Advanced Clinical Practice in Ocular Health


Open to optometrists, orthoptists and nurses working within the field of ophthalmology, study an exciting new master's programme for allied health professionals working in the field of ophthalmology who wish to progress to advanced clinical practitioners.

Location: Online learning

Course type
Part-time, Online / distance learning
Entry requirements

Three years part-time

Start date

Course overview

The MSc Advanced Clinical Practice is an engaging programme with a practical focus. It is for nurses, optometrists and orthoptists working in the field of ophthalmology, who wish to further develop their clinical skills, as well as hone and develop skills in research, education, leadership and management. It is a distance-learning programme, designed to work around students' current clinical role.

The programme aligns with the Multi-Professional Framework for Advanced Clinical Practice and the Ophthalmology Common Clinical Competency framework.

The Advanced Clinical Practice in Ocular Health can be completed as a Masters but you can also choose to exit with a PG certificate or PG diploma. 

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“The staff of Aston’s optometry department are so supportive and really want to see their students succeed. I found it useful to have different clinical supervisors in the third year because each clinician does things a bit differently, so you can then use your favourite bits from each person’s routine to create your own.”

Natasha Richards
Optometrist at Specsavers

Why Advanced Clinical Practice in Ocular Health at Aston University?

Professional Framework (OCCCF)
Our programme is part of the Ophthalmic Common Clinical Competency Framework (OCCCF)
Internationally recognised research
100% of our health and life sciences research environment has been ranked as being at least internationally excellent, with 50% being world-leading
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World class facilities
A UK-first dedicated simulation suite equipped with the latest instruments and simulators

Course description

Advanced Clinical Practice in Ocular Health MSc

Our advanced clinical practice in ocular health MSc at Aston will equip you with the skills, insights, and confidence required to become an advanced clinical practitioner.

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What we will provide
First-class teaching delivered by a diverse array of staff with years of close industry collaboration that is harnessed to provide you with learning based on real-world needs. Our teaching aims to inspire and excite you and bring your course to life.

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What you will provide
It is important you learn how to adapt a growth mindset to your studies - understanding that intelligence and success comes from applying yourself.  You must be able to demonstrate critical thinking and have ambition and drive to excel.

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What skills we teach
Diagnose, investigate, assess, and manage complex clinical presentations in key ophthalmic care areas, such as cataracts, medical retina, acute and emergency ophthalmology, and glaucoma. Through a blend of theoretical knowledge and practical application, the course enables you to provide advanced clinical care, promoting patient-centred approaches and instilling a critical understanding of clinical practice.

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Career prospects
At present, there is a significant drive to develop optometrists, nurses and orthoptists in several ophthalmology extended roles across the UK in primary and secondary care. This is in response to an increasing ageing population, pre and post-COVID ophthalmology patient backlogs and a chronic shortage of junior doctor training places to meet the current demand.

The MSc Advanced Practice in Ocular Health programme aligns with frameworks recognised by the National Health Service, as well as The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, The College of Optometrists, The British and Irish Orthoptics Society and the Royal College of Nursing. Not only will it equip students with appropriate and up-to-date clinical knowledge, but it will allow them to also develop valuable healthcare-focused skills in leadership, management, research and education. The programme will fully prepare students to develop into roles in Advanced Clinical Practice to meet the current, significant demand.

How you will learn

Our teaching style is modern and innovative, with a hands-on approach that bridges the gap between theory and practice. This enables you to apply your skills as you progress through your course, marrying your learning with practical examples, all designed to prepare you to apply your skills in the world of work.

What you will learn

Depending on your professional background (Nurse, Optometrist, or Orthoptist), you will receive specialised training to fill gaps in your existing qualifications. Modules cover essential topics such as Ocular Anatomy, Medical Retina, Glaucoma, Acute and Emergency Ophthalmology, Advanced Cataracts, and Ocular Therapeutics.

Optom workshop

Clinical Skills Workshops

In collaboration with Optegra, the School of Optometry at Aston University are proud to present its first programme of Ophthalmology Skills Taster workshops available to our students in November. These occur on Friday 8th November and Saturday 9th November

Learn more

Course objectives

  1. Provide you with opportunities to realise your academic potential through a range of learning experiences.
  2. Encourage you, through a practical approach, to have a passion for ocular health and an enthusiasm for learning.
  3. To develop and enhance your complex clinical decision-making skills and clinical knowledge in ocular health diagnosis and management, whilst encouraging independent learning to exercise autonomy and accountability in their clinical practice.
  4. Provide student-specific routes dependent on the student’s existing professional qualification (Nurse, Optometrist or Orthoptist). The aim is to apprise relevant skills not incorporated in each of these three qualifications, but that are relevant to Advanced Clinical Practice in Ocular Health – particularly in secondary care ophthalmology.
  5. Develop your expertise in specific areas of ocular health as defined by the Ophthalmic Common Competency Framework (OCCCF).


