Doctor of Optometry/Doctor of Ophthalmic Science

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Postgraduate stories – Peter, DOptom Optometry, Aston University

Meet Peter, a recent graduate from our DOptom professional doctorate in Optometry course. Hear his story as to why he chose to study at Aston University and how it has helped him in his role as Clinical Director at the Association of Optometrists.

Course overview

  • Course level
    Postgraduate, Professional short courses \ CPD
  • Course type
    Part-time, Online / distance learning
  • Duration
    6 years
  • Course options
    No placement
  • School

Entry requirements

  • Undergraduate degree
    Applicants must hold at least an upper 2nd class honours degree in an ophthalmic or biomedical field from a UK university or the recognised equivalent from an overseas university.
  • Other qualifications (such as Fellowship of the British Dispensing Opticians)
    Considered individually, on merit
More information
Apply March 2020

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Flexible: gain a postgraduate certificate, diploma, masters or doctorate qualification

Distance learning

The first UK professional doctorate in Optometry / Ophthalmic Science

3rd in the UK for research quality (Ophthalmics, Complete University Guide, 2020)

Course Summary

Study the first UK professional doctorate in Optometry, available part time via distance learning at Aston University. You will obtain a professional doctorate that will enable you to enhance your knowledge and critical awareness of current issues, to be at the forefront of your academic discipline through taught and research elements.

Key information, entry requirements and fees

Mode of delivery: Part time distance learning 

Duration: Up to 6 years part time for the doctoral degree, up to 5 years part time for the master's degree. 

Intake: Places on the course are limited therefore the application process is competitive. Decisions on applications are given following the closing date for applications. 

Start date: March and October

Application deadline: For courses starting in March, the deadline is 25 January. For courses starting in October, the deadline is 23 August.

Fees: £18,900 (subject to increase)

Entry requirements:

  • We welcome applications from candidates interested in our course who have the skills and capability to excel. All candidates are considered on an individual basis based on their qualifications, experience, references and motivation. 
  • Applicants must hold at least an upper 2nd class honours degree in an ophthalmic or biomedical field from a UK university or the recognised equivalent from an overseas university.
  • Other qualifications (such as Fellowship of the British Dispensing Opticians) will be considered individually, on merit.
  • Applicants must have spent at least two years in clinical practice before entering the course.
  • Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of an English language qualification. English language test requirements may be waived where students’ undergraduate degree was studied in an English speaking country. Find out more about our English language requirements. For more information about qualifications view our Aston in your country webpage.
  • The information contained on this website details the typical entry requirements for this course for the most commonly offered qualifications. Applicants with alternative qualifications may wish to enquire with the relevant admissions teams prior to application whether or not their qualifications are deemed acceptable. For less commonly encountered qualifications this will be judged on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the academic admissions tutor. 

Progression requirements: Candidates may only progress to the ophthalmic doctorate if they achieve 60% in the taught element of the programme and at least 60% in their dissertation that is submitted following completion of the taught element.

Course outline and what you will study

The Doctor of Optometry/ Doctor of Ophthalmic Science is a unique professional doctorate programme that will enable you to enhance your knowledge, and critical awareness of current issues, and to be at the forefront of the academic discipline through taught and research elements.

This qualification is broken down into two elements; taught an research.

  • Taught modules: 20 credits each (nominally equivalent to 200 hours of student learning) our modules consist of remote access lectures with electronic formative assessments and a module coursework assignment such as reflective case records, or an essay/literature review related to the module. There are two study periods per year to complete taught modules; 1st October -31st January and 1st March - 30th June. Module results are ratified at Examination Boards held shortly after the end of each study period.
  • Research project: This will form the major component of your doctorate, supervised by members of the Aston Optometry School. You will develop your research proposals based upon your own clinical interests, or, you may opt to select a project nominated by an Aston academic. Because this is a distance-learning programme, the research is not normally carried out on the University campus, and it is essential that the you have access to the facilities and resources needed to carry out the research, usually in your place of work. This stage requires a significant long-term commitment, as it is equivalent to around 2 years of full-time work (i.e. 4 years part-time). Candidates ultimately submit a thesis which is examined in a viva voce examination.

The Doctor of Optometry programme is aimed at practising optometrists, who will complete case records where required for taught module coursework and will undertake a practice-based research project.

The Doctor of Ophthalmic Science programme is for eye care professionals who may not be practising optometrists, e.g. medics/ orthoptists/ product designers; these students may complete scientific essays to fulfil the coursework requirements and undertake a non-clinical research project.

Taught modules include:

Flexible credit accumulation

As a new student, you will initially register as LHS postgraduate student within a framework of flexible credit accumulation (FCA). Within this framework it is possible to graduate with a:

As part of the flexible programme as a UK optometrist, you may complete the theoretical element of the General Optical Council approved Independent Prescribing for Optometrists module.

Up to 60 credits may be awarded in respect of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), whether experiential or certificated (e.g. previous completion of the Aston MOptom). To progress to full doctoral registration requires a minimum of 120 taught module credits including the compulsory 20 credit Research Methods module, an approved project proposal, and successful completion of the qualifying report stage, assessed by viva voce examination with an internal examiner. The report and the viva voce examination will be used to assess suitability for progression to the full doctoral project. Candidates may only progress to the ophthalmic doctorate if they achieve 60% in the taught element of the programme and at least 60% in their dissertation that is submitted following completion of the taught element.

Timescales for study

Taught credits are valid for 5 years, so those studying for an MSc/ PgDip/ PgCert must complete their studies within 5 years of enrolment on the programme.

Those undertaking the DOptom/DOphSc programme must complete their taught module requirement and complete the research stage within 6 years of registration. Note that in accordance with University Regulations for part-time research students, the earliest date for completion of the doctoral programme (i.e. submission of thesis/ portfolio) is 4 years following registration.

Learning, teaching, assessment and staff

For taught modules, online lectures, available on our virtual environment whenever you chose to view them are accompanied by short tests throughout the module. Each module includes a substantial piece of coursework, e.g. a scientific literature review or portfolio of case records. The pass mark for all forms of taught module assessment is 50%.

For the main element of the doctorate, the research project, candidates submit a report and undergo a qualifying report stage within one year of becoming research active. Once this stage has been passed, candidates continue their research, culminating in the submission of a thesis (up to 80, 000 words) which is examined in a viva examination by experts in the chosen field. The degree of Doctor of Optometry or Doctor of Ophthalmic Science is awarded to candidates who successfully defend their thesis.

Course Director: Dr Gurpreet Bhogal-Bhamra

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