UCL Institute of Ophthalmology


Advanced Clinical Practice in Ophthalmology MSc / Enhanced Clinical Practice in Ophthalmology PG Cert apprenticeships

Expand your scope of practice in ophthalmic care and build a varied and interesting portfolio career in Advanced or Enhanced Ophthalmic Practice with our rewarding Advanced Clinical Practice in Ophthalmology (ACP) MSc and Enhanced Clinical Practice in Ophthalmology (ECP) PG Cert apprenticeship programmes.

Why do an Advanced Clinical Practice in Ophthalmology MSc / Enhanced Clinical Practice in Ophthalmology PG Cert apprenticeship? 

Our programmes have been developed by practicing clinicians and researchers and deliver authentic education and training translated from the clinical setting to provide the necessary training to enable professional groups such as optometrists, orthoptists and ophthalmic nurses to contribute to the advancement of eye care delivery in primary, secondary or tertiary care settings. You will gain more specialist clinical knowledge and skills in glaucoma, ocular emergencies and cataract, clinical leadership, research and education in the healthcare setting and skills transferable to other settings.

They are delivered online via distance learning, in conjunction with workplace-based learning, offering you flexibility to study at your own pace to gain a new qualification while working.

Both programmes have been designed around you, as busy professionals, where the taught academic content is delivered 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 advanced practitioners and world leaders in the field of ophthalmology and advanced practice, the majority of whom are clinicians from Moorfields Eye Hospital. At the end of term two of each year, optional workshops will be available in London for students to gain experience of specialist practical skills.

Workplace learning and assessment is conducted alongside the academic teaching to enable you to gain the necessary work-place skills to assess and manage patients and has been developed to complement your learning on the clinical and non-clinical modules.

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What can Advanced/Enhanced practitioners do?

Advanced Clinical Practitioners practice autonomously within a defined scope of extended clinical practice to help manage the increasing burden of patient care which could include taking on clinical leadership roles, contribute to health professions education, supervision and research.

Enhanced Clinical Practitioners practice in the clinical setting under supervision of senior medical or advanced practice clinical practice clinicians. They are expected to contribute to wider healthcare activities such as quality improvement initiatives, transprofessional and clinical education and clinical audit and research activities.

Your employability and graduate attributes

  • Extended and advanced roles in clinical ophthalmic practice
  • A varied and interesting portfolio career
  • Advanced practice with the opportunity to specialise in one of the four pillars
  • Enhanced practice in the healthcare setting with the scope to undertake service improvement projects
  • Transferable skills in education, research and leadership

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
  • Non-medical ophthalmic professionals are extending their scope of practice to help manage the increasing burden of patient care in these areas

Links to other professional qualifications

College of Optometrists Professional Higher Qualifications

The glaucoma and medical retina modules on this programme are accredited by the College of Optometrists.

For UK based, GOC registered optometrists and HCPC registered optometrists only:

These programmes provide the academic component of the College of Optometrists Higher Qualifications in medical retina and glaucoma only. You will need to undertake further assessments outside the degree and arrange work-based learning and assessments (placements) to complete the qualifications. For those undertaking the ACP and ECP programmes, this can be incorporated into the work-based learning and assessment requirements. UCL does not arrange placements on your behalf.

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.

For UK-based optometrists, you will also be able to get CPD points required to maintain your professional registration on completion of academic modules on the programme.

Ophthalmic Practitioner Training

Work-based learning and assessments undertaken as part of both programmes can be put towards attaining the OPT qualification with the Royal College of Ophthalmologists. Students will need to arrange registration with the Royal College of Ophthalmologists independently and may need to undertake further assessments.

Access to observerships at Moorfields Eye Hospital

There are a limited number of observerships available at Moorfields Eye Hospital which will incur an extra charge. These are available on a first come, first served basis to students. You should organise this directly with the Moorfields Observership Scheme as they are not arranged by UCL. Note that observerships cannot substitute placements.

Learn more about the programmes

Programme structure for the Advanced Clinical Practice in Ophthalmology apprenticeship

This is a full 180 credit level 7 Masters course underpinned by the Advanced Clinical Practitioner framework that follows the Advanced Clinical Practitioner apprenticeship standard.

The course is usually studied over three years with students taking three fundamental modules in glaucoma, medical retina and ocular emergencies along with advanced practice in cataract in year one.

In year two, students take modules on the principles of advanced practice, clinical leadership, research and statistics and a specialist module in either glaucoma, medical retina or ocular emergencies.

In year three, students will undertake a 6,000 word Library based research project and 2,500-3,000 word Journal Article in an area of their choosing before undertaking their apprenticeship End Point Assessment of an open book exam and presentation of practice.

More information on the course can be found in the Advanced Clinical Practice in Ophthalmology apprenticeship handbook.

