Skip to content

Operating Department Practice (BSc)

Entry year

Our new BSc (Hons) programme is designed to prepare you for demanding clinical practice immediately upon qualification, and also to prepare you to continue your learning beyond registration and to promote continuous improvement in patient care.

Book an Open Day

Course overview

The BSc Operating Department Practice course aims to prepare you for the demands of clinical practice and provide you with a platform for a rewarding career in operating departments and other medical settings.

Operating Department Practitioners are registered health professionals who work both autonomously and as skilled members of an inter-professional team. They support patients’ emotional and physical wellbeing during surgery through ensuring infection control and safety standards are met, monitor patients’ vital signs and manage patients’ pain. During surgery, they are responsible for monitoring equipment and disposables.

Our three-year course combines university study with clinical placements, working alongside practising professionals and with patients. Through a vibrant interdisciplinary environment we aim to supply a shared learning, inter-professional education which is not available at many institutions. The degree aims to prepare you for clinical practice, and enables you to continue learning beyond registration, promoting continuous improvement in patient care.

Graduates will be eligible to apply for registration as an Operating Department Practitioner (ODP) with the Health and Care Professions Council. After qualifying, most ODPs are primarily based in the operating department, but can also work in accident and emergency departments, intensive care units, maternity departments and as members of the cardiac arrest team.

During your application to the course you will be required to demonstrate that you meet the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) good health and character, fitness to practise requirements. This will be achieved by providing a satisfactory Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificate. All successful applicants will be required to have a satisfactory health screening prior to enrolment on this course, which is conducted independently by the University’s Occupational Health Department. Full guidance on this will be provided at application stage.

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS: We regret that this course is unable to accept applications from international fee-status applicants because of its association with the National Health Service (NHS) and the restrictions on funding and clinical placements.

Distinctive features

The distinctive features of the course include:

  • Since September 2014 the School of Healthcare Sciences has been the only higher education institution in Wales offering a BSc Honours course in Operating Department Practice.
  • Graduates are eligible to apply for registration as an Operating Department Practitioner with the Health and Care Professions Council.
  • The School provides pre-registration courses recognised by the UK Health & Care Professions Council in radiotherapy and oncology, occupational therapy, operating department practice, physiotherapy and diagnostic radiography and imaging. It also provides pre-registration courses in nursing and midwifery. This contributes to a vibrant interdisciplinary environment, with opportunities for shared learning and inter-professional education not available at many institutions.


UCAS codeB991
Next intakeSeptember 2018
Duration3 years
ModeFull time
Typical places availableThe course typically has approximately 40 places available.
Typical applications receivedThe School typically receives approximately 250 applications.

Entry requirements

BCC. You will not need to achieve these from any specific subjects but please note General Studies will not be accepted. 

Extended Project Qualification: Applicants with grade A in the EPQ will typically receive an offer one grade lower than the standard A level offer. Please note that any subject specific requirements must still be met.

The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.

The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.

34 points to include 5 in a science subject at Higher Level.

Alternative qualifications may be accepted. For further information on entry requirements, see the School of Healthcare Sciences admissions criteria pages.

If you are an overseas applicant and your first language is not English, please visit our English Language requirements page for more information on our accepted qualifications.

You will require five GCSEs grade A-C or grade 8-4 including English, Maths, and one other science. If you are successful in both academic and non-academic assessment you will also be invited to attend a multiple mini interview.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2018/19)

A full NHS bursary, including tuition fees and a non-repayable bursary for living costs, is available for this programme. Further details are available on our NHS funding pages.

Students from outside the EU (2018/19)

An NHS placement is a required part of this course. The NHS only makes placements available to students who are eligible to pay UK/EU fees. Therefore, this course is not available for international students.

Additional costs

Applicants are required to meet the costs of obtaining a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Certificate.

Applicants are advised that while you may be entitled to be reimbursed for some of the costs you incur whilst attending practice placements, you will be required to cover the initial costs for later reimbursement. This may include both accommodation and travel costs (if they are in excess of your normal daily travel costs to your University base).

Course specific equipment

You will need to provide suitable footwear to wear in clinical placements. Advice on acceptable footwear will be given when you commence the programme.


We have a range of residences to suit your needs and budget. Find out more on our accommodation pages.

Course structure

This modular course is offered in a full time format over three academic years, with 120 credits being studied each year.  You must pass successfully all components before being able to proceed.

You will gain theoretical and practical knowledge in 17 academic/clinical modules. Clinical placements account for over 60% of the course and allow you to build upon your knowledge to develop necessary skills through additional theoretical input and practical instruction in the clinical environment.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2018/19 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2018.

Year one

Year one introduces you to the concepts and principles that underpin Operating Department Practice. You will be guided to develop a questioning, reflective approach and to apply this approach in clinical practice. You will study a total of 6 modules in year one and approximately 25 weeks will be spent on placement.

The taught modules in year one total 120 credits. All are core (compulsory).

Year two

In year two you will be encouraged to take a greater responsibility for your own development, demonstrating a greater reflective approach compared to year one. Again, you will study a total of 6 modules and approximately 25 weeks of the year will be spent on placement.

The taught modules in year two total 120 credits. All are core (compulsory).

Year three

Year three enables you to develop as an effective professional, fully prepared for practice in the multi-disciplinary environment of the operating department. A total of 5 modules, including a double credit dissertation project will be undertaken, along with approximately 23 weeks on clinical placement.

