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Undergraduate study
Nursing & Health

Operating Department Practice Degree Apprenticeship

This operating department practice degree apprenticeship is ideal if you are employed as a healthcare worker and your employer is willing to support your professional development.


Linked Level 6 University award: BSc (Hons) Operating Department Practice Studies


Course overview


As an apprenticeship student, you will study alongside ODP students on the BSc (Hons) Operating Department Practice Studies course for 35 weeks each year. During university breaks and at the end of each academic year, you will continue to work with your employer as usual.

ODPs are a vital part of the multidisciplinary perioperative theatre team, providing a high standard of patient-centred care during anaesthesia, surgery and post anaesthetic care (recovery). You can expect to work across a variety of surgical specialities assisting anaesthetists and surgeons alongside the wider multidisciplinary team. This patient-centred course prepares you with the knowledge, skills and understanding to ensure that you can contribute fully to healthcare delivery in a dynamic and fast-moving surgical environment. This course leads to the achievement of the Health and Care Professions Council Standards of Proficiency for Operating Department Practitioners (ODP).

The course ensures early exposure to practice where you gain experience across a variety of specialist areas, for example, general surgery, orthopaedic surgery, ear, nose and throat, obstetric surgery, anaesthetic and post-anaesthetic care. Working within your organisational theatre department, you will develop essential skills and knowledge, supported by evidence-based learning in the University with lectures, seminars and practical activities in our clinical skills labs and simulated operating theatre. There is a strong emphasis on evidence-based practice and clinical decision making throughout the course as you work towards achieving the requirements for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council.

Half of the course is completed within the practice environment where you will engage in supervised practice. You work alongside experienced clinical staff following various shift patterns including nights and weekend working to gain the maximum learning experience. The academic components of the course are completed within the University setting with lecture rooms and simulation suites for students on campus and online via the VLE for off-campus students. As with all healthcare professionals, the public place a high level of expectation and trust in their Operating Department Practitioners and, therefore to work in this sector, it is essential that you are able to demonstrate the core values embedded within the NHS Constitution:

  • Working Together for Patients
  • Respect and Dignity
  • Compassion
  • Improving Lives
  • Everyone Counts

In Year 1 and 2 of the course you gain the relevant foundational knowledge and skills needed to work within the perioperative environment. You also gain an understanding of perioperative pharmacology, anatomy and physiology, infection control and the legal and ethical concepts surrounding theatre care. In the third year this progresses to leadership and management experience and advanced skills.

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Course details

Course structure

Year 1 core modules

Anatomy and Physiology for Perioperative Care

You explore relevant topics in anatomy and physiology for operating department practice which informs your practice in relation to assessing and caring for patients in the perioperative environment.

You focus on major organs and organ systems with an emphasis on homeostasis, the systems assessed and physiological parameters that are measured in perioperative patients.

Where appropriate, some basic principles of physics, chemistry and mathematics are incorporated to provide a fuller understanding of anatomical structures, physiological processes and physiological parameters. There’s an emphasis on relating theory to practice and developing the knowledge and skills required to carry out safe and effective patient assessment.

Foundations of Perioperative Care

You are introduced to the foundation knowledge for perioperative practice with an emphasis on reducing the risks of infection in the operating department. Using an evidence-based approach and making reference to local and national guidelines and policies, this module introduces the principles of safe perioperative practice. Where appropriate, selected content from human biology, physics and chemistry is included. Within the context of infection prevention, you recognise your professional responsibilities and apply given tools and techniques to justify your practice. This equips you with the basic knowledge and understanding of key principles required to enter the practice environment.

Legal, Ethical and Professional Concepts in Perioperative Care

This module considers the professional, ethical and legal concepts which underpin professional practice in the operating department.

Perioperative Practice Year 1 for ODP

This module develops your knowledge and skills to actively participate in patient care associated with theatre interventions linked to portfolio competencies. You’re placed in a variety of theatre placements to work towards developing competency in the three areas of operating department practice – anaesthesia, surgery and recovery.


Year 2 core modules

Clinical Decision Making in the Perioperative Environment

You develop your ability to apply, relate and critically analyse evidence-based knowledge that underpins current perioperative practice. The main focus is on clinical decision-making and the effective use of the assessment process to ensure individualised care and applying safe practice within the perioperative environment.

You develop the knowledge and skills to promote independent learning whilst exploring the wider legal, ethical and governance issues that contribute towards the advancement of contemporary perioperative practice. You choose a specific aspect of perioperative care to use as the basis to demonstrate the effective application of theory to practice.

Perioperative Evidence Appraisal

You develop your knowledge and understanding of evidence-based practice and the quantitative and qualitative research methodologies that underpin it. By formulating questions, searching literature and critically appraising research evidence you develop practical skills in key aspects of the evidence-based practice process. The module prepares you for your final-year independent project – you’re encouraged to focus on an aspect of service improvement that is relevant to your area of work.

