Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


BIOL121 Human Biological Science 1 AND OTHY100 Foundations of Occupational Therapy

Unit rationale, description and aim

Occupational therapists use evidence-based practice principles when working with individuals with a variety of health conditions. Occupational therapy is informed by a sound understanding of a person’s health condition, and follows a process that includes goal setting, assessment, intervention and evaluation. This requires the ability to ask, acquire and apply knowledge about health conditions and the occupational therapy process.

This unit builds on students’ knowledge of anatomy, physiology and occupational therapy process frameworks. It introduces students to the evidence-based practice principles to explore the aetiology, incidence, prevalence and effects of health conditions as well as the concepts of assessment and intervention in occupational therapy. 

A professional practice placement provides opportunities to observe and experience occupational therapy approaches with people with a variety of health conditions in practice while developing professional behaviour and communication skills.

This unit contains a learning outcome from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Curriculum Framework (HCF, 2014) specifically addressing the HCF cultural capability - Safety and Quality. This includes consideration of common health conditions among First Peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.

The overall aim of this unit is to use evidence-based practice principles to acquire knowledge about the aetiology, signs, symptoms, progression, assessment and interventions related to health conditions and to observe occupational therapy approaches with clients in practice.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Explain the relevance of evidence-based practice to occupational therapy practice (GA4, GA5, GA8)

LO2 - Apply evidence-based practice principles to ask, acquire and present information about aetiology, signs, symptoms and progression of health conditions and assessment and intervention approaches (GA4, GA5, GA7)

LO3 - Describe the types, purpose, focus and clinical utility of assessments applied to occupational therapy (GA4, GA8)

LO4 - HCF 10.1 Identify current demographic, health indicators and statistical trends for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and compare these to trends for non-Indigenous peoples in Australia over time (GA1, GA5)

LO5 - Demonstrate professional behaviours, self-management and interpersonal communication skills including the ability to work autonomously and collaboratively in the occupational therapy context (GA5, GA7, GA9)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

Australian occupational therapy competency standards (AOTCS) 2018

Australian occupational therapy competency standards (AOTCS) 2018 developed in this unit are:

Standard/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

Standard 1 - Professionalism

An occupational therapist practices in an ethical, safe, lawful and accountable manner, supporting client health and wellbeing through occupation and consideration of the person and their environment

An occupational therapist:

1.1 complies with the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia’s standards, guidelines and Code of Conduct

1.3 maintains professional boundaries in all client and professional relationships

1.5 practices in a culturally responsive and culturally safe manner, with particular respect to culturally diverse client groups

1.6 incorporates and responds to historical, political, cultural, societal, environmental and economic factors influencing health, wellbeing and occupations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

1.7 collaborates and consults ethically and responsibly for effective client-centred and interprofessional practice

1.8 adheres to all work health and safety, and quality requirements for practice

1.14 manages resources, time and workload accountably and effectively

LO4, LO5

Standard 2 - Knowledge and learning

An occupational therapist’s knowledge, skills and behaviours in practice are informed by relevant and contemporary theory, practice knowledge and evidence, and are maintained and developed by ongoing professional development and learning.

An occupational therapist: 

2.1. applies current and evidence-informed knowledge of occupational therapy and other appropriate and relevant theory in practice.

2.3. identifies and applies best available evidence in professional practice and decision making

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

Standard 3 - Occupational therapy process and practice

An occupational therapist’s practice acknowledges the relationship between health, wellbeing and human occupation, and their practice is client-centred for individuals, groups, communities and populations.

An occupational therapist:

3.2 performs appropriate information gathering and assessment when identifying a client's status and functioning, strengths, occupational performance and goals

3.11 evaluates client and service outcomes to inform future practice

LO2, LO3, LO4

Standard 4 - Communication

Occupational therapists practice with open, responsive and appropriate communication to maximise the occupational performance and engagement of clients and relevant others.

An occupational therapist:

4.1 communicates openly, respectfully and effectively

4.2. adapts written, verbal and non-verbal communication appropriate to the client and practice context

4.4. uses culturally responsive, safe and relevant communication tools and strategies

4.8. maintains collaborative professional relationships with clients, health professionals and relevant others

4.9. uses effective communication skills to initiate and end relationships with clients and relevant others

4.10. seeks and responds to feedback, modifying communication and/or practice accordingly.



