BSc (Hons) Vision science

Year of entry

On a day to day level, thousands of dispensing opticians carry out excellent work with the FBDO diploma and acquired years of skill and experience. For many, there was no choice to pick a degree course when they were studying. A significant number of well-qualified practitioners are seeing the new wave of graduates and thinking, ‘I would have liked a degree too.

ABDO College working in conjunction with Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) is now offering any dispensing optician with the FBDO diploma the chance to top up to a degree. The new BSc (Hons) in Vision Science course is designed for fully qualified dispensing opticians who wish to gain a profession specific degree and acquire graduate skills that can be applied to the workplace. It offers a unique opportunity for dispensing opticians to ‘top-up’ to a degree while still working in practice.

ABDO President Fiona Anderson says:

“A number of years ago I achieved a BSc (Hons) Business Administration with Brunel University which I studied over three years via blended learning, so diligence, time management and hard work were the order of the day to gain the degree! I am undeniably proud of my FBDO qualification, but not everyone knows what it is. A BSc(Hons) is instantly recognisable across the world. One of my proudest moments, aside from gaining my degree and graduating, was ordering my ABDO desk name plate showing that I was BSc(Hons) FBDO. Some time has elapsed since then – I graduated in 2003, and I have a few more letters after my name now. I am a huge advocate of lifelong learning. I am thrilled that this ‘top up’ degree is now available via ABDO College and CCCU and with the advances in technology the method of delivery and study couldn’t be easier or more convenient for busy professionals who want to work & combine further study.”

This course is specifically designed for people already employed as Dispensing Opticians who have achieved the FBDO Level 6 Diploma in Ophthalmic Dispensing.

The degree progresses you through a mix of assessments; essays, a poster, a leaflet, a case study, and with the option of a workplace project on a topic that you choose according to your specific interests. There are no attended exams to take. The course comprises three compulsory modules and three optional modules from a list which includes contact lenses and low vision, so, again, you can tailor the degree to your interests. 

The compulsory modules are; Academic Skills Development, Evidence-based Practice, and Transforming Ophthalmic Practice.

The optional modules include The Principles of Contact Lens Practice, The Principles of Low Vision Practice, Paediatric Eyecare, Ophthalmic Public Health, Dry eye & Ocular Surface Disease, and an independent study module where you select a relevant topic. Each module has around 8-10 lectures and several live seminars with your course tutors (via our online virtual learning environment, Blackboard).  

The whole degree is offered in a flexible timeframe. You can study two modules at a time and complete it within 18 months, the suggested time, but you have up to three years should you wish to proceed at a slower pace due to other commitments.

Once you have completed the degree, it will open a gateway to career opportunities such as lecturing or research.

  • You will be more respected within your workplace, and your patients will benefit from your evidence-based recommendations.
  • You can progress from your bachelor's degree to masters and then to doctorate level taking your research skills and knowledge to the next level and carrying out groundbreaking research.
  • You will enjoy the foundations for the ABDO low vision certificate and contact lens practice certificate and may go on to study these at ABDO college. 

Academic Skills Development (20 credits)

This module introduces students to the concepts of academic writing and information management, life-long learning, academic and professional development, and reflective practice using the University’s VLE. The content will include accessing and critically evaluating information/evidence. The students will discuss the University plagiarism policy

Understanding Evidence-Based Practice (20 credits)

This module will expose students to methods used when systematically examining the evidence used in our working practice. The content of the module will include the nature of evidence-based work practices and how audit and the research process can be used to explore problems. Research appraisal skills will be practised, using a published framework, to enhance the efficacy of a more analytical approach to the use of research findings and to interpret and challenge manufacturers’ in-house research findings.

Transforming Ophthalmic Practice (20 credits)

The module aims to enable students to review service delivery in their practice environment and to critically evaluate a pilot or small-scale development initiative which will enhance service provision. Students will develop a project aimed at improving service delivery. This will include making use of SWOT analysis, Gantt charts, workplace audits and liaise with stakeholders. This module will also develop project management skills. 

