuals to cope with activities in different situations and arenas in life.

Norway has seen major changes in society over the last few years, where especially lifestyle-related illnesses are increasing. The major health challenges in today’s welfare society are: muscle- and skeleton diseases, mental health and drug-related problems, migration health, lifestyle illnesses (COPD, obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases), neurological diseases and injuries, as well as cancer. These health challenges can complicate the individual person’s ability to function in daily life.

The aim of the occupational therapy programme is to qualify client-centred and reflective professionals in order for them to promote health and quality of life among the population. Occupational therapists are creative problem-solvers who work to restore lost activity following illness or injury, and to promote adaption to a new living situation. This can take place by training injured body functions, by using technical solutions to compensate for a loss, or by learning new ways of performing an activity.

The essence of occupational therapy is the human being’s participation in play, work and self-care. As an occupational therapist you will contribute to people participating and taking part in daily life. Cooperation across professional boundaries within the field of health and technology is therefore important to achieve a development of the human being’s ability to cope, the adaption of activities and change of environment.

The occupational therapy programme at Gjøvik University College (GUC) focuses especially on the areas of welfare technology and universal design.

Welfare technology is technology that can contribute to increased comfort, safety, activity and participation in society. Welfare technology can strengthen elderly persons and persons with a reduced functionality to a more independent life. Welfare technology can support next-of-kin and contribute to better accessibility, use of resources and quality both for users and for personnel in the health and care service.  Welfare technology can also support people living at home, prevent and complement care needs as well as being financially profitable from society’s point of view.

Universal design involves designing products, environments, programmes and services to be usable by all persons to the greatest extent possible. Universal design respects the diversity among persons, and stands for including everyone in all phases and situations in life. Universal design is about creating a more inclusive society. It does not mean special adaptation design for individuals or groups, but solutions that secure good accessibility for all and benefit everyone.

Technology in health- and care services can be:

Safety- and security technology ; it can be a portable alarm that contributes to the individual always being able to make contact with or receive help from the municipal health service no matter the location of one’s home.

Compensation- and well-being technology ; may be a unit hooked up with the TV in the home making it possible for the person to communicate with the municipal health service or with next-of-kin. Making contact via both picture image and sound results in an experience of increased presence and safety.

Technology for social contact becomes especially important when the different members of a family no longer live in the same area. Younger generations move out, leaving the elderly left behind. This calls for technical applications like for example cell-phone technology and all the possibilities this type of technology offers.

Technology for treatment and care ; many examples of software and products that provide effective and safe treatment and care are available today, for example pill dispensers, insulin pumps, epilepsy applications and more.

It is important that the technology is adapted to the individual person’s needs, and that the individual person understands and is provided training in the use of the technological products. Occupational therapists contribute to an ethical and professional use of welfare technology.

The occupational therapist is responsible for contributing to the individual person’s health and life quality, but also to society being developed in such a way that, products environments and services to the greatest extent possible can be used by everyone. Achieving this involves creative attitudes as well as an interest and commitment to finding new and innovative solutions. Occupational therapists deal with the seven fields of occupational therapists (special competence): the general state of health, health at the work place, the health of children, elderly health, public health, mental health and somatic health.

Authorised occupational therapists mainly work in the health- and social service. In municipal-based health services, in rehabilitation institutions, in somatic and psychiatric hospitals, in mental health care, NAV (the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration), schools, company health care services or as consultants in municipalities or private companies. Occupational therapists also work with universal design and product development. All these fields involve an innovative approach, and occupational therapists are especially well suited to lead change- and improvement projects because of their holistic view of human beings and their role as problem solvers. The Norwegian Coordination Reform and the white paper NOU 11:2011 (Innovation in the Care Services) clearly states that the competence of occupational therapists must be strengthened, especially at the municipality health service level. Occupational therapy is an international profession, and occupational therapists work worldwide.


The programme is a full-time basic education in occupational therapy over three academic years. A completed semester of study corresponds to 30 credits. The programme results in a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy, and qualifies for applying for authorization as an occupational therapist pursuant to the Norwegian Health Personnel Act of July 2, 1999, nr.64 including additional Regulations of January 1, 2001. The programme is offered as a full-time study.

The curriculum is warranted in the National Curriculum Regulations for Occupational Therapy Programmes of December 1, 2005, laid down by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research.

