Ophthalmic Dispensing BSc (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (3 years)


September 2018

Intermediate awards: CertHE, DipHE


Working with children and adults to improve their vision is a stimulating and rewarding career. Our course teaches the skills you need to become a dispensing optician, working alongside optometrists. You’ll learn how to dispense, fit and supply spectacles, and how to run a successful practice.

Full description

student satisfaction for our BSc in Ophthalmic Dispensing


When you graduate you can apply for jobs as a pre-registration dispensing optician. The preregistration period prepares you for your ABDO final practical examinations to enter onto the General Optical Council Register.

Once registered you can apply for jobs as a dispensing optician or a managing dispensing optician, and you can also specialise in the fields of contact lenses or low vision. By choosing to do further studies you may also train as an orthoptist or an optometrist.

Modules & assessment

Year one, core modules

  • Geometrical Optics
    You’ll be introduced to the concepts of ophthalmic optics along with the basic principles of geometrical optics and ophthalmic lenses. You’ll learn about the relationship between how light travels through differing media and therefore how basic ophthalmic lenses are used to correct vision. You’ll look at the laws of reflection and refraction and how these apply to ophthalmic lenses. Our module is recognised by the Association of British Dispensing Opticians and successful completion will allow you to be exempt from the part one theoretical examinations which go towards the professional qualification.
  • Introduction to Ophthalmic Dispensing with Mathematics
    This module consists of a series of lectures, exercises and practical demonstrations designed to introduce the student to the theoretical and practical principles of ophthalmic dispensing. You'll carry out a series of practical exercises for formative assessment in preparation for the professional body's Preliminary Qualifying examination. You'll consider modern ophthalmic dispensing in UK ophthalmic/optometric practice. The content reinforces both ophthalmic lens and optics theory studied elsewhere and provides a foundation to the more advanced practical aspects of ophthalmic dispensing. The knowledge and skills gained from this module will support, assist and provide you with the fundamental practical aspects of ophthalmic dispensing to be used within their workplace.
  • Introduction to Practice Management with Communication Skills
    Explore the role you’ll find yourself in once you are a qualified registered eye care professional. You’ll investigate the structure of an optometric practice along with the support that the professional can expect to receive from the various professional bodies (e.g. ABDO) and the regulatory body (GOC). You’ll look at the basis of working in a safe environment and the ways and means of controlling and monitoring this environment to ensure that there is sufficient safety for staff, colleagues and patients/customers. Looking at examples of good and bad practice we will form discussion forums in the seminars and exploration of how to prevent reoccurrence of negative experiences and bolster the positive experiences will be investigated. Visits from the ABDO and the GOC will take place to introduce you to the professional and legal issues surrounding practice management and interactions between staff and patients. The running of an optometric practice is complex. Communication is the key to a successful practice and this module is designed to introduce you to the techniques of using good, effective and disciplined communications to effect a smooth running operation. Verbal and non-verbal communications will be developed, looking at body language and facial expressions as well as gestures, as clues to meaning.
  • Introduction to Ophthalmic Lenses
    We'll introduce you to the concepts of mathematical ophthalmic lens parameters along with the basic principles of ophthalmic lenses. You'll learn about the relationship between how light travels through differing media and therefore how basic ophthalmic lenses are used to correct vision. You'll study the laws of reflection and refraction and how these apply to ophthalmic lenses. The effects of changing a lens parameter from a mechanical and an optical consideration along with the effect that the patent will perceive will be investigated. This module is recognised by the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) and successful completion will give you exemption from the part one theoretical examinations which will go towards the professional qualification.
  • Study Skills for Dispensing Opticians
    This module will enable you to gain transferable academic skills that will assist with the transition in to professional practice. You'll look at examples of good and bad practice with respect to academic performance and academic honesty with a view to prevent reoccurrence of negative experiences and bolster the positive experiences of assessment and development. You'll start on the journey of professional and collegiate working in a manner that will be carried forward to practice management modules throughout the course.
  • Optics of the Eye
    This module will introduce you to the human eye and its components. You’ll develop a base level of understanding of the eye and how it works, in preparation for second year modules, and to assist in relating the spectacle refraction to the eye and its structure. Basic Visual Optics principles will be explained and relationships between geometric optics and visual optics will be explored. You’ll be encouraged to engage in class based experiments and seminar sessions where the eye is explored in relation to how as dispensing opticians the vision can be monitored, corrected, and how advice can be given to patients in a real case scenario. You’ll explore ways of explaining to the lay person the relevance of ocular conditions and how the vision will or will not be effected by these conditions. Basic causes of myopia, hypermetropia, astigmatism and presbyopia will be looked at. Basic understandings of the common ocular conditions and diseases will be sought in a formal lecture with further reading being necessary for the full and meaningful understanding of the topic. You’ll gain a basic anatomical and visual optical structure of the eye and adnexa so you can successfully discuss with a patient the ocular condition and the causes of visual abnormalities in a real patient scenario.

