School of Health Professions

BSc (Hons) Optometry

Do you want to pursue a career as an eye-care professional? Here at Plymouth you benefit from a pioneering clinical degree – the first to bring optometry to the South West. Our course has been built in consultation with experts in the field and has been carefully designed to equip you with the core clinical skills, professional training and confidence required for a successful career as a General Optical Council (GOC) registered optometrist.

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First choice for health

Delivered by professional experts, our programmes are tailored to you and your career. Together, we address today's most challenging healthcare issues, through research-informed teaching and active, real-world learning.


What do our students think?

We're proud of our 2020 National Student Survey (NSS) results*, with 96% of respondents feeling satisfied with the quality of the course and 96% agreeing that the course is intellectually stimulating and that staff are good at explaining things.

Careers with this subject

  • Work in community high street practice, hospitals or visit patients in their home as a domiciliary optometrist.
  • Enter into specialist fields or enhanced service roles such as glaucoma care.
  • Progress into practice ownership or management roles, into industry, or pursue a career in research or academia.

Understanding where your degree subject could take you is an important first step in career planning. Due to the transferrable nature of the skills you gain from your studies, you may discover that there is a much wider range of opportunities open to you within this profession that you may first appreciate. Find out more about where your degree could take you

Key features
  • Become part of a pioneering clinical degree programme – the first to bring optometry to the South West.
  • Develop your clinical and communication skills while working with real patients at our Centre for Eyecare Excellence (CEE) optometry practice throughout your third year.
  • See your studies in a real-world context, with regional practice placements during Years 1 and 2 and a hospital placement in Year 3.
  • Explore the theory side of the course at the Peninsula Allied Health Centre with brand new clinical facilities, equipment and learning spaces. 
  • Join a close-knit team of staff and students and benefit from an open, supportive environment.
  • Boost your employability through learning in a way that’s based on solving problems, working together and communicating well with others.
  • Graduate with the scientific and clinical knowledge, as well as the professional training, required by the General Optical Council (GOC) to enter the pre-registration year for qualification as an optometrist.
  • According to the 2019 DLHE* survey, 100% of students were in work/study six months after finishing.
  • To complement your formal learning we offer regular PALS sessions that provide the opportunity for you to learn with and from your peers. Share knowledge, discuss ideas, and ask questions in a relaxed and friendly environment.
Course details
  • Year 1

  • In your first year, you’ll focus on learning the basic scientific principles of optometry. You’ll also begin developing the clinical skills essential to the profession. During your one-week observational placement, you’ll see first-hand what working as an optometrist involves.

    Core modules

    • Visual Perception (OPT404)

      This module is designed to help the student develop the necessary knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of visual perception, visual pathways and psychophysical methodology associated with visual perception.

    • Geometric and Physical Optics (OPT405)

      This module introduces the student to the physical and geometric properties of light and prepares the student for the module Visual optics and Ophthalmic lenses

    • Visual Optics and Ophthalmic Lenses (OPT406)

      This module introduces the student to the optical properties of the eye, ophthalmic lenses and other optical instruments.

    • Anatomy and Physiology (OPT407)

      This module is designed to introduce optometry students to the fundamentals of ocular and human anatomy and physiology relevant to practice in this profession.

    • Clinical Optometry Skills (OPT408)

      This module enables the student to develop the skills and competencies to conduct a basic refraction and ocular health examination.

    • Preparation for Practice (SOHP401)

      This inter-professional module will introduce students to professional practice and the inherent standards expected of them. The characteristics and identity of allied health professionals, as evidence based practitioners, will underpin learning.

  • Year 2

  • In the second year, you’ll learn about advanced ophthalmic examination and study ocular diseases and pharmacology in more detail. You’ll also investigate the legal and ethical issues around managing a business. On your two-week clinical placement, you’ll start getting hands-on experience, applying the skills you’ve learnt so far and working directly with patients.

    Core modules

    • Paediatric and Binocular Vision (OPT503)

      This module will enable the student to understand and assess extra-ocular muscles and their relation to eye movements.

