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Optometry with Preliminary Year (MOptom)

  • Subject area: Optometry
  • UCAS code: B514
  • Next intake: September 2025
  • Duration: 5 years
  • Mode: Full time

Entry year

MOptom prelim

Why study this course

This 5-year programme consists of a foundation year followed by our 4-year MOptom programme, and will provide you with the required knowledge to register as an optometrist.


Embedded higher qualifications

Our programmes have embedded higher professional qualifications which enable you to specialise in a particular area of interest.


98% employment

98% of our graduates were in highly skilled jobs 15 months after their course ended.(Graduate Outcomes 2018/19 survey)


£22 million optometry facility

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

We combine progressive healthcare education, high quality patient care, world class research, and exceptional clinical and teaching facilities to inspire you to become an outstanding optometrist.

Today’s optometrists are autonomous eyecare clinicians who play a direct role in improving patients’ eyesight and eye health. Optometrists practise in diverse healthcare settings including community, hospital, and domiciliary environments. They work with patients and the public to assess, diagnose, treat, and manage problems with the eyes and visual system. They may help patients by prescribing optical appliances such as spectacles and contact lenses, by managing eye health problems including with therapeutic drug or laser treatments, as well as providing preventative, rehabilitative and other eye care management advice to members of the public.

Eye healthcare is a rapidly evolving field, and registered optometrists can choose to train further in an expanding range of clinical sub-specialities.  Many of today’s optometrists prescribe medicines for eye problems independently of a doctor and play a vital role in eye healthcare teams.

Our programme will allow you to gain the knowledge and skills to register as an optometrist with the General Optical Council.  You will learn to manage confidently and autonomously a wide range of optical and medical eye problems at qualification.  You will have unique opportunities to observe and work in our in-house University specialist eye clinics led by our highly qualified multi-disciplinary eyecare team.  Later, during your programme, you will take on more responsibility for patient care and hone your clinical skills whilst working both during your extended clinical learning in practice organised by the College of Optometrists and in our University specialist clinics.  

Embedded in our programme are opportunities to achieve selected higher qualifications from the College of Optometrists, preparing you for expanding roles and future changes in the optometric profession.  You will establish an excellent foundation for further specialist postgraduate clinical or research career pathways, and you will be well prepared to address lifelong learning, leadership, and professional development challenges, allowing you to thrive in modern UK optometric practice.


Subject area: Optometry

Entry requirements

We accept a combination of A-levels and other qualifications, as well as equivalent international qualifications subject to entry requirements. Typical offers are as follows:

A level

ABB-BBB. Including a maximum of one science subject from Biology, Chemistry, Maths, and Physics. You will need to pass the science practical element of the A-level if this is part of your programme of study.

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

Our grade range covers our standard offer and contextual offer. We carefully consider the circumstances in which you've been studying (your contextual data) upon application.

  • Eligible students will be given an offer at the lower end of the advertised grade range.
  • Where there is no grade range advertised and/or where there are selection processes in place (like an interview) you may receive additional points in the selection process or be guaranteed interview/consideration.

Learn about eligible courses and how contextual data is applied.

International Baccalaureate

32-31 overall or 665 in 3 HL subjects. Must include a maximum of one science subject from Biology, Chemistry, Maths, and Physics.

Baccalaureate Wales

From September 2023, there will be a new qualification called the Advanced Skills Baccalaureate Wales (level 3). This qualification will replace the Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate (Welsh Baccalaureate). The qualification will continue to be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.

You must have or be working towards:
- English language or Welsh language at GCSE grade C/4 or an equivalent (such as A-levels). If you require a Student visa, you must ensure your language qualification complies with UKVI requirements.
- GCSE Maths grade C/4 or equivalent qualification (subject and grade). If you are taking A-level Maths (or equivalent), GCSE Maths is not required. Core Maths may also be accepted in place of GCSE Maths.

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.


Grade C or grade 4 in GCSE English Language.

IELTS (academic)

At least 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each subskill.


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

PTE Academic

At least 69 overall with a minimum of 59 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.

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.

Other qualifications from inside the UK


DDM in a BTEC RQF Extended Diploma in Applied Science with Distinction in each of the Core/Mandatory units.