Topics will include:

Evidence-based practice skills

  • Introduction to evidence-based practice
  • Relevance of evidence-based practice to occupational therapy
  • Asking and acquiring (locating and selecting relevant literature) knowledge
  • Reading and interpreting occupational therapy research
  • Levels of evidence


Assessment in practice

  • Definition of assessment and measurement
  • Use of assessment in occupational therapy
  • Types of assessment
  • Purpose of assessment
  • Focus of assessment
  • Clinical utility

 Introduction to common health conditions

  • Neurological conditions
  • Conditions of ageing
  • Conditions of childhood
  • Orthopaedic and musculoskeletal conditions
  • Burns, wounds and physical trauma
  • Incidence and prevalence in First Peoples and non-Indigenous Australian peoples 

 Information about common health conditions

  • Definition of conditions
  • Primary body/organ system/s involved
  • Presentation
  • Causes, aetiology and risk factors
  • Progression and prognosis
  • Current management
  • Evidence-informed, occupation-centred, goal-directed measurements and interventions[

 Preparation for professional practice placement

  • Student Practice Evaluation Form - Revised (modified)
  • Professional behaviours
  • Self-management
  • Co-worker communication
  • Communication

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

In this unit, lectures and an online package are used to guide learning. Students will engage with and apply this content in self-directed reading, online tasks, database searching and condition profiles. Students will create weekly condition profiles based on occupational therapy referral scenarios using a template provided. Students will gain skills in asking, acquiring and synthesising information about health conditions, assessments and interventions in occupational therapy. These profiles will become an information resource for future units and can be used on professional practice placement.

Tutorials will then follow with a more detailed explanation and exploration of topics to provide opportunities for clarification.

Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning, to participate actively within group activities and demonstrate respect for the individual as an independent learner. Learning and Teaching approaches included in this unit were developed in collaboration with First Peoples’ Cultural Advisors. 

Students will also undertake a professional practice placement as part of this unit, which will provide an opportunity to observe and experience occupational therapy with people with a variety of health conditions in practice. This placement serves as a scaffold for later years of the course, where students move from this introductory placement to more advanced placements in subsequent years. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

Assessment 1 is a formative, individual assessment which provides timely feedback to students regarding their acquisition of foundational evidence-based practice skills and knowledge. The online short answer questions allow students to demonstrate understanding of evidence-based practice (LO1) and skills in asking and acquiring evidence (LO2) through database searching scenarios. These skills will be applied in assessment 2 and future units in the course.

Assessment 2: Students will work in pairs to complete a comprehensive occupational profile on a given health condition, applied to a client scenario. Students will apply skills developed in assessment 1 to acquire and select appropriate evidence, interpret the information and then present relevant information about a health condition and assessment process in a e-poster format (LO2,3).

Assessment 3: The exam will assess individual knowledge of the broad core unit concepts including evidence-based-practice and assessment principles, aetiology, signs, symptoms, prognosis/progression and interventions of common health conditions, including in First Peoples and non-Indigenous Australian peoples (LO 1, 2, 3, 4). Multiple choice questions will assess recall and recognition of information, and the short answer exam questions assess application of knowledge. Assessment approaches in this unit were developed in collaboration with First Peoples’ Cultural Advisors. Each assessment task builds on the previous assessment.

Students will complete an online cultural awareness training module (LO4). Professional practice competencies (LO5) will be assessed using the Student Practice Evaluation Form - Revised version 2 (Professional behaviours, Self-management, Co-worker communication, Communication domains).

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment 1 Database Searching Activity (individual, online short answer problems).

To demonstrate the ability to ask and acquire evidence.


LO1, LO2

GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8

Assessment 2 Occupational Profile applied to Client Scenario (student pairs, e-poster)

Enables students to develop skills in acquiring evidence and writing occupational profiles for people with health conditions


LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8

Assessment 3 Written examination

Enables students to demonstrate the core learning undertaken in the unit including aetiology, signs, symptoms, prognosis/progression and medical interventions of common health conditions; evidence-based practice and assessment principles.


LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8


1)   Completion of cultural awareness training

2)   Pass grade on the Student Practice Evaluation Form - Revised (SPEF-R) (Professional behaviours, Self-management, Co-worker communication, Communication domains).

3)   Submit SPEF-R and Timesheet via LEO

Note: To be eligible to undertake professional practice placement, students are required to have met the relevant State and Federal legislative document requirements by census date. 


LO4, LO5

GA1, GA5, GA7, GA9

Representative texts and references

Atchison, B., & Dirette, D. (2022). Conditions in occupational therapy: Effect on occupational performance (6th ed.). Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Curtin, M., Egan, M., & Adams, J. (Eds.) (2017). Occupational therapy for people experiencing illness, injury or impairment: Promoting occupation and participation. (7th ed.). Elsevier  (available as an eBook through the library website)

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs