Optometry (BSc)

Our three-year Optometry BSc will give you the scientific and clinical knowledge you need to graduate as a pre-registration optometrist and enter your final training under the supervision of a practising optometrist.

Optometrist in clinic

During your pre-registration period of training you will complete the Final Scheme for Assessment run by the College of Optometrists. After qualifying, an optometrist earns, on average, £26,000, rising to £39,000 after five years. The course is delivered by one of the UK's highest ranked optometry schools, in a new purpose-designed building, which includes a clinic open to the public. The course is accredited by the General Optical Council.

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Key facts

UCAS CodeB510
Entry pointSeptember 2016
Duration3 years
AccreditationsGeneral Optical Council (GOC)
Typical places availableThe School typically has approx 80 places available.
Typical applications receivedThe School typically receives approx 450 applications.
Typical A level offerAAA, two of which would normally be from Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerWBQ core will be accepted in lieu of the non- Science A-level (at the grades specified above).
Typical International Baccalaureate offer34 points including Chemistry, Physics, Maths or Biology.
Other qualificationsApplications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome.

Detailed alternative entry requirements are available for this course.
QAA subject benchmark


Admissions tutor(s)

Mr Richard Earlam, Admissions Tutor

Mrs Judith Colwill, Course Administrator

Dr Jennifer Acton, Admissions Tutor

Important Legal Information: The programme information currently being published in Course Finder is under review and may be subject to change. The final programme information is due to be published by May 2016 and will be the definitive programme outline which the University intends to offer. Applicants are advised to check the definitive programme information after the update, to ensure that the programme meets their needs.

Optometrists are healthcare professionals who detect any disease that may affect the eye or the visual system, and correct long and short sightedness. Our course, delivered by one of the UK's highest ranked optometry schools in a purpose-designed building, will provide you with the scientific and clinical knowledge to enable you to become a fully qualified, practising optometrist.

We place great emphasis on the clinical aspects of the profession, and you will spend considerable time in our clinic, which is open to members of the public who require eye examination. Indeed, clinical practice of optometry is included from your first week, providing vital, hands-on experience to form the foundations for the programme. As well as working in the clinic, you will have hospital visits and lectures, and in third year you will carry out a research project under the close supervision of a member of academic staff.

I'm fascinated by vision and Optometry combines my love of Physics, problem solving and working with people. The building has a network of clinic bays, modern and well-equipped for clinic and research and the £21m building is an energising environment.

Libby Ainsworth, Optometry student

Year one

The first year is an important period for any student. It is a year in which you will discover a new way of life and a new way of learning. Your initial year is designed to give you a sound foundation in the discipline, with clinical and dispensing techniques introduced at the very beginning to enhance your clinical skills. First year modules include lectures, tutorials, and clinical practice. In the first year, particular attention is given to developing the academic skills that you will need when reading for a university undergraduate degree.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Ocular Anatomy and PhysiologyOP120620 credits
Geometrical and Visual OpticsOP120320 credits
Research and Study SkillsOP120410 credits
Optometric Dispensing and AppliancesOP120220 credits
From Cells to SystemsOP120520 credits
Physiology of VisionOP120710 credits
Basic Clinical TechniquesOP120120 credits

Year two

The second year builds on the foundation of the first year, and develops all the main themes of the optometry degree. You will receive lectures on binocular vision, contact lenses, physiology of vision and pharmacology. Clinical studies and dispensing techniques will continue and during the second year you will, with close supervision, be introduced to your first patient.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Ocular pharmacologyOP220520 credits
Binocular Vision & Optometric NeurophysiologyOP220420 credits
Colour Vision & PerceptionOP220620 credits
Clinical Studies and DispensingOP220120 credits
Investigative TechniquesOP220320 credits
Contact LensesOP220220 credits

Year three

In your final year, you will develop your knowledge and clinical skills further. Modules in advanced optometric topics are introduced, and you will also carry out a project, which may be laboratory, clinical or library based. This will be under the close supervision of a member of academic staff. You will spend about eight hours per week with patients in our clinic and will attend hospital clinics. Lecture courses in abnormal ocular conditions, binocular vision, visual psychophysics, and paediatric optometry are designed to complete the integrated course.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

Teaching provision at the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences has been independently assessed as 'Excellent' and it has been awarded the highest category of excellence for the quality of its research. The School has outstanding facilities that include new and refurbished clinics and laboratories, all fitted with state-of-the-art equipment.