Expected learning outcomes

On completion of the programme, the intention is for the students to have obtained the following competence:


  • Be familiar with global health- and environmental challenges in a changing society and be familiar with administrative- and public planning
  • Have a broad knowledge of basic professional topics, legislation, theories, processes, tools and methods within the field of occupational therapy with a special focus on welfare technology and universal design
  • Understand research- and development work within the field of occupational therapy and make use of this in their work
  • Can identify needs for both the individual and society that are important for the development of health for both parties
  • Make use of updated professional knowledge and relevant results from research- and development on practical and theoretical questions and make reasoned choices
  • Know the history, traditions, character and place in society of occupational therapy


  • Perform occupational therapy that contributes to promoting health, making activity possible through adaption for mastering the activities of daily life. This concerns health promoting and preventive work, treatment, rehabilitation, habilitation and maintenance work.
  • Master relevant professional tools, techniques and expressions and use these in an ethically justifiable way. Make use of interventions like training, adaption, supervision and coordination
  • Apply activity analyses, occupational analyses and function assessments with a focus on performance and interaction between activity, person and environment
  • Reason professionally, cooperate with individuals and across professional boundaries
  • Initiate and lead projects with the aim of developing the core values of occupational therapy
  • Apply the possibilities of welfare technology based on the needs of the individual
  • Work in a knowledge-based and innovative way, and develop competence
  • Master the task of managing relevant projects within the field of occupational therapy
  • Carry out innovation projects within the field of the occupational therapy profession

General competence

  • Show a holistic view of mankind and respect for the integrity and rights of human beings in all one’s practice
  • Have insight in relevant professional ethical issues and show sound ethical judgement in all written and oral descriptions and assessments concerning individuals
  • Plan and implement varied tasks and projects that stretch out over a period of time, alone and as part of a group, and in line with ethical requirements and guidelines
  • Receive a passing mark on basic subject material like theories, issues and solutions both in written and oral form and through other relevant expressions
  • Exchange views and experience with others with similar professional backgrounds and thus contribute to a constant development of good practices
  • Reflect on one’s own professional practice and adjust this under supervision
  • Document and evaluate one’s own work


Occupational therapy is an international profession and the curriculum has been established according to the requirements of The World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT).

A majority of the textbooks in the occupational therapy programme are in English. International publications are also used in the programme. The expression “think globally – act locally” is a basic concept to the occupational therapy profession. The programme focuses on giving students an understanding of occupational therapy as an international profession, and provides a basic overview of global health challenges. One area of focus is migration health, among others.

The programme is organized in a manner that students can complete part of their studies abroad, and exchange students from our partner universities can study in Gjøvik during the same period (fifth semester). In situations where English-speaking exchange students are present, teaching will be held entirely in English.  Norwegian students who decide to study abroad must have been awarded passing marks in all exams and internal tests of the programme.

Target Group

The occupational therapy programme is suitable for those who as creative problem solvers wish to participate in the process of helping people with a functional disability achieve a rich and active life.

The student will acquire a holistic view of human beings and an understanding of the interaction between persons, environment and participation. If you wish to work to motivate, find solutions and want an inspiring profession, occupational therapy is the right choice.

The course programme is suitable for students who are interested in using technology to help people achieve independence and/or increase safety for people with a functional disability. It is suitable for those who are interested in health and activity, and wish to take advantage of the good sides in human beings. This education is relevant for interested in choosing among many interesting professions related to policlinic treatment, emergency wards, care for the elderly, habilitation, care for persons with impairment, vocational rehabilitation, and so on. Occupational therapy is furthermore a very international profession.

Occupational therapy is suitable for those who wish to work with training the individual to regain abilities fully or partly, or to give advice and assistance in order to make adaptations to the home, at school or at the job location.

The programme qualifies for admission to various further education programmes within the field of occupational therapy, and for a number of different master programmes. Examples are a master’s degree in gerontology, health-promoting work in the local community, professional health studies, the science of public health, rehabilitation, health management or the like. Occupational therapy is an international profession and master’s programme studies therefore also exist in many other countries.

Admission Criteria

Admission is based upon a passing grade in the Higher Education Entrance Qualification or on the basis of an evaluation and accreditation of prior learning and work experience.

Applicants with prior learning and work experience will be ranked according to an overall professional evaluation. Specific criteria will be applied in these cases.

Course Structure

Course content, structure and composition

Each semester consists of 30 credits. The course programme is divided into 12 theoretical courses and five practice periods.

The Norwegian National Curriculum Regulations are binding for the content of the programme. Students will after the three-year programme have completed 180 credits distributed between four main areas. This includes practice studies corresponding to 45 credits and skills training (taking place on school premises), corresponding to 30 credits.

The course combinations are presented in a tabular at the end of this document.

First Year of study: The Society and the Individual

The first year of study consists of five theoretical courses and one practice period. Relevant topics for the first year of study are: the history of occupational therapy, the role of occupational therapy in an international and national societal perspective and from the perspective of the individual, basic knowledge of anatomy and physiology, psychology, activity balance, activity analysis, welfare technology, universal design, a three-hour creativity course in innovative work. Students will participate in a brief observation practice during their first semester in order to get some insight into the occupational therapist profession early in the course, and a longer practice period with skills training during the second semester.