T level

Acceptance of T Levels for this programme will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Academic School. Consideration will be given to the T Level grade/subject and grades/subjects achieved at GCSE/Level 2.

Qualifications from outside the UK

See our qualification equivalences guide

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

Tuition fees for 2025 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

We are currently awaiting confirmation on tuition fees for the 2025/26 academic year.

The University reserves the right to increase tuition fees in the second and subsequent years of a course as permitted by law or Welsh Government policy. Where applicable we will notify you of any change in tuition fee by the end of June in the academic year before the one in which the fee will increase.

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

We are currently awaiting confirmation on tuition fees for the 2025/26 academic year.

Fees for island status

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

Fees for overseas status

We are currently awaiting confirmation on tuition fees for the 2025/26 academic year.

Additional costs

You are required to register with the GOC, and apply for an Enhanced DBS check.  There is a fee payable for both.  

At the start of the programme, we will loan you the equipment necessary for the programme. A £250 deposit is required for this equipment and will be fully refunded at the end of the programme provided the equipment is returned in good order. All other equipment is provided within our clinical facilities.

During Year 4 you will undertake a period of salaried clinical learning in practice. You will be able to request the location for this which could be across the UK.  You may need to travel back to the University for in-person assessments.  Therefore, you will need to consider associated accommodation and travel costs. 

One day each week whilst on learning in practice away from the University, you will undertake distance learning, therefore you will need access to IT equipment to join webinars and other online teaching activities.


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 Master of Optometry with preliminary year is taught full time over 5 academic years. In each year you will study 120 credits worth of modules.

Year 1, 2 and 3 are taught at the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences and all modules are compulsory.  

Year 4 (your 5th year of study) consists of the extended learning in practice modules, organised by the College of Optometrists, which will be undertaken in an optometry setting in the UK.  During your learning in practice, you will also study distance learning modules, one day a week, taught by the School.  The work-based learning in a clinical setting plus distance learning components for this period total 120 credits.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2025/2026 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2025.

Preliminary year

The preliminary year introduces background scientific knowledge and basic clinical experience in preparation for the remainder of the course.

By the end of the preliminary year, you will be prepared for subsequent years with relevant knowledge and academic skills you will need for a science-based discipline at undergraduate degree level. You should also be able to undertake selected ophthalmic eye health tests and dispensing techniques and have been introduced to the essentials of working in a clinical practice environment.

You will need to pass all modules in order to progress to Year 1.

Year one

In Year 1 you will study 4 compulsory modules. We will support you in developing independent study skills in a new University environment, so that you gain confidence and build a solid foundation for success in later years of the programme. You will learn about modern optometry practice and how optometrists are continually expanding their clinical responsibilities to care for patients.

You will study core science and clinical optometric techniques and learn about legal and ethical aspects of being a professional optometrist. Evidence-based practice will be introduced, in which you will begin to learn how clinicians use clinical and scientific research to improve patients’ eye health.

By the end of Year 1 you should be able to perform a basic eye test for glasses (refraction), undertake techniques for dispensing straightforward glasses and contact lens prescriptions, and be familiar with modern ophthalmic instrumentation used to investigate the eyes and visual system.

You will need to pass all modules in order to progress to Year 2.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Eye ExaminationOP150140 credits
Visual CorrectionOP150230 credits
The EyeOP150330 credits
Being a ProfessionalOP150420 credits

Year two

Year 2 requires you to study 4 compulsory modules. This year allows you to build on your Year 1 studies and take more responsibility for patient care. You will learn about common eye disorders in more detail, pharmacology and ocular drug treatments, as well as being introduced to engaging clinical vision science topics. You will continue to develop competence in applying principles of evidence-based practice to patient care, and will increase further your professional awareness of law, ethics and risk management.

By the end of Year 2 you should be able to perform a competent eye examination of patients under close supervision, dispense the majority of spectacle prescriptions, fit most contact lens types, and understand the diagnosis and management of common eye disorders.

You must pass all modules in order to progress to Year 3.