Likely optional modules

Paediatric Care in Ophthalmic Practice (20 credits)

As this is a protected category for dispensing opticians, the module aims to provide students with a detailed understanding and knowledge of how sight testing and paediatric dispensing differs from adult dispensing; including specialist fitting of optical appliances for those children with additional needs.

Principles of Contact Lens Practice (20 credits)

The module will allow students to critically evaluate the choice and uses of RGP, soft and scleral contact lens types and the comparative use of spectacle lenses that may be encountered by the dispensing optician in practice. Therapeutic uses of contact lenses, used for patients with low vision and fitting philosophies for rigid and soft lenses are explored. Techniques for insertion and removal of all types of contact lenses, and purposes and types of care regimes and common constituents in solutions uses are all considered. It is an ideal preparatory module for those students considering becoming a contact lens optician, and for current practitioners to obtain a greater critical understanding of the products they are providing their patients.

Principles of Low Vision Practice (20 credits)

Following this module, students will be able to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the pathophysiology and assessment in low vision, the application of biopsychosocial models to the management of those with low vision. Students will be better equipped for the increasing number of visually impaired patients they come into contact with in practice. It will provide an excellent introduction, that may lead students on to studying toward the Associations Low Vision Certificate.

Independent Study (20 credits)

You will be able to undertake a study on a topic of interest, applied to an area of professional practice. You to enhance your knowledge on a range of graduate attributes, moving on from the initial module of Understanding Evidence-Based Practice. You will become more familiar with identifying and understanding research and being able to apply it to your everyday practice as a Dispensing Optician. This will help you become better, more enquiring and well-informed practitioners for the benefit of your patients.

Concepts of Ophthalmic Public Health (20 credits)

You will explore and understand the wider public health agenda and will undertake a critical review and analysis of an ophthalmic issue in public health. You will work on producing an academic poster on a local enhanced eyecare pathway.

Dry Eye and Ocular Surface Disorders (20 credits)

Dry eye has become a common symptom reported by patients, and there is a varied aetiology. This module aims to cover the current theories of the tears film and will look to compare traditional tear tears to modern techniques for dry eye assessment and treatment. You will explore current workshop groups such as DEWS and DEWS II, and therefore critique the latest dry eye and ocular surface research and recommendations for suitable treatments and products available to patients. 

2018/19 intake - tuition fees for this course

Each module £805

Please read the 2018/19 Tuition Fee Statement for further information regarding 2018/19 tuition fees and year on year fee increases.

Students must have access to the internet via a computer, and ideally have a webcam and headset with microphone.

Students must maintain membership with the Association of British Dispensing Opticians and professional registration with the General Optican Council. 

Further information

General principle policy

Additional course costs

The University’s general principles policy for additional course fees are set out here

CategoryIncluded in the tuition feeAdditional cost to student
Field trips (including trips abroad and trips to museums, theatres, workshops etc) No, if the trip contributes to the course as an optional module. Yes if the trip is optional.
Travel and accommodation costs for placements  No

Travel and accommodation costs for professional placements within the Education and Health & Wellbeing Faculties.

Travel and accommodation costs for other work placements. 
Text books No Own purchase text books.
DBS / Health checks No Yes
Professional Body registration No Yes
Travel to other sites (e.g. travel to swimming pool for lessons) No Yes
Clothing / Kit Yes, where the clothing / kit is essential for Health & Safety reasons. Yes, where the clothing is kept by the student and not essential for health and safety reasons.
Learning materials Essential learning materials (excluding text books) in connection with the course. Additional materials beyond the standard provision essential for the course or where the costs are determined by the student’s area of interest and the outputs are retained by the student.
Library fees and fines No Yes
Printing and photocopying No Yes
Social events No, unless the event forms an essential part of the course. Yes, unless the event forms an essential part of the course.
Graduation ceremonies It is free for the student to attend the ceremony itself. Guest tickets and robe hire/ photography are additional costs payable by the student.