Modules and learning outcomes

Taught stage modules

In the taught stage, you will study the following core module:

Module TitleCredits
Medical Retina20
Advanced Cataracts15
Acute and Emergency Ophthalmology15
Principles of Advanced Practice10

The following modules are optional, choices will depend on the individual route for professionals (prescribing route or non-prescribing route).
[OO: optometrists, OT: orthoptists, ON: ophthalmic nurses]

Module TitleCredits
Ocular Anatomy and Essential Ophthalmic Investigative Techniques (ON & OT only)20
Advanced Ophthalmology and Medical Skills20
Ocular Therapeutics 1 (OO only)20
Prescribing Disorders of the Eye (OO only)20
General Ocular Therapeutics20
Ageing Eye Management20
Nutrition and the Eye20

Dissertation stage modules

In the dissertation stage, you will study the following core module:

Module TitleCredits
Advanced Clinical Practice Portfolio and Service Project40

We may update our courses to reflect best practices and academic developments. If we do, we’ll let you know of any changes at the earliest opportunity by updating our course webpages. If you have already received an offer, we’ll write to you directly to let you know of the changes. 

Entry requirements

 A minimum of an upper second-class UK BSc (Hons) in Optometry, Orthoptics or Nursing degree. 

• Applicants are required to be working within the area of ophthalmology or optometry in the NHS or community practice.  

• Applicants must be UK-registered clinicians with experience in secondary practice or evidence of intended secondary practice.

• Should you wish to gain the HEE title of Advanced Clinical Practitioner you must have current employment in an NHS organisation with agreement to ultimately be working in a planned Advanced Clinical Practitioner role. You must have an agreement with your employer to undertake this programme as you will be expected to undertake work-based learning and assessments. Your workplace will be expected to have structures in place for you to undertake this work-based learning and training and be able to allocate an education supervisor and appropriate clinical supervision.

Please note the application deadline for this course is Wednesday 23rd August 2024.

Masters Foundation programmes

If you don’t meet our entry requirements, we have a range of pathway programmes offered by our partner, ONCAMPUS Aston, which you can complete to progress onto one of our degrees.



Speak to our Admissions Team

If you have any questions about the application process please get in touch with our postgraduate admissions team:


Call: 0121 204 3200 (Please note this line is open Monday-Friday between 09.30 am-4.30 pm

Fees and scholarships

Course fees

UK students

Annual tuition fees:£9,750

More information on fees

The United Kingdom government has confirmed that European Union (EU), other European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals commencing academic courses in England from August 2021 will no longer be charged the same tuition rates as UK students.

Tuition fees for students are reviewed annually and may increase in subsequent years in line with inflation linked to the Retail Price Index (RPI) to take account of the University’s increased costs of delivering the Programme. Any such increase shall always be in accordance with the law. When undertaking a placement year, a placement year fee applies.


At Aston University we are committed to supporting the most talented and hardworking students to achieve their potential by providing a range of scholarships to help lower tuition and living costs.


Assessments include online tests such as MCQs and on-campus workshops with associated OSCEs. Coursework completion of case records is also mandatory in some modules.


Be part of our community

Once you have joined us at Aston University, you’ll always be part of our community, even beyond graduation.

Frequently asked questions

Why Advanced Clinical Practice in Ocular Health at Aston University?

The Advanced Clinical Practice in Ocular Health at the MSc level offers a unique educational experience that positions graduates for rewarding careers in the fields of ophthalmology and optometry. Expertise gained from our specialised modules prepares you to address complex challenges in ocular health. Additionally, our curriculum is aligned with the Health Education England (HEE) Advanced Clinical Practice (ACP) framework, ensuring you meet professional standards and are well-prepared for career progression.

Is Birmingham a good place to study?

Our campus is based in the centre of Birmingham, the youngest major city in Europe and a great place to live, work and study.

  • Great music and entertainment with a vibrant nightlife. Bars, clubs, pubs, live music, festivals, concerts. Whatever your tastes, there's something here for everyone.
  • Fantastic food. Birmingham's diverse community means you can try anything from the famous Balti triangle, the Chinese Quarter, high street chains, halal and vegan food, and Michelin-star dining.
  • World-class shopping. The Bullring and Grand Central is a shopper's paradise. From the world's biggest Primark to luxury brands at the Mailbox.
  • Arts and culture. Museums, galleries, theatres, concerts and Birmingham's art collection is as wide as it is impressive - not to be missed.
  • Green, open spaces. One of the greenest cities in Europe, Birmingham has hundreds of publicly accessible parks and green spaces across the city.
  • Sporting action. Birmingham has some of the most exciting venues for watching or participating in sport in the UK.

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