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Therapeutic Prescribing for Optometrists (PgCert)

  • Duration: 1 year
  • Mode: Part time blended learning

Start date

Open day

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

Why study this course

This course will provide optometrists with a broad education in prescribing practice that will equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills to enhance their career and contribute effectively to extended professional roles.

The specific aim of the programme is to prepare optometrists to practise as independent prescribers and to meet the standards set by the General Optical Council for entry on to the appropriate specialist therapeutic prescribing register.

The School of Optometry will provide a supportive environment for you to advance your professional and personal development, offering high quality modules relevant to optometry that are informed by research and taught by leaders in the field.

The programme provides a flexible pathway to level 7 qualifications. It will cultivate an understanding of evidence-based practice in eye care and enable you to safely practice at the forefront of your profession to an appropriate level of competence.

Distinctive features

  • The course meets the standards set by the General Optical Council for entry on to the appropriate specialist therapeutic prescribing register
  • Learn with one of the leading Optometry Schools in the UK, ranked 1st in the Complete University Guide 2018
  • It will equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to enhance your career and contribute effectively to extended professional roles
  • The involvement of research-active staff in course design and delivery

The only ‘Therapeutic Prescribing for Optometrists’ course available in Wales

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

Academic requirements:

Typically, you will need to have either:

  • full GOC registration with at least 
  • or, an Honours degree in Optometry or a professional optometric qualification.

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.

English language requirements:

IELTS with an overall score of 6.5 with 5.5 in all subskills, or an accepted equivalent.

Other essential requirements:

You should have been in practice for two years before commencing the Therapeutic Prescribing course.

If you are not registered with the GOC you will need to provide 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 and Volk experience. If it is not possible to provide a professional reference academic references will be considered. 

If you are interested in taking the Independent Prescribing module (OPT036) then you will need to provide evidence of your experience in the intended area of practice as an IP optometrist (primary care, glaucoma or both) before starting the module. You do not need to submit this evidence as part of the application but we will request this from students enrolled on the programme before they are permitted to start OPT036.

Application Deadline: 

We allocate places on a first-come, first-served basis, so we recommend you apply as early as possible.

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 Skype, 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.


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 Postgraduate Certificate in Therapeutic Prescribing for Optometrists consists of three taught modules of 20 credits each. The modules are taught principally using distance learning: A series of articles (on the diagnosis and management of relevant eye conditions as well as on the principles of medical prescribing), webinars in which cases are discussed and online lectures. Contact days (one session of two days per module) enable clinical hands-on workshops and face to face case discussions.

Upon completion of the third module, a clinical placement is required and the passing of a final exam set by the College of Optometrists for registration for candidates who are aiming for 'Independent Prescriber' registration (IP) with the GOC. For international candidates not wishing to register their qualification in the UK, a clinical placement is not mandatory. In line with other UK courses, the placement is not part of the University provision.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2022/23 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2022.

This modular postgraduate course is designed to enable fully qualified optometrists to gain Independent Prescriber status. The course consists of three modules held over 1 year (2 semesters). Each of the three modules carries 20 postgraduate credits. These credits count towards further postgraduate qualifications such as the Diploma and MSc in Clinical Optometry.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Ocular TherapeuticsOPT03420 credits
Practical PrescribingOPT03520 credits
Independent PrescribingOPT03620 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?

Each module offers a variety of teaching and learning methods, making extensive use of the Virtual Learning Environment and online resources. There are online lectures and online articles. Webinars enable remote case discussions. Practical face to face days allow interactive workshops and face to face case-based discussion.

Authors and teachers include optometrists (IP), ophthalmologists, Pharmacologists, GPs, Microbiologists, Ophthalmic & clinical pharmacists. 

How will I be assessed?

A range of assessment methods will be used on the programme in order to reflect the high level of decision making skills and knowledge required for advanced clinical care in optometry.
The programme utilises a combination of formative and summative assessment in all modules, where the assessment tasks are aligned with learning outcomes.
You are required to submit case records in every module. You have the opportunity to submit a formative case record to receive detailed feedback prior to submitting your summative report.  Timed, written examinations allow assessment of knowledge and skills. All modules require some participation in online discussions to optimise learning – this is particularly important to draw distance learners together and provide a support peer network, at the same time as improving communication skills.

How will I be supported?