You will be taught through a combination of recorded lectures, live seminars and directed study. You will typically have around 2-4 hours directed study and tutor contact per week.

Your actual contact hours depend on the option modules you select.

Seminars will enable you to discuss and develop your understanding of topics covered in the recorded lectures.  You will be able to discuss your progress live with your academic, personal tutor, via video-link, within our virtual learning environment, called Blackboard Collaborate. 

You will require access to a computer, ideally with a headset and microphone and web camera facilities.

Your journey through your degree will typically take 18 months. However you may opt to take one module at a time, staggering the workload and completing your degree over three years instead.

All programmes are informed by the University’s Learning and Teaching Strategy 2015-2020

Independent learning

When not reviewing recorded lectures, attending virtual seminars or other timetabled sessions you will continue learning through self-study.  Typically, this involves reading journal articles and books, undertaking research, working on projects, and preparing for coursework assignments/examinations, workshops and seminars.

Your module tutor will direct you to specific readings and/or activities to complete each week.

Particularly with the Independent Study module, you will work autonomously with the pastoral support of your module tutor. Early guidance will be given, however the module requires you to be able to work independently when producing your study assignment.

Overall workload

Your overall workload typically consists of 2-4 contact hours per week. You will undertake 15-20 hours independent learning and assessment activity.

For each 20-credit module, your study time is about 20 hours a week (10 weeks).

Academic input

The team consists of suitably qualified academics. They have a range of expertise and experience. Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) will work in collaboration with our partners, the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) College.

All our team members hold or are working toward teaching qualifications. They have experience in delivering research-informed teaching. All of your tutors are experienced dispensing opticians, contact lens opticians or optometrists. They will have significant experience in the subject area and will, therefore, be able to guide you throughout your degree journey.  

The course provides you with opportunities to test your understanding of the subject informally before you complete the formal assessments that count towards your final mark. Each module normally contains at least one piece of practice or 'formative' assessment for which you receive feedback from your tutor. Feedback from formative assessments will not count toward your final grade.

Each module will provide at least three exemplars of acceptable work expected at the assessment.

There is a formal or 'summative' assessment at the end of each module.

Assessment methods include various essays, academic posters, case studies, leaflets and presentations. All assessments are designed around the virtual learning environment and are submitted electronically via the ‘Turnitin’ service.

The grades from formal assessments count towards your module mark.

You must achieve a minimum pass mark of 40 and above in all modules.

Each module may be made up of more than one final assignment piece with a varied weighting of each element. You must pass each of these at 40% to be able to pass the module.

(For example, the Paediatrics Module requires a portfolio of a leaflet [35% of the overall mark], a reflection [15% of the overall mark] and a supporting academic essay of [50% of the overall mark])

Each module will count as 20 credits toward your 180 credit total which will enable you to achieve a BSc (Hons) in Vision Science. Each module is weighted evenly when calculating your degree award classification.


You will receive feedback on all practice assessments and formal assessments undertaken.

Feedback is intended to help you learn, and you are encouraged to discuss it with your module tutor.

We aim to provide you with feedback within two weeks of hand-in for practice (formative) assessment and three weeks of hand-in for formal (summative) coursework assessment. Should you require a reassessment opportunity for a module, your mark will be capped at 40%. 

Fact file

UCAS course code

  • B503

UCAS institution code

  • C10


  • The usual route is 18 months, however, can be completed over three years.


  • Online distance learning via CCCU's Virtual Learning Environment

Entry requirements

  • ABDO Level 6 Diploma in Ophthalmic Dispensing (FBDO) qualification. You will require current membership with the Association of British Dispensing Opticians.

    This course has not yet been validated for International students



Last edited 14/08/2019 13:57:00

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Last edited: 14/08/2019 13:57:00