Doctor of Optometry / Doctor of Ophthalmic Science


Undertake the part-time Doctor of Optometry/Doctor of Ophthalmic Sciences course to enhance your knowledge and critical awareness of the current issues in your specialist discipline.

Location: Online learning

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

Up to a maximum of 6 years

Start date

Course overview

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 March 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.

The qualification you will be awarded depends on your profession and if you are a practising 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; these students may complete scientific essays to fulfil the coursework requirements and undertake a non-clinical research project.

Why Optometry / Ophthalmic Science at Aston University?

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
Research active staff
Learn from passionate research-active academics in specialist areas of bioscience research
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Independent research project
Develop a final research project of your chosen specialism
Flexible study
Flexible study allowing you to gain a postgraduate certificate, diploma, masters or doctorate qualification
Work and study
Study part-time online to fit your studies around your work and personal commitments
College of Optometrists
Option to complete College of Optometrists-accredited modules in Medical Retina, Glaucoma and Paediatric Eye Care.

Course description

Doctor of Optometry / Doctor of Ophthalmic Science

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 and clinical practice through evidence-based research.

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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
This course covers advanced topics in optometry and ophthalmology, providing you with a well-rounded skill set. You will gain expertise in contact lenses, therapeutics, pharmacology, prescribing, and specialised areas like glaucoma and myopia. The curriculum emphasises practical skills and critical appraisal, preparing graduates to excel in eye care.

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Career prospects
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 are highly personal. Many students choose to undertake this qualification to progress within their selected specialist career path, while others branch out into new specialisms.

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 for the world of work.

You will initially enrol on the postgraduate framework of flexible credit accumulation. You will then have the option of taking each of the stages of the course in order (PgCert, PgDip, MSc, and then Doctorate), or it is possible to exit the course at the completion of any of these stages, enabling you to be flexible with your level of commitment at the outset. 

What you will learn


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 approximate and are subject to change. Module results are ratified at Examination Boards held shortly after the end of each study period.


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.

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.

Course objectives

  1. Provides you with opportunities to realise your academic potential through a range of learning experiences.
  2. Encourages you, through a practical approach, to have a passion for Optometry / Ophthalmic Science and an enthusiasm for learning.
  3. Provides an in-depth and high level of knowledge and understanding of the fundamental scientific principles relevant to eye care.
  4. Develop knowledge and understanding of functional and developmental conditions, ophthalmic optics and the dispensing of ophthalmic appliances, including contact lenses, ocular disease and abnormality, pharmaceutics and systemic disease.
  5. Enable you to assimilate scientific knowledge, critically review scientific literature, form clinical judgements based on evidence from test results and patient history and symptoms, and critically analyse your own and others’ work.
  6. Gain knowledge and understanding of routine eye examinations, contact lenses, specialist ophthalmic examination, and professional practice.
  7. Gain skills in maintaining clear, accurate and appropriate records, time management and organisational skills, problem-solving skills relating to qualitative and quantitative information, and data analysis skills to evaluate data generated through audit and research.


Modules and learning outcomes

Taught stage modules

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

Module TitleCredits
Basic Research Methods20
Advanced Research Methods20

In addition to 80 credits of the following optional modules:

Module TitleCredits
Ageing Eye Management20
General Ocular Therapeutics20
Health and Patient Psychology20
Medical Retina20
Nutrition and the Eye20
Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics (General Optical Council approved Independent Prescribing module)20
Ocular Surface Management20
Prescribing for Disorders of the Eye (General Optical Council approved Independent Prescribing module)20
Refractive Surgery 120
Refractive Surgery 220

Dissertation stage modules

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

Module TitleCredits
Ophthalmic Science Research Review60

DOphSc students are required to complete a substantial personal research project with submission of a thesis/portfolio for viva voce examination. The research stage has a nominal 360 credit value.

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

  • Minimum upper second 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.

Progression 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

International students

Aston University is a diverse, close community and welcomes international students on many of our undergraduate programmes. Students from over 120 countries choose to study with us every year. Based in the centre of Birmingham, Aston is not only a great place to study, it’s also a great place to live.

Qualifications in your country

For details of equivalent qualifications in your country, use our area pages below:

English language requirements

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of an English language qualification.

English language requirements

How to apply

Aston University provides a range of opportunities for international students to join our community and study on our campus. A key part of our strategy is our relationships with teaching partners, providing multiple pathways to Aston.

Aston’s professional work placements can improve your chance of securing a graduate job. Placements give you experience, confidence and opportunities and, as an Aston student, you’ll be better prepared for your future career. One of the great things about Aston is our focus on employability. Our close links with businesses, industries and professions make this possible.

Find out more about applying

Post-study work visa

Aston University welcomed the creation of a new Graduate Immigration Route which enables international students to remain in the UK for two years after you complete your studies to find work. This new post-study work visa applies to international students completing full-time undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Graduate Immigration Route

Pathway 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.

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 09.30am-4.30pm)

Fees and scholarships

Course fees

Module fees: £650 per 10 credits
Dissertation fees: 3 x modular fee on enrolment 
Research Stage Fees: £9,350

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.


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


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 study for 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 is well regarded for its academic and professional qualifications, so you can be sure that your learning experience will be of the highest 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 choose to view them.

What facilities will be available?

Aston University is home to an extensive bioscience department that includes a combination of student practical and research laboratories. All spaces are well-appointed and furnished with a variety of relevant equipment such as tissue culture facilities, bioreactor cell culture, flow cytometry and fluorescence imaging, designed to ensure our students receive the very best training experience.

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.

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.

Discover Birmingham

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