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Clinical Optometry (MSc)

  • Duration: 56 weeks
  • Mode: Full time

Course options See other modes of study
Start date

This course is under review

You can still apply. We will contact offer holders and update this page when the programme changes.


Open day

Find out more about studying here as a postgraduate at our next Open Day.

Why study this course

This level 7 programme clinical optometry MSc 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.



Many of the modules available are accredited by the College of Optometrists.

The College of Optometrists

Flexible modules

Choose your speciality with our flexible module approach.


Top 2

Learn at one of the leading optometry schools in the UK, ranked 2nd in the Complete University Guide 2024.


£22 million optometry facility

Our school is housed in a dedicated £22 million optometry facility with in-built eye clinic.

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.

Please note that this Master's degree does not lead to full professional registration with the General Optical Council (GOC), and it does not qualify students to practice in the UK.

We're committed to delivering programmes that are innovative and relevant, providing the best learning outcomes and career prospects for our students. In light of this, we're currently reviewing some elements of this programme. As such, the details shown are subject to change and indicative only. You can still apply now. We'll update this page and contact all offer holders when the review is complete to confirm any changes.

Where you'll study

School of Optometry and Vision Sciences

Our students benefit from hands on experience, outstanding optometry facilities and involvement from our internationally renowned staff.

  • icon-chatGet in touch
  • Telephone+44 (0)29 2087 6316
  • MarkerMaindy Road, Cathays, Cardiff, CF24 4HQ

Admissions criteria

In order to be considered for an offer for this programme you will need to meet all of the entry requirements. Your application will not be progressed if the information and evidence listed is not provided.

If you are registered with the GOC, with your online application you will need to provide:

1. Evidence of full GOC registration (UK students). If you are registered with the GOC, you must provide your GOC number in the Membership of Professional Bodies section of the application form.

2. A personal statement which clearly states the modules you intend to study and when you wish to start.

If you are not registered with the GOC, with your online application you will need to provide:

1. A copy of your certificate and transcripts which show you have achieved an honours degree in Optometry or a professional optometric qualification. If your certificate or result is pending, please upload any interim transcripts or provisional certificates.

2. A copy of your IELTS certificate with an overall score of 6.5 with 5.5 in all subskills, or evidence of an accepted equivalent. Please include the date of your expected test if this qualification is pending. If you have alternative acceptable evidence, such as an undergraduate degree studied in the UK, please supply this in place of an IELTS.

3. A written professional reference which is signed, dated, and supplied on the University’s reference form or headed paper. The reference will need to comment specifically on your slit-lamp technique to assess the anterior eye and slit-lamp Volk technique to assess the retina. If it is not possible to provide a professional reference academic references will be considered.

4. A personal statement which clearly states the modules you intend to study and your clinical experience including the following skills:

  • Slit lamp examination of the anterior eye, including assessment of the cornea and anterior chamber
  • Assessing the features of the posterior fundus using slit lamp Volk BIO technique
  • Goldmann applanation tonometry
  • Visual field and OCT assessment, and basic interpretation
  • Retinoscopy

Application Deadline

We allocate places on a first-come, first-served basis, so we recommend you apply as early as possible. Applications normally close at the end of August for the Part-time programme and at the end of April for the Full-time programme but may close sooner if all places are filled.

Selection process

As the scope of optometric practice varies considerably around the world, interviews may be held with non-UK optometrists, in person or using Zoom, to ensure practitioners have the relevant clinical skills required to undertake this course. You may be required to have particular clinical skills that will be confirmed through references and interview and/or may need to complete primary care modules prior to completing other modules.

Other programme information

Please see the module list for more information on the range of optional modules we offer. There is a very high demand for certain modules and places are allocated on the basis of date of application. If a module is full, wherever possible, we will offer the applicant a place on the next available occurrence.

Modules that are accredited by the College of Optometrists must be completed in order i.e. students must achieve the College’s Professional certificate before selecting the module accredited for the College’s Higher Certificate and must achieve the College’s Higher Certificate before selecting to the module accredited for the College’s Diploma.

Find out more about English language requirements.

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

Criminal convictions

You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course.

If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • access to computers or devices that can store images
  • use of internet and communication tools/devices
  • curfews
  • freedom of movement
  • contact with people related to Cardiff University.

Course structure

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 terms and submit your research project dissertation in week 56.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2024/25 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2024.

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

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

Module titleModule codeCredits
Low Vision 1: TheoryOPT00110 credits
Low Vision 1: TheoryOPT00110 credits
Low Vision 2: PracticalOPT00210 credits
Low Vision 2: PracticalOPT00210 credits
Acute Eye Care in Optometry 1OPT00410 credits
Acute Eye Care in Optometry 2OPT00510 credits
Paediatric OptometryOPT00610 credits
Glaucoma FoundationOPT00910 credits
Glaucoma 1OPT01010 credits
Glaucoma 1OPT01010 credits
Legal Aspects of UK OptometryOPT01310 credits
Management of Tear Film DisordersOPT01410 credits
Medical RetinaOPT02520 credits
Medical RetinaOPT02520 credits
Cataract and Refractive SurgeryOPT02610 credits
Anterior Segment: Clinical Examination and ManagementOPT02710 credits
Study and Research Skills for Eye Care Professionals 2OPT02810 credits
Paediatric Eye Care 2: PracticeOPT03310 credits
Ocular Therapeutics for Minor Eye ConditionsOPT03910 credits
Contact Lenses 1OPT04010 credits
Contact Lenses 1OPT04010 credits
Essential OptometryOPT04820 credits

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.

Learning and assessment

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.

Participation in moderated online discussions is a feature in almost all modules.

Practical workshops for skills training will be held at locations convenient to the module content 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 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.

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.

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

Tuition fees for 2024 entry

Your tuition fees and how you pay them will depend on your fee status. Your fee status could be home, island or overseas.

Learn how we decide your fee status

Fees for home status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £12,060 None

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national, your tuition fees for 2024/25 be in line with the overseas fees for international students, unless you qualify for home fee status. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.

Fees for island status

Learn more about the postgraduate fees for students from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Fees for overseas status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £22,500 £2,500

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Financial support

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

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.

Living costs

We’re based in one of the UK’s most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.


Postgraduate loans

If you are starting your master’s degree in September 2024 or later, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan to support your study at Cardiff University.

Alumni Discount

The alumni discount is available for Cardiff University graduates who are planning to start an eligible master's in 2024/25.

Career prospects

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.

Please note that this Master's degree does not lead to full professional registration with the General Optical Council (GOC), and it does not qualify students to practice in the UK. The GOC may request that you undertake a Pre-Registration year in supervised practice and qualify by taking the College of Optometrists’ exams, this cannot be done during your Master’s programme with us and we do not find you a Pre-Registration placement. If this is what you would like to do, you will need to get in touch with the GOC for advice. Each application to the GOC is considered on an individual basis and therefore does take some time to be processed.

Next steps


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HESA Data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2021. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2019/20, published by HESA in June 2022.