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Study at one of the UK's top optometry courses to become a qualified optometrist with excellent career opportunities.
Study Optometry (BSc Hons / MOptom) at Ulster University in the United Kingdom.
Did you know that most people value their sight above all other senses? That’s not surprising considering how important vision is to our everyday lives. Vision is a complicated process involving not just our eyes, but our brains and nervous system and studying for an Optometry degree you will discover the fascinating way in which the visual system works and learn to help patients of all ages to keep their eyes healthy and achieve the best vision possible. You will explore everything from the physiology and psychology of vision, to how to conduct an eye test, prescribe glasses and contact lenses and detect signs of injury or disease (both in the eye and the rest of the body). You will practise your new skills in the range of specialist clinics that are available in our on-campus eye clinic and you will also visit local hospital eye clinics to further broaden your experience.
If you are interested in problem-solving, science and working with people the Optometry degree at Ulster will provide you with the training you need to become an Optometrist. You will benefit from the small class sizes, unique to Ulster, which ensure our students have excellent access to patients, equipment and lecturing staff. Our graduates consistently score our course in the top three of UK Optometry degrees and go on to careers in high street practice, hospital practice, the optical industry, vision science research and academia.
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About this course
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The Optometry degree at the Ulster University is the only Optometry degree offered in Northern Ireland. The small number of student places (approximately 32-36 per year) makes the class sizes the smallest of any optometry degree in the UK. This permits us to offer you a high level of teaching support which is reflected in the excellent level of success our students have in gaining post-graduation employment.
Options are available to take a 3 or 4 year BSc Hons Optometry / MOptom programme. Progression is determined at the end of second year with those students attaining a 60% average in second year modules eligible to apply for transfer to the Masters programme.
This full-time programme of study is based at the Coleraine campus where we have a well equipped Optometry Clinic which provides eye care services to the local population whilst also acting as the central teaching hub for our students. In addition to the extensive clinical experience gained in the Optometry Clinic and NHS placements, you will learn through interactive lectures, tutorials and laboratory sessions, where engagement in learning is encouraged through a diverse range of teaching and assessment methods.
Key skills for Optometry include the ability to understand and apply scientific principles and methods, a high degree of accuracy and attention to detail, good organizational and administrative skills, good manual dexterity and strong interpersonal and communication skills.
The Optometry programme at Ulster has been accredited by the General Optical Council to provide optometric education and provides the training required to become a registered optometrist in the UK or Ireland. The programme has become an established and high profile component of the University’s portfolio of undergraduate courses.
MOptom: Four years
BSc (Hons) Optometry: Three years.
- September 2016
Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
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. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.
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Human Physiology & Anatomy
This module provides an introduction to the study of human physiology and anatomy to underpin further study of the pathophysiology in health and disease.
Medical Cell Biology
This module will enable students to develop an understanding of the cellular basis of life and the relevance of studies of cell structure and function at the molecular level to human disease. In addition, it will provide a foundation for further studies in genetics, microbiology, histology and biochemistry.
Visual and Ophthalmic Optics
This module introduces students to the optics of the eye and examines how imperfections of the optical system are corrected. In addition, it introduces students to the theory and practise of refraction and the various forms of optical correction employed in optometric practice.
Optics and Optical Materials
This module is divided into three broad areas: geometrical optics, physical optics and optical materials. It aims to provide students with knowledge of optics and optical materials, particularly in relation to the eye. Students will learn about applied optics of spectacle and contact lenses and about the physiological optics of the eye.
General Examination Techniques
Throughout this module the student increases their knowledge of the examination procedures used in clinical practice. They will also develop their practical skills in the use of a wide range of optometric instrumentation and clinical techniques.
Visual Anatomy and Physiology
This module examines the anatomy of the visual system as a whole and the eye as a unique anatomical organ. The emphasis is on sound working knowledge of visual anatomy for the understanding of clinical problems of an embryological, physiological or pathological nature.
Visual Processing & Perception
This module allows students to gain in-depth understanding of visual processing; through learning of aspects of spatial and temporal vision, the physiology of the retina and the electrophysiological and psychophysical techniques to measure visual function. It will provide knowledge of colour vision, motion and eye movements and visual perception.
Contact Lens Practice
This module will introduce students to both contact lens theory and clinical practice. It will seek to develop within the student, the understanding and skills necessary to practice safely and competently, and provide a basis for further more detailed study and application in final year of the undergraduate optometry programme and in professional practice.
Advanced Examination Techniques
This module will substantially broaden the students knowledge and understanding of clinical optometry and introduce them to common ocular diseases. It will also develop and refine many of the clinical skills essential to the practice of optometry.
This module allows students to become competent in the use of a range of techniques appropriate for optical dispensing. It will provide a sound basis for the student to dispense optical appliances and provide appropriate advice and care to patients in the Optometry clinic in future modules. It will provide the student with a detailed knowledge of lens materials and permit the student to develop skills in appropriate lens choice according to analysis of the spectacle prescription and the patients? needs and lifestyle.
This module provides students with an understanding of low vision and in the skills necessary for the optometric care of patients with a visual impairment. The module provides information on causes and epidemiology of low vision, magnification and minification, certification and registration, the psychological loss model and holistic care to include collaboration with multi-disciplinary statutory and voluntary service providers. The module will equip the student with the skills to undertake a clinical assessment of a person's visual impairment, disability and emotional status. The module provides students with training on low vision management plans including refractive error prescribing, dispensing simple optical and non-optical low vision aids, simple rehabilitation strategies and referral guidelines.
Law Management and Ethics
Within this module students will be taught business awareness and how to manage an optometric practice, basics of contract and tort law and how these apply to optometry; and principles of healthcare ethics and how to identify and use these as guidelines in making decisions relating to patient management and care.
This module introduces the student to the principles of human disease in general and in particular provides an introduction to genetics, pharmacology, pathology and microbiology. This module is designed to provide students with the requisite knowledge in human disease to proceed in their course of study.
Binocular Vision and Orthoptics
Binocular Vision and Orthoptics is a third year undergraduate optometry module. This module is designed to provide a grounding in orthoptics and binocular vision anomalies for optometric practice. Teaching methods involve lectures, practicals, tutorials and clinical experience allowing the students to approach the subject from several different perspectives to aid integration and understanding of the material. The module is taught with substantial input from orthoptic professionals to provide, not only expert teaching, but to facilitate future good relations and collaborative management between optometry and orthoptic eye care providers.
Optometry Research Project
This module provides the students with an opportunity to perform an independent, supervised, original research study in the field of optometry and vision science. The project will include planning a study, collecting and analysing data, and writing a project report in the format of a scientific paper.
This module allows the students to revisit the elements of the eye examination routine in seeking to encourage students to consolidate and integrate learning in such a way as to enable them to examine a range of patients in a systematic manner and make coherent clinical management decisions regarding their ocular needs.
Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics
This module introduces the student to the principles of pharmacology in general and in relation to the eye. The module will discuss diagnosis and therapeutic treatment of ocular disease and drug use in optometric practice. This module is designed to provide students with the requisite knowledge in ocular pharmacology and therapeutics to practice optometry successfully.
Advanced Optometric Practice
This module will introduce a variety of advanced clinical procedures and concepts that will expand students' comprehension of modern optometric practice and deepen their knowledge of advanced contact lens fitting techniques.
This module is concerned with pathology affecting the eye and visual system. Students will be taught how to recognize the signs and symptoms of various ocular pathological conditions and to understand the management/treatment strategies for each condition. This module is designed to provide students with the requisite knowledge in ocular pathology needed to practice optometry.
