Practical class

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the M.Ost programme is currently delivered through blended learning; the majority of theory lectures are taught online, with hands-on practical classes and clinical experience provided on-site in a Covid-secure environment; all necessary PPE is provided to students free of charge.

The M.Ost Programme

The teaching at the ESO is renowned for its broad approach to osteopathy and the wide range of osteopathic modalities it teaches.

Our aim is to develop technically competent, well rounded practitioners, able to think critically, evaluate evidence and manage the complexities of practice life, whichever direction that ultimately takes them.  The M.Ost itself is a 4-year, full-time undergraduate degree programme; the academic year is 36 weeks in duration, extending to 38 weeks in Year 2, 43 weeks in Year 3 and 38 weeks in Year 4 to incorporate essential clinical experience. The practical element of our osteopathy degree programme results in a relatively high number of contact hours, with students spending up to 4 days per week in lectures or clinical training. You can find more detailed information about the programme in the sections below.

Programme Structure

The programme is divided into four academic themes, which are guided by the Osteopathic Practice Standards (2012) outlined by the osteopathic governing body the General Osteopathic Council – an overview of the programme can be found here :

The Core Knowledge theme encompasses Anatomy, Pathophysiology and Clinical Methods modules across Years 1-3.  These subjects underpin the theoretical knowledge needed for the practice of osteopathy.  Course modules build upon each other so students can critically apply their knowledge to development of advanced diagnostic skills.

The Clinical Integration theme consists of a series of progressive modules that begin, initially, as classroom, problem-based learning and then move into practical application. The ESO’s teaching clinic supports this and provides an authentic clinical environment where students can consolidate their learning.   Students initially observe in clinic in Year 1, progress to more ‘hands-on’ experience in Year 2 before advancing to managing their own patient list in Years 3 and 4.

As part of the Extended Practice module, fourth year students have the opportunity to study in a more detailed area of clinical practice, located either within one of the School’s elective clinics or other external facilities.  A range of modalities are offered, consistent with availability and student demand. Students undertake two complementary electives, which may include:

  • Infants and the young
  • Adolescents
  • Women’s health and maternity
  • Men’s health
  • Elderly and the frail elderly including end of life care
  • Sports osteopathy
  • Research assistant
  • Allied health placements
  • Adjuvant modalities

More information about clinical training at the ESO can be found on our Clinical Training page.

The Osteopathic Skills theme includes osteopathic principles, concepts and osteopathic technical skills.  This theme reflects the broad approach to osteopathy that the ESO is renowned for and encompasses a wide range of osteopathic modalities which include:

  • Structural techniques, including manipulation
  • Cranial osteopathy
  • Indirect techniques, including Balanced ligamentous tension and fascial techniques
  • Functional approaches to treatment, including Strain Counter-strain
  • General Osteopathic Treatment
  • Visceral osteopathy
  • Muscle energy techniques (MET)
  • Treatment tailored to specialist patient populations

The Professionalism & Identity theme explores the importance of ethical research and regulation for the profession of osteopathy. This theme provides a grounding in study skills and critical thinking that is further supported by introducing students to the role of reflective, evidence-informed practice, professional standards and the competences required of osteopaths in the UK. There are also modules on psychology and sociology as related to healthcare to inform patient and practitioner values encountered in clinical practice.

The scope builds to further develop student practitionership skills with legal and professional awareness of the business requirements of setting up in private practice; this parallels the practical clinical experience in other themes. This is further supported by research into other career opportunities outside of self-employment, mirroring the electives available under extended practice in the final year. The completion of a dissertation as a piece of original research is a requirement for this theme; this process begins with initial introduction and building on concepts across the first three years with a view to producing a journal-style report for final submission that can be defended at a presentation forum in Year 4.

Core Knowledge

Anatomy I
  • Embryology
  • Anatomy – terminology & overview
  • Palpation & surface anatomy
  • Human function

Pathophysiology I
  • Physiological organisation
  • Homeostasis
  • Physiology of support & movement and diseases
  • Nervous system


Clinical Integration I
  • Osteopathic management of clinical case scenarios
  • Applying knowledge & skills to clinical cases
  • Osteopathic examination
  • Managing patient care
  • Treatment – basic osteopathic approaches
  • Clinic observation

Osteopathic Skills

Osteopathic Technique Concepts & Evaluation I
  • Osteopathic principles & concepts
  • Palpation
  • Diagnosis & treatment approaches
  • Visceral & Cranial (IVM) approaches
  • General osteopathic treatment (GOT)

Professionalism & Identity

Professional Skills & Identity I
  • Becoming a critical thinker
  • History of osteopathy & medicine
  • Professional practice
  • Patient/Practitioner expectations
  • Sociology