    • Clinical Optometry Skills and Refractive Management (OPT505)

      This module will enable the student extending and enhancing the clinical skills to conduct an eye examination and interpret the results to make basic clinical and refractive management recommendations.

    • Specialist Optometry Skills (OPT506)

      This module addresses specialist skills in clinical optometry, including contact lenses and visual impairment.

    • Introduction to Pathology and Therapeutics (OPT507)

      This module is designed to develop the necessary understanding, differential diagnosis and investigation of ocular and systemic pathology, including the principles of ocular pharmacology and medicines relevant to optometric practice and use in management of some ocular diseases.

    • Project Studies (SOHP503)

      This module develops knowledge and skills related to evidence-based practice and lifelong learning. The content is designed to enable the students to understand different research designs, to evaluate the research literature and to prepare them to undertake research at undergraduate level. Meets all or part of HCPC Standards of Proficiency: 2b.1, 3a.

  • Final year

  • In your third and final year, you’ll continue developing confidence and clinical skills by working directly with real patients at the University’s Centre for Eye Care Excellence optometry practice. Alongside this practical learning, you’ll study complex case scenarios in the key areas of optometry and complete a supervised research project in an area you’re interested in.

    Core modules

    • General Optometric Practice (OPT601)

      This module will enable the student to apply and integrate previous experience to carry out a routine eye examination and consider occupational and lifestyle requirements to make appropriate management decisions.

    • Specialist Optometric Practice (OPT602)

      This module will enable the student to apply and integrate previous knowledge and skills gained in contact lenses, binocular vision and visual impairment to carry out routine and non-routine patient assessment and management.

    • Enhanced Pathology and Therapeutics (OPT603)

      This module is designed to build on and expand the student's knowledge and understanding of ocular and systemic pathology and therapeutics and supplements the second year introductory module.

    • Clinical Case Management in Optometry (OPT604)

      This module will enable the students to develop their problem solving and professional reasoning skills, including the legal and ethical framework, in optometric practice. The module will also help to develop an awareness of business skills relevant to optometrists.

    • Project (SOHP605)

      This module consolidates knowledge and skills related to evidence-based practice and lifelong learning. The content will support the students to undertake research at undergraduate level, to discuss their findings in the context of the contemporary evidence base and to evaluate the implications of their activities on their future practice.

Every undergraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the course aims, the course structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest course structure and may be subject to change:

BSc Hons Optometry Programme Specification updated for 2020 21 4321

The modules shown for this course are those currently being studied by our students, or are proposed new modules. Please note that programme structures and individual modules are subject to amendment from time to time as part of the University’s curriculum enrichment programme and in line with changes in the University’s policies and requirements.

In light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the changeable nature of the situation and any updates to government guidance, we may need to make further, last minute adjustments to how we deliver our teaching and learning on some or all of our programmes, at any time during the academic year. We want to reassure you that even if we do have to adjust the way in which we teach our programmes, we will be working to maintain the quality of the student learning experience and learning outcomes at all times.
Entry requirements

UCAS tariff

144 - 136

5 GCSEs grade C or above to include mathematics, English and science. Preference is given to applicants who have obtained these grades on application and who have achieved at least B grades in mathematics, English and science. Please note that if you do not have this profile please contact the Admissions Team directly on +44 1752 585858 or email: and they will be happy to advise you further.

A level:
AAB from three A levels. Two A levels must come from either maths, use of maths, physics, chemistry, biology/human biology, applied science, or psychology. General studies will not be considered as part of the offer.

The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will be accepted in lieu of one A level, alongside two science subjects, as listed above. An applicant studying for an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) alongside three A levels that meet the above criteria, will typically receive an offer one grade lower than the standard A level offer. To be considered for this the EPQ must be in a relevant science-based topic and be predicted to achieve a strong grade.

BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma/National Extended Diploma: D*D*D Science profile, must include either Mathematics, Use of Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology/Human Biology, Applied Science, Psychology.

BTEC Level 3 Diploma/National Diploma:
D*D* and only considered in conjunction with Science or Mathematics A level at grade A.

