Bachelor of Therapeutic and Sports Massage

Qualification Bachelor of Therapeutic and Sports Massage
Level 7



Three years full time

Location Invercargill
  Jess Hough
The tutors were amazing - they were so helpful and put extra time aside for us.

  • SIT's Bachelor of Therapeutic and Sports Massage is the first named massage degree programme to be approved in New Zealand. It has been taught since 2002.
  • Students gain extensive experience over the 3 years by running a community-based clinic on campus, completing industry placements, and working at local sports and community events.
  • Papers include anatomy and physiology, general pathology, therapeutics, clinical assessment, massage for physical performance, business management and research.
  • Our degree exceeds industry requirements both academically and in clinical practice - tutors are highly qualified and promote research-driven education.

Course Outline

SIT's Bachelor of Therapeutic and Sports Massage is the first named massage degree programme to be approved in New Zealand.  It has been taught from 2002 and students have been graduating since 2004.  Health care delivery has moved beyond clinical competence and beyond copying previously successful clinicians.  Today's practitioners need to relate to a wider health care team and respond to the expressed needs and expectations of families, pressure groups, professionals and the wider community (Higgs & Edwards, 1999).

Backed by SIT's recognised infrastructures and academic community, the programme promotes research driven education, strong training in a community based clinic, and exceeds suggested industry requirements in both academic areas and clinical practice.


The Bachelor of Therapeutic and Sports Massage encourages graduates to join a professional group which represents their career interests on graduation but can not endorse any one group.


Graduating students from this degree have good opportunities for employment both nationally and internationally. 


Graduates are critical thinking, reflective practitioners with technical and professional competence, sound reasoning and research literacy, and have a capacity to manage knowledge and its acquisition during their working lives.  Bachelor of Therapeutic and Sports Massage graduate Andrea Roebeck says: "Taking part in the degree made me feel part of the development of the massage profession.  It was wonderful to be in a programme where the theory linked directly to the real world outside SIT, and where a large part of my education was applying what I was learning in clinics and community placements.


For me the degree was challenging, academically and personally.  The integration of hands on skills, academic research and writing, anatomy, physiology, clinical reasoning and critical thinking meant that it wasn't just mentally stimulating, but that personal and professional growth were unavoidable."


This qualification has been designed to prepare graduates for careers in both the therapeutic and sports massage fields.  The programme of study includes anatomy and physiology, general pathology, therapeutics, clinical reasoning and functional assessment, massage for physical performance, research and business management principles.

Students will be encouraged to use computers and the Internet when and where appropriate during their studies.


From 2010, criteria for the award of the Diploma in Therapeutic and Sports Massage will be as follows: successful completion of year 1 and year 2 of the Bachelor of Therapeutic and Sports Massage (240 credits). In addition, students will be required to show evidence of enrolment into and attendance of year 3 of the Bachelor of Therapeutic and Sports Massage. Attendance will be in accordance with this programme's regulations. Students will be required to submit an application to the Bachelor of Therapeutic and Sports Massage Board of Studies for consideration of the award of Diploma in Therapeutic and Sports Massage.

Course Content

Year One


SE5101 Health Aspects of Exercise and Nutrition

The paper will develop an understanding of the relationship between physical activity, health and nutrition across the lifespan.  Nutritional aspects related to heath and exercise for the general population and special population groups will be investigated.  The paper will further examine body composition, sound nutrition, weight control and nutrition for exercise performance.


MT110 Surface Anatomy

Students will demonstrate a knowledge and skills of basic concepts of surface anatomy, that provide a sound theoretical and practical foundation for therapeutic and sports massage.


MT120 Physiology for Massage Therapy

Students will demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of basic concepts of physiology as they relate to the human body.  They will be able to describe the biology and chemistry of the cell and tissues, and the systemic and inter-systemic functions, and the physiological underpinnings of massage therapy practice.


MT140 Foundations of Therapeutic and Sports Massage

This paper introduces the student to the principles and concepts of therapeutic and sports massage. Philosophies and the history of massage are discussed, students explore issues in contra indications, ethics, legalities, boundaries and scope of practice and identify research findings on the effects of therapeutic and sports massage.