The taught modules in year three total 120 credits. All are core (compulsory).

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?

The School of Healthcare Sciences is committed to developing knowledge which directly improves health outcomes and health care for patients. Top-quality teaching relies on academic and clinical expertise of lecturers and visiting clinicians.

Lectures, tutorials, workshops, simulations, seminar style discussions, online discussions, presentations and specific group work will all feature as part of your degree.  You will be expected to fully participate in the School's inter-professional activities and modules.

All courses are designed to be stimulating, flexible and relevant to the needs of a professional healthcare career. Great emphasis has been placed on the practical and clinical aspects of the course, all of which have been accredited by the relevant professional bodies.

Emphasis is also placed on working in a multi-disciplinary team. Opportunities for shared learning and inter-professional education training alongside students from other disciplines are increasingly embedded.

How will I be supported?

You will have regular meetings with your personal tutor who will provide pastoral support and academic guidance throughout the programme. In addition you will be assigned an academic supervisor for year 3 of the programme who will support you in the development of your dissertation.

Our virtual learning environment is accessible via desktop and mobile devices, allowing you to access electronic resources from anywhere. Dedicated computer labs, student study rooms, campus-wide WiFi networks, printing facilities and a dedicated Healthcare library are available year-round. Staff are available onsite to assist students and provide support and advice.

The School of Healthcare Sciences has recently invested in new facilities and equipment, aiming to provide some of the best technology and modern facilities at your disposal.

You will have access through the Learning Central website to relevant multimedia material, presentations, lecture handouts, bibliographies, further links, electronic exercises and discussion circles.

The University offers a range of services including the Careers Service, the Counselling Service, the Disability and Dyslexia Service, the Student Support Service, and excellent libraries and resource centres.


We will provide you with feedback on your work in a variety of formats. These will include oral feedback during tutorials, feedback provided during lectures, written feedback provided through online module discussion forums, and electronic written feedback on assessed coursework through GradeMark. You will be provided with summary written feedback in relation to examinations and you can discuss your overall performance with your personal tutor.  During clinical placements you will be supported in your progress by mentors/clinical teachers who will provide verbal and written feedback on your clinical competency.

How will I be assessed?

Assessment is a vital part of the learning process that will enable you to quantify your achievements as well as identifying your own strengths and weaknesses, thereby enabling you to plan and direct your studies more effectively. Furthermore, it is recognised within the design of the programme that, as learning is a progressive and cumulative process, assessment represents an integral and continuous part of this process rather than being an additional, separate aspect.  This programme includes specific formative and summative assessments for each module that collectively demonstrate the application and consolidation of learning throughout the programme.  Learning outcomes are constructively aligned with specified methods of assessment, thereby promoting explicitness along with content and construct validity.  The assessment strategy is based upon Cardiff University Academic Regulations and guidance from the College of Operating Department Practitioners (CODP, 2011) and the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA, 2013).   

Operating department practice requires the application of knowledge and understanding in the clinical context to inform the provision of the highest possible standards of patient care. Consequently, all module assessments are related, as far as possible, to clinical practice and allow you to apply academic knowledge and understanding to realistic practice situations and the clinical environment. This clinical focus is reflected in the module learning outcomes.

In addition to academic assessments, you will also be expected to develop and demonstrate proficiency in a range of clinical skills, as specified by the relevant module learning outcomes and end of year clinical milestones. Demonstration of clinical proficiency in these module outcomes is a mandatory component of the programme and is assessed on a pass or fail basis. These competences will be assessed in the practice setting by clinical mentors who are registered practitioners and, although they are registered with the School, are generally employed by the placement provider. As such, clinical assessment is conducted in terms of professional competence rather than academic standards (Benner, 1982), and for this reason this assessment does not contribute to the final module marks. Assessment of clinical reasoning and clinical decision making will, however, also be assessed academically as a part of the oral case presentations.

Feedback will be provided formally and informally.  Aspects of self-evaluation will be considered in the formative assessment of relevant modules, and during practice education.  You will be encouraged to evaluate your strengths and needs, accepting increasing responsibility for professional and academic development. 

What skills will I practise and develop?

You will acquire and develop a range of valuable skills, both those which are discipline specific and more generic ‘employability skills’.

The  purpose built Clinical Skills Suite at Eastgate House includes two mock operating theatres and a further practical room set up for recovery/intensive care scenarios. Clinical based teaching in these areas will allow you to develop skills, necessary for clinical placement, in a safe environment.

Careers and placements

Career prospects

On qualifying, most Operating Department Practitioners are primarily based in the operating department but there may also be opportunities in accident and emergency departments, intensive care units, maternity departments and as members of the cardiac arrest team.

We are committed to supporting recent graduates in finding meaningful employment. Online and text-message-based systems highlight job postings, relevant courses, job application advice and other valuable employability information.

This is a comparatively new course but, in general, graduates of the School have the third-highest job prospects of the 72 institutions in 'Subjects Allied to Medicine' in the Times Good University Guide 2012.


  • Operating department practitioners


Clinical placements are provided on an All-Wales basis with an expectation that you will rotate between geographical locations. Placements are allocated with the aim of ensuring as wide an experience as possible for students.

Placement assessment is conducted on a multi-professional basis, and you will be assessed by those most suited to the requirements of the assessment.


Next Undergraduate Open Day

Friday 5 July




Get in touch


How to apply