Flexible study allowing you to gain a postgraduate certificate, diploma, masters or doctorate qualification
Study part-time online to fit your studies around your work and personal commitments
The first UK Professional Doctorate in Optometry / Ophthalmic Science
3rd in the UK for research quality (Ophthalmics, Complete University Guide, 2021)
Course outline and modules
Are you looking to develop your expertise and gain specialist knowledge to put you at the forefront of innovations in your chosen field?
Our flexible Optometry / Ophthalmic Science Professional Doctorate, which has intakes in April and October of each year, has been designed for those working in full-time professional practice who want to develop their expertise and gain specialist knowledge while continuing to work.
Delivered online through our innovative framework of flexible credit accumulation, you’ll be able to select modules suited to your passions and career development goals, before moving on to your thesis where you will explore a topic of your choice with a substantial piece of research.
Aston Optometry School
We have a long and established history of providing high quality, industry leading academic and professional development qualifications. Acknowledged as one of the leading centres of health sciences within the UK, our optometry programmes are well regarded for the standard of teaching and high levels of student satisfaction they provide.
Staff within the School come from a wide variety of specialist backgrounds with many conducting world renowned research. We’ve been ranked 3rd in the UK for research quality (Ophthalmics, Complete University Guide, 2021) and are home to multiple research groups including:
- Ophthalmic Technology and Devices Research Centre
- Ocular Disease and Vascular Research
- Physiological and Optics Research
- Specialist Services Research
We also have the on campus Aston Eye Clinic which provides eye examinations and sight tests, along with a range of specialist clinics ran by our staff including Children’s and Binocular Vision Clinic, Dry Eye Clinic and Low Vision Clinic.
The Aston Doctor of Optometry / Doctor of Ophthalmic Science is a unique professional doctorate programme that will enable you to enhance your knowledge, and critical awareness of current issues to be at the forefront of the academic discipline through.
The qualification you will be awarded with depends on your profession and if you are a practicing optometrist or not:
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.
Both qualifications are broken down into two elements; taught and research.
Worth 20 credits each, which is nominally equivalent to 200 hours of student learning, our 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, please note dates are given as an approximate and are subject to change. Module results are ratified at Examination Boards held shortly after the end of each study period.
Taught modules include:
- Accommodation and Presbyopia
- Advanced Contact Lenses
- General Ocular Therapeutics
- Geriatric Optometry
- Investigative Ophthalmic Science
- Nutrition and the Eye
- Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics (General Optical Council approved Independent Prescribing module)
- Prescribing for disorders of the eye (General Optical Council approved Independent Prescribing module)
- Refractive Surgery
- Retinal and Macular Disorders
- Research Review
- Medical Retina
- Paediatric Eye Care
As part of the flexible programme as a UK optometrist, you may complete the theoretical element of the General Optical Council approved Independent Prescribing for Optometrists module.
Module list provides an overview of what is currently available, this list is subject to change.
Your thesis will form the major component of your doctorate.
Supervised by members of the Aston Optometry School, you will develop your research proposal based on your own clinical interests, or, you may opt to select a project nominated by an Aston academic. As this is a distance-learning programme, the research is not normally carried out on the University campus, and it is essential that the you have access to the facilities and resources needed to carry out your research, usually in your place of work.
This 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.
Flexible credit accumulation
As a new student, you will initially register as postgraduate student within our 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)
- MSc Optometry/ Ophthalmic Science (180 credits: 120 taught, 60 dissertation)
- or the Doctor of Optometry (DOptom)/ Doctor of Ophthalmic Science (DOphSc).
Up to 40 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. Candidates may only progress to the ophthalmic doctorate if they achieve 60% in the taught element of the programme and at least 60% in their dissertation that is submitted following completion of the taught element.
Timescales for study
Taught credits are valid for 5 years, so those studying for an MSc/ PgDip/ PgCert must complete their studies within 5 years of enrolment on the programme.
Those 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.
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.
All applicants require:
- Minimum upper 2nd class (2:1) honours degree in an ophthalmic or biomedical field from a UK university or the recognised equivalent from an overseas university. More information on international degree requirements can be found on our Aston in your country webpage. Other qualifications (such as Fellowship of the British Dispensing Opticians) will be considered individually, on merit.
- 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.
Candidates may only progress to the DOptom/DOphSc if they achieve 60% in the taught element of the programme and at least 60% in their dissertation that is submitted following completion of the taught element
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.
More advice on applying to Aston can be found here.
Learning, teaching and assessment
- Learning and teaching
As a part-time distance learning student, your lectures will be delivered online using Blackboard, our virtual learning environment. The lectures, which are available whenever you chose to view them to ensure maximum flexibility, are accompanied by short formative tests throughout the module. Each module includes a substantial piece of coursework, e.g. a scientific literature review or portfolio of case records.
Each credit studied is equivalent to 10 learning hours, these learning hours will include but are not limited to lectures, seminars, tutorials, online activity, reading, other independent study and feedback on assignments.
Your thesis will be supervised by members of Aston Optometry School, and you will develop your research proposal based on your own clinical interests, or, you may opt to select a project nominated by an Aston academic. As this is a distance-learning programme, the research is not normally carried out on the University campus, and it is essential that the you have access to the facilities and resources needed to carry out your research, usually in your place of work
The programme will be assessed through a combination of written and oral examinations, class tests, individual and group coursework, projects, presentations and practical assessments.
Your thesis is assessed 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.
- Key Staff
Programme Director: Dr Preeti Bhogal-Bhamra
Fees and scholarships
2020/21: £1,100 per 20 credit module in addition to £9,000 for the Doctoral project stage
2021/22: £1,150 per 20 credit module in addition to £9,150 for the Doctoral project stage
In accordance with University policy, tuition fees may increase in future years of study.
This course has been designed for those already in professional practice who want to advance their skills and gain a deeper understanding of their area of speciality, or develop knowledge in new areas. Like the flexibility of this course, the career progression opportunities it provides is highly personal. Many students choose to undertake this qualification to progress within their selected specialist career path, others to branch out into new specialisms.
Chat with current students
Frequently asked questions
- Why study a Professional Doctorate in Optometry/Ophthalmic Science at Aston?
If you’re already in full time practice, the course provides you with total flexibility to explore areas you’re particularly passionate about in a way that fits around your work life. Select from a range of specialist modules and decide which qualification level (PgCert, PgDip, MSc or DOptom/DOphSc) best suits your needs.
Aston Optometry School has been ranked 3rd in the UK for research quality (Ophthalmics, Complete University Guide, 2021) and we are well regarded for our academic and professional qualifications, so you can be sure that your learning experience will be to the highest of quality.
- How will I undertake the course remotely?
You’ll study under the direct tutelage of leading academics and receive all of the support you need remotely. Online lectures are used to support your learning, and these are available on our virtual learning environment whenever you chose to view them.
- Is there coursework involved and will I be supported?
Yes. Each taught module includes a substantial piece of coursework, such as a scientific literature review or portfolio of case records.
Your thesis will form the major component of your doctorate. Supervised by members of the Aston Optometry School, you will develop your research proposal based on your own clinical interests, or, you may opt to select a project nominated by an Aston academic. As this is a distance-learning programme, the research is not normally carried out on the University campus, and it is essential that you have access to the facilities and resources needed to carry out your research, usually in your place of work.