Doctor of Optometry / Doctor of Ophthalmic Science

Optometry course header image 1

I enjoyed improving my understanding of statistics and research”

Peter Hampson 
DOptom, Clinical Director, Association of Optometrists

Entry requirements

See below for full details

This course is for you if you are looking to obtain a professional doctorate that enables eye care professionals to enhance their knowledge, critical awareness of current issues, and to be at the forefront of their academic discipline through taught and research elements. This is the first UK professional doctorate in optometry and is available part time via distance learning.

Flexible: gain a postgraduate certificate, diploma, masters or doctorate qualification
Distance learning
The first UK professional doctorate in Optometry / Ophthalmic Science
2nd in the UK for Optometry (Complete University Guide, 2017)

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. 

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.
  • 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. 

Start dates: Two intakes per year - 1 October and 1 March  

 How to apply:

  • Apply here 
  • The application deadline for each intake is 6 weeks before the start date.
  • If you are applying close to the deadline, please ensure you have all supporting documentation ready for the application. If the deadline has passed, we may still be able to consider you, so please contact us.
  • Decisions on applications are given following the closing date for applications.

For 2018 entry:

  • UK / EU: £1,100 per module / £8,400 full research project (£2,800 p.a)
  • International students: £1,100 per module / £8,400 full research project (£2,800 p.a)
  • MSc Research Review (60 credits) fee will be three times the 20 credit Module Fee, for the relevant academic year.
  • In accordance with University policy, tuition fees may increase in future years of study.

The Doctor of Optometry/ Doctor of Ophthalmic Science (previously known as the Aston “Ophthalmic Doctorate”) is a unique qualification - a professional doctorate - that enables eye care professionals to enhance their knowledge, and critical awareness of current issues, and to be at the forefront of their academic discipline through taught and research elements.

Taught modules  20 credits each, nominally equivalent to 200 hours of student learning. 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.

The research project is the major component of the doctorate, supervised by members of the Optometry Subject Group academic staff. Students will develop their research proposals based upon their own clinical interests, or 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 student has access to the facilities and resources needed to carry out the research, usually in the student's place of work. 

The research 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.

This degree is only available as part-time distance learning, so it is vital that the student has access to a good broadband internet connection.

Flexible credit accumulation

New students initially register as LHS postgraduate students within a framework of flexible credit accumulation (FCA). Within this framework it is possible to graduate with a Postgraduate Certificate in Optometry (60 taught credits); Postgraduate Diploma in Optometry (120 taught credits); M.Sc. in Optometry/ Ophthalmic Science (180 credits: 120 taught, 60 dissertation) or the Doctor of Optometry (DOptom)/ Doctor of Ophthalmic Science (DOphSc).

As part of the flexible programme, UK optometrists may complete the theoretical element of the GOC-approved Independent Prescribing for Optometrists.

The MSc requires the completion of 6 taught modules (120 credits) and a 60 credit narrative research review (dissertation).

Completion of the DOptom/ DOphSc requires 180 taught module credits and successful completion of a substantial personal research project, with submission of a thesis/ portfolio of work and a viva voce examination with an internal and external examiner. 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.

Timescales for study

Taught credits are valid for 5 years, so students studying for an MSc./ PG Diploma/ PG Certificate must complete their studies within 5 years of enrolment on the programme.

Students 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.

The personal research project is the core of Doctor of Optometry / Doctor of Ophthalmic Science programme. Taking place over approximately 3-4 years part-time, students pursue a practice-based project relevant to their scope of practice.

With the programme successfully running since 2008, numerous Aston Ophthalmic Doctorate students have had their work published as papers in peer reviewed journals or articles in professional magazines. Here is a selection:

  • Best, N., Drury,L., and Wolffsohn, JS (2012) Clinical evaluation of the Oculus Keratograph: Contact Lens and Anterior Eye, 35,171-174

  • Beasley, I. G. and Davies, L. N. (2013). The effect of spectral filters on visual search following stroke: Perception, 42, 401-412.

  • Beasley, I. G. and Davies, L. N. (2013). The effect of spectral filters on reading speed and accuracy following stroke. Journal of Optometry

  • Beasley, I. G. and Davies, L. N. (2013). Visual stress symptoms secondary to stroke alleviated with spectral filters and precision tinted ophthalmic lenses: a case report. Clinical and Experimental Optometry, 96, 17-120.

  • Best, N., Drury,L., and Wolffsohn, JS(2013) Predicting success with silicone-hydrogel contact lenses in new wearers. Contact Lens and Anterior Eye, 36: 232-237.

  • Mousa MF, Cubbidge RP, Al-Mansouri F, Bener A (2013) The role of hemifield sector analysis in multifocal visual evoked potential objective perimetry in the early detection of glaucomatous visual field defects. Clinical Ophthalmology, 7: 843-858.

  • Sheppard AL and Rashid K. (2013) Domiciliary eye care- the practitioner’s perspective. Optometry Today, 15 November 2013.

  • Dunstone D, Armstrong R and Dunne M. (2013) Survey of habits and attitudes to retinoscopy by optometrists in the UK Optometry in Practice, 14: 45-53.

  • Sivardeen, and A Wolffsohn, J (2013) Presbyopic contact lenses. Optometry Today. 4 October, 2013

  • Blackmore-Wright S, Georgeson M, and Anderson SJ (2014). Enhanced Text Spacing Improves Reading Performance in Individuals with Macular Disease Plos One, 8

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. Amy Sheppard. Dr Sheppard is a Senior Lecturer and Optometry EPD Framework Director (including this course and the Doctor of Optometry). Her research interests include ocular accommodation and presbyopia, intraocular lens (IOL) technology, ocular biometry, and domiciliary eye care and quality of life.

Meet the Optometry team.

Why did you choose Aston: “Ease of access, type of course and ability to study remotely” 

What did you enjoy the most: “I enjoyed improving my understanding of statistics and research”

Has your Aston experience helped your next career step? “Yes, my new post as clinical director has been aided by this process. It also helps support the teaching that I do on other courses”

Peter Hampson
Clinical Director, Association of Optometrists 

Watch the whole interview to find out more about his experiences on this course

You may also be interested in the following Aston School of Life and Health Sciences courses:

In addition, the modules listed above may be taken as individual standalone modules.

Discover more in the following ways: 

  • Write to us: Life & Health Sciences Admissions, Aston University, Aston Triangle, Birmingham, B4 7ET 
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