Independent Prescribing for Optometrists

Key information

Duration: Part-time and Flexible (Distance Learning only): 2X4 month study periods.

Start dates: Two intakes per year (1st October and 1st March)

Fees: Each of the two theoretical modules cost £1000 (2016), £1100 (2017). (Two module total £2,000/£2200). 

The costs for the clinical placement, which is to be arranged by each trainee, can vary, depending on the fees, if any, imposed by the respective HES. There is also an examination fee for the Common Final Assessment, charged by the College of Optometrists.

How to apply: Please complete an online application form for the month that you wish to be considered for:

March 2017

October 2017

Deadline to apply: October - 31st August 

March - 31st January

Please note: You will be required to send in certified copies of your ID, and Degree certificate.

Further information: Tel: 0121 204 3000 or email: optometrycpd@aston.ac.uk


A distance-learning course run by Aston University.

Recent legislation has extended independent prescribing rights to optometrists, subject to the satisfactory completion of a General Optical Council (GOC) accredited training course. The restriction to the range of medicines that can be used and conditions that can be treated for IP optometrists is by reference to their competence:

‘Optometrist Independent Prescribers should be able to prescribe any licensed medicine for ocular conditions, affecting the eye and adnexa, within the recognised area of expertise and competence of the optometrist.’

The likely areas, in which optometrists are expected to work as Independent Prescribers, are Primary Eye Care and / or Glaucoma

Who is the course for?

At present the IP course is open to GOC registered applicants who:
  • Have been registered for at least 2 years before commencing their clinical placement.
  • Have up-to-date knowledge and experience in their intended area of practice. This could be relevant experience obtained in the hospital eye service, at a specialist eyecare practice or in a shared care scheme. After completing the theoretical training, optometrists are required to undertake a clinical placement under the supervision of an ophthalmologist and pass a final examination set by the College of Optometrists.


Aston University is offering a distance learning course in Independent Prescribing for qualified optometrists. The course consists of:

University based training in Independent Prescribing

This consists of two 20 credit modules delivered by distance learning using our e-learning environment, Blackboard. Each module is made up of online lectures assessed by unseen online tests and coursework.

The first module is entitled ‘Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics’ and covers topics including ocular immunology, pharmacology and ocular therapeutic drugs, frameworks of prescribing, prescribing safely and professionally.

The second module, taken after completion of the first module, is entitled ‘Prescribing for disorders of the eye’ and covers topics including evidence based practice and glaucoma in relation to independent prescribing.

A period of Learning in Practice

After successful completion of the two theory based modules and a practical assessment, optometrists are required to undertake practical training in the form of a clinical placement in conjunction with an Independent Prescriber (e.g. an ophthalmologist in a hospital eye department). To achieve Independent Prescriber status the optometrist must gain at least 12 days of clinical training.
For those who are already registered as Additional Supply or Supplementary Prescribers, the placement period required is 7 days.

Optometrists must pass the Therapeutics Common Final Assessment

This is set by the College of Optometrists. Further information about the exam and therapeutic prescribing can be found on the College of Optometrist’s website.

Teaching methods

Each module consists of around ten ‘lectures’ delivered by distance learning via the Blackboard platform. Most topics are delivered by Powerpoint lectures with speech. Other lectures are delivered in a text-based format.

The first module covers aspects of ocular therapeutics, including the pharmacology and use of ocular therapeutic drugs.

The syllabus for the second module encompasses prescribing for ocular disease. Upon successful completion of the second module’s exam, optometrists will be required to undertake a clinical skills practical assessment at Aston University. The practical element will involve demonstration of slit lamp skills, contact tonometry and slit lamp binocular indirect ophthalmoscopy along with some objective structured clinical exam type questions.

Practice-based learning

Following completion of the two theoretical modules, trainees undertake a period of practice-based training. The aim of this component of the training is to develop competency in the practice of prescribing and to facilitate the integration of prescribing theory and practice with the conditions that the trainee will subsequently manage. This training will typically take place in the Hospital Eye Service under the supervision of a designated ‘mentor’ ophthalmologist. It is the responsibility of the trainee to arrange the clinical practice placement.

For IP the Clinical Placement comprises a minimum of 12 days (24 sessions of not less than 3 hours.)

Facilities & equipment

All our distance learning students have access to our library, with its extensive collection of electronic resources. The virtual learning environment can also be accessed electronically, 24 hours a day, both on and off campus.