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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.

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Operating Department Practice students in theatre

Course overview

Do you have an interest in anaesthetics, surgery and patient care? Join us and study at the only higher education institution in Wales and the only Russell Group University offering a BSc Honours course in Operating Department Practice.

Our programme is accredited by the UK Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Meaning you will be eligible to apply to the HCPC (Health and Care Professions Council) for registration upon completion and will be able to practice as a registered Operating Department Practitioner.

It’s an exciting, challenging and rewarding career choice which is very unique and practical. Operating Department Practitioners (ODPs) are vital members of a multidisciplinary team. They support patient’s emotional and physical well-being throughout surgery from anaesthetics, through surgery and into recovery.

A career in Operating Department Practice provides opportunities to explore innovation in practice and have the privilege to be part of a team that changes people’s lives. Operating Department Practice offers you the chance to work in a stimulating, sociable and supportive environment working closely with other healthcare professions daily as part of multi-disciplinary teams, patients and their families.

You’ll be taught skills that encompass all three phases of the perioperative journey anaesthetics, surgery and post anaesthetic care. However, although primarily based within the perioperative environment the role can be seen in other areas outside of the operating theatre, where these skills are required or can be adapted to meet other needs.

Our course combines both academic study and clinical placements. Within academic study, not only do you get support from a personal tutor and an innovative team of academics in a close-knit class, you will be supported in our recently refurbished simulation suite to practice and hone your taught skills before going out into practice

Our clinical placements take place throughout Wales; working alongside a dedicated placement mentor, knowledgeable practising professionals and with real patients. Meaning you’ll be more competitive in the employment market throughout Wales and the UK and have a broader insight as to the wide-ranging employment opportunities available to you upon qualification.

After qualifying, most ODPs are primarily based in the operating department, but can also work in areas as diverse as accident and emergency departments, intensive care units, maternity departments and as members of the cardiac arrest team. In fact, anywhere anaesthetic or surgical intervention is required.

Be a part of something special and take on a rewarding challenge that will make a difference to people’s lives.

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 codeB992
Next intakeSeptember 2020
Duration3 years
ModeFull time

The only higher education institution in Wales and the only Russell Group University offering BSc Operating Department Practice.

Entry requirements

The entry requirements shown are for students starting in 2019. Entry requirements for 2020 will be available in August 2019.

BCC no specific subjects  We will also accept:

  • Welsh Baccalaureate in lieu of an A' level
  • Access Courses - 21 merits and 24 distinctions at level 3
  Please visit Other essential requirements for the School of Healthcare Sciences  

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.

  • BTEC Extended National Diploma Cert in Science or Health Studies - Distinction / Merit / Merit

  • International Bacc offer - 24 points to include 1 subject at Higher Level grade 5

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

IELTS (academic)

At least 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each sub-score.


At least 90 with minimum scores of 17 for writing, 17 for listening, 18 for reading and 20 for speaking.

PTE Academic

62 with a minimum of 51 in all communicative skills.

Trinity ISE II/III

II: at least two Distinctions and two Merits.
III: at least a Pass in all components.

Other accepted qualifications

Please visit our English Language requirements page for more information on our other accepted language qualifications.

Typical offers for other qualifications (inc Scottish Highers, Irish Leaving Certificate, Cambridge Pre-U, etc.): In line with UCAS tariff for BCC at A' level English language requirements are in line with HCPC guidelines. Applicants whose first language is not English and who are required to provide a language test certificate as evidence of their proficiency must ensure that it is, or is comparable to, IELTS level 7.0 with no element below 6.5’ (HCPC) IELTS (academic) - At least 7.0 overall with no less than 7.0 in speaking and a minimum of 6.5 all other sub-scores TOEFL iBT - At least 100 with minimum scores of 24 for writing, 22 for listening, 24 for reading and 25 for speaking Pearson Test of English (academic) -70 with 70 in speaking and no less than 62 in any of the other skills   Any specific GCSE requirements: A minimum of five GCSEs grade A-C or grade 8-4 including English, Maths and a science.   It is essential that before commencing any of our undergraduate healthcare programmes, you must have obtained a satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. In addition, before enrolling on your programme, you will be required to complete an Occupational Health Questionnaire, attend any subsequent appointment(s), and receive all of the necessary vaccinations to undertake clinical placements safely.   Any questions contact:;   

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2020/21)

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 (2020/21)

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.

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

The Programme takes place over three years of full-time study. It follows a modular framework with each academic year consisting of four modules, representing a single level of learning.  Credits are allocated in accordance with the Cardiff University Credit Accumulation System for Higher Education. A single level is equal to 120 credits and the award of BSc (Hons) Operating Department Practice requires the accumulation of 360 credits. However, Level 4 represents foundation studies with only Levels 5 and 6 contributing towards the final classification of the degree.

The programme is delivered through a modular system that develops the students’ knowledge whilst guiding and supporting them to apply this theoretical knowledge to their clinical practice.

Throughout the programme students will be provided with the tools and knowledge necessary to allow them to develop their academic skills and inquiry. Concepts and principles of critical thinking, research and evaluation are intertwined throughout the programme from the start, providing students with the tools needed for successful completion. Additionally, these skills will help prepare the student for lifelong learning and inquiry in their future practice.