Paediatric optometry (visual development, assessment and management) is a third year undergraduate optometry module designed to provide undergraduate optometrists with an understanding of the processes underlying the improvement in visual performance seen during early infancy and childhood and an appreciation of the scientific research that underpins current understanding of these processes. The module examines normal visual development, risk factors associated with abnormal visual outcomes and the role of the optometrist in assessing and managing children's vision.
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.
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The A Level requirement for this course is 340 UCAS tariff points based on grades AAB (to include two science subjects from Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics or grades AB in Applied Science Double Award).
BTEC Extended Diploma Applied Science(Laboratory/Medical) with DDD to include at least 11 distinctions and including 6 distinctions from the following:
Fundamentals of Science, Physiology of Human Body Systems, Physiology of Human Regulation and Reproduction, Biochemistry and Biochemical Techniques, Using Mathematical Tools for Science, Using Statistics for Science, Medical Physics Techniques
The following BTECs are not acceptable: Applied Health Sciences, Applied Science(Forensic)
Irish Leaving Certificate
340 UCAS tariff points to include grades AAAB (to include grades AB in two science subjects from Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Biology).
You must also have Irish Leaving Certificate Higher Level English and Maths grade D or above OR Irish Leaving Certificate Ordinary Level English Grade C or above and Maths at grade B or above.
Access to Higher Education (HE)
Certificate in Foundation Studies/Access course (science programmes only) - a minimum overall average of 74% including a minimum of 74% in each level 3 module.
You must satisfy the General Entrance Requirements for admission to a first degree course and hold a GCSE pass in English Language at grade C or above (or equivalent).
You must also hold GCSE passes at grade C or above (or equivalent) in Mathematics and Double Award Science. Please note that for purposes of entry to this course the Level 2 Essential / Key Skill in Application of Number is NOT regarded as an acceptable alternative to GCSE Maths.
English Language Requirements
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.
Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.
Additional Entry Requirements
Students on the Masters in Optometry/BSc (Hons) Optometry course have a joint intake. Those who enter the course and achieve an average of over 60% in the second year are eligible to apply for transfer into the newly approved MOptom programme.
Applicants should note that, as they will be engaged in ‘regulated activity’ involving children or vulnerable adults as part of their course, there is a compulsory, legal requirement to obtain an Enhanced Disclosure from AccessNI or other relevant authority. There is a cost for this service. More information on Enhanced Disclosures may be accessed at http://www.dojni.gov.uk/accessni (for NI) or http://www.crb.homeoffice.gov.uk/ (for GB).
Health screening: You are required to demonstrate good health prior to commencing the course by completing a ‘Declaration of Health’ form which will be screened by Occupational Health who will confirm your medical fitness to undertake the course. You may also be required to undertake a vaccination programme and more information regarding this will be available prior to registration.
In addition to the qualifications listed above, we accept a range of alternative qualifications for example HND, HNC, Foundation Degree.
Applicants may also meet the course entry requirements with combinations of the different qualifications to the same standard as defined by UCAS (provided subject requirements as noted above are met). Examples of acceptable combinations include:
- 2 A Levels and BTEC Subsidiary Diploma
- OCR National Diploma and BTEC Subsidiary Diploma
- 2 A Levels and Cambridge Technical Introductory Diploma
- A Level and BTEC National Diploma
For further information regarding combination offer requirements, please contact Faculty Office staff on T: +44 (0) 28 7012 4159 or E: email@example.com.
Teaching and learning assessment
Right from the first week of your studies you will be in the eye clinic, where you will learn how to test each other's eyes before you apply these skills to paid volunteers in the second year. In the third year of study you will provide eye tests and contact lens assessments for patients of all ages in our public Optometry Clinic. Third year students also experience a range of specialist clinics both in the on-campus Optometry Clinic and in NHS placements, preparing them for pre-registration practice.
The final year of the MOptom programme encompasses the College of Optometrists' Scheme for Registration and includes higher level modules taken by distance learning in specialist areas of optometric practice.
