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Masters Degrees (Optometrist)

We have 4 Masters Degrees (Optometrist)

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This fully online programme consists of two 30 credit modules; 'Principles of Pharmacology and Prescribing' and 'Assessment, management and treatment of ocular conditions' and will prepare GOC registered Optometrists to undertake the Clinical Placement and proceed to The College of Optometrists Common Final Assessment in Therapeutics. This programme has been designed in collaboration with Ophthalmologists, Pharmacists and Independent Prescribing Optometrists. Our course team have many years experience in teaching optometry and vision science to undergraduate and post-graduate students at Ulster. This programme compliments and extends our current General Optical Council approved BSc (Hons) Optometry course which has been producing high quality graduates for over 16 years.


This online course will allow registered Optometrists to increase their knowledge and skills in the area of Ocular Prescribing and Therapeutics.


Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. 

Principles of Pharmacology and Prescribing

This module will equip the optometrist with further skills in pharmacology and prescribing to allow the development of safe and effective management of ocular conditions. The knowledge gained during this module will enhance the students ability to work effectively as an optometric independent prescriber.

Assessment, management and treatment of ocular conditions

This module will equip the optometrist with further skills in ocular therapeutics to allow appropriate management of a wide range of ocular conditions. Completion of this module will enhance the Optometrist's up-to-date knowledge of current treatment regimes for a wide range of ocular conditions and enhance his or her scope of practice.


This is a Distance Learning course and students access learning material via a virtual learning environment. 'elearning' is an excellent route for postgraduate learning as it gives unique flexibility and ownership of how and when you learn. It is a different experience from traditional face to face learning and is especially suited to adults who like to learn independently and are self-motivated. This course has been specifically designed with the elearner in mind, so learning material is appropriately displayed and students are encouraged to participate in discussion boards, and to contribute to online chats and are given regular small tasks to complete so learning is broken down into manageable segments.

Work placement / study abroad

Ulster University will provide the theoretical element of the Independent Prescribing programme. It will not be involved with the Clinical Placement element of the course. Ulster will not be responsible for arranging a mentor/supervisor for the student, arranging the clinical placements or examining hospital placement logbooks.

Career options

This qualification will allow the Optometrist to increase their scope of practice and manage and treat a wider range of ocular conditions.

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A distance-learning course run by Aston University. Recent legislation has extended independent prescribing rights to optometrists, subject to the satisfactory completion of a General Optical Council (GOC) accredited training course. Read more
A distance-learning course run by Aston University.

Recent legislation has extended independent prescribing rights to optometrists, subject to the satisfactory completion of a General Optical Council (GOC) accredited training course. The restriction to the range of medicines that can be used and conditions that can be treated for IP optometrists is by reference to their competence:

‘Optometrist Independent Prescribers should be able to prescribe any licensed medicine for ocular conditions, affecting the eye and adnexa, within the recognised area of expertise and competence of the optometrist.’


Aston University is offering a distance learning course in Independent Prescribing for qualified optometrists. The course consists of two 20 credit modules delivered by distance learning using our e-learning environment, Blackboard. Each module is made up of online lectures assessed by unseen online tests and coursework.

The first module is entitled ‘Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics’ and covers topics including ocular immunology, pharmacology and ocular therapeutic drugs, frameworks of prescribing, prescribing safely and professionally.

The second module, taken after completion of the first module, is entitled ‘Prescribing for disorders of the eye’ and covers topics including evidence based practice and glaucoma in relation to independent prescribing.

A period of Learning in Practice

After successful completion of the two theory based modules and a practical assessment, optometrists are required to undertake practical training in the form of a clinical placement in conjunction with an Independent Prescriber (e.g. an ophthalmologist in a hospital eye department). To achieve Independent Prescriber status the optometrist must gain at least 12 days of clinical training.
For those who are already registered as Additional Supply or Supplementary Prescribers, the placement period required is 7 days.

Teaching methods

Each module consists of around ten ‘lectures’ delivered by distance learning via the Blackboard platform. Most topics are delivered by Powerpoint lectures with speech. Other lectures are delivered in a text-based format.

The first module covers aspects of ocular therapeutics, including the pharmacology and use of ocular therapeutic drugs.

The syllabus for the second module encompasses prescribing for ocular disease. Upon successful completion of the second module’s exam, optometrists will be required to undertake a clinical skills practical assessment at Aston University. The practical element will involve demonstration of slit lamp skills, contact tonometry and slit lamp binocular indirect ophthalmoscopy along with some objective structured clinical exam type questions.

Practice-based learning

Following completion of the two theoretical modules, trainees undertake a period of practice-based training. The aim of this component of the training is to develop competency in the practice of prescribing and to facilitate the integration of prescribing theory and practice with the conditions that the trainee will subsequently manage. This training will typically take place in the Hospital Eye Service under the supervision of a designated ‘mentor’ ophthalmologist. It is the responsibility of the trainee to arrange the clinical practice placement.

For IP the Clinical Placement comprises a minimum of 12 days (24 sessions of not less than 3 hours).

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Our MSc/MRes Investigative Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences course brings together the research expertise in vision from The University of Manchester and the clinical expertise of . Read more

Our MSc/MRes Investigative Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences course brings together the research expertise in vision from The University of Manchester and the clinical expertise of Manchester Royal Eye Hospital .

The course is aimed at optometrists, ophthalmologists, orthoptists and nurses from the UK and overseas. It is suitable for:

  • individuals who are considering undertaking a research degree in the vision sciences;
  • those interested in professional development;
  • those interested in conducting research as part of their clinical training;
  • ophthalmologists wishing to expand and extend their training into specialist areas;
  • optometrists considering a career in the hospital eye service.

This course will provide you with a firm grounding in the knowledge needed to pursue a higher degree and to conduct high quality research in ophthalmology, optometry or vision sciences.

It also gives an opportunity for vision-related professionals to advance their knowledge of the scientific foundations of ophthalmology and vision sciences.


This course aims to provide those working within the ophthalmic professions (ophthalmologists, optometrists, vision scientists, orthoptists and ophthalmic nurses) with an opportunity for professional development.

It will give you a firm grounding in the knowledge, understanding and skills you will need to pursue a higher research degree or to participate in research programmes and meet a need for researchers who can form a bridge between basic research and applied clinical research.

Through the literature review and dissertation, you will develop skills of systematically analysing and interpreting a body of literature, designing and conducting a research project, and analysing and presenting research findings within a written dissertation.

Teaching and learning

In each unit, learning will be based on a series of formal lectures on topics relating to ocular disease and treatments, and a series of more informal tutorials on current research. You will receive copies of presentations and direction to relevant literature for personal study.

Many dissertation projects have led to peer-reviewed publications in ophthalmic literature. Recent titles include the following.

  • Optical coherence tomography measures of the retinal nerve fibre layer.
  • Development of a model cell assay to investigate the cellular processing of ARB mutant bestrophin-1.
  • Risk factors for late presentation of patients with primary open angle glaucoma.
  • Molecular analysis of autosomal recessive retinal dystrophies.
  • In vivo analysis of the wettability of silicon hydrogel contact lenses.
  • Can corneal densitometry be used to assess the treatment outcome after corneal transplantation.
  • A contact lens based technique delivering cultured stem cells onto the human corneal surface.
  • The use of corneal imaging to assessing treatment outcomes of LASIK and LASEK.
  • Addressing the physiological cues needed for trans-differentiation of dental pulp stem cells into limbal stem cells.

The course directors are Prof Tariq Aslam and Dr Chantal Hillarby .

Coursework and assessment

Assessment is via:

  • written examinations in January and May;
  • coursework set during the taught units;
  • a research project dissertation.

Course unit details

The course has two different pathways:

  • MSc: Six taught units (15 credits each) and a dissertation (90 credits).
  • MRes: Four taught units (15 credits each), a literature review (30 credits) and a dissertation (90) credits.

The six units are Macular Degeneration, Paediatric Ophthalmology, Cornea, Contact Lens, Vascular Disease and Glaucoma.

What our students say

IOVS is a great course overall; excellent content and very enjoyable. (Abid Ali, ophthalmology trainee [UK])

I've enjoyed the insight into new and modern treatments and diagnostic techniques. (Isaac Nunoo, optometrist [Ghana])

I love the way the lecturers teach and explain, and the ease with which you can access information.(Chimdi Emma-Duru, optometrist and PhD student [Nigeria])


Ophthalmology is housed within the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, which is located on the CMFT site at the southern end of the University campus. Optometry is housed within the Carys Bannister Building. The two sites are few hundred yards apart.

Most dissertations are conducted within the confines of the University and the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital. Students may, however, embark on work outside these confines (eg an optometric practice or other hospital). This is contingent on the acceptance of the research proposal and the approval of suitable external and internal supervisors by the course director.

You will also have access to a range of library and IT facilities across the University.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability and Advisory Support Service .

CPD opportunities

We offer a number of CPD courses in ophthalmology and optometry .

Career opportunities

This MSc is aimed at optometrists, ophthalmologists, orthoptists, biological scientists, nurses and those from related backgrounds, and can open up a number of career opportunities.

The course is suitable if you want to further your knowledge of the vision sciences or if you are an optometrist considering professional development or a career in the hospital eye service.

It is also ideal if you want to conduct research as part of your clinical training or pursue an academic career in ophthalmology, optometry and the vision sciences.

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Who is it for?. The MSc in Clinical Optometry has an international reputation for quality and is at the forefront of continuing education in clinical optometry - you will acquire cutting-edge skills and knowledge from leading UK experts in a dynamic learning environment. Read more

Who is it for?

The MSc in Clinical Optometry has an international reputation for quality and is at the forefront of continuing education in clinical optometry - you will acquire cutting-edge skills and knowledge from leading UK experts in a dynamic learning environment.

