Research in the Department of Occupational Therapy aims to inform the knowledge base and concomitant practice of the profession with evidence-based occupational therapy research results and findings.

The focus of research within the Department of Occupational Therapy

  • pertains to aspects of the scientific basis of human occupation as it relates to the dynamics of health and well-being,
  • is on nine occupation-based questions that relate to the essence and meaning of the nature of human occupation,
  • is subject to human occupation, research further aims to explore and consider the contribution that the profession can make, as an agent for change, to the maintenance, development and promotion of engagement in meaningful activities,
  • is on collaborative capacity, including local and national departments as well as multi-disciplinary professions,
  • is on changes in healthcare and societies, and the corresponding demands placed on education to support these changing needs.

Against the backdrop of a global phenomenon of rapid social change, the Department of Occupational Therapy constantly seeks not only

  • to align its curriculum with international developments within the occupational therapy profession (and its foundational discipline of occupational science), but also
  • to cultivate a sense of responsible citizenship from micro to macro contexts among its students.

Initiatives in occupational therapy education and research are conducted on

  • departmental level,
  • under- and postgraduate research,
  • alignment, and
  • clinical assistance.

Publication output of the Department of Occupational Therapy has shown a steady increase over the past 10 years. Initiatives include annual planning and reflective research workshops, attendance of writing retreats, research support of and collaboration with the clinical field of Occupational Therapy, and active alignment between undergraduate, postgraduate and departmental research. 


9 Occupation-based research questions


  1. What gives human occupation meaning?
  2. How does engagement in occupation contribute / not contribute to health and well-being?
  3. Structures that enable/disable engagement in occupation.
  4. Aspects in client’s environment, person, occupation that give occupational identity and enhances adaptation.
  5. What are the health promoting benefits of occupation?
  6. What happens to people when their occupations change?
  7. What are the cultural influences on the nature and meaning of occupation?
  8. How do neuro/bio/physiological structures and processes effect human engagement in occupation?
  9. How do different types of engagement in “the world” alter neuro/bio/physiological structures and processes?

Postgraduate Research


The postgraduate programmes of the Department of Occupational Therapy aim to

  • broaden the student’s scientific base with regard to research and
  • to improve research skills, which will lead to an inquiring disposition in a focus area of the profession.

The master’s programme will enable the student to display the capacity for advanced independent study by completion of a research methodology module and dissertation in Occupational Therapy.

The doctoral programme will enable the student to demonstrate the delivery of an original work by completion of a thesis that places research within the broader context of the discipline.


Magister in Occupational Therapy


Selection requisites for Magister in Occupational Therapy is a B or BSc in Occupational Therapy, fulfilling the requirements of SAQA, HEQF and the following minimum standards of the Professional Board for Occupational Therapy:

  • Average academic performance (60%) at undergraduate level at a recognised, accredited university.
  • At least one year’s experience (excluding community service year) in the area in which research will be done.
  • A scientifically grounded presentation in respect of intended research.
  • Published article(s) in accredited journal(s) will be beneficial.
  • Successful completion of language tests (TALPS) (Appendix B).
PhD in Occupational Therapy


Selection requisites for PhD in Occupational Therapy is an appropriate master’s degree in Occupational Therapy, including the following:

  • Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy at a recognised, accredited university.
  • At least one published article in an accredited journal as first author.
  • A scientifically grounded presentation in respect of the intended research in which the student delivers proof of argumentation and critical judgement.
  • Sufficient proof that the student can independently conduct research on PhD level.


Optional: It can be expected of the student to undergo the language test as prescribed by the University (Appendix B).

Development initiatives


The department is actively involved in interdisciplinary research within the Faculty of Health Sciences. The newly developing Community-Based Education Initiative also allows for exiting research opportunities.


During 2014 the Department for the first time held a showcase event of postgraduate research during the annual research presentations of the final-year students.  This initiative will be expanded on into the future.




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