Year two, core modules

  • Further Ophthalmic Lenses
    This module builds on the basic principles of ophthalmic lenses previously studied in Introduction to Ophthalmic Lenses. Your knowledge and understanding of ophthalmic lenses will be extended and will allow you to apply theoretical principles to practical situations and to dispense complex prescriptions and special types of optical appliances within the workplace. You’ll be assessed by a written exam and by a written assignment. You’ll also research and present information on Progressive Power Lenses, in the form of mini project in which you will consider lens designs, uses, availability and adaptability. The topics contained within this module include those required by the Association of British Dispensing Opticians for exemption from the theoretical examination in Ophthalmic Lenses. It also covers elements on the General Optical Council's core competency number 4, optical appliances.
  • Communication Skills in the Optical Sector
    Communication is the key to a successful practice and this module will introduce you to the techniques of using good, effective and disciplined communications to effect a smooth running operation. You’ll develop your verbal and non-verbal communications, looking at body language and facial expressions as well as gestures, as clues to meaning. Discussions and seminars will be held on controlling a conversation, and calming down the irate patient. You’ll learn how to take accurate case history from patients with various ophthalmic problems and pathological conditions, and how to deal effectively with patients concerns and complaints by extracting the relevant information from a patient as to what is the problem actually is. We’ll discuss the professional approach to the complainant by separating a complaint against the practice from a complaint against the individual, and identifying ways not to take complaints personally.
  • Refractive Management and Methods of Ocular Examination
    Gain the knowledge of the optical principles and methods of ocular examination to become confident in effective optometrist and patient communication. Begin with a discussion of various 'optical models' that have been proposed to define emmetropia, ametropia and astigmatism. Learn the formation of the retinal image and practical applications of spectacle magnification and the components of a routine eye examination, including both objective and subjective methods of assessment. You’ll also cover the principles and applications of ophthalmic instruments, the basis of visual perception and binocular vision.
  • Introduction to Contact Lens Practice
    You'll cover the development and legal aspects of contact lens fitting with a special regard to dispensing opticians. The assessment of a patient's suitability for contact lens wear and the fitting of soft, rigid & scleral lenses are also outlined. Emphasis is given to the on-going aftercare of the contact lens wearer & the complications which contact lens wear may induce. The module introduces you to instrumentation used in contact lens practice, the information that it yields during the initial assessment and during the subsequent after care visits. Modalities of lens wear is considered, along with the use of contact lens solutions, stains, and the role of topical pharmaceutical ophthalmic drugs. Satisfactory performance in this module will be required to gain registration as a Dispensing Optician, and addresses core competency Number 5, outlined by the General Optical Council and provides exemption from the ABDO contact lens theory exam. When you complete the module you'll be in a strong position to consider undertaking your final professional examination in this field.
  • Low-Vision Management and Assessment
    You'll look at the incidence and causes of low vision and their effects on vision. The term 'low vision' is defined clinically and legally together with other related terms. Methods of assessment of the visual function are studied including the use of various testing charts for distance and near, and the effects of illumination, contrast and glare. The significance of the current refraction and methods of verification are explained. The significance of visual field loss is examined and the effects of pathological conditions on the visual field. The estimation and assessment of magnification values for all distances, and the supply of suitable optical and/or non-optical monocular and binocular appliances are discussed. You'll develop an understanding of the need for multi- and inter-disciplinary approaches to the management and psychology of low vision, including arrangements for after-care and the engagement of social services, support groups, specialist trainers and teachers.

