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Operating Department Practice (BSc)

  • Subject area:
  • UCAS code: B992
  • Next intake: September 2021
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Mode: Full time

Entry Year

Why study this course


Professionally accredited

Our programme is accredited by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).


Ranked 1st in the UK

By the Guardian University league table 2020.


State of the art facilities

In which to learn key clinical skills, including two functioning simulated operating theatres and a recovery/critical care environment.


A range of placements

Placements across Wales ensure a range of clinical experiences, as well as opportunities to work or volunteer abroad.

The last intake of new students to this programme will be September 2021. All current and future students studying on the programme will continue their studies at Cardiff University as planned.

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.

Subject area:

  • academic-schoolSchool of Healthcare Sciences
  • icon-chatGet in touch
  • Telephone+44(0) 29 2068 7538
  • MarkerUniversity Hospital of Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff, CF14 4XN

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The changing nature of the pandemic means it can be hard to predict future plans with certainty. Whatever the situation, we're making every effort to keep our students safe and give them the best possible teaching and learning experience.

Entry requirements


Extended/International Project Qualification: Applicants with grade A in the EPQ/IPQ 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.

DMM-MMM in a BTEC Extended Diploma in Health Studies. We will consider BTECs in alternative subjects alongside other academic qualifications and any relevant work or volunteer experience.

29-28 overall or 655-555 in 3 HL subjects.

Other UK qualifications may also be accepted, often in lieu of A-levels, but subject requirements must be met. If you are offering non-UK qualifications, our qualification equivalences guide should allow you to calculate what kind of offer you are likely to receive.

Please be aware that this is a general guide, and that some programmes may have more detailed or specific entry requirements which will be reflected in your offer.


Grade B or grade 6 in GCSE English Language.

IELTS (academic)

At least 7.0 overall with a minimum of 6.5 in all subskills.


At least 100 overall with a minimum of 22 in all subskills.

PTE Academic

At least 70 overall with a minimum of 69 in all communicative skills.

Trinity ISE II/III

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.

You must have or be working towards:
- English language or Welsh language at GCSE grade B/6 or an equivalent (such as A-levels). English Language GCSE C/4 will be accepted where you are taking qualifications at a higher level which are taught through the medium of English such as A-levels.
- four GCSEs at grade C/4 including Maths, and one science (from Biology, Chemistry, and Physics), or equivalent qualifications (subject and grade).

You must also supply a personal statement that is relevant to the profession. If you are applying to more than one professional programme, you should email a bespoke personal statement for each programme to at the same time as submitting your application via UCAS. In your personal statement, you should demonstrate that you understand the profession, have an insight into the course itself, and describe any relevant work experience. Only one personal statement may be submitted for each programme.

We do not accept Critical Thinking, General Studies, Citizenship Studies, or other similar equivalent subjects.
We will accept a combination of BTEC subjects, A-levels, and other qualifications, subject to the course specific grade and subject requirements.

Before starting your course, you will also need to complete an occupational health questionnaire, attend any subsequent appointments and receive all of the necessary vaccinations to undertake clinical placements safely.

You will be required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check if your application is successful. If you are applying from certain countries overseas, a Certificate of Good Conduct may be required. If you have a relevant criminal conviction, this will be stated in the check and may affect your ability to enrol on the course. Applicants who are on the barred list should be aware that applying to this course is likely to be considered a criminal offence.

Please see our admissions policies for more information about the application process.

Interview or selection process

We won’t make an offer without an interview and no offers will be made until all interviews have taken place.

All applicants must meet the minimum requirements at Level 2 (typically GCSE) and Level 3 (typically A-level) in order to be eligible for consideration for interview. If you meet the minimum entry requirements your application will be give a numerical score based on your personal statement. Eligible applicants will be ranked according to this score and the top ranking applicants will be invited to interview

Our interview process

We use the multiple mini interview (MMI) format, which is a series of short, carefully timed interview stations that you will rotate around in turn.

The MMIs help us to determine if you:

  • can think on your feet
  • have thought about some of the issues that are important to the profession
  • can critically appraise information
  • can communicate ideas effectively.

They also focus on exploring the personal qualities and attributes that are important to your future career development.