MT160 Professional Studies

This paper is designed to develop the personal growth, caring skills and professional and ethical behaviour of students and to teach the methodologies and practice of reflection, scientific enquiry and critical thinking.   Professional skills will be applied in a clinical practice setting.


MT170 Therapeutics I

Students will develop skills in therapeutic and sports massage techniques, assessing the client's health and well being status, and massage techniques for stress management.


Year Two


MT210 Pathology for Massage Practitioners

Students will demonstrate knowledge of the common diseases and disorders associated with the major body systems and be able to discuss their relationship to massage therapy.  Students will acquire an introductory knowledge and understanding of pharmacology for musculoskeletal dysfunctions. This knowledge will assist in safe and appropriate planning and evaluation of client care.


MT225 Massage for Physical Performance

To outline the core principles and practice of training, exercise prescription, and introductory biomechanics for physical performance, review current research on musculoskeletal management and apply massage techniques for stretching and musculoskeletal injury management.


MT240 Clinical Reasoning and Functional Assessment

This paper introduces the process of clinical reasoning during client assessment, and develops the student's skills of enquiry, observation and testing. The student will use these skills to identify, analyse, synthesize and interpret the level of disability and resultant dysfunction in clients with musculoskeletal disorders, and identify possible contra indications or scope of practice issues.


MT250 Clinical Practice I

This paper provides a clinic/workplace experience and practice under clinical supervision for assessment, treatment planning, and reporting of case studies in therapeutic and sports massage techniques.


MT251 Clinical Practice II

This clinical education paper reinforces and extends the theoretical knowledge and skills developed in the classroom and in Clinical Practice I. The student under the supervision of a clinical practitioner evaluates and interacts with suitable clients and clinical situations to facilitate self learning, clinical reasoning and develop a problem solving approach to treatment.


MT270 Therapeutics II

Studies will be undertaken in a range of advanced therapeutic massage/NMT techniques to restore the structural, functional and postural integrity of the body and to address the problem of pain.


GEN200 Research Statistics

This paper aims to prepare the student for professional practice by presenting research as a uniting strategy for practice, theory and scholarship.  Students will be introduced to several approaches to research, both qualitative and quantitative.  Students will also be assisted to develop skills as a beginning researcher.  


Year Three


MT340 Research and Advanced Professional Development

Student will be enabled to participate in research, undertake data analysis, draw conclusions and report findings in a scientific format, to promote and offer opportunities for professional development and dissemination of current therapeutic massage research to peers and colleagues and skills in delivering an educational workshop.


MT350 Advanced Clinical Reasoning and Clinical Practice III

This paper provides students with an advanced clinical placement to develop and apply further skills in clinic management, differential diagnosis, clinical reasoning and therapeutic and sports interventions. Students will demonstrate independence and accountability in clinical practice small business management. The business module develops the knowledge and skills required for small business management and self-employment.  Students will develop a business plan for their own business and apply skills in operating a business in Clinical Practice III.


MT370 Health Psychology and Therapeutics III

The aim of this paper is to critically review contemporary literature in special populations massage therapy and to develop knowledge and skills in lymphatic drainage, worksite and chair massage, and exercise and health care programmes to special populations. Health psychology outlines the psychosocial dimensions of health care work by exploring issues relating to pain, disease, disability, and chronic illness, the grieving process, the wellness concept, rehabilitation and dependency on or withdrawal from massage therapy.  Students will be able to apply this knowledge in client therapist interactions.

Student Gallery

Career Opportunities

Graduates may work in the following settings: multi disciplinary health practices, private practice, hospitals, rehabilitation centres, community centres, gyms and sports complexes, sports teams, physiotherapy or chiropractic clinics, complementary health clinics, hotels and resorts, community mental health centres and nursing homes as well as in education.


Therapeutic and sports massage specialists will work with individuals and groups of all ages, assisting those recovering from or dealing with injury, illness or disability, as well as individuals and groups looking for stress management intervention and injury prevention strategies.