*Note: One component of the Year 2 assessment is a pre-placement competency assessment administered by the College of Optometrists.  This must be passed to progress to the first part of the extended learning in practice placement in the second half of Year 3. Resit opportunities will be available during Year 2 and the Summer resit period before Year 3.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Further Eye ExaminationOP250140 credits
Advanced Visual CorrectionOP250240 credits
Pathology and ManagementOP250340 credits

Year three

The first half of Year 3 consists of 2 compulsory modules which extend your clinical optometric practice and study of eye disease and its management. You will spend time in the community clinics and specialist clinics in the school and gain experience under direct supervision in applying your knowledge and skills to patients.

For the second half of Year 3, having passed all pre-placement competency requirements, you will undertake the first part of your learning in practice modules away from Cardiff University, organised by the College of Optometrists. Learning in practice allows you to apply your skills to a range of patients in a real-world optometry setting. Your learning is structured around 2 compulsory modules totalling 60 credits.  One 40 credit module is the learning in practice. The other 20 credit module is studied with distance learning delivered by the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, enabling you to begin working towards a range of College of Optometrists professional certificates which allow an enhanced scope of clinical practice.

By the end of Year 3, you should be confident in examining and managing a range of patients of different ages under direct and indirect supervision.

You must pass all modules in order to progress to Year 4.

Year four

The first half of Year 4 involves the second part of your learning in practice extended external clinical experience, organised by the College of Optometrists. Again, your learning is structured around 2 compulsory modules totalling 60 credits. One 40 credit module is for the learning in practice. The other is a 20-credit distance learning module delivered by the School, enabling you to continue working towards a range of College of Optometrists professional certificates.

We welcome you back to Cardiff for the second half of Year 4, when you will work under supervision in the School’s specialist clinics. You will continue your advanced clinical specialist studies in a compulsory 40- credit clinical module to complete the College of Optometrists professional certificates in specialist areas. You will also choose a 20-credit optional module in which you may select either a research project, a clinical module, or an advanced vision science module.

By the end of Year 4, you should be confident and autonomous in examining patients of all ages and with a range of conditions, have completed College of Optometrists professional certificates in specialist areas, and be ready to register as an optometrist with the General Optical Council.

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

This course offers a modern integrated curriculum with scientific theory taught alongside real-life clinical eye care practice throughout the programme.  You will learn from internationally renowned and highly qualified researchers and clinicians who will deliver a unique and diverse learning experience including tutorials, case-based learning, lectures, and seminars, as well as laboratory and clinical skills sessions.  Our programme will allow you to gain clinical exposure from Year 1 in our on-site ophthalmic clinics which are open to the public.  Your clinical competence, confidence and experience will increase as you progress through the programme, with learning in practice both in the university clinics and externally, fully supported by expert and caring tutors and clinicians. 

We are extremely proud of our undergraduate teaching and its research contribution to knowledge of how the eye and visual system work.  Positive influence of active research on student learning cannot be emphasised enough.  New concepts and ideas filter down rapidly to ensure that students are up to date, and teaching is fresh and vibrant.  

Each year of your study will build on what you have learned already in a ‘spiral curriculum’.  This will help you remember information more easily when you examine patients.  It also helps you develop a deep understanding of the scientific and clinical topics you will need to practise optometry at an advanced level after you qualify.

During Year 4 you will spend most of your time in clinical environments and will be taught and supervised by experienced practising optometrists.  You will learn by conducting eye examinations on a broad range of patients, and then discussing the results for each patient with your clinical supervisor.  

In Year 4 you will attend an extended period of learning in practice will be in an optometry setting in the UK, away from the University.  This is a requirement of the General Optical Council and organised by the College of Optometrists.  Alongside your clinical experience you will continue to be supported by University tutors and clinicians with a blend of e-learning and face to face advanced clinical teaching activities.  

Central to all years of the programme is how you will take more and more responsibility, not only for your patients, but also for your own ‘self-directed’ learning.  Progression towards independent learning is vital preparation for a lifetime of continued personal and professional development as an optometrist. 

We will provide you with self-directed learning activities where you’ll be expected to undertake specific reading and other activities outside of your scheduled contact time. These resources help complement the formal teaching, learning and skills-based activities.

How will I be supported?

