Ophthalmic Dispensing Registerable Award FdSc

Distance learning, part-time undergraduate (3 years)

Distance learning


Teaching times

Semesters 1 & 2: Distance learning, including 6 blocks of teaching


Earn while you learn on our GOC accredited distance learning course, which features on-campus residentials. Train as a dispensing optician and take the next step towards a rewarding career in eyecare.

Full description


Our course will equip you with the skills you need to work in a modern optometric practice as a Registered Dispensing Optician.

Modules & assessment

Year one, core modules

  • Preliminary Optical Dispensing and Mathematics
    We will introduce you to the theoretical and practical principles of modern ophthalmic dispensing in UK ophthalmic and optometric practice through lectures, exercises and practical demonstrations. Lean about advanced practical aspects of ophthalmic dispensing and the concept of product knowledge and problem solving within a clinical setting. You will cover spectacle frame components and measurements, the description of spectacle frame materials, and facial measurements, as well as neutralisation of spectacle lenses, lens laying off, lens description, use of the lens measure and basic prescription analysis. You will use your mathematical skills, including algebra, geometry and trigonometry, to focus on the theory of ophthalmic lenses and how light passes into the eye are developed, concentrating on algebra, geometry and trigonometry. You will carry out practical exercises for formative assessment in preparation for the 1st year OSCE.
  • Understanding the Work Sector
    Develop your understanding of the nature of the work sector, including the environments in the optical sector, its performance within these contexts and factors that influence the operation of organisations. You will explore the impact of political, social and economic factors on the optical sector and consider the legal and ethical frameworks informing optical professionals. You will also reflect on your current role or potential roles within optics.
  • Work-based Learning 1
    Learning in the work place is an integral part of the foundation degree. The work environment provides a rich setting for exploration and discovery of a range of knowledge, skills and understanding. Three strands formulate an integrated approach to this unit: Learning about work - relates to further developing the learners' knowledge and understanding of the workplace Learning through work - examines the acquisition of practical skills in current employment Learning for work - the learners' knowledge and skills are developed in a way that is directly relevant to the workplace. You will reflect on your work practice, critically appraise your own performance and report on the experience of learning at work. You will be expected to demonstrate an awareness of ethical and cultural issues relevant to their practice and studies.
  • Geometric Optics and Ophthalmic Lenses
    You will be introduced to the basic ideas, concepts and the fundamental principles behind geometrical optics and ophthalmic lens theory. This will give you a foundation for the further study of the subject at a higher level and provide you with a basic optics and ophthalmic lens knowledge which can be taken forward and begin to be used within a workplace environment. Many topics within the module involve calculations, proofs and derivations, which require you to understand and apply the mathematical principles gained from your previous module. The wave nature of light is discussed briefly at the beginning of the module and simple wave properties are studied. Your study is then largely restricted to light in the form of rays and beams. Discussion is largely focused on the laws of refraction and reflection of light rays and how they are applied to plane and curved surfaces. The wave nature of light including its properties relating to reflection and refraction are studied as is the effect on light with respect to thin lenses and prisms.
  • Learning and Skills Development for HE and Work
    If you are entering higher education you will need specific study skills to enable you to maximise your learning potential and take advantage of opportunities available both in the academic setting and the workplace. Students enter with different levels of skills and experience and may approach this module in a variety of ways. The module prepares and supports you to build a strong foundation for learning and later development. Learning will develop and underpin Level One study skills in the first half of the semester with the focus moving towards individual formative support towards the end of the semester. You will develop and maintain a reflective learning log/blog to support this module and their continuing studies, the reflective log/blog is used as the basis of tutorial work and formative assessment. This work will also provide evidence for the beginning of a Personal Development Planning Portfolio that you will build on over the next two years of your studies. You will be expected to meet with your personal tutors to review your progress and actively seek out a mentor within the university community or workplace.

