Doctor of Optometry / Doctor of Ophthalmic Science

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.
  • The first UK professional doctorate in optometry
  • 100% part-time distance learning- study typically takes place alongside full-time professional practice 
  • Can alternatively study for an MSc/ PgDip/ PgCert as part of the same programme framework
  • Combination of taught modules and supervised practice-based research makes the course highly relevant to the ophthalmic professions and their advancement
  • Students complete an in-practice research project with support from an academic supervisor.
  • Students can opt not to complete the full Doctorate, but to exit the programme at Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, or MSc level. MOptom modules can be used to obtain credits on the Doctor of Optometry programme on a case-by-case basis.
  • 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 Programme.
  • Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of an English language qualification. Find out more about our English language requirements
  • Places on the Ophthalmic Doctorate programme are limited, therefore acceptance is necessarily a competitive process.
Duration of programme: Flexible, part-time. Up to 6 years of part- time study for the doctoral degree; up to 5 years part-time for a Master’s degree.

Start date: Two intakes per year (1st October and 1st March) - closing date for applications 6 weeks prior to the start date.

Decisions on offers will be given following the closing date for application submissions.

Distance learning available:
Part-time distance learning only


Fees (2016 /17):
UK: £1000 per module / £6,900 full research project (£2,300 p.a)
International students: £1000 per module / £6,900 full research project (£2,300 p.a)

MSc Research Review (60 credits) fee will be three times the 20 credit Module Fee, for the relevant academic year.

Note that, 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. Further information is available here: http://www1.aston.ac.uk/lhs/cpd/courses/optometry/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 Wolffsohn,JS (2012) Clinical evaluation of the Oculus Keratograph Contact Lens and Anterior Eye35,171-174

Beasley, I. G. and Davies, L. N. (2013). The effect of spectral filters on visual search following strokePerception 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 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.optom.2013.03.002

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 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 15th November.

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, A Wolffsohn, J (2013) Presbyopic contact lenses. Optometry Today 4th October.

Blackmore-Wright S, Georgeson M, Anderson SJ (2014). Enhanced Text Spacing Improves Reading Performance in Individuals with Macular Disease Plos One 8: e80325. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080325

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.

Teaching staff

Find out more about our Optometry teaching staff.
Course Director: Dr. Amy Sheppard
LHS School Office
Tel: +44 (0) 121 204 3906
Fax: +44 (0) 121 204 4187
Email: optometrycpd@aston.ac.uk

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Student Profile

Rajeshwari Sagar
My name is Rajeshwari Sagar and I am currently in my final year of the Doctor of Optometry Course. I live in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and am a full time self-employed optometrist in a small family owned practice. I have been enrolled on the DOptom programme since 2009, as a part time distance learning student.

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