These interviews allow us to meet you in person and assess information that isn’t always readily forthcoming in the application process—they aren’t intended to test the amount of prior knowledge you have about the subject or the profession.

Tuition fees

Students from the UK

A full NHS bursary, including tuition fees and a non-repayable bursary for living costs, is available to applicants from the UK. Full details, including information for applicants from the EU, are available on our NHS funding 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 for 2021/22 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)

An NHS placement is a required part of this course. The NHS only makes placements available to students who are eligible to pay UK 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.


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

Living costs

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

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 2021/22 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2021.

Year one

Year one modules will lay the foundations for Operating Department Practice which includes anatomy and physiology, anaesthetic practice, surgical practice, health and safety in the perioperative environment, legal and ethical issues, patient monitoring, academic skills, evidence-based practice and research.

Many of the clinical aspects in University will be supported by sessions in the clinical skills suite where you will develop and practice essential skills in a safe environment, supervised by qualified academic staff. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to explore cases and scenarios to enable you to develop essential critical thinking skills and further enhance your ability to apply theory to practice. This will help you to develop a solid foundation of knowledge and skills which will be developed and applied in clinical practice whilst out on placement throughout your first year.

You will have the opportunity to undertake interprofessional education (IPE) with students from other programmes to develop knowledge of other professions and underpin the multi-disciplinary teamwork that is vital in clinical practice. Opportunities to develop awareness of own profession and that of other professionals supporting the patient journey will be introduced in year one through interprofessional education.

You will work within a group of students from your own programme to develop your understanding of the role of the ODP and share this as a poster with students from other programmes within the School of Healthcare Sciences.

Year two

Year two builds on the foundations established in year one and extends them further. You will explore more complex physiology, pathophysiology and pharmacology and how it applies to the perioperative environment.

You will extend your knowledge base and experience by being exposed to more complex cases and procedures. You will develop your ability to care for patients across a diverse age range from infants to the aging individual. You will also explore the role of the ODP in obstetrics.

You will develop your problem solving skills and ability to work as a multi-professional team in emergency situations and how to tackle the more common emergency situations.

Knowledge will be developed and underpinned by appropriate national and local guidelines and policies. You will develop the skills needed to explore and find information and how to evaluate and critique information and evidence.

Further involvement in inter-professional education will encourage knowledge and understanding of the patient pathway and the role of the ODP within that pathway. IPE will provide you with opportunities to work with the School of Healthcare Sciences students from other programmes developing your understanding of team working and communication within the multidisciplinary healthcare environment.

Groups will be made up of students from three professions and will, using enquiry based learning, explore real life team working situations from practice.

Year three

In the final year of the programme you will be required to practice more autonomously (under supervision), balance competing demands and evaluate your own learning. You will undertake modules which will help you to prepare for transition to practice, examining leadership and service improvement.

From a clinical perspective you will explore the role of the ODP in caring for critically ill patients and will have the opportunity to attend placement outside of the operating theatre. You will explore how the skills and knowledge of the ODP are used and applied in a variety of situations and locations such as Intensive Care Units, Emergency Departments and Cardiac arrests.

You will complete your final year by undertaking a dissertation where you will explore an area of service improvement and write in a style suitable for publication and then defend your work via a presentation. These skills combined will enable you to enter practice as a confident and competent practitioner of the future.

Developing on inter-professional education gained in years one and two you will have an opportunity to develop a topic or area of interest with colleagues from other professions where you will be able to engage with students in the School and / or beyond to develop understanding of leadership, management and resilience when working within a multi-professional team.

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

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.

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.

in 2019 100% of our graduates were in employment and/or further study 6 months post-graduation. (*Unistats 2019).

Our programmes offer a considerable amount of time on practice-based learning opportunities which help develop confidence, abilities and employability as a healthcare professional. You will be offered additional learning opportunities that relate to your degree, but give additional qualifications such as, Acute Life Threatening Events Recognition & Treatment (ALERT) and Practical Obstetric Multi-Professional Training (PROMPT)

Employers can include: Health boards and NHS trusts, Community health services, International health services, Higher education institutions and private institutes. Graduates have also gone on to complete further study including MSc, MBA, PGCE and PhD.

Graduate careers

  • Operating department practitioner


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).

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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.