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Postgraduate Certificate in The Theory of Independent Prescribing for Optometrists


Study Theory of Independent Prescribing for Optometrists at Ulster University in the United Kingdom.

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.

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About this course

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


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.

Start dates

  • January 2017
How to apply


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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Year one

Principles of Pharmacology and Prescribing

Year: 1

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

Year: 1

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.

Entry conditions

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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Entry Requirements

A minimum of two years in clinical practice will be required before starting the clinical placement element of the therapeutic programme. Applicants (irrespective of any therapeutic prescribing qualification they may hold) must supply evidence of their prior experience in the diagnosis and management of the eye conditions for which they will be trained to prescribe. This evidence may be in the form of a letter from an employer or ophthalmologist. It is expected that practitioners will work in fields such as primary eye care and/or the hospital eye service, particularly in glaucoma clinics. The proposed application form outlines the documentation required from the applicants.

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

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Teaching and learning assessment

The programme will comprise a variety of teaching and learning methods. The proposed course will be equivalent to two 30 credit modules at academic level 7 (QAA Framework for Higher Education Qualifications) that will primarily be delivered on-line with regular interactive discussion boards and one optional face-to-face session in the second module. The programme will be delivered over one academic year on a part-time distance learning basis. Students who successfully complete both modules would achieve a University of Ulster Postgraduate Certificate in ‘The Theory of Independent Prescribing for Optometrists’. There are no optional modules. Each module will comprise 12 fully online lectures supplemented with additional reading, structured discussion boards and assessment, appropriately directed to meet each learning outcome. The second module will be supplemented by a face-to-face teaching session that will be an optional addition to the distance learning material which will help to prepare the student for their clinical placement and The College of Optometrists Independent Prescribing Examination (Therapeutics Common Final Assessment). The course material will be developed and delivered by a range of experts including, optometrists, ophthalmologists, pharmacologists/pharmacists and independent prescribing optometrists. Assessment will examine both the theory and practice of prescribing. Assessment will comprise a variety of methods including examination of knowledge, skills and reflection on the material using written assignments, multiple choice questions (MCQS), Visual Identification and Management of Ophthalmic Conditions (VIMOCs), contribution to structured discussion boards and case studies with reflection on practice.

Exemptions and transferability

Candidates who have previously completed part of another optometric therapeutics programme may request exemption from part/all of the proposed course. It is the applicant’s responsibility to provide evidence of having met the learning outcomes. These cases will be assessed on an individual basis. It is the applicants’ responsibility to ensure that the appropriate timeframe is maintained.

Careers & opportunities

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Career options

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

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.


Please apply using the Postgraduate online application form. Applicants should address these six points in their application form; 1. Any previous courses attended/programmes undertaken in the area of Therapeutics should be included in the application. 2. Details of the Clinical Placement Mentor and Clinical Placement location must be included. 3. Prior experience in the diagnosis and management of eye conditions is required. 4. Intended area of practice, e.g. Primary Eye Care, HES. 5. The applicant should include their GOC number and GOC registration date on the application. 6. The applicant should include their practice address on the application.

How to apply

Start dates

  • January 2017

Fees and funding

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Fees (total cost)

Important notice - fees information Tuition fees shown are for last years entry. Fees are correct at the time of publishing and may be subject to an annual increase. Additional mandatory costs are highlighted where they are known in advance. There are other costs associated with university study. Read our Tuition Fees Payment Policy

Northern Ireland & EU:

Additional mandatory costs

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.


Please contact the Course Director Dr Julie McClelland for further information