The School is extremely proud of its undergraduate teaching and its contribution through research to the knowledge of how the eye and visual system work. The positive influence of active research on student learning cannot be emphasised enough. New concepts and ideas filter down rapidly to ensure that students are up to date, and teaching is fresh and vibrant. The active involvement of staff in research also ensures that the teaching programme is flexible and constantly changing to equip graduates with the skills needed by a rapidly changing Optometric profession.

The Optometry degree course at Cardiff has been designed to be stimulating, comprehensive and relevant to the needs of a career in Optometry, providing students with the scientific and clinical knowledge needed as a foundation to becoming a fully qualified and practising Optometrist. Great emphasis is placed on the practical aspects and students spend considerable time in the purpose-built clinic, which is open to members of the public who require eye examination as well as children and adults with special needs.

After your degree you must complete a period of supervised practice if you wish to register with the UK's General Optical Council (GOC) - this is called your pre-registration period. You must gain at least a Lower Second Class degree to enter this training period. Our graduates rarely have difficulty in securing pre-registration positions (subject to visa regulations), a process that begins in your second year. Indeed, many employers visit us to recruit future graduates, knowing that Cardiff students generally do very well. Several of our students are also successful each year in gaining the much sought after hospital pre-registration positions.You become UK qualified after satisfactory completion of this pre-registration period (normally 12 months), which is run by the College of Optometrists.

In 2015, 99% of the School's graduates were in employment following graduation, while others were engaged in further study or taking time out to travel. Employers included: universities, various NHS Trusts, multiple and independent optometrists and companies such as Astra Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson. Career destinations included: optometrist and project manager. Postgraduates also go on to work in industry, academia and for research councils.


  • Optometrist


3 Year(s)

Next intake

September 2016

Places available

Typical places available

The School admits 90 students each year to its undergraduate degree programmes

Applications received

Typical applications received



QAA subject benchmark

QAA subject benchmark


Overview and aims of this course/programme

Optometrists are Primary Health-Care Specialists trained to examine the visual system and establish its state of health by identifying defects in sight, ocular diseases and problems relating to general health.  They provide, where necessary, a refractive correction using optical appliances, such as spectacles and contact lenses, to optimise visual performance.

The profession of Optometry is regulated by a Statutory Body, the General Optical Council (GOC), which has the general function of promoting high standards of professional education and professional conduct among optometrists under the Opticians Act, 1989.  To practice optometry requires registration with the General Optical Council.


(These define the broad purpose of the scheme of study).

The first aim is to provide the student with the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills required of an Optometrist in order for them to be able to meet and satisfy the primary eye and vision care requirements of the general public.  In this respect, the course is vocational and so is designed, to a large extent, around this aim.  The scheme contains the syllabus recommendations from the GOC and the Optometric professional body - the College of Optometrists.  Attainment of a degree in Optometry at the GOC approved level, currently a Second Class: Second Division Honours Degree (2:2) or better will provide the student with exemption from Part 1 of the Professional Qualifying Examinations.  A pass at Part 2 of the Professional Qualifying Examinations, at the end of the pre-registration period, must be obtained in order for the candidate’s name to be placed on the Optician’s Register.  Graduates who fail to obtain a 2:2 degree or better will not be able to commence their pre-registration period.

The second aim is to provide the student with the knowledge and transferable skills required of a student of the health and life sciences.  This approach prepares them for the changes in the profession that will inevitably occur during their career, as well as enabling them to undertake and enjoy lifelong learning and continuing professional development.  In addition, by receiving such training, the student does not become isolated from other career options that they might wish to consider at a later date.

What should I know about year five?

Students will be expected to attend all timetabled sessions and are also expected to engage in independent study. They will receive supervision to help them complete the dissertation, but will be expected to manage their own time to undertake significant independent study during this phase. 

Students are expected to adhere to the Cardiff University policy on Dignity at Work and Study.

How is this course/programme structured?

