Advice for Students, Lectures, Second year, Student Life, Studying

A day in a life of an Occupational Therapy Student

As an Occupational Therapy student at Cardiff University, we have a mixture of university days and days where we’re on placement. If you’re hoping to study Occupational Therapy at university, this blog post about my experience as an Occupational Therapy student will help you to know exactly what to expect. 

University Days 

  • Our university day typically starts at 9am and finishes at 4pm. Throughout your three years there will be days you are only in half a day and self directed learning days too. 
  • 7.30am – Wake up,  get ready, eat breakfast and get out of the house for 8.30am to start walking.
  • Meet my friends at university and have a quick catch up before university starts. We get a seat in the lecture theatre early because seats quickly fill up
  • 9am arrives, lectures begin and it’s time to take notes

Different types of note taking: 

  • Bring a notepad and jot everything down during the lecture
  • Bring your laptop and type the lecture notes on a word document
  • Bring your laptop, download the lecture from learning central on the student intranet before you attend the lecture, this way you can type your notes below each slide. 

Problem based learning

After our 9am lecture, it’s time for problem based learning, which we do a lot of on our Occupational Therapy course. Problem based learning is where you are put into groups and you are given work to do as a group which will assist the learning for the assessments you will eventually have to do individually. For example, when doing group work you may be given a case study and asked to put it into a model of practice. Problem based learning is an amazing opportunity to talk to different people in your cohort and learn from others too. 


Once lunchtime hits, there are lots of spaces around the Health campus to go to for lunch and take a break from your learning , these include: the IV Lounge, library, cafeteria and concourse (shops and a seating area). Lunch is a great way to talk to your friends and relax before starting the afternoon!

IV Lounge 


Role Play 

In the afternoon, it’s time for a bit of role play in the activities of daily living suite. Role play is my favourite session. The daily living suite is set up as if it were a person’s house with housing adaptations to make the role play and learning experience more realistic. The role play normally involves a case study situation in which you would act out as a group. After you have performed this, you will receive feedback from lecturers and your peers to help you to reflect on how you might treat the situation differently in practice. 

Home Time

Everyone has a last minute socialise with their friends before heading off home. 

University day tips: 

  • Keep hydrated – This helps your brain to work and helps you to concentrate. 
  • Lunch – Whether it’s bringing a pack lunch to university because you have a strict budget or buying a Boots £3 meal deal from the concourse, lunch is really important to keep you going at university. It’s also a great way to spend time socialising with your friends. 
  • Be prepared – Make sure you are prepared for your day at university. Look at your timetable beforehand so you can plan what to bring to university and download the appropriate powerpoints if you are taking your laptop. 
  • Stay organised – The more organised you are the better you can time manage and spend your time effectively. 

Placement Days 

As well as days at university, studying to be an Occupational Therapist also includes several placement days, which can often include waking up early and finishing late.

Depending on where your placement might be, you might need to live away from your student accommodation/house. 

What time will I have to get up to make sure I’m on time for placement? 

What time you’ll need to get up will depend on where your placement is and how far away you live from your placement, so make sure to keep this in mind.

Do I need a good breakfast? 

I always make sure I have a good breakfast to get me through to lunch time. Weetabix and chopped banana is always my go to. 

What time will I have to leave the house to travel to placement? 

Whether you are travelling by bus, car, train or walking, before starting placement you will have a pre-placement visit which will give you a good idea of what time is best to leave the house to make sure you arrive on time. I always like to be early. 

What will I have to wear on placement? 

What you will have to wear for placement is subject to what setting you are actually placed in. Cardiff University provides you with a uniform that some settings may require you to wear. Other settings may require you to wear smart clothes instead. 

Uniform provided by the university – ID badge, green trousers (X2), polo shirt (X2) and tunic (X2). 

What do you do on a typical day on placement? 

Placements can be in all different settings – pediatrics, mental health, physical, neurology etc. What you will do throughout the day will depend on what setting you are placed in. Throughout your three years you will go on three placements. The three placements will focus on a different part of the Occupational Therapy process. The first placement will focus on the assessment and planning stages of Occupational Therapy, the second placement will focus on the intervention stage of the Occupational Therapy process, and the final placement will focus on the critical evaluation stage of Occupational Therapy. There are so many learning opportunities on placement. It is a great way to learn the role of Occupational Therapy. 

If you have any questions about being an Occupational Therapy student or my experience of being a student in Cardiff please feel free to message me using the UniBuddy service. 


    • Jess

      Thank you very much, hope you found the blog helpful! Don’t hesitate to contact me to find out more.

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