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Undergraduate study
Clinical Optometry

Clinical Optometry* BSc (Hons)

Optometrists are the healthcare professionals responsible for the examination, diagnosis, and management of the visual system. Optometry is a contemporary, developing, field which is progressing with advances in research and equipment, and graduates are highly employable professionals with opportunities to work in variety of settings.


Course overview

You will be trained to perform eye examinations to provide refractive correction such as glasses, contact lenses, or low vision aids, and to offer clinical advice that can make a difference to the lives of people with eye conditions, sight loss, or visual impairment.

Teesside University is the first North East university to deliver an optometry programme.

Teesside University currently holds provisional approval from the GOC to provide this programme. Whilst under provisional approval, students recruited on to the programme are not guaranteed entry to the GOC Register and may be required to undertake additional assessments through an alternative GOC-approved education provider in the event that any aspect of the programme when delivered does not satisfy the GOC standards.

To apply for registration as an optometrist with the GOC you must achieve at least a 2.2 degree classification. This requires completion of a pre-registration period of training under supervision, which includes work-based assessment and a final assessment on the Stage 2 core competencies for optometry. Successful completion of this, together with evidence of meeting the required standards of performance and conduct, allows application for full registration with the GOC which confers fitness to practice as an optometrist in the UK.

All students enrolled onto the course are required to register with the GOC and must remain registered with the GOC throughout their studies.

An enhanced DBS will be required, with active encouragement for enrolment onto the update service linked to DBS.

You will be required to travel for some placements and are responsible for any travel costs incurred.

Top reasons to study this course

  • State-of-the-art, purpose-built industry standard facilities to support practical and professional training
  • Experienced, dedicated teaching team have a strong focus on evidence-base practice which means you gain a contemporary, professional and authentic learning experience
  • Excellent links to private practice and hospitals giving you outstanding placement opportunities

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Supporting information for applicants

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Course details

During the third-year of the course you are required to achieve GOC Stage 1 Competencies. You will develop your reflective practice through the self-management of a portfolio of learning logs. This tool facilitates the links between theory and practice.

We are particularly keen to support projects on the public health and commercial benefits of the evolving and expanding role of optometry, nationally and internationally in primary healthcare provision.

Course structure

Year 1 core modules

An Introduction to Anatomy and Pathophysiology

You develop knowledge of human anatomy and its underlying physiology and relate this to the pathophysiology of disease. This will be pertinent in the coming years as you learn about the risk factors for different ocular pathologies.

Clinical Optometry Skills

You gain the knowledge required to select, perform, and interpret individual optometric tests to work towards developing a routine eye examination. The concept of professionalism, ethical, safe practice and multidisciplinary team working will also be introduced, together with effective communication skills.

Foundation of Ocular Anatomy and Physiology

You focus on the anatomy and physiology of the eye and adnexa in preparation for understanding ocular pathology in the second year.

Geometric Optics

You cover the fundamental principles of the nature of light and the laws that govern its propagation, and gain an understanding of the principles of lenses and other optical instruments. Practical lab sessions introduce you to use equipment to demonstrate the different laws of light.

Ophthalmic Lenses and Dispensing

This module provides you with the tools you will need to dispense and fit glasses. You learn how to select and measure a pair of glasses based on conversations with the patient and optical parameters. Where indicated, by dispensing glasses you will use the prescription provided from the sight test to give your patients the opportunity to see more clearly.

Visual Optics, Physiology of Vision and Visual Perception

You explore the concepts of visual processing and perception, with emphasis on the scientific methods used, and gain an understanding of the physiological basis of visual function testing.


Year 2 core modules

An Introduction to Pathology and Ocular Disease

You focus on recognising and understanding common abnormal ocular conditions through differentiating the abnormal from the normal eye, and the causes, consequences, and referral processes required for their management.

Binocular Vision

Advanced neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and sensorimotor processing of the visual system are studied in this module. You also gain an understanding of different binocular vision abnormalities and their managements. Practical lab sessions enable you to practice and develop your skills.

Contact Lenses A

You learn the underlying theory of contact lenses which includes an overview of the physical properties, lens design and lens manufacturing methods, and cover the techniques and examinations required to perform contact lens fitting and aftercare routines.

Investigative Techniques

You explore the knowledge and skills required to select, perform, and interpret the outcomes from a wide range of advanced clinical techniques. These techniques allow you to investigate your patient’s ocular health, which provide results that should allow you to manage and diagnose any ocular abnormalities.

