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Doctorate of Physiotherapy

DPT Doctorate of Physiotherapy

The DPT Physiotherapy course from Robert Gordon University is an accelerated programme providing a unique opportunity to qualify as a Chartered Physiotherapist, develop clinically applied research skills, and achieve a Doctorate.

It is the first course of its kind in the UK, and the only physical therapy programme outside North America to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.

The first two years are run in parallel with the MSc Physiotherapy course with integrated research degree training and work placements. You can then apply for HCPC registration giving you eligibility to practice in the UK, as you spend the subsequent 18 months working on a doctoral thesis.

The course is an innovative pathway to increase your research capacity and capability within the physiotherapy profession and will enable you to improve the quality of care and productivity of health services.

This course has one study option

Mode of Attendance

  • On Campus

Mode of Study

  • Full Time

Start Date


Course Length

3 years 5 months

There is a firm emphasis on the development of doctorate-level research skills in conjunction with the clinical reasoning and practical skills required of a Physiotherapist.

Academic modules have been developed to allow you to develop strong core assessment, treatment and research skills, and a deeper knowledge of core areas such as exercise prescription and health improvement theory.

Integrating the core practice areas of cardiovascular respiratory, neurology and musculoskeletal encourages you to think holistically about your patients and to embed this in your practice. The thesis allows the transfer of practical and academic elements to the clinical application of research.



Modules and delivery order may change for operational purposes. The University regularly reviews its courses. Course content and structure may change over time. See our course and module disclaimer for more information. 

Detailed module information

Learning Methods

How long is a Doctorate of Physiotherapy course?

The Doctorate of Physiotherapy at RGU can be successfully completed in 3 years 5 months.

You will be taught via a mixture of problem-orientated, enquiry-based learning, with practical workshops, projects and simulation, working with volunteer patients, and in our state-of-the-art Clinical Skills Centre which includes our METIman facility.  During the course, we also frequently invite external speakers including expert clinicians.

You will work in groups, and undertake practical and tutorial sessions with some group and individual project work, facilitated by experienced tutors with current clinical experienced.

The Doctoral thesis will allow in-depth study of a clinically or service relevant area to PhD level and you will work with a group of experienced clinicians and academics.   

Professor Kay Cooper,, is the programme director. 

Independent Study

You will develop substantial initiative and autonomy through learning methods which will require a significant amount of independent study. Although supported, the thesis is a significant piece of self-directed work which tests your higher cognitive skills in problem-solving and analysis, synthesis, evaluation and selectivity and improves your ability to learn.


We aim to provide you with feedback within 20 working days of hand-in for all written exams, coursework and practical exams.


Academic Support

The Inclusion Centre advises and supports students who disclose a sensory or mobility impairment, chronic medical condition, mental health issue, dyslexia and other specific learning differences. Applicants are encouraged to arrange a pre-entry visit to discuss any concerns and to view the facilities.

Online Learning & Support

All undergraduate and postgraduate students, whether you are learning on campus or by online learning, benefit from using our collaborative virtual learning environment, CampusMoodle. You will be provided with 24/7 online access to your learning material and resources, along with the ability to interact with your class members and tutors for discussion and support.

Study Skills Support

The Study Support Team provides training and support to all students in:

  • Academic writing
  • Study skills (note taking, exam techniques, time management, presentation)
  • Maths and statistics
  • English language
  • Information technology support

Library Support

The Library offers support for your course, including the books, eBooks, and journals you will need. We also offer online reading lists for many modules, workshops and drop-ins on searching skills and referencing, and much more.



You will undertake six placements spread over the first 2 years of the course. The final placement is an elective arranged by you, and can be undertaken in any country if the required conditions are met. The Thesis will be undertaken at a clinical or academic site with a clinical supervisor in addition to the research supervision team. Please note that for students from the USA planning to apply for a Federal Loan, no placements can take place in the USA to comply with the requirements of the FERPA.

Student Outcomes

Job Prospects

The university’s MSc Physiotherapy course has a well established reputation for employable, experienced graduates both in the UK and internationally. DPT graduates will have all of these attributes in addition to highly sought-after doctoral level research skills.

Students will be eligible for HCPC and CSP registration on completion of their DPT after transfer from their PGDip. A DPT is a requirement for registration in the United States. The addition of the PhD is likely to add to graduates prospects in clinical research and academic careers.

Internationally, CAPTE have from 2016 onwards changed the minimum level of qualifying programmes to doctoral level which means the qualification will be in high demand by those wishing to pursue a career in the US and beyond. We have welcomed a number of students from the United States and Canada as well as students from other countries who wish to practice in the USA to this course.


What is needed to study DPT Doctorate of Physiotherapy?

Applicants typically possess a Bachelor's undergraduate degree in a science subject, such as biological, or sports science, and should contain human anatomy and physiology with a 1st Class honours classification, or a minimum GPA of 3.6 out of 4.0 Scale, or equivalent. Those with a 2.1 honours degree or a GPA of 3.3-3.5 will be considered on an individual basis.

Experience of the research process is an essential requirement for the course. Relevant work experience in the field of Physiotherapy and healthcare would be desirable.

Applicants from the USA will also be required to demonstrate that they have undertaken all the prerequisite subjects in accordance with recommendations adopted by the Educational Section of the American Physical therapy Association. Further information for US applicants:

Applicants from other countries should hold an equivalent award in a relevant subject.

English Language Requirements

All international students, for whom English is not their first language, are required to have an IELTS (International English Language Testing System) score of at least 7.0 in all aspects of the test or an appropriate equivalent, on application to the course.  

All applicants who pass the application screening stage must attend for a mandatory interview.  Interviews are held in North America in April and August each year and in the UK at RGU campus in May and September. 

We accept a variety of in-country and secure English language tests, find out more:

International Students 

International students who do not meet our direct entry requirements for this course can gain additional entry points through our International College at Robert Gordon University.

Our Pre-Sessional English Programme (PSP) is available for students who have not yet reached the required English level and those who would like to improve their language competency.

Please note, some courses may require a higher standard of English than stated in this page. Contact for further information.


This Physiotherapy Doctorate has the following tuition fees:

For Academic Year 2021/2022

  • UK Students: £9,670 per academic year
  • EU Students: £9,670 per academic year
  • International Students: £17,920 per academic year

For Academic Year 2020/2021

  • UK/EU Students: £9,670 per academic year
  • International Students: £17,920 per academic year

Additional Costs

The following course-related costs are not included in the course fees:

Alumni Discount

Robert Gordon University is delighted to offer a 20% loyalty discount on course fees for all alumni who have graduated from RGU.

Student Funding

Postgraduate students will normally make their own arrangements for payment of fees. However, there are a limited number of SAAS funded places on certain postgraduate courses.
There are also sources of funding that are applicable to categories of student.

Scholarships and Financial Awards

You may also qualify for a scholarship or financial award:


For new intakes course fees are reviewed and published annually for each mode of delivery. Tuition fees are fixed for the duration of a course at the rate confirmed in the offer letter.  For further information see:


Have a question about this Research Degree? Get in touch with the Graduate School team and they'll do their best to help.

Get in touch with the Graduate School

Taking this course, you will have access to some of the world's best facilities. 

We've invested more than £100 million in the development of our campus, new facilities and new resources.

University Wide Facilities

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