Perioperative Pharmacology

You develop your operating department practitioner understanding of pharmacology, specifically drug groups used for patients undergoing operative procedures. You do this through a combination of lectures, workshops and seminars delivered over seven days and followed by a summative unseen exam. The module develops your knowledge of the methods of storing, handling, preparing and administering of drugs in the operating department environment.

Perioperative Practice Year 2 for ODP

Following on from Perioperative Practice Year 1 for ODP, this module further develops your knowledge and skills to actively participate in the patient care associated with theatre interventions linked to a portfolio of competencies.

You are placed in a variety of theatre placements to develop competency in the three areas of operating department practice - anaesthesia, surgery and post anaesthetic.


Final-year core modules

Leadership and Management for ODP (Apprenticeship)

This module enables you to develop your knowledge and understanding of leadership and management and promoting effective teamwork within the context of managing your own workload in the perioperative environment. You explore the models of delegation, resource management, problem solving and decision making and are encouraged to participate in and engage with individual and group-based enquiry based learning. This enables you to engage effectively with a self-directed approach to learning whilst exploring team-working skills through enquiry-based learning.

Perioperative Practice Year 3 for ODP

This module develops your knowledge and skills to actively participate in leading patient care and develops your understanding of advanced theatre care, associated with theatre interventions linked to a portfolio of competencies. Specific aspects of leadership and management are highlighted, including developing decision-making processes in relation to prioritising, co-ordinating and implementing care. Aspects of advanced theatre care include catheterisation, draping responsibilities and advanced theatre roles.

Through a series of lectures, skills workshops and enquiry-based learning you develop your self-directed learning and teamwork skills to promote personal and team effectiveness.

Professional Development for Operating Department Practitioners

The Health and Care Professions Council standards require that registrants maintain a continuous, up-to-date and accurate record of continuing professional development. This module enables you to identify and apply strategies that promote and encourage the concept of lifelong learning and prepares you for effective engagement with continuing professional development. You explore the drivers, legal, ethical and professional requirements of professional development and how it contributes to the provision of high quality care. You explore frameworks used to identify your own professional and developmental needs and engage in strategies to demonstrate how you can effectively engage with professional development.

Service Improvement for Operating Department Practitioners

This student-negotiated independent learning module is the equivalent of a dissertation, enabling you to evaluate evidence in your professional practice, develop recommendations and propose improvements. You are equipped with the knowledge and skills to contribute to improving practice based on evaluating evidence about a focused, student-determined area of professional practice.

You are allocated a project supervisor who guides you throughout. Student-centred learning and teaching strategies facilitate continuous improvement in your area of practice and encourage you to be more independent and self-managed.


Modules offered may vary.


How you learn

You engage in key lectures, seminars and workshops. Practical workshops are a key feature within the simulated theatre suite where you practice in a realistic safe environment using SimMan technology to enhance your learning.

How you are assessed

Each module is assessed separately, using a variety of methods including examination, completion of practice portfolios, poster presentations and written assignments. In year 3 of the course, there is a specific apprenticeship End Point Assessment which includes professional discussion and observation of your practice in the clinical setting.

Our disability services team helps students with additional needs resulting from disabilities such as sensory impairment or learning difficulties such as dyslexia.

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


Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Apprentices should:
> be employed in an appropriate perioperative healthcare setting
> have GCSE grade C or above in English and maths, or functional skills level 2 or equivalent and be able to produce
the certificates
> provide evidence of their ability to work at Level 3 in an appropriate perioperative environment, for example NVQ Level 3
or equivalent
> demonstrate the appropriate values and attitudes for the programme through an interview with the employer and University

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



Work placement

Depending on your place of employment, you may be able to meet the requirements of the course within your own Trust. However, there may be occasions when you are asked to work in a different hospital or a different Trust to gain the necessary experience and to develop the necessary knowledge and skills in order to meet the required standards of practice.

Career opportunities

As a qualified ODP, you are trained in all areas of theatre work and can specialise in surgery, anaesthetics or post-anaesthetic care. You can develop your role through teaching or pursue theatre management roles. New areas of practice are also opening up to ODPs such as accident and emergency and intensive care units. Career opportunities exist within NHS hospital trusts and private hospitals, primary care trust clinics and the armed forces.


Professional accreditation

On successful completion of the course you will be eligible to apply for registration to the Health and Care Professions Council.


Entry to 2022/23 academic year

Fee for UK applicants

More details about our fees

What is included in your tuition fee?

  • Length: 3 years
  • Start date: September

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  • Not available part-time

Service user and carer involvement

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

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