The programme will provide you with an opportunity to enhance your career prospects in this field through gaining both an academic qualification and a professional qualification with either the General Optical Council or the College of Optometrists (where appropriate).


The MSc in Clinical Optometry has been designed to provide optometrists with up-to-date research-based and theoretical knowledge of a wide range of fields, particularly in primary care optometry.

It is a flexible, taught postgraduate modular based programme, delivered on an intensive three-day modular programme design.

Emphasis is placed on 'shared-care' or 'co-management' of patients with other medical disciplines and the expansion of the optometrist's role in ocular therapeutics. The programme integrates clinical and theoretical knowledge, making extensive use of expert practitioners. It enables optometrists to continue development and accumulation of knowledge and expertise relating to ocular health care and vision science during their professional careers.

The programme provides a range of modules including 15 and 60 credit modules at Master’s level. There is a choice of exit routes a PG Cert and PG Dip level, modules can also be taken as stand-alone Continuing Professional Development courses.


The General Optical Council accredits the following modules: 

  • Principles of Therapeutics
  • Principles of Prescribing (exit for Additional Supply)
  • Independent Prescribing

Students completing the final examination must be qualified for at least two years. Find out more

The College of Optometrists accredits the following modules in providing the Professional Certificate:

  • Glaucoma
  • Low Vision
  • Paediatric Optometry
  • Medical Retina

The Contact Lens Practice module is accredited as the ‘Professional Higher Certificate in Contact Lens Practice’. Find out more

Teaching and learning

A blended approach to learning and teaching is adopted including institution-based taught modules; e-learning and work-based learning. Modules are led by experienced practitioners and leading researchers, using a variety of direct and interactive teaching methods. You will learn in large and small multi-disciplinary groups and will be supported and encouraged to participate in independent learning.

The range of teaching methods is wide and includes lectures (face-to-face; on-line), tutorials, advanced clinical training, clinical demonstrations, videos and discussion of clinical scenarios and action learning sets. Discussion forums, interactive seminars, peer reviewing work-based examples and clinically focussed critical reflections via a case review process are also included.

Practical classes and clinical skills laboratories provide opportunities to develop practical skills and demonstrate techniques covered in lectures. Many lectures are delivered by external specialists, giving access to current issues, research and methods in the field.

A three-hour examination is taken 8-10 weeks after the module. Methods of assessment vary between modules, reflecting their differences in structure and content. The modular examinations include any combination of the following:

  • A multiple choice question paper (normally including questions from each lecturer on the module)
  • Visual recognition and interpretation of clinical signs tests (VRICS) (involving analysis of a series of slides/photographs)
  • Patient management case scenarios
  • An objective structured clinical examination (OSCE)
  • Professional practice portfolio
  • Minilabs
  • Peer-reviewed publication

Some modules have more than one assessment component and the weighting for each assessment component is outlined clearly within the module specification.


The programme provides a range of modules which include 15, 30 and 60 credit modules at Master’s level. The programme provides you with a choice of exit routes but modules can also be taken as stand-alone courses.

Each 15 PG credit module includes 150 hours (15 PG credits) in duration with approximately 30% of the study requires attendance at City for face-to-face learning in either lectures/tutorials or workshops.

Depending on the module, you should be aiming to study approximately:20 hours/week if full-time. 4 hours/week if part-time.

Core modules

  • Research Methods and Applied Data Analysis (30 credits)

You may begin carrying out your dissertation during the year but you are only able to submit it once you have completed all the taught modules successfully.

  • Dissertation (60 credits)

Elective modules

Alternatively students can take modules from this Masters degree as standalone CPPD (Continuing Personal and Professional Development) courses. In this case, course costs might vary. For further information please click on the CPPD links below each module.

  • Professional Certificate in Glaucoma (15 credits)
  • Professional Higher Certificate in Contact Lenses (30 credits)
  • Contact Lenses (15 credits)
  • Professional Certificate in Medical Retina
  • Critical Thinking for Ophthalmic Practice (15 credits)
  • Professional Certificate in Paediatric Eye Care (15 credits)
  • Professional Certificate in Low Vision (15 credits)
  • Principles of therapeutics (15 credits)
  • Principles of prescribing (15 credits)
  • Independent prescribing (15 credits)

If completing the MSc you are required to complete the School of Health Sciences Research and Data analysis module which is worth 30 Postgraduate credits. You are also required to complete a 60 credit dissertation module.

Career prospects

Optometrists are equipped to provide enhanced clinical care to patients, particularly in the field of ocular therapeutics.

You can also choose the following options, all of which enhance career opportunities whether within the HES or in practice:

  • College of Optometrists' Professional Certificate in Glaucoma.
  • College of Optometrists' Professional Certificate in Medical Retina
  • College of Optometrists' Professional Certificate in Low Vision
  • College of Optometrists' Professional Certificate in Paediatric Optometry
  • College of Optometrists’ Higher Professional Certificate in Contact Lenses.

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