Core Knowledge

Anatomy II
  • Respiratory, Cardiovascular & Nervous systems
  • Gastro-intestinal tract
  • Excretory & Reproductive systems
  • Surface anatomy of key surfaces
Pathophysiology II
  • Pathophysiology & pharmacological treatment of Cardiovascular, Neurological & Lymphoid systems
  • Psychiatric disease & its pharmacological treatment
Clinical Methods
  • Case history taking
  • Differential diagnosis
  • Medical imaging
  • Medical examinations
  • Orthopaedic tests


Clinical Integration II
  • Osteopathic management of clinical case scenarios: Case history taking; Differential diagnosis; Examination; Management
  • Boundaries of osteopathic medicine with reference to other healthcare pathways
  • Clinic observation
  • Application of informed consent

Osteopathic Skills

Osteopathic Technique Concepts & Evaluation II
  • Osteopathic principles and the 5 structural-functional osteopathic models
  • Osteopathic evaluation and treatment using a range of approaches: Soft tissue; Articulation; High Velocity Thrust (HVT); Muscle energy; Fascial; Functional; Balanced ligamentous tension; Strain counter-strain; Visceral; Cranial (IVM)

Professionalism & Identity

Professional Skills & Identity II
  • Research & Osteopathy
  • Ethics & statistics
  • Hierarchy of evidence
  • Criticality
  • Communication
  • Biopsychosocial model/health attitudes
  • Personality models
  • Pain psychology

Core Knowledge

Pathophysiology III
  • Pathophysiology & pharmacological treatment of Respiratory, Gastro-intestinal, Endocrine, Urinary & Reproductive systems
  • Nervous system & associated palsies
  • Dermatology
  • Conditions related to specific patient groups


Clinical Practice I
  • Treatment & management of patients within the out-patient clinic, under supervision of qualified osteopaths. Progressive clinical responsibility for own case load

Osteopathic Skills

Osteopathic Technique Concepts & Evaluation III
  • Integration of theory with practice by applying a full range of osteopathic approaches and techniques to all patient groups, including maternity & children, geriatric and sports related patients

Professionalism & Identity

Professional Skills & Identity III
  • Managing psychological conditions
  • Setting up & managing a practice: financial planning, marketing & legal requiements
Research Methods & Statistics
  • Understanding research methodology & statistics to develop a dissertation protocol


Extended Practice

  • Work-based elective options to develop competence in areas of special interest, working with specific patient groups or workplace settings or furthering research skills

Clinical Practice II

  • Treatment & management of a full range of patient groups and presentations, taking progressive clinical responsibility in preparation for autonomous primary care practice

Osteopathic Skills

Applied Technique & Evaluation

  • Consolidation and refinement of osteopathic approaches and techniques to enable autonomous and effective patient evaluation, treatment and management

Professionalism & Identity

Professional Skills & Identity IV

  • Practitionership, Osteopathic Practice Standards & CPD regulations
  • Career options & professional development
  • The job application

Research Dissertation

  • Research dissertation based on third year research protocol

Clinical Training

One of the School’s strengths is its well-established clinic facility, which provides an authentic training environment. You can find more information about the ESO Clinic on our Clinical Training page.


Time spent in lectures or similar

Students are generally in lectures, practical classes or clinic up to 4 days each week.  Reading weeks are scheduled for mid-term to allow students to consolidate their learning and to attend clinic as necessary. The timetable below shows how Year 1 classes were scheduled in the first three weeks of our 2020/21 academic year – note, this includes blended learning introduced as part of the ESO’s COVID-secure measures.

Term 1 Timetable Year1

The clinic remains open during holiday periods, inclusive of reading weeks, and senior students are scheduled to attend sessions over a given number of weeks between the academic terms; this includes the transition period from Year 2 to Year 3, as part of the Summer Holidays. First and second year students observe in the teaching clinic during scheduled hours throughout the academic year, when, in addition to continuing lectures, they begin to interact with patients and put into practice what they have learnt during the two pre-clinical years. Students spend over 1000 hours in clinic during their osteopathic training, experiencing around fifty new patient interactions.

In total the programme amounts to 480 UK academic credits totalling 4800 hours, including time allocated for completion of a research dissertation between Years 3 and 4 and guided independent study.  Coupled to this is the life simulated learning gained through clinical educational. The chart below shows the percentage of time spent in different learning activities, by year.


Teaching and Assessment

We use a variety of teaching and learning methods including lectures, problem-based learning, practical classes, student presentations, seminars and reflective work. Our broad range of assessment methods is designed to capture the maximum potential of our students and includes coursework, clinical assessments, poster presentations, theory and practical exams, in-class and online tests, a professional portfolio and research dissertation.