BTEC modules
If you hold a BTEC qualification it is vital that you provide our Admissions team with details of the exact modules you have studied as part of the BTEC. Without this information we may be unable to process your application quickly and you could experience significant delays in the progress of your application to study with us. Please explicitly state the full list of modules within your qualification at the time of application.

International Baccalaureate:
36 - 34 points overall to include 3 subjects at Higher Level and 2 of these subjects must be at 6 points Higher Level. Subjects must come from either maths, use of maths, physics, chemistry, biology/human biology, applied science, psychology.
English accepted within
If Advanced Level = 4+ (A1) or 5 (A2/B)
If Standard Level = 5+ (A1) or 6 (A2/B)
If overseas and not studying English within IB – must have IELTS

IELTS: 6.5 overall with a minimum of 6.5 in writing and reading and 6.0 in listening and speaking.

Pass a named Access to HE Diploma (e.g. Science, Combined Science, Medicine) with at least 45 credits at level 3 of which 30 must be at distinction level and come from at least two specialisms including maths, physics, chemistry, biology, psychology. The remaining 15 level 3 credits must be at merit.

Please note: Applications are considered on an individual basis with preference given to those applicants with a strong GCSE profile and those with at least 12 months experience working in optical practice. Preference is also given to those applicants for which it is at least two years since the completion of any previous level 3 qualification. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions team if you have any queries via email or call +44 1752 585858.

For a full list of all acceptable qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Extended entry requirements

  • In addition to the above, evidence of academic study within the last five years is required.
  • Please note we do not accept Key Skills Level 2 in place of GCSE English or mathematics.
  • You must pass disclosure and barring service and occupational health checks satisfactorily in order to be able to start this course.
  • If English is not your first language and you do not have GCSE English grade C or above you will have to achieve an IELTS or equivalent qualification at the grades stated below. 
  • IELTS - 6.5 overall with a minimum of 6.5 in writing and reading and 6.0 in listening and speaking  (if you need to improve your English language to get onto a degree course at University of Plymouth you can book a pre-sessional academic English course).
  • Meeting the academic minimum is the first stage of an application being considered. Applicants must also submit a strong personal statement in order to be considered further.
  • English language requirements
  • We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.
Further information

Deferred entry

Due to the professional nature of this course we are unable to accept applications for deferred entry.

Fees, costs and funding

The UK is no longer part of the European Union. EU applicants should refer to our Brexit information to understand the implications.

New Student 2021-2022 2022-2023
Home £9,250 £9,250
International £14,200 £14,600
Part time (Home) N/A £770
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances. For more information about fees and funding please visit

Undergraduate Merit Scholarship for international students

Scholarship value: £2000 off your tuition fees in year one. 
To recognise continued academic achievement, you may also receive:

  • 10% off the successive years tuition fee if an overall grade of 60% or above is maintained
  • 20% off the successive years tuition fee if an overall grade of 70% or above is maintained.
To be eligible you must:
  • achieve one grade above your academic offer.
  • meet our standard English Language requirements.

This scholarship will be offered automatically, providing you meet the eligibility criteria. A separate application will not be required.

Further information about Scholarships for international students

Additional costs


All students within the School of Health Professions will spend time in placements away from university. The South West is a largely rural region, which often requires students to travel longer and further distances than may be expected when universities are in largely urban areas. In many cases students will stay away from home for the period of that placement time. Some students on these courses are eligible for reimbursement of additional travel and accommodation costs over normal daily travel costs. This support is part of the Learning Support Fund administered through the NHS Business Services Authority. However, this should be investigated by the student to make sure this applies to your chosen course of study.

It is difficult to give a precise estimate of placement costs for each individual programme, due to the geographical spread of placements, and duration. However it is recommended you attend an Open Day to find out more about what placement costs can be anticipated or discuss placement with a member of our admissions teams.

Despite these costs, clinical placements offer an excellent opportunity to learn from experienced clinicians and are recognised as an essential part of students' development towards becoming a registered practitioner.

Further information

More details of any additional costs associated with the faculty's courses are listed on the following page: Faculty of Health additional costs.

How to apply
All applications for undergraduate courses are made through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). 

