UCL Graduate degrees


Advanced Practice in Optometry and Ophthalmology MSc

The aim of this programme is to develop clinical practice and to contribute to the advancement of eye care 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 of clinical, leadership, education and research.

Key information

Programme starts

September 2021

Modes and duration

Full time: 1 year
Part time: 2 years
Flexible: up to 5 years
Distance learning: available

There are two routes available, fully online and blended learning. The online component for both includes lectures, videos, webinars, individual/group tasks and patient case discussions, where you will have a chance to meet and communicate with our highly qualified teaching staff. Cases are based on real patient episodes with clinical ‘pearls’ from experienced practitioners and world-leaders in the field of ophthalmology. The blended learning route includes e-learning from September to March with a block of face-to-face days in March. Assessments are online in December and April (fully online route) and online in December and face to face in April (blended learning route). The dissertation will follow in the final term and can be carried out remotely or in London. A note for overseas students: The block of teaching and assessments in March and April is carried out over 56 days to fulfil the requirements of a student visitor visa. A tier 4 visa is not available for this programme.

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 9 November 2020
Close: 30 July 2021
Applications may close earlier if all places on the programme are filled.

Tuition fees (2021/22)

£12,500 (FT)
£6,250 (PT)
£23,300 (FT)
£11,650 (PT)

Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees. Fees for flexible, modular study are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session.


This programme is according to the Advanced Practice Framework in the UK. The taught modules form part accreditation College of Optometrists Higher Qualifications and the Ophthalmic Practitioner Framework in the UK. Work placed based learning (clinical placements) and assessments carried out locally will have to be carried out to gain full accreditation. This section is not part of the UCL Master's programme.

Location: London, Old Street

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class UK BSc (Hons) Optometry, Orthoptics, Nursing or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Applicants with other appropriate professional qualifications and/or work experience will also be considered on an individual basis. Overseas students will have to provide evidence of their proficiency in the English language. Applicants wanting to take the contact lens modules are required to have an upper-second class UK BSc (Hons) Dispensing (for students who want to take the contact lens modules).

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Good

Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

International students

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.

Select your country:

About this degree

You will develop knowledge and skills in four clinical specialist areas; glaucoma, medical retina, cataract and ocular emergencies where you will: 

  • Understand the disease process underlying ophthalmic conditions
  • Learn how to use diagnostic criteria to formulate patient management plans
  • Develop decision-making skills underpinned by academic and clinical knowledge.

There will be one optional module where you will be able to further specialise in one of the clinical areas above. In addition, there will be non-clinical modules in clinical leadership, research methods and statistics and a dissertation in the chosen specialist area.

The MSc programme consists of 180 credits and are made up of seven compulsory and one optional module (15 credits each) and a 60 credit dissertation.

In term one: Principles of Advanced Practice; Fundamental Glaucoma; Fundamental Medical Retina; Fundamental Ocular Emergencies. In term two: Principles of Cataract; Clinical Leadership; Research Methods and Statistics and ONE optional module from Specialist Glaucoma; Specialist Medical Retina; Specialist Ocular Emergencies. The dissertation is taken in term three.

Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MSc in Advanced Practice in Optometry and Ophthalmology.

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change.

Compulsory modules

The following compulsory modules are taken for this programme:

  • Principles of Advanced Practice (15 credits)
  • Fundamental Glaucoma (15 credits)
  • Fundamental Medical Retina (15 credits)
  • Fundamental Ocular Emergencies (15 credits)
  • Advanced Practice in Cataract (15 credits)
  • Clinical Leadership (15 credits)
  • Research Methods and Statistics (15 credits)
  • Dissertation (60 credits)

Optional modules

You can select one ONE of the following optional modules:

  • Specialist Glaucoma (15 credits)
  • Specialist Medical Retina (15 credits)
  • Specialist Ocular Emergencies (15 credits)



The MSc programme will culminate in a 12,000 word library-based dissertation, which will be carried out in term three if studying the programme full-time and in the final year if following the part-time or flexible routes.


Placements are not offered as part of this 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 cost. These are available on a first come, first served basis to students with the necessary professional registration and indemnity insurance. These should be organised directly with Moorfields.

Teaching and learning

Optional face-to-face components of the programme will take place in a block in March every year, and assessments will take place in April. We advise overseas students to aim to spend the months from March to April inclusive in London.

This is a blended learning programme where 90% of the taught component is carried out online. Overseas students will therefore not be eligible for a Tier 4/student visa but can apply for a short-term study visa to attend the face-to-face teaching and assessment component in March and April.

Throughout the online component of the programme, tutors will be interacting with students via online forums weekly and live webinars periodically. There will be seven to ten hours of contact per module during the face-to-face days.

Students are expected to spend at least ten hours a week per module for self-directed study.

Additional costs

Some of the modules can be carried out individually as stand-alone modules. Modules can then be put towards the MSc programme (upto 90 credits). the cost of each module is:

£1,200 per 15 credits (UK/EU)
£2,400 per 15 credits (Overseas)

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble accessable.co.uk. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.


For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.


Training will enable multidisciplinary ophthalmic clinicians to carry out advanced clinical practice roles in ophthalmology as well as providing the scientific knowledge required in these areas. Upon graduation, extended roles in primary and secondary ophthalmic settings will be more accessible.

Note to overseas students: This Masters programme does not automatically qualify you to work in the UK. You would need to register with the relevant professional bodies and follow their scheme for registration.


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.

Why study this degree at UCL?

Flexibilty of learning

The Programme will be available to you as a full-time mode, part-time over two years or flexibly over five years. The structure of the Programme offers busy professionals 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.

*blended learning is a style of education in which students learn via electronic and online media as well as traditional face-to-face teaching. It enables you to fit your study around your professional life if undertaking the programme part-time. 

The programme has been designed and delivered by world renowned leaders in ophthalmology and ophthalmic education. This unique partnership between UCL and Moorfields Eye Hospital enables a programme to be delivered by clinicians incorporating real patient cases.

For UK based practitioners, modules on the programme can be used as a first step to gaining College of Optometrists Higher Qualifications and affixes as well as the Ophthalmic Practitioner Training sign offs when combined with workplace based learning. 


This programme is according to the Advanced Practice Framework in the UK. The taught modules form part accreditation College of Optometrists Higher Qualifications and the Ophthalmic Practitioner Framework in the UK. Work placed based learning (clinical placements) and assessments carried out locally will have to be carried out to gain full accreditation. This section is not part of the UCL Master's programme.

Department: Institute of Ophthalmology

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Application and next steps


Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

This programme requires two references. Further information regarding references can be found in our How to apply section.

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at: ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/application.

Who can apply?


Ophthalmic nurses


Application deadlines

All applicants
30 July 2021

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

What are we looking for?

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Advanced Clinical Optometry and Ophthalmology at graduate level
  • why you want to study Advanced Clinical Optometry and Ophthalmology at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to the chosen programme
  • how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this challenging programme
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree.

Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.

This is a very rewarding, challenging programme and preference will be given to those candidates who meet the academic criteria and those who are able to demonstrate a clear commitment to the programme of study.  This should be demonstrated as part of your personal statement on the application form. Candidates must be able to meet all deadlines and attend all of the teaching sessions.

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Page last modified on 28 August 2021