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Master of Physiotherapy Focus Areas

The Master of Science in Physiotherapy offers five focus areas for specialisation. The non-clinical focus area of Professional Development and the clinical focus areas of Musculoskeletal, Paediatrics, Physical Activity and Sport. All focus areas are available every two years.

2023 2024 2025 2026
Muskuloskeletal with OMT title
Physical Activity
Professional Development
as 2023 as 2024

Focus Areas


Advanced clinical knowledge and practical skills for assessments of and interventions on the spine and extremities are covered in the focus area Musculoskeletal. Special topics of musculoskeletal physiotherapy (for example: headache, dizziness, chronic pain) and manipulation of the spine and extremities are taught during the studies. Additionally, an overview of the diagnostics of related fields and broad information on biomechanics and motion analysis is given.

Students choosing this focus area acquire the title of Manual Therapist OMT svomp® awarded by the International Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Physical Therapists (IFOMPT).

“Studying the practice and science of physiotherapy has been such an exciting experience for me! This part-time Master’s programme and specialising in musculoskeletal physiotherapy challenge me and help me to become a reflective physiotherapist with a background in research.”

Jelka Tirez, MSc in Physiotherapy student, Musculoskeletal Science

Physical Activity

The focus area Physical Activity (PA) provides in-depth theoretical knowledge and teaches practical skill sets to use in assessments, training techniques and interventions for promoting physical activity and specific exercise, as well as techniques in effective communication, motivation and behaviour change. In this focus area, the physiotherapist’s role is that of a physical activity expert and provider of specific exercise for patients with chronic illnesses and those who are healthy. During the course programme, students will gain advanced skills in developing and implementing interventions, analyzing behaviour, structural environmental conditions and campaign planning. The focus area modules and subjects are complemented by higher-level content in the areas of biomechanics and movement analysis, as well as modules on advanced practice.


«MSc physiotherapists specializing in physical activity are experts in promoting physical exercise for people of all age groups – no matter whether they have an acute or chronic health condition, or are healthy.»

Anne-Kathrin Rausch, PhD 

Anne-Kathrin Rausch is responsible for the focus area Physical Activity. She works as a research associate on the MSc programme, and in the Physiotherapy Science Research Unit.


Paediatrics focusses on advanced clinical knowledge and practical skills in the diagnosis and therapy of children from neonatal age to adolescence. It deals with motor learning in children, developmental psychology, pedagogy, and didactics, along with the international classification of functional ability, disability, and health of children and adolescents (ICF-CY).

The focus of the assessments and interventions in paediatrics is on pathologies of the musculoskeletal system, internal organs, neuromotor, and sensory functions. The programme also deals with other specialist topics (e.g., cystic fibrosis, tumours, plexus paresis, and burns), paediatric rehabilitation and aids, as well as child abuse and child protection. These areas of competence are supplemented with broad professional knowledge in the fields of biomechanics and motion analysis.


“By specialising in paediatrics on my Master’s programme, I can transfer evidence-based knowledge and research questions directly into my everyday clinical practice while questions from there can be fed into research. The advanced knowledge I acquire helps me interact with children and their environment in new ways.”

Lisa Brown, MSc in Physiotherapy student, Paediatrics


In this focus area, students acquire advanced clinical knowledge and practical skills to look after athletes in training, help them prepare for competitions, and treat and prevent injuries. The program provides the advanced skills necessary for sports rehabilitation, the care and treatment of top athletes, and first aid for sports injuries both in general and related to high-performance sports. In addition, students gain extensive professional knowledge in the areas of training theory and performance diagnostics, sports medicine and nutrition, sports psychology, biomechanics, and motion analysis.

Classes are practice-orientated and take place in Winterthur at our cooperation partner, WIN4. This centre offers comprehensive facilities in the fields of sport, health, training, and events. As well as a seminar room, state-of-the-art training equipment is available for rehabilitation and training purposes, in particular for strength, speed, endurance, and coordination.

The curriculum follows the guidelines of the International Federation of Sports Physical Therapy (IFSPT). Students who complete the MSc programme with this specialisation will be entitled to register with the IFSPT.

“What I really like about the Master’s programme in Physiotherapy is that it offers me a range of development options. On the one hand, I‘m acquiring in-depth knowledge about treating sports physiotherapy patients and, on the other hand, I’m gaining first experience in clinical research, which could be a future career field.”

Jan Anderegg, MSc in Physiotherapy student, Sport

Professional Development

In this focus area, students acquire advanced knowledge and skills related to the challenges of the health care system that qualify them for activities in research and teaching as well as for the new and advanced activities in a clinical setting. They focus on the implementation of research results in practice, chronic care management, communications, and patient education. The role and application of new technologies are also important issues in this area of physiotherapy. Selected physiotherapeutic approaches to treat the musculoskeletal system, inner organs, and the vessels, as well as neurology and geriatrics, are examined and discussed regarding current evidence and relevance to practice. Biometrics and motion analysis and control are also covered.

“I decided to come to Switzerland to further my professional education because Physiotherapy Master’s programmes in Germany are still in their early stages. The programme offered at ZHAW gives me the means to initiate and implement demand-driven physical therapy care. I will also have the option of doing a PhD programme or of working in public health care management.”

Marco Stahn, MSc in Physiotherapy student, Professional Development