Programme structure for the Enhanced Clinical Practice in Ophthalmology apprenticeship

This is a 60 credit level 7 postgraduate certificate course underpinned by the Enhanced Clinical Practitioner framework that follows the Enhanced Clinical Practitioner apprenticeship standard.

The course is usually studied over two years with students taking three fundamental modules in glaucoma, medical retina and ocular emergencies along with advanced practice in cataract in year one.

In year two, students take an additional ECP Research In Practice module to provide them with an introduction to clinical leadership, quality improvement, research, and education. They will then complete an End Point Assessment consisting of a Quality Improvement Proposal report and presentation of a professional portfolio.

More information on the course can be found in the Enhanced Clinical Practice in Ophthalmology apprenticeship handbook.

Workplace Based Assessments

Workplace-based learning complements the academic modules and allows you to apply from in real life situation. It is designed to develop your skills to the highest level while gaining experience and feedback in an authentic workplace setting.

Workplace based learning and assessment (WBLA) is a compulsory component of your course. This component of the programme is arranged by your employer, and is carried out and supported by your clinical and educational supervisors in your workplace. The university (UCL) will supply the curriculum for students to follow.

More information on what Workplace-Based assessment entails can be found in the handbooks below:

Teaching staff from Moorfields Eye Hospital and UCL
Off-the-job training hours

As part of the apprenticeship, apprentices must receive a minimum of 20% of their weekly working hours off of their usual duties to complete developmental activities related to the apprenticeship standard. This is a condition of the apprenticeship contract and funding.

An explanation of what can and can’t be counted as off job training is included below.


  • The teaching of theory (for example: lectures, role playing, simulation exercises, online learning or manufacturer training).
  • Practical training: shadowing; mentoring; industry visits and attendance at competitions.
  • Learning support and time spent writing assessments/ assignments.

OFF JOB does not include:

  • Time spent on initial assessment and onboarding activities.
  • English and Maths training, up to and including level 2.
  • Training to acquire knowledge, skills and behaviours that are not required by the apprenticeship standard.
  • Progress reviews or on-programme assessments.
  • Training which takes place outside the apprentice’s normal working hours (unless the apprentice has been paid for these additional hours or been given time off in lieu).

Off-the-job training is primarily learner-led (with the learner identifying areas for observations and feedback) but it is the responsibility of the apprentice’s workplace to arrange placements where needed and their Educational Supervisor to oversee their completion of the workplace-based assessments as a whole. Responsibility can be passed to a Clinical Supervisor specialising in a certain area if they are better placed to manage opportunities in a certain area, e.g., Glaucoma, but overall responsibility remains with the Educational Supervisor.

Responsibilities of the employer

Our apprenticeships are delivered in partnership with the apprentice’s employer so it’s essential they are able to support the apprentice through the course. Employers are required to:

  • Confirm the apprentice’s suitability to the apprenticeship course at application by signing the apprentice’s Initial assessment and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) forms that they are required to upload with their application.
  • Sign an Apprenticeship contract with UCL and agree to a Training Plan and Apprenticeship agreement confirming their commitment to the apprentice’s training.
  • Pay the apprentice’s tuition fees from their organisation’s apprenticeship levy and maintain the apprentice’s record on the Digital Apprenticeship System (DAS) to ensure it is kept up to date so payments are released in a timely manner.
  • Provide the apprentice with a minimum amount of off-the-Job (OTJ) hours stipulated in the Training Plan giving them time away from their duties during their normal working hours to complete training related directly to the apprenticeship standard’s knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs).
  • Provide an Educational and Clinical Supervisors to oversee the apprentice’s learning and help organise opportunities to complete KSBs of apprenticeship as well as Workplace-Based Assessments. More information on what these roles involved can be found in our Supervisor Handbooks: ACP here and ECP here.
  • Deliver off-the-job training by providing the apprentice with opportunities to practise new skills related to the apprenticeship standard’s KSBs in the work environment as well as assisting the university in collecting evidence of the apprentice’s off-the-job training.
  • Contribute to progress reviews with the apprentice and UCL by attending a minimum of four tripartite meetings per year.
  • Agree, with the apprentice and UCL, when learning is complete and the apprentice is ready to undertake the end-point assessment in the final year of the course.
  • Support the apprentice in gaining Level 2 English and Maths qualifications before they reach the End Point Assessment gateway if they do not have appropriate evidence of a qualification that meets this at application eg. GCSE grade A-C English or Maths official transcript.

NHS employers can apply to NHS England for a grant to fund supervision in the workplace, to support work-based learning and assessment. This is done through the trust’ s Advanced Clinical Practice (ACP) Lead. 

Entry requirements

BSc (Hons) 2:1 in Optometry, Orthoptics, General Nursing (evidence of ophthalmic specialty training is also required for ophthalmic nurses or OPT levels 1 and 2) OR an equivalent overseas qualification.

Evidence of Functional skills (I.e, Level 2 English and Maths, equivalent to GCSE Maths and English passes at Grade C or above). Please note – Degree courses will not be accepted as evidence of Functional Skills unless the subject of the degree was Maths or English.