Optometry Clinical Practice and Communication Skills 1

A practical module focussing on the equipment and procedures required for a routine eye examination. You learn more about professional awareness and the effective communication skills required to assess visual function and refraction. Advanced dispensing scenarios are discussed and patient management is developed.

Pharmacology and Ophthalmic Drugs

You gain the knowledge and clinical skills necessary to use ophthalmic drugs safely and effectively. You will cover the principles of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, and learn about different drugs groups, their actions, contraindications for use, how to manage and document adverse drug reactions. This module will be delivered online.


Final-year core modules

Advanced Ocular Pathology and Disease Management

Following on from your Year 2 module, you learn to recognise more advanced abnormal ocular conditions by differentiating from the ‘normal’ eye. This includes the knowledge of the causes, epidemiology, signs and symptoms, and management of these conditions, including referral. Keynote lectures from visiting clinicians discussing case studies of different ocular conditions give you an authentic and contemporary insight into real life issues.

Contact Lenses B

Developing on the knowledge and skills acquired in the Year 2 module you gain the underpinning clinical reasoning skills and the communication skills necessary to fit more complex forms of contact lenses, as well as develop an understanding of emerging contact lens practice. You examine contact lens patients in the Onsite Optometry Suite to gain your GOC Stage 1 patient episodes.

Innovation in Optometry

This individual, final project is your opportunity to select an innovation in clinical practice, which can be explored and theoretically implemented into optometric practice. This will be within the context of the evolving optometrists' role and based upon evaluation of current evidence regarding a focused, student-determined area of practice. You demonstrate an understanding of clinical research, skills in critical thinking, clinical governance, audit, leadership theory and change theory.

Project areas should focus on the benefits, both in terms of public health and commercial terms, of the evolving and expanding role of optometry, both nationally and internationally in primary healthcare provision. This must be negotiated with your academic University supervisor.

Law, Business, Occupational and Enhanced Optometric Services (EOS)

You gain an understanding of the everchanging role of the optometrist, which includes examining occupational health, legal aspects of practice, key drivers, technology enhancements, and some basic business skills.

Optometry Clinical Practice and Communication Skills 2

This module continues to assess your ability to complete a routine eye examination, and demonstrate critical clinical decision-making to complete a holistic, individual ocular management plan. A logbook will provide the evidence required to be assessed for your GOC Stage 1 Core Competencies and record patient episodes achieved during this module.


Modules offered may vary.


How you learn

The course has a diverse range of learning and teaching methods. You attend lectures and keynote lectures, participate in seminars and group discussions, improve your practical skills in hands-on sessions and be set problems to solve during small group work. You benefit from clinical placement early in the course, to improve your confidence and communication skills in practice. You are encouraged and supported to complete self-directed and independent study alongside the scheduled sessions to enhance and develop your knowledge.

You are supervised by a trained mentor during the placement who assists you to complete your set placement activities. In Year 3, you complete core competencies and collect patient episodes as part of Stage 1 of the GOC’s Route to Registration. To complement and prepare you for future GOC requirements in continuing professional development you keep a reflective logbook throughout the course.

The course provides a supportive learning environment, and a personal tutor is available to provide pastoral care and development, and academic tutors provide support for academic studies.

How you are assessed

Within each academic year a pass in module assessments must be achieved as these are a core requirement. These are varied and include written assignments, written and practical exams, presentations, and pass/fail reflective logbooks to be completed during the clinical placement or within clinics set in the University.

In Year 3, you must meet the required number of the GOC Stage 1 Core Competencies and Patient Episodes to be able to progress within the GOC’s Route to Registration. The Route to Registration describes the process which will lead to full registration with the GOC as an optometrist.

Our Disability Services team provide an inclusive and empowering learning environment and have specialist staff to support disabled students access any additional tailored resources needed. If you have a specific learning difficulty, mental health condition, autism, sensory impairment, chronic health condition or any other disability please contact a Disability Services as early as possible.
Find out more about our disability services

Find out more about financial support
Find out more about our course related costs


Entry requirements

Entry requirements

For this particular course, there may be a need/requirement for students to undertake an occupational health/work-based risk assessment check. If you have a disability, specific learning difficulty, mental health condition, autism spectrum condition, sensory impairment or medical condition that may require reasonable adjustments during an external placement or in the university or in a clinical practice area, this must be declared as part of the enrolment process. If you are unsure you can find out more or contact the relevant admissions or course tutor for guidance.