The small number of students accepted each year onto the Optometry degree allows a high level of interaction between students and both staff and patients making sure that you get the best out of the experience.
A wide range of teaching and learning methods are utilized including lectures, practicals, tutorials and clinical practice. Computer based and problem based learning are integral to the programme. Assessment for most modules is by a combination of coursework and sessional examination. Coursework may include written reports of practical work, essays, class tests, projects, oral presentations and a wide range of clinical assessments.
Teaching is enhanced and informed by the high quality research that is undertaken by academic staff within the Optometry Clinic and in the Vision Science Research Group (http://biomed.science.ulster.ac.uk/vision/).
Exemptions and transferability
Qualified Dispensing Opticians may be eligible for exemption from specific modules including OPT102 Optics and Optical Materials and OPT306 Dispensing Practice.
A student who has successfully completed Year 1 of BSc (Hons) Optometry is eligible to transfer to our BSc (Hons) Biomedical Sciences and other programmes within the School subject to approval by the relevant Subject Committees. This student would usually be exempt from the two common Year 1 modules.
Careers & opportunities
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Our graduates have an excellent record of employment and have secured clinical, research, academic and managerial roles in the public and private sector and have progressed to higher degrees (taught or research) in the UK and Ireland. In addition to challenging and rewarding clinical roles as an optometrist in either hospital or high street practice, a degree in Optometry will also offer you career options working with charitable bodies, in industry, government service, teaching and research.
To become an optometrist, graduates of Optometry BSc programmes must undertake a pre-registration year of supervised, paid practise in either a registered optometric practice or in a hospital. During this year graduates are continually assessed and take professional examinations which lead to membership of the College of Optometrists (http://www.college-optometrists.org/) and to registration with the General Optical Council as a registered optometrist. In order to enter the pre-registration year graduates must have a first or second class degree in Optometry and have completed the Core Competency requirements stipulated by the General Optical Council.
Ulster offers graduates the opportunity to study for higher qualifications including PgCert/ PgDip/MSc Clinical Visual Sciences, studies to doctoral level and professional qualifications including the College of Optometrist accredited Professional Certificates in Glaucoma and Medical Retina.
Accredited by the General Optical Council (GOC).
Fees and funding
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Fees (per year)
- Northern Ireland & EU:
- England, Scotland & Wales:
Scholarships, awards and prizes
The following annual prizes are awarded:
The Association of Optometrists Prize: Best performance in the Law, Management and Ethics module.
The Binocular Vision Prize: Best performance in the Binocular Vision and Orthoptics module.
The Boots Opticians Prize: Best overall final year student.
The Northern Ireland Optometric Society Prize: Best performance in the Patient Management module.
The Johnson & Johnson Prize: Best overall performance in 2nd and 3rd Year Contact Lens related modules.
The Bausch & Lomb Second Year Contact Lens Prize: Best performance in the Contact Lens Practice module.
The Bausch & Lomb Final Year Contact Lens Prize: Best performance in the contact lens elements of Advanced Optometric Practice.
Additional mandatory costs
Whilst a wide range of optometric equipment is available within the University clinics for students to use, you will normally be requested to purchase personal testing equipment during the course of your studies. You will then be able to make use of this equipment in your future career.
In Year 1 such items are small and inexpensive and include occluders and measuring rulers. In later years, students also require an ophthalmosocope, retinoscope and trial frame. Arrangements are made for optometric instrument suppliers to speak to students about their products and significant student discounts are available, though costs may still range from approximately £1,000-£2,000. In addition, white coats are usually required for laboratory and clinic use.
There is also a charge for health screening and vaccinations. Last year’s costs ranged from £35 to £155 depending on the vaccinations required.
The criminal record check through AccessNI costs £33.
Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel and normal living are a part of university life.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them in the online prospectus. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.
We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.
There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees.
Please contact the course team for more information.