Second Year of study:   The Individual in a functional perspective

The second year of study consists of four theoretical courses and two practice periods. Relevant topics are rehabilitation and habilitation, psychiatric and somatic pathology with a special focus on neurology, geriatrics, rheumatology and orthopaedics, project management, research theory and research methods. Students will work in an interdisciplinary way with innovation in the third semester when they take part in brainstorming lab session 24.

Third Year of study:   Health

The third year of study consists of three theoretical courses and two practice periods. During this year of study the students will work on an in-depth study of occupational therapy with a special focus on welfare technology and universal design. Relevant topics are also somatic health and public health, vocational health, mental health and child health. The bachelor thesis corresponds to 20 credits. The practice period during the sixth semester is an in-depth practice period preparing the students for the bachelor presentation and for professional working life.

Each academic year lasts about 40 weeks and the expected working week is  40 hours in total including timetable-scheduled teaching, self-study and practice.

Both the theoretical- and practice studies are organized in line with the main focuses during the years of study. The learning outcome during the courses is organized so that disciplines from the different main courses are based directly on each other throughout the programme. This is made clear by requiring that individual disciplines (theory and supervised practice) must have been awarded a passing mark before the student is allowed to continue in the programme (described in the course descriptions). The purpose of switching between theoretical and practical studies is to integrate knowledge from different sources.

Practice and skills training

45 credits for practice are awarded during the course of the programme, as well as 30 credits for functional training. The occupational therapy programme at Gjøvik University College has planned for five practice periods. In addition to these the students will take part in a one-week observation practice during the first semester in order to learn about the profession of occupational therapy.

Practice periods will take place in and outside institutions in the municipal health service and in the specialist health service. A plan for these periods has been developed that describes the learning outcomes for the various  periods, progression requirements and practical information among other things. To cover society’s need for occupational therapists, the first and the last practice period will to a large extent take place in the municipal health service.

Students will gain experience in the following areas during the practice periods:

  • Various possibilities for activity and activity problems
  • People of different age groups
  • Individual persons, exposed groups and the population in general
  • Work in relation to individuals, activity and environment (main focus on universal design)
  • People with disabilities/illness over a long or short period of time
  • People with problems connected to somatic and mental health (a special focus on welfare technology)
  • Work in and outside institutions
  • Discussion of practice experience in relation to the theoretical foundation
  • Planning of and reflection in relation to practice

(Curriculum Regulations for Occupational Therapy, 2005)

During the practice periods students will as a rule be supervised by occupational therapists at the practice location and by the programme instructors. All students must be prepared to travel and to arrange for extra lodging during several of the practice periods. The University College will provide financial support to cover extra lodging expenses as well as travel expenses during practice periods.

Practice period 1

This discipline consists of 5 credits skills training on school premises and 5 credits practice in the municipal health service, thus 10 credits in total. The main focus for the practice period is professional meetings between people, universal design, individually adapted activities, activity balance and activity analysis.

Practice period 2

10 credits supervised professional training in occupational therapeutic work aimed at people with challenges within the fields of neurology, orthopedics, rheumatology and geriatrics. By the end of this practice students will follow a patient through the course of an illness and acquire competence in the teamwork that is necessary for attending to the needs of the individual. Interdisciplinary cooperative learning is fundamental during this period.

Practice period 3

10 credits supervised practice focusing on public health and lifestyle diseases. The period entails work experience placement where the students meet people with challenges related to COPD, diabetes, obesity and allergy will be especially relevant. Students work in a health promoting way in several of these areas. The topics of migration and health are also included in the practice period.

Practice period 4

10 credits supervised practice with a special in-depth study of universal design and welfare technology. During the practice period the students will be deployed at different areas of practice, but will focus on the service’s work with universal design and how the practice location utilizes welfare technology as a tool. During this period they will work in an innovative way with the possibilities of welfare technology in real life by performing an improvement project.

Practice period 5

10 credits supervised practice in the occupational therapy profession. This practice will run parallel to the work of writing the bachelor thesis. The practice period will include an in-depth study of occupational therapeutic professional work. The students are allowed to ask for the practice to be in a discipline they have a special interest in. Parts of the practice period will focus on the practical presentation of knowledge. Students will work on relevant presentation techniques. This will among other things mean to include preparing for a poster presentation of the bachelor thesis.

Pedagogical methods

In line with the programme’s overall objectives of educating responsible, dynamic and reflective occupational therapists, the students’ intrinsic activity is emphasized. The programme therefore applies problem-based learning (PBL) as its basic teaching method. PBL is characterized by students learning the profession while working with real life tasks in groups. The teachers function as supervisors and resource persons/support who support the students’ own learning. It is expected of students to demonstrate responsibility for their own personal and professional development. This implies active student participation throughout the entire duration of the programme, including a discussion of both the professional and pedagogical aspects of the programme. The student will through their studies realize that competence is a product of acquired knowledge, one’s own experience, organization and implementation of the work, as well as an understanding of roles and attitudes. The profession of occupational therapy is based on research-based knowledge, professional experience and knowledge from the user himself or herself.