An enhanced DBS will be required, with active encouragement for enrolment onto the update service linked to DBS.

The application process will be through UCAS, and the standard University process, and an interview is required.

Entry requirements are 2B’s and 1A at A level, equivalent to 128 points. Two of the A levels must be in biology, chemistry, physics or math. General Studies and Critical Thinking are not included, as per the GOC standards. You must achieve at least a C in GCSE English and maths, or equivalent.

Equivalent qualifications are accepted, such as Access to Health courses. We will additionally consider applicants who have either achieved a pass in a BSc in Dispensing or are a FBDO registered practitioner. Potential applicants will be able to access further information on the UCAS website.

For students with non-UK English qualifications, the Teesside University Standard for International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is acceptable with a minimum score of 7 including a minimum score of 6.5 in all sections. This entry meets GOC requirements.

Note: as agreed with GOC, this course is not open to international students requiring a Student Visa.

In addition to the University’s recognition of prior learning (RPL) process, the GOC have stipulated that candidates may only be exempt from modules in the first and second year, and therefore can be exempt from a maximum of 240 credits. All GOC stage one core competencies and patient episodes must be achieved, regardless of prior learning. The University will ensure that the prior learning was either undertaken and certified recently or ensure knowledge has been maintained and is still relevant and equivalent.

Your personal statement
Your personal statement is an important part of your application. It’s your opportunity to tell us why you want to study clinical optometry at Teesside, and is key to you being invited for an interview.

What to include
We are keen to know about your understanding of an optometrist’s role, an optometry degree and its demands, and what motivates you to study this course. We are interested to understand how you think your previous studies may have prepared you for the degree. You should also include any life experiences, transferable skills, voluntary or part-time work and hobbies that you can relate to the core values and behaviours of an optometrist. Please note that, while useful, it is not essential that you have optical experience.

The course involves clinical placements and theoretical work, so you need to demonstrate examples of being organised and resilient.

Where can I get more information?
You can access a range of healthcare websites, books and journals about optometry. Use this information to demonstrate that you really know what an optometrist’s role involves.

Shortlisting criteria
Your application will be measured against the following criteria:

  • You are able to complete all sections of the application form fully and correctly.
  • You have achieved or are predicted to achieve the appropriate academic entry requirements.
  • Your personal statement is supportive of your chosen course, and demonstrates an understanding of an optometrist's role.
  • You have satisfactory references.

If you are invited to interview and the date isn’t suitable, please contact our admissions department for more information. We will do our best to accommodate you.

Interview criteria
At the online or face-to-face interview, you are asked six questions to explore your understanding of an optometrist’s role. You discuss how you see yourself fitting into this in the future, demonstrating the key personality traits that make a good clinician.

For general information please see our overview of entry requirements

You can gain considerable knowledge from work, volunteering and life. Under recognition of prior learning (RPL) you may be awarded credit for this which can be credited towards the course you want to study.
Find out more about RPL



Career opportunities

A career in optometry is varied and fulfilling, with career paths including private practice, hospital optometry, domiciliary optometry, third sector, and research and teaching.

The knowledge and experience gained during the course enables you to progress towards practising as a GOC registered optometrist as part of your Route to Registration. After graduation, and with the achievement of a 2:2 classification, you will be able to enrol on the College of Optometrist’s Scheme for Registration, which will cumulate in full registration with the GOC completion of the final assessment examinations.

Work placement

Teesside University aims to produce confident clinicians who are future-ready for optometric practice, and we believe the early introduction of placement facilitates this process. You are therefore introduced to clinical practice from Semester 1, of Year 1. In the first two years of the course you attend placement every other week, completing tasks to consolidate your knowledge gained from the modules linked to the clinical placement. In Year 3, you use the placement as a way of meeting some of the required GOC Stage 1 patient episodes and all the required hospital experience hours.



Entry to 2023/24 academic year

Fee for UK applicants
£9,250 a year

More details about our fees

What is included in your tuition fee?

  • Length: 3 years
  • UCAS code: B510 BSc/CO
  • Start date: September
  • Semester dates
  • Typical offer: 128 tariff points

Apply online (full-time) through UCAS



  • Not available part-time

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Service user and carer involvement

Service users and carers support all aspects of our students' lifecycle from recruitment to graduation.

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