You will receive dedicated pastoral and academic support from a personal tutor throughout your studies, and additional support is available from the School’s senior personal tutor.  The University offers a range of support services and events to help you manage your emotional, mental, and physical health, support with financial issues, and provide support for students with disabilities.  They can be accessed both in-person at the University’s Centre for Student Life, or and remotely via the contact details provided on the Student Intranet. Our libraries offer a broad range of electronic resources as well as hard copies on campus. 

General communication is typically via Cardiff University’s virtual learning environment ‘Learning Central’, which is also where you will access comprehensive study support materials.  The University has excellent library facilities with friendly and helpful librarians available for advice, and many of our library resources are available online.

Tutors and clinicians are available for you to contact at specified times outside scheduled contact sessions to help guide you in any areas of concern or difficulty. 

We have an extremely active Student-Staff panel where student representatives meet regularly with School teaching staff, which ensures that students’ invaluable feedback and ideas are instrumental in ongoing programme development and improvement. 

The School is proud of the feedback we provide to students on their performance in all types of assessment and recognise its importance in developing and improving your ability. Where appropriate, generic feedback is given to the student group on issues identified across the group. Generic feedback may be delivered in lectures, labs or clinics related to the coursework, or online.  One-to-one feedback on coursework or exam performance is also available as required. 

Whilst gaining clinical experience, whether internal or external to the School, direct and immediate one-to-one feedback is given by your supervising clinician on all patient episodes, and feedback is also given on all assessments of clinical competencies.  Your learning in practice support team includes your day-to-day supervising optometrist, an additional University academic tutor, and a College of Optometrists assessor who will provide individual feedback following your in-practice assessments.

The University welcomes applications from students with disabilities, and we may be able to offer alternative assessment methods in line with recommendations from student support services. However, this may not always be possible, for example where strictly specified procedures are required to demonstrate high standards of a recognised clinical competency. Such competence standards may limit the availability of adjustments or alternative assessments, but you should seek advice from student support and refer to the module descriptions for details.

How will I be assessed?

Our assessment is designed to demonstrate that you have achieved the standards required by Cardiff University for the award of an integrated Masters degree and reached the standard of competency required by the General Optical Council (GOC) to register and practise as an optometrist in the UK.

The programme utilises both formative and summative assessment in all modules giving you the opportunity to receive detailed feedback prior to submitting your summative assessment.   

You will be assessed in 7 domains specified by the GOC:

  1. Person centred care
  2. Communication
  3. Clinical practice
  4. Ethics and standards
  5. Risk
  6. Leadership and management
  7. Lifelong learning

For more information please see the GOC website:

We use a broad range of intellectually engaging assessment tasks to allow you to develop and present your knowledge, skills and professional behaviours in different ways that are authentic to real-life clinical practice.  Tasks include written examinations and assignments, case reports, reflections, online assessments, portfolios, projects, presentations, structured oral assessments and observation of your clinical practice.  Assessments are designed to support your learning, with formative feedback at all stages given to help you reflect on your progress and guide your studies.


What skills will I practise and develop?

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

Knowledge & Understanding:

KU 1 Critically apply advanced knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and optics of the normal human visual system to current clinical optometric practice.

KU 2 Critique and evaluate methodologies to appraise scientific and clinical research, including study design and statistical approaches to data analysis.

KU 3 Comprehensively understand mechanisms, manifestations and diagnoses of ocular and visual system disorders, any underlying systemic conditions, and optical, medical, and surgical management options for a range of ocular and visual system conditions.

KU 4 Critically apply knowledge of relevant systemic anatomy, physiology, immunology, and pharmacology to inform safe and evidence-based use of therapeutic drug treatments available to optometrists. 

Intellectual Skills:

IS 1 Act autonomously in critical decision making and adopt an analytical and reflective approach to all aspects of your practice.

IS 2 Critically evaluate the current evidence base and assimilate clinical guidelines to formulate diagnoses, differential diagnoses, treatments, and management plans for ocular and visual system disorders in actual and simulated episodes of patient care.

IS 3 Comprehensively understand, critically analyse and integrate clinical data (which may include uncertainty or ambiguous results), recognise different levels of clinical risk, and exercise professional judgement in managing various levels of clinical risk according to your individual scope of practice.