Applied work methods:

Group work. Students taking the occupational therapy programme will be organized in basic units from the beginning of the programme. All groups will receive guidance and supervision. The group´s work both with a supervisor present in the group and with a supervisor available when necessary. The basic units are formal cooperative groups meeting regularly and staying together as groups over time. The basic units are an important learning arena for the students. Work in the basic units result in written papers, posters, seminars, dialogue and/or discussion of professional issues. In the basic units the students will acquire knowledge and skills that in turn through adaptation and development will become their own basis of knowledge and basis for taking action on their own.

Lectures give an overview and insight into issues related to the students’ own studies.

Skills practice is aimed at the practical side of the profession and corresponds to 30 credits. This means that the student practices basic skills for this profession. This is a question of testing and training activities in connection with activities of daily life, creative activity, work techniques/-operations and movement activities. Skills practice is necessary for the students’ acquirement of the profession’s basic skills and forms the basis for the students’ later qualification in these. Skills practice takes place in various laboratories in groups and in cooperation with students from other disciplines within health and technology. The university college has separate laboratories for simulation, universal design, clinical work and so on.

Self-studies. High demands are placed on the students’ own activity, and students are expected to spend time studying corresponding to a full week’s work, meaning about 40 hours.

Practice corresponds to 45 credits. The student is to perform practice in the field of activity at relevant locations. The purpose is for the student to be able to use knowledge, practice skills and develop attitudes in line with the objectives of the programme. The practice periods will take place in the municipalities in the specialist health service and in other relevant areas.

Seminars . Seminars will be held where students present their knowledge to teachers and fellow students, followed by feedback and discussions. Ethical attitudes should be clarified and formed during the dialogue and in all oral activity during the programme.

ICT Learning Platform . GUC has chosen Fronter as their learning platform and all students will be users of this.

Information and source competence . The students will develop skills in searching for and finding databases of high quality within their disciplines, and apply correct use of these resources when writing papers among other tasks. Information competence is the ability to localise, evaluate and use information and subject material for your own use. This is a key competence for professionalism, and a basis for lifelong learning. The programme also gives an introduction to the use of the library and various resources – printed and digital. Subject teachers and library staff will cooperate in order to give the students the necessary training in searching and evaluating good and reliable information and to use the information in an efficient and correct way. All written work in the programme will take place according to universal design. This presupposes both knowledge about, and techniques for collecting, critically selecting, editing, structuring and disseminating information. It is therefore important that the student is trained in these skills.

Exams are in addition to being a form of assessment also an important learning arena. Here students are trained in oral and written formulation, and professional discussion through different types of exams.

Compulsory attendance

Attendance is compulsory at all learning sessions throughout the programme. Parts of the scheduled work is also obligatory. This refers to when students are unable by means of self-study can acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are part of the teaching of this programme.


At the end of each discipline students themselves must be able to document that they have participated in at least 80% of the theoretical obligatory teaching to be able to take the exam following the lectures. In cases where a student has been absent more than 20% of the time, the student must contact the person in charge of the discipline about how to catch up with the missing parts of the study programme. The student is responsible for contacting the person in charge as soon as possible in order to make an agreement.


All practice is obligatory and absence beyond 10% means that the practice period will not be approved. The learning that takes place at the respective practice locations is part of exercising the profession of occupational therapy itself and therefore difficult to acquire elsewhere.


The teachers will provide students guidance and supervision in the choice of literature so that they throughout the programme develop skills in assessing relevant literature related to the professional field of occupational therapy. Resource literature has been prepared and listed so that students themselves can choose relevant literature for the programme. This list can be found on GUC’s website. This is in line with the pedagogical method focusing on students being responsible for their own learning, and developing a competence they can make use of in their own profession. Knowledge-based practice means that the students will acquire competence in searching for relevant literature. Students will receive training in searching databases and in how to use the library.

Suitability assessment in higher education

The profession of occupational therapy is subject to the Norwegian government’s Regulations Relating to Suitability Assessment in Higher Education established by the Ministry of Education and Research on June 30, 2006 pursuant section 4-10, sixth paragraph of the Act of April 1, 2005, No. 15 relating to Universities and University Colleges.

 All students must hand in a valid Criminal Records Certificate (Politiattest) at the start of the programme.

Technical Prerequisites

Students will receive training in the use of Fronter. Papers and home-based exams are to be handed in electronically, in pdf-format or the like. Control of plagiarism will be conducted. Students are expected to have access to a PC with internet connection.

Table of subjects

Programme syllabus for the Bachelor Degree of Occupational Therapy 2013-2016

*) C - Compulsory course, E - Elective course