Being part of the School of Healthcare Sciences at Cardiff University, you will get opportunities to study alongside learners from other programmes within the School, including: Occupational Therapy, Diagnostic Radiography and Imaging, Radiotherapy and Oncology, Physiotherapy and Midwifery. Interprofessional education activities will be integrated with ODP modules throughout the three years and provide opportunities to explore personal identity, roles, values and approaches of learners from different disciplines. Interprofessional learning will be delivered using an enquiry-based approach and action learning sets to develop skills to explore areas of practice and learn with and from each other. Learners will be exposed to learning opportunities and work in collaboration with each other to develop and explore their own questions.

The programme will be delivered using a variety of methods. Whole group lectures, interprofessional learning, small group sessions and workshops and clinical skills as well as group work activities. The programme will provide online resources and activities that students are required to undertake. This may take the form of delivering some content via online video which students must watch before attending sessions. This enables us to spend more face to face time discussing issues, covering clinical scenarios and helping students to develop their abilities to link theory to practice.

Independent studies are also an important aspect of the programme. Specific work may be set for these sessions, but students will also be required to identify gaps in their understanding and initially address these in self-study or independent learning sessions. Self-study will initially be directed but students will gradually be encouraged and expected to work independently. Further clarification and explanation can then be sought during tutorial and/or practical sessions. Information to support learning and teaching sessions is presented through the virtual learning environment (VLE) of Learning Central.

Reading lists are provided throughout the Programme via Module Descriptors which are available via Learning Central. You will be given advice about how to make best use of these.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2020/21 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2020.

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).

Module titleModule codeCredits
Care of the Critically Ill PatientHC330930 credits
Professional TransitionHC331030 credits
Enhancing Surgical PracticeHC331120 credits
DissertationHC331240 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?

The programme has been designed to focus on the integrated relationship between all the subjects and topics with a key focus on application of theory to practice of Operating Department Practice in all modules.

Due to the practical nature of Operating Department Practice, the programme has been structured with 60% of the programme time in clinical practice placements over the 3 years, to enable the integration of theory to clinical practice. You are required to complete a minimum of 2,400 hours in clinical placements over the three years. You will record your practice hours in your practice assessment document for each placement.

Diverse learning and teaching methods are used throughout to reflect module content, students' developing knowledge and growing expertise. All modules have a formalised teaching and learning structure which employ a range of formal lectures and blended learning, tutorials, workshops, practical skills sessions and self-directed learning. A focus on directed self-study enables development of a student-centred approach to learning. Specific work may be set but you will also be required to identify gaps in personal understanding and initially address these in self-study or independent learning sessions.

In keeping with the professional clinical environment, great emphasis is placed on working in a multi-disciplinary team. There are opportunities embedded in all 3 years for shared and inter-professional education and you will have the opportunity to engage with students from a range of other healthcare disciplines.

This programme offers elements of provision through the medium of Welsh.

How will I be supported?

You will be assigned a personal tutor throughout your studies with whom you will have regular meetings. They will provide pastoral support and academic guidance throughout the duration of your studies. In addition you will be assigned an academic supervisor who will support you in the development of your dissertation. When you are out on practice-based learning in placement you will be assigned to a Practice Educator and mentor who will support you with your practice-based learning.

Our clinical skills suite is accessible via a booking process through the lecturing staff. Dedicated Operating Department Practice resource room, 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.

You will have access through the Learning Central VLE to relevant multimedia material, presentations, videos, lecture capture, bibliographies, further links, electronic exercises and discussion forums.

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

How will I be assessed?

Assessments include written assignments (including report writing), visual and verbal presentations, practical examination, portfolio creation, clinical assessment, and the production of a research dissertation in year three.


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 Feedback Studio (Cardiff University’s’ online assessment and feedback tool). Feedback on summative assessments will be provided within 20 working days in lines with the Schools Assessment and Feedback Strategy.

You will be provided with written feedback in relation to examinations and assignments and you can discuss your overall performance with your personal tutor.  During practice-based placement experiences you will be supported by mentors/clinical educators who will provide verbal and written feedback on your progress and clinical performance.

What skills will I practise and develop?

Knowledge & Understanding:

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

  • Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of the principles, theories and practices associated with Operating Department Practice;
  • Extend the body of professional knowledge through personal enquiry


Intellectual Skills:

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

  • Critically analyse and evaluate practices in order to support and develop patient centred care
  • Utilise information from a variety of sources to develop coherent arguments and appropriate clinical judgements in routine, complex and unpredictable situations


Professional Practical Skills:

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

  • Conduct themselves, and accept responsibilities in accordance with the Health and Care Professions Council Code of Professional Conduct, Performance and Ethics
  • Manage information and communicate effectively with stakeholders using appropriate methods


Transferable/Key Skills:

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

  • Independently analyse complex and abstract information
  • Critically evaluate and take responsibility for your own practice and development needs
  • Work effectively and professionally as part of the multi-disciplinary team, supporting or providing leadership
  • Actively contribute to service improvement and innovation through individual and group enterprise

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


Students will undertake the required clinical placement learning in all three academic years. Clinical practice accounts for 60% of the total programme time. Clinical placement lengths vary depending on the level of study but each placement is typically between 5 and 7 weeks in length. Placements are usually completed back to back which means that students may complete two placements before returning back to University for further academic input and support.

Students will have the optional opportunity to undertake a four week elective placement during either year 2 or 3 of their programme. There may be an opportunity for this placement to be overseas (at the students own expense).


Next Undergraduate Open Day

Saturday 14 September




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