Application Criteria

School leavers

Applicants in this category will have evidence of the achievement of:


University Entrance equivalent:

  • a minimum of 42 credits at level 3 or higher on the National Qualifications Framework, including a minimum of 14 credits at level 3 or higher in each of two subjects from an approved subject list, with a further 14 credits at level 3 or higher taken from no more than two additional domains on the National Qualifications Framework or approved subjects
  • a minimum of 14 credits at level 1 or higher in Mathematics or Pangarau on the National Qualifications Framework
  • a minimum of 8 credits at level 2 or higher in English or Te Reo Māori; 4 credits must be in Reading and 4 credits must be in Writing. The literacy credits will be selected from a schedule of approved achievement standards and unit standards.


National Certificate in Educational Achievement (NCEA) Level 2 competency in NZQA credits as follows: achievement of 18 credits minimum of Level 2 NZQA units in each of the 4 topics: literacy, numeracy, science plus one other topic of choice.

Completion of an overseas qualification which is considered to be the equivalent of either of the above qualifications, as approved by the head of faculty.


Admission By Mature Entry

Applicants in this category will have achieved the age of twenty by March 1 of the first year of enrolment in the programme, and have provided evidence of relevant prior learning and experience.


Special Admission

Notwithstanding the above admissions categories, in exceptional circumstances, an applicant below the age of 20 who can show evidence of ability to succeed in the programme may be considered for admission, provided:


The applicant has successfully completed a special programme which prepares students for the required academic standard for entry e.g. Diploma in Massage (Therapeutic) or its equivalent, successful completion of Year One of the Diploma in Sport and Recreation, National Certificate in Social Services, Diploma in Sport and Recreation, Certificate in Massage and/or:

In the opinion of the head of school in consultation with the programme manager the student has a good chance of achieving success in the degree programme, and the student will not place an unreasonable burden on the teaching staff and/or other students.


Additional Criteria

In addition, the following requirements also apply to applicants in all admissions and categories:


Applicants may be required to participate in an interview or if they live at some distance from the campus, complete a telephone interview (must produce copies of applicable certificates/evidence of prior achievements before interviews).


Applicants may also be required to participate in a pre-entry testing process and / or demonstrate successful completion of prior learning at NZQA Level 4.


Applicants are required to provide two confidential references from people who are able to affirm that the applicant is of good character and reputation, and is suitable to work with vulnerable clients.


Applicants are asked to make a confidential declaration as to whether or not they have prior criminal conviction(s).  They are advised at the time of the request for information, that a prior conviction may not necessarily exclude them from admission.


Applicants must have a level of health and abilities commensurate with achieving practice competencies in the programme.  Applicants are required to complete a health declaration, and further reports may be requested with the consent of the applicant.


Applicants whose first language is not English or who come from a country where the language of instruction in schools is not English must provide evidence of having successfully completed English instruction to a level deemed appropriate by the Head of Faculty.  Evidence may include official transcripts and or recognised English test results such as IELTS and TOEFL.


The Head of Faculty will determine the maximum number of students permitted to enrol in this programme.  If there are more applicants than places available, students will be selected primarily on academic ability.

Satisfactory Completion

Attendance requirements as follows: Bachelor of Therapeutic and Sports Massage

GEN105  Health aspects of exercise and nutrition

MT170     Therapeutics I

MT270     Therapeutics II

MT370     Health psychology and therapeutics III

90% minimum attendance required


MT250     Clinical practice I

MT251     Clinical practice II

MT350     Advanced clinical reasoning and clinical practice III

100% attendance required

All other papers require a minimum of 80% attendance.


For the Bachelor of Therapeutic and Sports Massage successful completion of all assessment requirements for each paper of the three year degree.  This amounts to successful completion of 360 credits.


The Bachelor of Therapeutic and Sports Massage (BTSM) and Diploma of Therapeutic and Sports Massage (DTSM) from Southern Institute of Technology are NZQA approved qualifications.  A graduate of these programmes is eligible to apply for membership of Massage New Zealand, or other massage or complementary health related professional associations in New Zealand.  Specific entry criteria or additional examinations for each professional association may apply.

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