This programme occupies 3 years of full-time study, with each year of the scheme divided into two semesters - Autumn and Spring.  All modules are taught across both semesters, with coursework and practical assessments distributed throughout semester time, and final written assessments in the Spring Examination Period. 

What should I know about year four?

Any equipment required will be provided by the School

What should I know about year three?

Please see Learning Outcomes

What should I know about the preliminary year?

Most of the academic content is delivered by lectures. There are also practical elements to the programme, typically lab based in the early years. As the programme progresses, more emphasis falls on supported and supervised clinical learning, with exposure to real-patient episodes forming a significant proportion of teaching in the final year.

What should I know about year one?


In all years of the programme, there will be end-of-year written exams in the Spring exam period for virtually all modules. All exams must be passed to gain the necessary credits to allow progression to the next year of the programme or graduation at the end of the programme.

Virtually all modules also have coursework credits, which may be based upon a single component or (more typically) multiple components. The nature of these components changes as you progress through the programme. In the first of the programme, the emphasis will be on written lab reports and / or essays (some on an individual basis, some as group work), on-line quizzes etc., with some practical components. Along with all written exam credits, all coursework credits must be gained in order to allow progression to the next year of the programme or graduation at the end of the programme.

In the final two years of the programme, which contribute to the final degree classification awarded, the emphasis of coursework shifts to reflect clinical performance, with multiple examples of practical ability and professional competence being assessed by direct observation of clinical practice. In the final year, this includes assessment of real-patient episodes and demonstration of the required GOC clinical competencies.

Throughout the duration of the programme, the opportunity for one-to-one feedback is provided to all students for all written exam or coursework credits that require a re-sit, in order to support the individual student’s learning. As the window for this is typically during the summer vacation (between the release of the exam results in June and the re-sit exam period in August) this is not applicable to those students that have passed and will automatically be proceeding to the next year of the programme or graduating.

Where results are available during teaching time (i.e. not for written exams or end-of-year practicals), one-to-one feedback is also provided for each individual coursework component which was either failed or which demonstrated areas of weakness. Where appropriate, generic feedback is also given to the student group on areas of relative weakness that were identified across the group as a whole. This generic feedback may be delivered in lectures, labs or clinics etc. that relate to the coursework involved.

In the final year, direct and immediate one-to-one feedback is given on all patient episodes, and feedback is also given on all assessments of clinical competencies.

Other information

Students obtain support materials either via Learning Central (Cardiff University’s Virtual Learning Environment) or from study packs specially developed for selected modules. All students are allocated a personal tutor. Additional support and advice is available where necessary from the School’s Senior Personal Tutor for Postgraduate Taught Students. 

Distinctive features

(These are statements that describe what a graduate optometrist is expected to know, understand and be able to do).

The programme of training seeks to provide students with the opportunity to acquire knowledge, understanding and skills in four principal areas: Basic Science, Clinical Science, Subject Specific and General Transferable Skills.  The knowledge, understanding and skills acquired will include the elements described in the GOC core curriculum and ensure that the graduate is equipped to meet the changing demands of health-care delivery in the UK.

Knowledge and Understanding

a) Basic Science

Graduates should possess a knowledge and understanding of the fundamental scientific principles relevant to the practice of optometry in the context of primary eye care.  In particular they should be able to apply these principles to the following subject areas:

(i)                 Human Biology

The detection, recognition, diagnosis, prevention and management of systemic diseases that can present in patients seeking primary eye care.

(ii)               Ocular and Visual Biology

The detection, diagnosis, recognition, prevention and management of ocular disease and trauma that can present in patients seeking primary eye care.

(iii)             Visual Perception and Psychology

The perceptual and behavioural aspects of critical periods in visual development and interpersonal communication in optometric procedures.

(iv)             Optics

The detection, treatment, prevention and management of refractive, oculomotor and sensory integrative conditions that can present in patients seeking primary eye care.

b) Clinical Science

Graduates will be able to examine patients safely and competently under the personal supervision of an experienced Optometrist.  They will be able to apply their knowledge of basic science and their undergraduate clinical experience to the prevention, diagnosis and management of visual disorders.

