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Clinical Optometry (MSc)

This challenging and rewarding master's programme focuses on your personal development as a professional who leads, manages and develops ophthalmic practice roles and models of care delivery.

The aim of this programme is to provide optometrists with the opportunity to undertake a challenging and rewarding Masters in Clinical Optometry that focuses on their personal development as professionals leading, managing and developing ophthalmic practice roles and models of care delivery.

The MSc Clinical Optometry is designed for optometrists in primary, secondary and tertiary settings who wish to advance their knowledge base, and specialist clinical and leadership skills. You will become actively involved in the advancement of optometry.

The MSc is a 180 credit Level 7 qualification. It has been designed to meet the continuing education and training needs of the modern eye care professional providing advanced knowledge and facilitating understanding in this rapidly expanding field of healthcare, whilst at the same time achieving a higher degree.

A deliberately wide portfolio of modules is offered in order to recognise the increasing desire for specialist training within optometry, including glaucoma, acute eye care, paediatrics, dry eye, medical retina, clinical teaching and leadership, amongst others. Specific programme pathways are suggested for those wishing to focus on certain areas of practice.

Successful students on this programme will have an advanced standing both clinically and academically, taking them to the forefront of the profession, and enhancing their personal and professional development.

Distinctive features

  • It has been designed to meet the continuing education and training needs of the modern eye care professional whilst at the same time achieving a higher degree.
  • The MSc provides the opportunity for you to learn with one of the leading Optometry Schools in Europe, rated excellent for teaching and research, and amongst the highest ranked for overall undergraduate student satisfaction.  In the last two years we had over 95% satisfaction in the Postgraduate Taught Education Survey.
  • The opportunity to develop advanced clinical skills within custom-designed ophthalmic teaching clinics in a purpose built school of Optometry and Vision Sciences.
  • The opportunity to study in a dedicated postgraduate optometry education centre.
  • The opportunity to explore and analyse the changing needs of patients, clinical practice and develop the skills to deliver specialist areas of care to meet patient needs.
  • The opportunity to undertake an innovative and creative programme delivered by experienced educational and clinical staff who have developed a considerable local, national and international reputation.
  • Many of the modules available are accredited by the College of Optometrists to provide Professional Certificates.
  • The wide variety of modules on offer. 

Key facts

Next intakeSeptember 2019
Duration1 year
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Admissions criteria

This Programme is suitable for graduates or experienced practitioners in optometry.

Students are normally expected to hold either:

UK/EU Students: BSc (Hons) Optometry, GOC registration or equivalent national qualification.

Overseas Students: Honours degree in Optometry or Professional optometric qualification of home country.

Non UK/EU Students: Honours degree in Optometry or Professional optometric qualification of home country.


Note: As the scope of optometric practice varies considerably around the world, interviews will be held with non-UK optometrists, in person or using Skype, to ensure practitioners have the relevant clinical skills required to undertake this course.


Note: Students whose first language is not English will be required to pass an IELTS test. Please see our English Language Requirements guidance for more details.


Candidates who have studied at a postgraduate level in clinical optometry elsewhere (such as City or Aston Universities) can be considered for access to the programme at Cardiff University. This will be done via recognition of prior learning (RPL), and candidates must submit documentary evidence to support such an application e.g. through records of achievement documents, portfolios, and clinical records.

Application Deadlines: We welcome and encourage early applications. We normally prefer applications at least two months before the start of the academic year.

The optimal date for applications for MSc in Clinical Optometry is by the end of July of each academic year. 

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements

The full time MSc Clinical Optometry degree is a modular programme for which students must complete a total of 120 taught credits of the programme. This includes one module which is compulsory; the research methods module to the value of 10 credits. The remaining 110 credits will be achieved through a selection of optional modules. The final 60 credits will be achieved through a research project.

You will have access to multimedia lecture presentations, supporting resources and discussions led by course tutors. On many of the modules leading educators in the field also provide practical skills workshops and tutorials directly relevant to everyday practice. These workshops are delivered by our staff within our custom-designed building. These sessions are an integral part of the course so attendance is compulsory. Formative and summative assessment is via online multiple choice questions, submitted written coursework and assignments (including group wikis and blogs) plus practical exams where appropriate.

The course has some flexibility and so you select modules you want to take to fit in with your area of practice or we can suggest combinations or study routes that would suit your professional or personal circumstances. An academic co-ordinator will work with you to help plan your studies and monitor your progress.

You would complete 120 taught credits over 2 semesters and submit your research project dissertation by the 11th month. 

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2019/20 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2019.

At the start of term in September there is an induction week.

There are two semesters of taught modules and students will take 60 credits in each of these semesters. The first semester runs from September to February and you will undertake the compulsory module on research in this semester. The second semester runs from February to July.