You can enrol online, but you are required to attend a face to face teaching day in person, held towards the start of the programme. This will provide the opportunity to meet other students on the course as well as the teachers. The student handbook and module catalogue offer some additional guidance.

Throughout the course Module Leaders and Tutors are available via email. They also hold regular online webinars which will allow you to interact with other students and the module leader.

A personal tutor is the first contact for any difficulties, academic or personal. As an alternative, you may contact the Director of the PGT programmes.

The Student Support Service at Cardiff University is able to help with many diverse issues should you feel unable to approach staff in OTOM.

What skills will I practise and develop?

Knowledge & Understanding:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • A knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the eye and adnexa.
  • A knowledge of the pathophysiology, clinical features and natural course of the conditions being treated.
  • An understanding of the public health issues related to medicines use.
  • An understanding of the legal, ethical and professional framework for accountability and responsibility in relation to prescribing.
  • An understanding of his or her role as an independent prescriber, an awareness of the limitations of his or her experience and an ability to work within the limits of his or her professional competence.

Intellectual Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • An ability to apply knowledge of the theory and practice relating to the expected occurrence (epidemiology), the underlying disease processes (pathology) and their treatment (therapeutics or surgical intervention) as relevant to abnormal ocular conditions.
  • An ability to demonstrate a detailed knowledge of ocular therapeutic drugs.
  • An ability to critically evaluate sources of information, advice and decision support in prescribing practice, taking into account current evidence based practice.

Professional Practical Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • An ability to evaluate the principal signs and symptoms likely to be associated with various types of eye disease and to conduct appropriate ophthalmic investigations.
  • An ability to recognise the presence of ocular abnormalities and eye disease, make a differential diagnosis and make decisions on the appropriate management strategies.
  • An ability to take a comprehensive medical history and examine the eye and adnexa using appropriate instrumentation and clinical techniques.
  • An ability to identify the nature and severity of the presenting condition and to generate an appropriate patient-specific clinical management plan

Transferable/Key Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • Further develop good communication skills
  • Further develop professionalism towards colleagues and patients
  • Exercise initiative, self-reliance and time-management skills for their own independent learning
  • Exercise problem solving and IT skills
  • Access and utilise information form a variety of resources
  • Appreciate alternative viewpoints


What are the learning outcomes of this course/programme?

  • To be able to assess the signs and symptoms of anterior eye disease to make a differential diagnosis and to rank available treatment options and formulate, recommend and defend (by providing evidence of appraisal of the literature) an appropriate management plan.
  • To be able to evaluate the response of anterior eye disease to treatment and choose to revise the diagnosis and management plan, or not, justifying and explaining the choice(s) made.
  • To be able to combine the information from investigations to rank potential treatment options and to formulate, recommend and justify (by providing evidence of appraisal of the literature) an appropriate management plan for patients with ocular hypertension and glaucoma.
  • To be able to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment to lower intra-ocular pressure in patients with ocular hypertension and glaucoma and to review the management plan accordingly or not, defending and explaining the choice(s) made
  • To be able to rank potential treatment options and to formulate and review a management plan for people with eye disease, evidencing an understanding of the diverse influences on prescribing decisions including local and national guidance, clinical effectiveness, general health, cost, safety concerns/ side effects and patient choice and explaining and justifying the choices made to patients and colleagues .

Tuition fees for 2022 entry

Students from the UK

Fees will be invoiced by module. Normally, invoices will be released shortly after enrolment for each individual module. For more information please refer to our tuition fees pages.

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss national, unless you qualify for UK fee status, tuition fees will be in line with the fees charged for international students. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.

Students from the rest of the world (international)

Fees will be invoiced by module. Normally, invoices will be released shortly after enrolment for each individual module. For more information please refer to our tuition fees pages.

Additional costs

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

As the majority of the course is delivered online you will need access to a computer with high speed internet access

The University will provide all equipment which is required for the practical day training within the clinic.

Living costs

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

Careers and placements

The specific aim of the programme is to prepare optometrists to practise as independent prescribers and to meet the standards set by the General Optical Council for entry on to the appropriate specialist therapeutic prescribing register.



UK Government master’s funding

If you are starting your master’s degree in September 2021 or later, you may be able to apply for UK Government postgraduate funding to support your study at Cardiff University.

Next steps


Open Day visits

Register for information about our 2021 dates.

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HESA data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2020. 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 2017/18, published by HESA in June 2020.