Applicants without appropriate evidence of Level 2 English or Maths may still be accepted onto the course but would be required to have completed a level 2 qualification in the outstanding subject/s by the time they reach the End Point Assessment gateway in their final year before they can sit their End Point Assessment.

Applicants also need support from their employer to:

  • Provide apprenticeship levy funding to fund the apprentice’s tuition fees
  • Provide appropriate supervision and opportunities to support the required work-based learning and assessment element of the programme (including provision of Education Supervision and opportunities to develop a Quality Improvement Project proposal for ECP) for the apprentice to be able to demonstrate they have met the knowledge, skills and behaviours of the apprenticeship standard. This is the responsibility of the employer – UCL will not arrange or facilitate these on the student’s behalf.
  • Provide 20% ‘off the job’ hours and appropriate supervision/opportunities to support the required work-based learning and assessment element of the programme.

If you are unsure whether you meet the entry criteria, please contact the admissions tutors by emailing ioo.admissions@ucl.ac.uk to discuss your application.

If you don’t have the support required to complete the workplace-based assessment but are still interested in the academic elements, non-ACP/ECP versions of each course are also available.

How to apply

Applications are made via UCL’s Online Application System.

For an application to be considered, applicants must complete the online application form and upload the following as one file to the Upload Additional Documents section:

  • Completed Initial Assessment form, signed by applicant (completed electronically).
  • Completed Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) form, signed by applicant and employer. (completed electronically). This needs to be completed even if no prior learning requests for mapping are being made.
  • Level 2/GCSE grade C Maths and English or equivalent certificates or transcripts. The Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) are very strict about having clear evidence that this level has been achieved – any certificate or transcript must specifically show the English or Maths subject and the grade given ie. something that literally says Maths grade C or Maths 10/20 etc. Where original certificates aren’t available, the applicant will need to contact the awarding body for a replacement.
  • Undergraduate degree certificates and transcripts.
  • Official transcripts for any qualifications you would like to put forward for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

Applications will not be considered unless/until all these documents are fully completed and uploaded.

Forms should be completed electronically.

Allowable document types are PDF, JPG, DOC and DOCX. Maximum file size is 5MB per document. Applicants are advised to only include scans or images of signature pages and certificates where necessary only to help keep the size down.  You may need to use free PDF merging software such as PDFSam Basic to combine PDF documents.

Copies of the Initial Assessment and RPL forms, along with further guidance on completing an application, can be found in the application packs below.


We are required to meet the Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) requirement for non-refutable signatures so please use either a scanned e-signature or the digital signature feature available in Adobe Reader DC (free version). A guide on using the digital signature feature in Adobe reader can be found in Appendix One of the relevant application pack. “Wet” signatures, (printing, signing and scanning a physical copy) would also be acceptable but we strongly advise only doing this with specific signature pages to keep the file size down.

Start your application

Ready to apply to the Advanced Clinical Practice in Ophthalmology MSc or Enhanced Clinical Practice in Ophthalmology PG Cert apprenticeship? Please review the content above and access the application packs below.

You may also want to visit the prospectus page for the ACP apprenticeship or the online application portal for the ECP apprenticeship.

Advanced Clinical Practice in Ophthalmology MSc apprenticeship

Enhanced Clinical Practice in Ophthalmology PG Cert apprenticeship

Register your interest

Interested in studying the Advanced Clinical Practice in Ophthalmology MSc or Enhanced Clinical Practice in Ophthalmology PG Cert apprenticeship at UCL? Sign up to hear about our future information events and news about the programme including when applications open at the following link.

Register your interest

What our students say

 Sejal Mistry
"It's very useful to hear first-hand experience, as well as clinical theory and guidelines, to be able to apply these teachings to clinical work, both in community and hospital optometry settings."

- Sejal Mistry, Advanced Clinical Practice in Optometry and Ophthalmology PG Dip

Read Sejal's and other students' testimonials here.

Why study at UCL?

  • Our longstanding partnership with Moorfields Eye Hospital represents the largest co-located site for eye research, education and care in the world.
  • The UCL Institute of Ophthalmology is ranked the best place in the world to study ophthalmology (CWUR Rankings by Subject 2017).
  • UCL is ranked 8th in the world (QS 2022).
  • In biomedical and health sciences, UCL is 1st in Europe for papers in the top 5% of their field by citation rate (2015-2018, CWTS Leiden Ranking 2020).
  • UCL hosts more UKRI Future Leader Fellowships than any other UK university, with three academics at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology receiving the prestigious fellowships over the last three years.
  • As a student you will have access to innovative facilities, connection to a growing network of peers, and support from highly experienced and professional tutors.

Taster lecture videos

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Watch a recording our recent Graduate Open Day webinar event.

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Watch this Flashes and Floaters: a masterclass for optometrists taster lecture.