(i)                 Functional and Developmental Conditions

Graduates will be aware of the normal development of the visual system and of the disruptive effects on development of congenital and infantile abnormalities.  They will be competent in the diagnosis and management of functional and developmental visual anomalies of a non-pathological nature such as refractive errors, presbyopia, heterophoria, and heterotropia.

(ii)               Ophthalmic Optics and the Dispensing of Ophthalmic Appliances

Graduates will be familiar with the design, materials and optical principles of spectacles, low vision aids and contact lenses.  They will be able to dispense these appliances, instruct patients in their safe and efficient use, monitor progress with the appliance and assist patients to achieve maximum visual performance.  The graduates detailed knowledge of anterior segment physiology and pathology will ensure that ocular integrity is maintained in contact lens wear.  They will be able to advise patients on occupational, sporting and protective ophthalmic appliances and to dispense the appropriate appliances to the required standards.  They will also have an understanding of the optical principles of widely used ophthalmic instruments.

(iii)             Ocular Disease and Abnormality

Graduates will have adequate knowledge to distinguish morbid ocular and visual conditions from normal variations.  They will be able to utilise the principles of visual physiology and pharmacology in the management of ocular abnormality.  They will be able to make appropriate management decisions including referral for medical opinion.

(iv)             Pharmaceutics

Graduates will understand the general principles of pharmaceutics, pharmacology and toxicology, and be familiar with the more common systemic medications.  They will be capable of monitoring and reporting the ocular side effects of systemic medications.  They will have a detailed knowledge of the pharmacological principles underlying the use of drugs in the diagnosis and treatment of ocular disease, and the law relating to the sale and supply of ophthalmic preparations, as specified by the Medicines Act (1968) and subsequent Statutory Instruments.

(v)               Systemic Disease

Graduates will have an understanding of the common systemic diseases that may have ocular manifestations.  They will be aware of adverse ocular reactions that may be induced by medical management of common systemic diseases.


Upon completion of the scheme a typical student will be expected to be able to:

A)    Demonstrate all of the ‘Core Clinical Competencies’ described by the GOC as necessary for a student entering the next stage of their clinical training - the pre-registration year.  These currently are:

·         Taking of case history

·         Keratometry.  Insertion, removal, and assessment of fit of RGP and soft lenses.  Aftercare assessment of contact lens wear

·         Focimetry and neutralisation, frame measurement, facial measurement, lens specification

·         Measurement of vision and visual acuity

·         Cover test, assessment of binocular vision

·         Subjective refraction; non-cycloplegic refraction, cycloplegic refraction, low vision assessment

·         Evaluation of pupils, motility test

·         Ophthalmoscopy (direct and indirect)

·         Retinoscopy

·         Measurement of visual fields, tonometry (applanation and non-contact)

·         Use of slit lamp

·         Spectacle fitting

B) Demonstrate their ability to:

·         Communicate effectively with patients and colleagues, particularly by keeping comprehensive and accurate clinical records and writing clear referral letters

·         Apply flexibility in addressing clinical problems of an unfamiliar nature

·         Understand the application of IT to practice management

·         Review the evidence-base for clinical interventions and have sufficient statistical knowledge to evaluate critically clinical research findings

·         Review critically the major issues relevant to the future development of optometric practice

C) Demonstrate General Computing, Statistics and Communication skills, including:

·         The ability to maintain clear, accurate and appropriate records

·         The ability to communicate effectively by written and oral means, and the ability to relate to various social and ethnic groups

·         Numeracy skills to evaluate data generated through audit and research

·         Critical evaluation of relevant literature

·         Time management and organisational skills

·         Problem-solving skills involving word-processing, data manipulation and IT

·         Skills for self-directed and life-long learning

·         An awareness of their role within the NHS and health care framework

·         Sufficient learning skills to sustain lifelong learning and continuing professional development

How will I be taught?


Admissions tutors

Mr Richard Earlam, Admissions Tutor

Mrs Judith Colwill, Course Administrator

Dr Jennifer Acton, Admissions Tutor

Key Information Sets (KIS) make it easy for prospective students to compare information about full or part time undergraduate courses, and are available on the Unistats website.


Get information and advice about making an application, find out when the key dates are and learn more about our admissions criteria.

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