Year three, core modules

  • Advanced Ophthalmic Lenses
    We've designed this module to take you to the next step in spectacle lens design and spectacle lens technology. You’ll gain an understanding of and be familiar with the design, materials and optical principles of spectacles lenses. We’ll also give you the skills to dispense spectacles, instruct patients in their safe and efficient use, monitor progress with the appliance and assist patients to achieve maximum visual performance. There’ll be particular focus on the components of lens design that are new to the profession or are likely to be developed in the future. You’ll also benefit from formal and informal sessions with spectacle lens manufacturers as the latest technology is rolled out.
  • Final Practical Dispensing
    This module will prepare you for working in practice and the real patient experience. You’ll develop skills and techniques needed to successfully problem solve for the patient with fitting and/or visual problems from a pair of spectacles. You’ll learn about the paediatric and the geriatric patient and methods of dealing with each is explored in detail, along with the legal and ethical aspects of registrants when dealing with vulnerable patients (it'll be a requirement that an up-to-date CRB certificate is held). You’ll gain experience in problem-solving, identifying needs and matching solutions to all areas of practical dispensing. PEPs and the legislation of PEPs is covered in great detail along with full EN standards and consequences of failing to comply with them.
  • Practice Management with Ocular Pathology
    Focus on the social, environmental, ethical and financial aspects of dispensing and prepare for working in practice. Gain real patient experience along with staff management, health and safety and ethical procedures. You’ll explore recruitment and staff engagement staff progression and practice structure, along with legal and ethical aspects of practice management and small business principles. Discuss professional conduct and aspects of good practice along with GOC disciplinary methods and procedures and establish practice management, patient handling and liaison techniques. Guest lectures include The General Optical Council Fitness to Practice committee, who’ll present the basis of the investigation process and the possible outcomes of investigations and penalties.
  • Vocational, Recreational and Paediatric Dispensing
    Gain a clear understanding of applied ophthalmic dispensing by studying topics in illumination, building regulations and visual ergonomics. Explore optometric aspects of providing occupational health care, ocular hazards in the work place and during recreation and link this to ocular injuries in the workplace and emergency procedures. You’ll look at vision standards for road transport drivers, plus specialist needs pertaining to aviation, maritime services and the military services. Additionally, you’ll addresses the legal and ethical requirements of the ophthalmic dispenser within a business framework. You’ll study professional practice legislation combined with the skills and competencies needed to run a successful business and provide contemporary eye care services to the public. Finally, you’ll address visual and safety needs of the professional and recreational sportsman. You’ll also cover the fine details of paediatric dispensing from the very small infant showing an ability to communicate effectively with the child and their carer. You’ll gain an understanding of paediatric refractive prescribing and management decisions. At the end of this module you’ll be expected to demonstrate the ability to advise on and measure for the most appropriate paediatric frames and the ability to advise and measure for the most appropriate lens choice.
  • Undergraduate Major Project
    In this module you’ll be creating a substantial piece of individual research focused on a topic of your choice. You could choose your topic from a variety of sources including research groups, previous/current work experience and/ or suggestion from your tutor. You’ll identify problems and issues, conduct literature review, process data, critically appraise and present your findings. Regular meetings with your project supervisor will ensure your project is closely monitored and steered in the right direction.


Throughout the course, we’ll use a variety of methods to assess your progress. Besides practical, written and multiple-choice exams, we’ll use assignments, logbooks, lab reports, formal reports, case studies, presentations and class-based tests.

Where you'll study

Your faculty

The Faculty of Science & Technology is one of the largest of five faculties at Anglia Ruskin University. Whether you choose to study with us full- or part-time, on campus or at a distance, there’s an option whatever your level – from a foundation degree, to a BSc, MSc, PhD or professional doctorate. 

Whichever course you pick, you’ll gain the theory and practical skills needed to progress with confidence. Join us and you could find yourself learning in the very latest laboratories or on field trips or work placements with well-known and respected companies. You may even have the opportunity to study abroad.

Everything we do in the faculty has a singular purpose: to provide a world-class environment to create, share and advance knowledge in science and technology fields. This is key to all of our futures.

Where can I study?

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students, 2018/19 (per year)


International students, 2018/19 (per year)


Fee information

For more information about tuition fees, including the UK Government's commitment to EU students, please see our UK/EU funding pages

Additional costs

General Optical Council fees - £30
Association of British Dispensing Opticians fees - £100
Facial gauge - £60
PD ruler - £20
Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) – Enhanced check £44

How do I pay my fees?

Tuition fee loan

Most English undergraduates take out a tuition fee loan with Student Finance England. The fees are then paid directly to us. The amount you repay each month is linked to your salary and repayments start in April after you graduate.

How to apply for a tuition fee loan

Paying upfront

If you choose not to take out a loan you can pay your fees directly to us. There are two ways to do this: either pay in full, or through a three- or six-month instalment plan starting at registration.

How to pay your fees directly

International students

You must pay your fees up-front, in full or in instalments. You will also be asked for a deposit or sponsorship letter for undergraduate courses. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees

Funding for UK & EU students

Most new undergraduate students can apply for government funding to support their studies and university life. This includes Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance Loans. There are additional grants available for specific groups of students, such as those with disabilities or dependants.

We also offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

From September 2018, EU students starting an undergraduate degree with us can access an £800 bursary.

Meanwhile, our £400 Books Plus scheme helps with the costs of study. There's no need to apply for this: if you're eligible you can simply collect a Books Plus card when you start your course.

Funding for international students

We offer a number of scholarships, as well as an early payment discount. Explore your options:

Entry requirements

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Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email answers@anglia.ac.uk for further information.

All tariff points must come from A levels. Points from AS levels cannot be counted towards the total tariff points required for entry to this course.

International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for undergraduate courses.

Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry onto a degree course.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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Get more information

UK & EU applicants

01245 68 68 68

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International applicants

+44 1245 68 68 68

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