UCL Institute of Ophthalmology


Advanced Practice in Optometry and Ophthalmology MSc

UCL, Institute of Ophthalmology has partnered with Moorfields Eye Hospital, one of the leading eye hospitals in the world to provide you with a rewarding and challenging Advanced Practice in Optometry and Ophthalmology Programme.

The aim of the programme is to develop clinical practice and to contribute to the advancement of eyecare delivery in primary, secondary or tertiary care settings. The Programme has been developed by practicing clinicians for multidisciplinary ophthalmic non-medical clinicians such as optometrists, orthoptists and ophthalmic nurses. The structure of the Programme is based on the four pillars; clinical, leadership, education and research. Modules that are offered to you provides training in the four busiest ophthalmic specialties in the UK and worldwide; Glaucoma, Medical Retina, Ophthalmic Emergencies and Cataract.

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These ophthalmic specialties have a shortage of medical staff and increasingly, Advanced Practice non-medical professionals are undertaking extended roles to help manage the increasing burden of patient care. On successful completion of the full Programme, you will gain a MSc UCL qualification. For UK based, GOC registered optometrists and non-medical professionals: Some of the modules in the Programme provide the classroom-based knowledge for the College of Optometrists specialist professional Higher Qualifications (HQs) and the Ophthalmic Practitioner Training (OPT).

The second part of these professional qualifications require a clinical placement. Placements are not offered as part of the UCL Master's programme. However, UK students who want accreditation for the College of Optometrists Higher Qualifications or the Ophthalmic Practitioner Framework will need to organise their own placements locally to complete their work-place based learning and assessments.

There are a limited number of placements available at Moorfields Eye Hospital which will incur an extra charge. These are available on a first come, first served basis to UK students with the necessary professional registration and indemnity insurance. You should organise this directly with Moorfields. For UK based optometrists, you will also be able to get CET points required to maintain your professional registration on completion of modules on the Programme.

Compulsory modules 
1. Principles of Advanced Practice (15 credits)
2. Fundamental Glaucoma (15 credits)
3. Fundamental Medical Retina (15 credits)
4. Fundamental Ocular Emergencies (15 credits)
5. Advanced Practice in Cataract (15 credits)
6. Clinical Leadership (15 credits)
7. Research Methods & Statistics (15 credits)
8. Dissertation (60credits)
Optional modules (one option from)
1. Specialist Glaucoma (15 credits)
2. Specialist Medical Retina (15 credits)
3. Specialist Ocular Emergencies (15 credits)
Programme structure

The Programme will be available to you as a full-time mode, part time over 2 years or flexibly over 5 years. The structure of the Programme has been focused on you as busy professionals offering either a blended learning option where 90% of the Programme is offered online and 10% face to face or a fully online Programme where 100% of the Programme is carried out online.

In addition to online lectures, there will be webinars, group tasks and patient case discussions to enhance your learning. Cases are based on real patient episodes which are discussed with clinical ‘pearls’ from experienced practitioners and world leaders in the field of ophthalmology. The blended learning option offers online learning from September to March with a block of face to face days in March. You will undertake assessments in December and 5 April of the academic year with the dissertation being undertaken from May to September. The fully online mode will run from September to April.

You will undertake assessments in December and April of the academic year with the dissertation being undertaken from May to September. The Programme is based around the four universal busiest ophthalmic specialties; glaucoma, medical retina, ocular emergencies and cataract. The Programme will start with a compulsory module on the Principles of Advanced Practice and will be followed by six compulsory modules including: Fundamental Glaucoma, Fundamental Medical Retina, Fundamental Ocular Emergencies, Advanced Practice in Cataract, Clinical Leadership and Research Methods & Statistics. You will then decide on one area to specialise in and choose one option from Specialist Glaucoma, Specialist Medical Retina and Specialist Ocular Emergencies. The Programme will conclude with a dissertation in your specialist area.

Employability/Graduate attributes

You will be able to carry out advanced practice roles in ophthalmology in a community or hospital setting. You will also have skills in clinical leadership, education and research which will enable you to take on roles where you can lead in a team in a clinical setting and/or undertake further research giving you varied portfolio or specialist career options and progression.


Some modules on this programme form the classroom or theoretical knowledge for the College of Optometrists (CoO) Higher Qualifications. The CoO qualification can only be obtained by UK based GOC registered optometrists. To gain a full CoO higher qualification, a clinical placement and practical exams will be required, which can only be carried out external to this UCL programme.

Please contact the programme teaching and learning administrator for more information. ioo.admissions@ucl.ac.uk

Programme benefits

  • Understand the disease process underlying common ophthalmic conditions (e.g. glaucoma and medical retina)
  • Learn how to use diagnostic criteria to formulate patient management plans
  • Develop decision-making skills underpinned by academic and clinical knowledge
  • Provides credentialling for GOC registered optometrists
  • Career options after completing the programme include; extended roles or advanced clinical practice in optometry and ophthalmology.

Tuition fees

For key information about this programme, including fees and entry requirements, please see the UCL Graduate Prospectus:

UCL Graduate Prospectus 2021-22 


Apply now 

Further information

You should complete level 1 before commencing level 2 and must complete this before embarking on level 3 etc. However, you may choose to mix subjects to make up your MSc. For a full-time MSc, 120 credits and the dissertation should be completed in one academic year. 60 module credits should be completed per academic year and in addition, the dissertation should be completed in year 2. For a 5-year flexible MSc, a minimum of 30 module credits should be completed per academic year in years 1-4 and a dissertation in the final year.

Note that the optional face-to-face components of the programme will take place in March every year, and assessments will take place in May. We advise overseas students who wish to attend to aim to spend the months from March to May inclusive in London.

Programme leads

Jay Varia - Principal Optometrist Education Lead at Moorfields Eye Hospital Senior Clinical Teaching Fellow, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology

Rashmi Mathew - Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon - Glaucoma, Moorfields Eye Hospital. Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy 

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