Speech Pathology - Inherent Requirements

The School of Allied Health Science and Practice’s speech pathology program aims to provide graduates with the entry level knowledge, skills and competencies required to enter the speech pathology profession.

Speech pathology is a complex, demanding profession. It requires appropriate behavioural, cognitive, culturally safe, and physical abilities to ensure the delivery of appropriate services. Speech Pathologists work closely with people at some of the most vulnerable and challenging stages of their lives, so it is essential that students have insight into their own personal and professional capacity.

  • Placement requirements

    Academic programs offered by the School of Allied Health Science and Practice that lead to eligibility for Practicing membership of Speech Pathology Australia, require a high level of commitment to the substantial and compulsory practice placement schedule as well as an expectation of a high academic standard.

    Students will be required to attend placement experiences that may take place outside the standard academic year and traditional working hours. This will require attendance at metropolitan, rural, interstate and possibly remote locations.

    Students must undertake and satisfy all of the mandatory legal and medical clearances required for student placements

    Students must also adhere to the University’s Student Charter

  • Legal requirements

  • Inherent requirements statement

    Inherent requirements are the fundamental aspects of a program that must be satisfied by all students. They comprise the abilities, knowledge and skills required to complete the program. Students with a disability or chronic health condition may have adjustments made to enable them to meet these requirements. There may also be other factors, such as cultural or religious considerations, that may affect a student’s capacity to meet an inherent requirement, which may require adjustments. However, any adjustments must not fundamentally change the nature of the inherent requirement or the student’s ability to demonstrate the entry-level Speech Pathology Professional Standards.

    All students must fulfil the inherent requirements of the Bachelor of Speech Pathology (Honours) program they are undertaking. While reasonable adjustments can be made, these adjustments cannot compromise academic integrity. It is the student's responsibility to check the requirements of all courses and consider the effects of any medical condition or disability on their ability to complete the program requirements. Find out more about the University's Disability Service.

    There are five categories of inherent requirements for the Bachelor of Speech Pathology (Honours) program, which include:

    • Behavioural requirements
    • Communication requirements
    • Cognitive requirements
    • Sensory requirements
    • Motor requirements.
  • Behavioural requirements

    During their studies (and professional careers), students will be exposed to a range of complex and unexpected situations. Responding appropriately to these situations, and providing safe and effective care, will require personal resilience and a consistent, sustained level of physical and mental performance. Throughout the program, students will be required to practice and demonstrate skills on fellow students who are acting as simulated patients in mixed-gender practical classes. Students will also be required to act as a simulated patient. This may include some level of disrobing to expose body parts to simulate placement and practice experiences.

    Students within the program will need to demonstrate the ability to:

    • be receptive, and respond appropriately to constructive feedback
    • effectively cope with their emotions and behaviour when dealing with individuals in the academic and practice setting
    • provide a caring, therapeutic approach to the needs of all persons; mindful of culture, gender, sexuality or religion
    • use self-awareness to monitor their own physical and mental health and wellbeing.
  • Communication requirements

    Communication is a fundamental aspect of speech pathology practice. Students must display the ability to communicate professionally, safely and in a way that displays respect for and empathy with others, and develops trusting relationships.

    Students within the program will need to demonstrate the ability to:

    • use clear and precise English language speaking and listening skills
    • accurate and timely comprehension and processing of verbal and written information
    • use written language, in English, to document observations clearly and unambiguously
    • understand and respond to verbal and non-verbal communication accurately with clients and colleagues from a wide range of cultural, religious and socio-economic backgrounds
    • recognise and respond appropriately to cues in the clinical environment
    • communicate sensitively and respectfully with others from a range of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
    • capacity to adapt own communication in response to the needs of others, and to facilitate accessible, appropriate information.

    On completion of the program, students must also demonstrate entry level communication competent for eligibility for practicing membership with Speech Pathology Australia.

  • Cognitive requirements

    Students within the speech pathology program must be able to think critically to analyse, synthesise and evaluate complex oral, written and visual information. These analyses are used to solve problems, provide evidence for clinical reasoning and enable the provision of timely, relevant interventions. Students must be able to demonstrate consistent cognitive and affective skills to provide safe and effective speech pathology services.

    Students within the program will need to demonstrate:

    • Numeracy and literacy skills to read, comprehend and analyse complex information
    • high-level organisational skills
    • capacity to critically appraise and reflect
    • the capacity to develop clinical reasoning and problem-solving skills
    • the capacity to learn or change behaviours in response to feedback
    • the ability to locate, summarise and review the quality of information from commonly available academic resources in a planned and timely manner
    • the ability to process and recall information, processes and procedures relevant to practice
    • the ability to gather, understand and interpret data (e.g. client notes, hand-written and computer documents, medical reports, statistics, community consultation and strategic plans, and policy documents).
  • Sensory requirements

    Speech pathology studies will demand the ability to recognise and respond appropriately to verbal and non-verbal cues. These observational skills (vision, hearing and tactile) are required as part of all academic programs.

    Students within the program will need to demonstrate:

    • sufficient tactile function to undertake and perform a range of clinical skills and assessments
    • the ability to observe and monitor the verbal and non-verbal responses of individuals, and stimuli within the broader environment (e.g. observing multiple clients, monitors and different components of the experience)
    • precise and rapid reaction to sensory stimuli (e.g. identifying hazards and safety issues and reacting within a limited timeframe)
    • the ability to recognise and interpret sensory stimuli relating to vision, hearing and touch
      • adequate auditory function to perceive and manage the range of communication functions performed as part of speech pathology practice.
  • Motor requirements

    Studying speech pathology requires an appropriate level of physical health. Students may be required to stand or sit on the floor for extended periods, and perform repetitive tasks that may require bending, squatting and kneeling, consistently and safely, without putting themselves or others at risk of harm.

    Students within the program will need to demonstrate sufficient fine motor skills to:

    • use hand-eye coordination to complete tasks as necessar
    • gather and interpret information through touch
    • perform and/or assist with diagnostic and therapeutic procedures
    • operate health-related equipment and instruments

    Students within the program will need to demonstrate sufficient gross motor skills to:

    • undertake physical or manual tasks e.g. moving or positioning equipment and/or clients, percussion or palpation
    • maintain physical safety with clients who experience unpredictable limb movements
    • perform a range of speech pathology interventions (requires the use of upper limbs and may require the assumption of a kneeling or sitting position for a prolonged period of time).

Will exceptions be made?

The University of Adelaide strongly supports the rights of all people who wish to undertake speech pathology at the School of Allied Health Science and Practice and encourages all to achieve their potential and chosen career objectives. However, it is recognised that within particular situations, some students’ inability to meet the inherent requirements may limit their studies.

Students who have impaired function in their hands or arms, or significant auditory, visual or communication impairments, will have difficulty undertaking this program. Prospective students with such disabilities are encouraged to contact the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences to discuss their circumstances prior to submitting an application.

The School is committed to making reasonable adjustments to teaching and learning, assessment and other activities to address the impact of students' disabilities so that they can successfully participate in this program.

It is important to understand, however, that in some situations no adjustments can be made. In such circumstances, students will be unable to complete this program of study.

Need advice?

A number of support options are available to students with concerns about how their specific circumstances may affect their speech pathology studies (e.g. a disability, or ongoing health condition)

Students can explore possible reasonable adjustments with our: Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences Student CentreCounselling ServiceDisability Service; or Elite Athletes Support and Information Service.

If it is determined the inherent requirements of this program can’t be met, the Faculty can also provide guidance to help students explore alternative study options.