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Optometry with a Preliminary Year (BSc)

  • B511

4 year (full-time) / n/a (part-time) / n/a (distance / e-Learning)

Optometry with Preliminary Year is a route that has been designed for a small number of people who have the desire and academic ability to study for a degree in Optometry, but who don’t necessarily have the right academic background. The four year course consists of a foundation year followed by the three year B510 Optometry BSc course.

To succeed in their optometric studies, students will be expected to fully engage with the course and take advantage of all the learning opportunities that are presented to them. Whilst progression to the three year B510 Optometry BSc is the intended outcome of the foundation year, students will only progress if they show that they have sufficient knowledge and intellectual ability, and are able to apply the scientific skills gained in an appropriate context.

Someone trying on glasses

Key Facts

UCAS Code B511
Duration 4 years
How to apply
Typical places available The School admits 20 students each year to its undergraduate degree programmes
Typical applications received 80
Scholarships & Bursaries
Typical A-level offer ABB
Admissions Tutors Mr Richard Earlam
Tel Number 029 2087 4852 or 029 2087 4374
Email address
School website

Optometrists are healthcare professionals who detect any disease that may affect the eye or the visual system, and correct long and short sightedness.

Our course, delivered by one of the UK's highest ranked optometry schools in a purpose-designed building, will provide you with the scientific and clinical knowledge to enable you to become a fully qualified, practising optometrist.

We place great emphasis on the clinical aspects of the profession, and you will spend considerable time in our clinic, which is open to members of the public who require eye examination. Indeed, clinical practice of optometry is included from your first week, providing vital, hands-on experience to form the foundations for the programme.

As well as working in the clinic, you will have hospital visits and lectures, and in third year you will carry out a research project under the close supervision of a member of academic staff.

The course structure is as follows:

Foundation Year

During the foundation year, students will study six modules. These modules will not only give them the necessary scientific knowledge in order to enter the first year of the BSc, but will also emphasise the logical thinking and analysis skills necessary to succeed at a science-based discipline. Students will study:

  • Physics to learn how the world works
  • Biochemistry to learn the mechanisms of the human body
  • Pathology to learn how the human body copes with disease
  • Human Development from birth to death
  • Optometry as an introduction to the clinical aspects of the BSc
  • Written and Communication Skills in order to be able to produce work to the academic and scientific standards expected by the University

Teaching is conducted through a combination of lectures, tutorials, workshops and practical sessions and is assessed by coursework throughout the year together with written exams in the summer. The teaching methods rely heavily on class participation and group work together with discussion sessions. Students get the opportunity to gain practical experience of experimental work throughout the year.

Year One

The first year is an important period for any student. It is a year in which you will discover a new way of life and a new way of learning. Your initial year is designed to give you a sound foundation in the discipline, with clinical and dispensing techniques introduced at the very beginning to enhance your clinical skills.

First year modules include lectures, tutorials, and clinical practice. In the first year, particular attention is given to developing the academic skills that you will need when reading for a university undergraduate degree.

You will study the following modules:

  • Basic Clinical Techniques
  • Optometric Dispensing
  • Geometrical and Visual Optics
  • From Cells to Systems
  • Ocular Anatomy and Physiology
  • Research and Study Skills
  • Physiology of Vision

Year Two

The second year builds on the foundation of the first year, and develops all the main themes of the optometry degree. You will receive lectures on binocular vision, contact lenses, physiology of vision and pharmacology. Clinical studies and dispensing techniques will continue and during the second year you will, with close supervision, be introduced to your first patient.

You will study the following modules:

  • Clinical Studies and Dispensing
  • Contact Lenses
  • Investigative Techniques
  • Binocular Vision and Optometric Neurophysiology
  • Ocular Pharmacology
  • Physiology of Vision

Year Three

In your final year, you will develop your knowledge and clinical skills further. Modules in advanced optometric topics are introduced, and you will also carry out a project, which may be laboratory, clinical or library based. This will be under the close supervision of a member of academic staff.

You will spend about eight hours per week with patients in our clinic and will attend hospital clinics. Lecture courses in abnormal ocular conditions, binocular vision, visual psychophysics, and paediatric optometry are designed to complete the integrated course.

You will study the following modules:

  • Optometric Practice
  • Low Vision and Contact Lenses
  • Binocular Vision and Special Needs
  • Abnormal Ocular Conditions
  • Occupational Optometry, Law and Business
  • Visual Perception
  • Research Project

Teaching provision at the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences has been independently assessed as 'Excellent' and it has been awarded the highest category of excellence for the quality of its research.  The School has outstanding facilities that include new and refurbished clinics and laboratories, all fitted with state-of-the-art equipment.

The School is extremely proud of its undergraduate teaching and its contribution through research to the knowledge of how the eye and visual system work.  The positive influence of active research on student learning cannot be emphasised enough.  New concepts and ideas filter down rapidly to ensure that students are up to date, and teaching is fresh and vibrant.  The active involvement of staff in research also ensures that the teaching programme is flexible and constantly changing to equip graduates with the skills needed by a rapidly changing Optometric profession.

The Optometry degree course at Cardiff has been designed to be stimulating, comprehensive and relevant to the needs of a career in Optometry, providing students with the scientific and clinical knowledge needed as a foundation to becoming a fully qualified and practising Optometrist.  Great emphasis is placed on the practical aspects and students spend considerable time in the purpose-built clinic, which is open to members of the public who require eye examination as well as children and adults with special needs.

Typical A-level Offer ABB
Typical WBQ Offer Grade B in the Core plus grades AB at A-level.
Typical Int Bacc Offer  34 points including Chemistry, Physics, Maths or Biology
Other Applications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome. Please see detailed admissions and selection criteria for more information.

A list of commonly accepted alternative entry qualifications and admissions and selection criteria for this degree programme can be read here.

After your degree you must complete a period of supervised practice if you wish to register with the UK's General Optical Council (GOC) - this is called your pre-registration period. You must gain at least a Lower Second Class degree to enter this training period. Our graduates rarely have difficulty in securing pre-registration positions (subject to visa regulations), a process that begins in your second year. Indeed, many employers visit us to recruit future graduates, knowing that Cardiff students generally do very well. Several of our students are also successful each year in gaining the much sought after hospital pre-registration positions.

You become UK qualified after satisfactory completion of this pre-registration period (normally 12 months), which is run by the College of Optometrists.

In 2010, 92% of the School's graduates were in employment within six months of graduation while others were in engaged in further study or taking time out to travel. Employers included: universities, various NHS Trusts, optometrists plus companies such as Astra Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson. Career destinations included: optometrist, medical writer and project manager.

Postgraduates also go on to work in industry, academia and for research councils.

Next intake: September each year

School Contact

Name: Mr Richard Earlam  

Telephone: +44 (0)29 2087 4852/ 2087 4374 

Fax: +44 (0)29 2087 4859 


School Website:

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