The Physiotherapy programme was established in 1979 at the former University of Durban Westville and King Edward VIII hospital. Some of the courses eg. Anatomy and Physiology were conducted at the Medical school. With the establishment of the Anatomy and Physiology departments in the early 1980s at the Westville campus, the physiotherapy department was relocated to the Westville campus. Clinical practice however is still conducted at the provincial hospitals.
The programme articulates with and overlaps with other Health Sciences programs nationally and internationally based on the practice and techniques of physiotherapy. Due to the limited advancement and financial remuneration in the public sector many physiotherapists opt to work in private practice or private hospitals thus leaving a vacuum in the public sector. However the introduction of compulsory community service has alleviated some of the staffing issues regarding physiotherapists in public hospitals. This is not unique to the province of KwaZulu-Natal but is a national problem in South Africa.
In 2012 the department of Physiotherapy underwent significant improvements to the infrastructure, lecture/clinical venues and clinical/practical equipment. In 2018, the department received full accreditation from the Health Professionals Council of South Africa for the next 5 years.