Independent Prescribing for Optometrists PgCert

Develop your role as a clinician in the field of optometry and become an Optometrist Independent Prescriber. Successful completion of our Independent Prescribing course will gain a Postgraduate Certificate in Optometry Independent Prescribing and will be eligible to apply for entry into the General Optical Council’s (GOC) speciality register as an Independent Prescribing Optometrist. The new Aston Independent Prescribing course for Optometrists is currently pending full approval by the General Optical Council (GOC).

Please note the deadline for applications is in September 11 2023

Course type
Online / distance learning

Course format

No placements


Two periods of 4 months each followed by a module spanning the duration of an external placement

UCAS code(s)

Start date

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    Key information and fees

    Credit value: 60 masters level credits Mode of delivery: Distance Learning with a one day on campus workshop Course type: Postgraduate Certificate


    For October 2023:

    Total cost for the programme is £3,000

    The costs for the clinical placement, which is to be arranged by each trainee, can vary, depending on the fees, if any, imposed by the respective HES or clinical practice. The placement should be arranged prior to starting this programme.

    Start date: 1 October 2023

    Time commitment

    Although this will depend upon the individual, a typical student can expect to spend around 10 hours a week throughout the duration of the course, equivalent to 600 hours of study in total, plus up to 90 hours of ‘learning and experience in practice,’ including a clinical placement which must be at least 75 hours in duration.

    There is a mandatory on-campus Clinical Skills Day on Thursday 9th November 2023. This must be attended in person for those completing the Postgraduate Certificate in Independent Prescribing for Optometrists starting in October 2023.

    Key applicant information

    As part of the application process, you will be required to send in certified copies of your ID and Degree certificate. The Designated Prescribing Practitioner(DPP) and the clinical placement is the candidate’s responsibility to organise.

    We have a cap of 60 students per intake and therefore recommend applying early.

    **Mandatory Pre-application forms**

    In addition to the online University application you must complete the following forms using the links provided below, failure to do so will mean your application will be rejected.

    To be completed by applicant:

    To be completed by DPP:

    Entry requirements

    The Independent Prescriber course is open to UK-based GOC registered optometrists who:

    • Have a degree in Optometry
    • Current and active General Optical Council (GOC) registration
    • Have up-to-date knowledge and experience in their intended area of practice. This could be relevant experience obtained in the hospital eye service, at a specialist eyecare practice or in a shared care scheme.
    • The clinical placement (75 hours) is the candidate’s responsibility to organise and confirm prior to enrolment. There must be a ‘Designated Prescribing Practitioner (DPP),’ at the placement site who is willing to oversee the placement. The applicant and the DPP must complete the pre-application forms which should be submitted alongside their formal online application form. Please see link (to pre-application form).
    • Language requirement: Find out more about our English language requirements.
    • Evidence of DBS check within the last 3 years

    Speak with 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 10am-4pm BST)

    Please click here for guidance on completing the postgraduate application. 

    Course outline and what you will study

    Legislation has extended independent prescribing rights to optometrists, subject to the satisfactory completion of a General Optical Council (GOC) accredited training course. The restriction to the range of medicines that can be used and conditions that can be treated for IP optometrists is by reference to their competence:
    Optometrist Independent Prescribers should be able to prescribe any licensed medicine for ocular conditions, affecting the eye and adnexa, within the recognised area of expertise and competence of the optometrist. The likely areas, in which optometrists are expected to work as Independent Prescribers, are Primary Eye Care and/or Glaucoma.
    The Aston Postgraduate Certificate in Independent Prescribing for Optometrists is pending full approval by the General Optical Council (GOC). 
    This course consists of 3 elements:

    1. Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics (OP4OT1): This theoretical module covers a range of topics including ocular immunology, pharmacology and ocular therapeutic drugs, frameworks of prescribing, and prescribing safely and professionally.
    2. Prescribing for disorders of the eye (OP4OT2): This theoretical module covers a range of topics including red eye management, ocular surface disease management and cataract co-management. Both of the above modules can be taken independently as part of the Optometry Flexible Credit Accumulation framework award.
    3. Prescribing in Practice (OP4OTP): This module is focused on learning and experience in practice and requires students to build an ‘Ocular Therapeutics Portfolio’ to demonstrate their experience. This module overarches both OP4OT1 and OP4OT2.  As part of this module, you will be required to attend a mandatory clinical skills day which takes place on the Aston University campus during the first semester of study.  After the successful completion of your first theoretical module OP4OT1, you will be eligible to start your clinical placement under the supervision of your DPP. During the clinical placement, students will be expected to complete a clinical logbook and key reflective tasks.

    The aim of this component of the training is to develop competency in the practice of prescribing and to facilitate the integration of prescribing theory and practice with the conditions that the trainee will subsequently manage.

    It is the responsibility of the trainee to arrange the clinical practice placement under the supervision of a Designated Prescribing Person (DPP) prior to starting the course. The clinical placement site is usually a HES ophthalmology clinic. The DPP must be must be an actively prescribing practitioner in a patient-facing role, with at least 2 years of recent prescribing activity. Professionally, a DPP must be either GMC registered medic with an ophthalmology specialism currently practising in the UK, or a GOC registered Independent Prescribing optometrist.  
    *Details provided are intended to give an overview of the proposed aims and content in modules, they are not a complete exhaustive and definitive description of module content.

    Learning, teaching, assessment and staff

    This course is delivered via distance learning. You will access learning materials for general study, revision and assessment via our virtual learning environment, Blackboard. This platform allows you to access a comprehensive range of study materials, scientific journals, e-journals, databases and much more. Most topics are delivered by PowerPoint lectures with speeches. Other lectures are delivered in a text-based format. Assessment is by coursework submitted throughout the course.

    The Practical Prescribing module (OP4OPT) will require mandatory in-person attendance to a Clinical Skills Day located at Aston University.

    Upon successful completion of all three modules, you will be eligible for a postgraduate certificate in Optometry Independent Prescribing and may apply to the General Optical Council (GOC) for entry onto the register as an Independent Prescribing Optometrist.


    Course leads: Dr Preeti K. Bhogal-Bhamra and Dr Sally Blackmore-Wright (Teaching Fellow)

    This course is part of the School of Optometry which sits within the College of Health and Life Sciences.

    Your future career prospects

    Our courses offer you the opportunity to enhance your knowledge and skills in order to develop your career. In addition, our ethos is to equip you to make a real difference in your field.