In March we confirm the research project and you will work with your supervisor to plan the project and gain ethics approval if it is needed. In July, once it has been confirmed that a pass has been achieved in all the taught elements, the research project commences.

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.

How will I be taught?

Modules may differ, but you can expect to be taught online (via lectures) and webinars, and by attending workshops for clinical modules. You will study alongside optometrists who are studying part- time. Full time students will be supported by an academic co-ordinator.

Lectures are supported by the appropriate references and resources, and accompanied by assessment exercises. Participation in moderated online discussions is a feature in almost all modules.

Practical workshops for skills training will be held at locations convenient to either the module content or the student cohort enrolled at that time, and instructed by educational leaders in that discipline. Lectures are supported by the appropriate references and resources, and accompanied by assessment exercises. 

How will I be supported?

At the beginning of your course there is a compulsory face to face induction week. This will help you find your way around Learning Central and it will also provide general information about how our administration and IT teams will support you.

The University offers a wide range of services and activities designed to support students. These include a student counselling service, a student advisory service, crèche and day facilities, sport and exercise facilities, as well as campus information, library and IT services.

This programme gives students the opportunity to share ideas with health professionals. As well as developing their own intellectual abilities, this sharing of ideas enables them to learn and benefit from the experiences of others. Opportunity is given for this sort of discussion and exchange of ideas through seminars and tutorials.

There is an MSc co-ordinator and this person will also act as your personal tutor following registration onto the programme, who is able to assist them with any pastoral care as well as advice on writing style, grammar and academic mentoring.

All modules within the programme make extensive use of Cardiff University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Learning Central, on which students will find course materials, links to related materials and assessment exemplars.

For students whose first language is not English there are open access English Language courses available. These are 5 week courses run on a first come first served basis and cost an administration fee of £25.

How will I be assessed?

Each module will be assessed formatively and summatively in line with each specific module assessment strategy. This incorporates a variety of modes of assessment including the following:

  • Assignment (theoretical and reflective)
  • Presentations/ Peer reviewed presentations/ seminars
  • Discussion/ seminars/ workshops
  • Case scenarios
  • Simulated clinical workshops
  • Objective Structured Clinical Examinations
  • Multiple choice question classroom tests.
  • Practical examinations.
  • Key Features Scenarios (used in medical education to test clinical reasoning, problem-solving ability and the ability to apply given knowledge).
  • OSCEs – Objective Structured Clinical Examinations.
  • Group wikis.
  • Blogs.
  • Written research project report.

Assessments used within the programme relate to the measurement of professional, academic and clinical practice.

Feedback from assessments will be provided in written format for written reports and coursework, and written and/or oral for practical examinations and presentations. Scientific discussion via online forums will be moderated by module leaders, allowing them immediate input and opportunity to offer feedback. Students are required to pass each individual component in order to pass the module.

What skills will I practise and develop?

After fully engaging with this course, you should be able to:

Knowledge & Understanding:

  • demonstrate a knowledge of complex, controversial and/ or contentious issues related to optometric practice
  • illustrate an understanding of modern key concepts of optometric practice by applying them to challenges within your own environment and specialist areas of practice
  • appreciate the benefit of inter-professional teamwork in research and / or the delivery of ophthalmic care

Intellectual Skills:

  • critically examine the evidence based literature to assess practice and methods of management in ophthalmic care

Professional Practical Skills:

  • assess the signs and symptoms of eye disease to make a differential diagnosis and to rank options
  • problem solve and develop solutions/ management plans in complex and specialist areas of practice based on evidence and sound professional and clinical judgment
  • demonstrate independence of thought and contribute via your own research to the development of knowledge and evidence base of your profession;

Transferable/Key Skills:

Academic Skills:

  • advance your own knowledge and understanding
  • collate and synthesise information from a number of resources to improve learning
  • write concisely and clearly for the academic and clinical community
  • interpret data

Generic Skills:

  • manage projects and time
  • work independently
  • use a range of IT software packages and online resources
  • problem solve

This course will enable optometrists to advance their career. In addition, depending on which modules are chosen, it may act as assurance that practitioners are competent to work in specialist clinics as outlined in the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and College of Optometrists joint Competency Framework for Allied Health Professionals. For example the Medical Retina and Glaucoma module aligns with the Medical Retina and Glaucoma Competency Frameworks respectively.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2019/20)

This course is charged on a per-module basis. For more information please refer to our tuition fees pages.

Students from outside the EU (2019/20)

This course is charged on a per-module basis. For more information please refer to our tuition fees pages.

Additional costs

You will need to cover your living costs including accommodation and food whilst in Cardiff as well as the cost of travel to and from Cardiff. 

Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?

No – all equipment will be provided.