UCAS will ask for the information contained in the box at the top of this course page including the UCAS course code and the institution code. 

To apply for this course and for more information about submitting an application including application deadline dates, please visit the UCAS website.

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email

Progression routes

International progression routes

The University of Plymouth International College (UPIC) offers foundation, first-year and pre-masters programmes that lead to University of Plymouth degrees. Courses are specially designed for EU and international students who are missing the grades for direct entry to the University, and include full duration visa sponsorship. You can start in January, May or September, benefitting from small class sizes, top-quality tuition and 24/7 student support.

Find out more at or contact our team at

  • 3 Close-knit community of staff and students
  • S 100 per cent of students were in work/study six months after finishing*
  • ' Optometry practice at our Centre for Eye Care Excellence (CEE)


We introduce you to working with patients and encourage you to start thinking like a healthcare professional right from the start. Practice placements in the first and second year and an ophthalmology based placement in the third year provide you with the exciting opportunity to engage with your future profession and put your learning into a real world context. This combined with the fantastic hands-on clinical experience you gain at our state of the art Centre for Eyecare Excellence (CEE) throughout the third year of the programme, helps to ensure that you graduate with the clinical ability and confidence required to be a successful clinician, capable of thriving within the evolving and expanding world of optometry.  

Discover more about how we will support you during your placement

Screening for health students

Additional checks are required for all health students. All offers are made subject to receipt of satisfactory screening in terms of your health, welfare and police checks. 

Read more about the required screening for health courses.

Your location

You will mainly be based at the Peninsula Allied Health Centre (PAHC) in Plymouth.

The moment I realised... I wanted to be an optometrist

Jumanah Akhtar's experiences in her first year of BSc (Hons) Optometry made her certain of the career path she wanted to follow.

“I first felt like I was becoming an optometrist when I was performing pre-screening tests during my placement near the beginning of my first year.”

Find out more about Jumanah's story

<p>Priya Rajbhandary<br></p>
"The many placement opportunities strengthened my background knowledge" Priya Rajbhandary
<p>Mariam Bhojani</p>
"The degree at Plymouth focuses on bettering your clinical skills" Mariam Bhojani
Gagandeep Matharu
"There were opportunities for gaining plenty of practical experience" Gagandeep Mathuru

Luke McRoy-Jones worked as a domiciliary optical assistant in the final year of his degree, which changed his outlook on the importance of optometry.

Optometry is a really unique profession and the difference we can make to our patients is life-changing.”

Find out more about Luke's story


Sarah's experience

We're in the labs two or three times a week. These groups are smaller, so you get a lot more help and attention from the lecturers.

Watch current 2nd year student, Sarah Hollyhead, talk about her experience studying BSc (Hons) Optometry.


Whether you decide to work in high street practices, alongside other healthcare professionals in hospitals or make your mark in vision science research, throughout your degree we’ll help you plan for a successful career.
See where your career could take you


Vision is responsible for more than 80 per cent of input to the brain, so our research encompasses how we see, what we see, and in turn how these processes affect other parts of the body and mind.

Our lecturers are working to make a difference for patients with a range of eye health problems and visual impairments.

Find out more about our research


The skills you need to be an allied health professional

We recently worked with Your Future Career on the 2020 Careers in Science and Healthcare campaign. A printed publication is enclosed within every copy of The New Scientist newspaper and the content is also available online. The campaign featured exclusive content about the importance of the science and healthcare industries from key thought leaders and industry voices – including Professor Sara Demain, Head of School of Health Professions.

Read more at Your Future Career

English Language Centre

We offer a range of courses to help you develop your academic English language skills.

These include pre-sessional academic English courses for undergraduates, taught postgraduates and research students along with insessional language classes, tutorials and activities to support students who have English as a second language.

Find out how we can help you reach your potential.

* These are the latest results from the National Student Survey. Please note that the data published on Discover Uni (Unistats) is updated annually in September.

The results of the National Student Survey (NSS) and the Graduate Outcomes survey (GO) are made available to prospective students and their advisors through the Discover Uni (Unistats) website.