IS 4 Demonstrate self-direction and originality to critique, debate and justify clinical or professional topics where expert opinion may vary, or where evidence is complex, conflicting, or lacking.

Professional Practical Skills:

PS 1 Act autonomously in planning, performing, and interpreting clinical examination techniques of the eye and visual system to an advanced standard, using current best-practice diagnostic techniques, drugs, technology, and instrumentation.

PS 2 Communicate effectively and empathetically with diverse audiences including patients and professional colleagues and engender a positive culture of collaboration and shared decision making including multi-professional team working.

PS 3 Act autonomously in reflection on and application of person-centred care, eliciting patients’ needs, and placing them above all others in decisions about their care, considering the social, clinical and cultural context, and challenging your own conscious and unconscious bias.

PS 4 Systematically understand, critically reflect on, and apply principles of professional standards, risk management and ethical practice to assure the care and safety of patients and the public, working within your own scope of practice and competence, ensuring that your practice meets all current legal and professional requirements.

Transferable/Key Skills:

KS 1 Exhibit critical awareness of your developing clinical leadership skills, and the importance of promoting and engaging with clinical governance requirements, service improvements and local and national public health initiatives.

KS 2 Demonstrate self-direction and originality to engage with a ‘lifelong learning’ approach to your own learning and practice, using self-reflection and feedback from peers, professional colleagues and patients, demonstrating how you design and implement your individual personal development plans throughout the programme.

KS 3 Act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks using information technology, for your own learning and development, professional practice, research and communication.

KS 4 Adopt an attitude of personal responsibility, collaboration and constructive interaction with peers and your wider university or practice teams.

Careers and placements

Career prospects


Optometry is a dynamic profession and the role of the optometrist as part of the eye care team is changing and expanding. Therefore, the career options for optometrists are varied and plentiful, ranging from the hospital eye service to community practice, to the voluntary sector or optical industry, research or teaching in the UK and internationally, making this an exciting degree to embark upon. Registration also opens possibilities to work or train abroad, since an optometry qualification from the UK is highly regarded worldwide.

The MOptom provides the opportunity to gain invaluable clinical skills and experience. Those graduating with the MOptom will be able to register with the General Optical Council and practice in the UK as an optometrist. The focus on specialist clinical eyecare practice in Year 4 means you will be equipped to start working in specialist areas of practice from the outset should you wish, including glaucoma, medical retina, acute eye care and low vision rehabilitation. Additionally, within 6 months of qualifying you could choose to complete the training needed to become an independent prescribing optometrist.

Students not wishing to pursue employment as an optometrist in the UK, or for students seeking to pursue a more science-based degree or further research, may choose to exit the programme at the end of year 3 with a BSc degree .

Types of jobs:

  • Primary care optometrist – as a primary care optometrist you will assess, diagnose, treat and manage problems with the eyes and visual system. You may help patients by prescribing optical appliances such as spectacles and contact lenses, by managing eye health problems including with therapeutic drug, as well as providing preventative, rehabilitative and other eye care management advice to members of the public.
  • Hospital Optometrist - as a hospital optometrist, you would be a key part of the eye care team, working in either the NHS or a private hospital, with a clear focus on managing eye health problems including with therapeutic drugs or laser.
  • Industrial Optometrist - you’d be involved in the research, design, development, testing or marketing of new equipment or optical appliances, ensuring they are safe and of a good quality for patients.
  • Academic Optometrist - if teaching, researching, practising or a combination of all three appeals to you, becoming an Academic Optometrist could be for you. You might be based in universities, research institutions or other organisations throughout the world.

Graduate careers

  • Optometrist
  • Primary Care Optometrist
  • Hospital Optometrist
  • Academic Optometrist
  • Industrial Optometrist
  • Researcher


There will be placements throughout Years 1 to 4 of the MOptom. During Year 1 and 2 you will have observational placements in our public eye clinic or in the specialist clinics we offer as part of the NHS Wales University Eye Care Centre in collaboration with Cardiff and the Vale University Health Board. In Year 3 you will spend time seeing patients in our public Eye Clinic. In Year 4 you will undertake 44 weeks of learning in practice in primary care or in a hospital organised by the College of Optometrists. 

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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.