Bachelor of Therapeutic and Sports Massage - Invercargill

Qualification: Degree
Level: 7

2020 Semester 1: 10 February to 19 June

2020 Semester 1: 10 February to 20 November

2020 Semester 2: 13 July to 20 November


Three years full-time

Location: Invercargill
Credits: 360

SIT's Bachelor of Therapeutic and Sports Massage was the first named massage degree programme to be approved in New Zealand.  It has been taught since 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, 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.

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.

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.

MT5110 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.

MT5120 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.

MT5140 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.

MT5160 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.

MT5170 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

MT6210 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.

MT6225 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.

MT6240 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.

MT6250 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.

MT6251 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.

MT6270 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

MT7340 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.

MT7350 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.

MT7360 Advanced Professional Studies

MT7370 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.

This programme is eligible for the Zero Fees Scheme.


Graduates may work as therapists and sport massage specialists 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.

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.

School Leavers

NCEA Level 3 - three subjects at Level 3, made up of:

  • 14 credits each, in three approved subjects 
  • Literacy - 10 credits at Level 2 or above, made up of five credits in reading and five credits in writing
  • Numeracy - 10 credits at Level 1 or above, made up of specified achievement standards available through a range of subjects, or unit standards - package of three numeracy unit standards (26623, 26626, 26627- all three required)

Mature Applicants
Applicants in this category will have achieved the age of 20 by March 1 of the first year of enrolment in the programme and have provided evidence of relevant prior learning and experience.

Special Admission
The applicant has successfully completed a special programme at NZQA Level 4 or above, which prepares students for the required academic standard for entry eg New Zealand Diploma in Remedial Massage, or its equivalent, or successful completion of Year One of the Diploma in Sport and Recreation.

In the opinion of the Head of School in consultation with the Programme Manager, the student will have 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.

Provisional Part time Admission
An applicant who does not meet academic criteria may be provisionally admitted to enrol in one or more Year One papers. Upon successful completion of the papers, the student may apply for special admission or admission by mature entry.

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 and must produce copies of applicable certificates and/or 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 convictions.  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


English Language Requirements

Applicants, whose first language is not English, or who come from a country where the language of instruction in schools is not English, are required to provide evidence of having achieved one of the following

NCEA Level 3 with University Entrance, or

an International Baccalaureate Diploma or Cambridge A- level qualification for which the teaching and assessment was conducted in English; or

Cambridge Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CELTA),or Trinity College London Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CertTESOL);or

Successful completion of all primary education (being the equivalent of New Zealand primary school years 1 to 8) and at least three years of secondary education (being the equivalent of three years from New Zealand secondary school years 9 to 13) at schools in either New Zealand,,Australia,Canada, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States one of the countries listed in Rule 18.5 where the student was taught using English as the language of instruction; or

Successful completion of at least five years of secondary education (being the equivalent of New Zealand secondary school years 9 to 13) at schools in either New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States where the student was taught using English as the language of instruction; or

Successful completion of a Bachelor's Degree, Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma, Bachelor Honours degree, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, Masters' Degree or Doctoral Degree, the language of instruction of which must be in English and which must be from a tertiary education provider from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom or the United States or

Successful completion of one of the following internationally recognised proficiency tests listed below to the level required of the programme of study and with all scores achieved in a single test during the two years preceding the proposed date of enrolment

IELTS test - Academic score of 6 with no band score lower than 5.5
TOEFL Paper based test (pBT) - Score of 550 (with an essay score 5 TWE)
TOEFL Internet based test (iBT) - Score of 60 (with a writing score of 18)
Cambridge English Examination - B2 First or B2 First for schools or C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency with a score of 169. No less than 162 in each skill.
OET - Minimum of Grade C or 200 in all sub-tests
NZCEL - a) Expiring Level b) Current: a) Level 4 (Academic) b) Level 4 (Academic)
Pearson Test of English (Academic) - PTE (Academic) score of 50 with no band score lower than 42
Language Cert - C1 Expert IESOL (LRWS) with PASS and no less than Pass in each skill
Trinity ISE - ISE II with no less than distinction in any band

* New versions of some NZCEL qualifications, and in some cases new qualifications, were published on 13 June 2017. These are intended to replace pre-existing versions and qualifications, which have been given expiring status until discontinued on 31 December 2019. (a) denotes expiring (b) denotes current

Attendance requirements as follows for Bachelor of Therapeutic and Sports Massage:

100% attendance required for the following papers:

  • GEN105 Health aspects of exercise and nutrition
  • MT5170 Therapeutics I
  • MT6270 Therapeutics II
  • MT7370 Health psychology and therapeutics III
  • 90% minimum attendance required
  • MT6250 Clinical practice I
  • MT6251 Clinical practice II
  • MT7350 Advanced clinical reasoning and clinical practice III

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.

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.

Classes are held Monday to Friday, 9.00am-4.00pm at SIT's main Invercargill campus. The timetable varies each semester and is confirmed about two weeks before the semester begins.

Students operate the SIT massage clinic on clinic days and sometimes this can go until 6pm at the latest.