Year two, core modules

  • Human and Functional Ocular Anatomy
    This module is designed for trainee dispensing opticians working in an ophthalmic/optical practice under the supervision of a registered practitioner. It is delivered in the mode of self-directed distance learning, with continuous online support. It will provide you with information about the principles of human anatomy and physiology. It will also examine the histology and gross structure of the human eye with an emphasis on the relationship between each structure and its function. This will provide you with a basis for understanding the functional anatomy of the eye and visual physiology, as required by a dispensing optician. These are essential for effective communication to both the Optometrist and the patient in an accurate and authoritative manner. At the end of the module there will be a closed book exam to assess your progress and competency.
  • Ophthalmic Dispensing 1
    Consisting of a series of lectures, exercises and practical demonstrations this module is designed to support you in your work based learning. You will consider modern ophthalmic dispensing practices. The content reinforces ophthalmic lens theory studied elsewhere in your course and provides a link between theory and practice. You will develop the concept of product knowledge and problem-solving within a clinical setting. You will prepare for the compilation of patient case records that provide details of a series of complete patient experiences. The subjects you will cover include; spectacle frame fitting, paediatric dispensing, frame adjustment and repair, spectacle dispensing for single vision, bifocals and trifocals, including tinted lenses, and spectacle verification. Quality standards and prescription and task analysis are also studied. The knowledge and skills gained from this module will enable you to carry out a series of practical ophthalmic dispensing procedures within your workplace.
  • Ophthalmic Lenses 2
    You will build upon the basic principles of ophthalmic lenses that you have previously studied. Discussion begins by focusing on thick lens theory and its impact on ray paths, magnification and surface powers. The determination of Prismatic effect and Decentration is extended to astigmatic single vision and bifocal lenses. Details including identification, fitting and design of all Single Vision and Multifocal lens types are discussed. The tinting of spectacle lenses is expanded upon from earlier modules and includes methods of tinting, tinted lens types and the clinical application of tints and filters. Eye protection in industry and sport is discussed with emphasis placed upon lens types, use, characteristics and availability. In this module you will gain a higher level knowledge and understanding of ophthalmic lenses that will allow you to apply theoretical principles to practical situations and to dispense complex prescriptions and special types of optical appliances within the workplace environment.
  • Work-based Learning 2 - Communication Skills in the Work Sector
    Building on the experience of Work Based Learning 1 you will be encouraged to continue your exploration of communication skills in your professional/occupational practice, along the strands developed previously, as a source of learning. You will be expected to demonstrate a greater degree of autonomy in the management of their learning, will demonstrate a more detailed knowledge of relevant theoretical underpinning and be able to analyse and evaluate both information and argument. You will be required to demonstrate the application of theory to practice and in particular their communication skills.

Year three, core modules

  • Refractive Management
    As a trainee dispensing optician working in an ophthalmic/optical practice and under the supervision of a registered practitioner, you will gain comprehensive knowledge of the "optics" of the human eye. You will understand various optical models that have been proposed to define emmetropia, ametropia and astigmatism. You will also focus on the formation of the retinal image along with the practical applications of spectacle magnification. You will learn about components of a routine eye examination, including both objective and subjective methods of assessment and the effect of age on the human eye, along with an overview of the detection and correction of presbyopia. You will also cover the principles and applications of ophthalmic instruments, the basis of visual perception and binocular vision. All of the skills you develop will create effective communication to both the Optometrist and the patient in an accurate and authoritative manner.
  • Low-Vision Management and Assessment
    You will 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 will 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.
  • Ophthalmic Dispensing 2
    Designed to support you in your work-based learning, you will consider modern ophthalmic dispensing practices. Content reinforces ophthalmic lens theory studied elsewhere in the course and provides a link between theory and practice. You will develop the concept of product knowledge and problem-solving within a clinical setting. You will compile patient case records that provide details of a series of complete patient experiences, these form the GOC 50 case record portfolio. Other subjects you will cover include spectacle frame fitting, spectacle dispensing for very young children, progressive power lenses, occupational dispensing, referral involvement, personal eye protection, low vision dispensing including special optical appliances and contact lens removal. Prescription and task analysis are also studied. The knowledge and skills gained from this module will enable you to carry out a series of practical ophthalmic dispensing procedures within your workplace.
  • Contact Lenses and Pathological Conditions
    Our module is designed for the trainee dispensing optician working in an ophthalmic/optical practice under the supervision of a registered practitioner. It is delivered in the mode of self-directed distance learning, with continuous online support. The content of the module is constructed to provide a general and yet comprehensive knowledge of the practical contact lenses management and significance of ocular diseases. Our module also includes an overview of the use of ophthalmic drugs and preparations encountered in ophthalmic practice. These are essential for effective communication to both the Optometrist and the patient in an accurate and authoritative manner. You will be assessed by a closed book exam. Upon completion of this module, you will be in a sound position to consider undertaking further professional qualification in the field of contact lenses.


We'll use a range of assessment methods to help measure your progress. You'll complete theoretical and practical assessments (OSCEs) throughout the course, and as well as case records, work logs and supervised tests.

We will audit your practice during your second year of study to make sure that you're supported. By this means we intend to encourage communication between you and our award-winning academic staff.

Where you'll study

Your faculty

The Faculty of Science & Engineering is one of the largest of the four faculties at Anglia Ruskin University. Whether you choose to study with us full-time or part-time, on campus or at a distance, there’s an option whatever your level – from a foundation degree, 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, technology and engineering fields. This is key to all of our futures.

Where can I study?

Distance learning
Person using laptop

Study at a time that suits you, using our online learning management system.

More about distance learning

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students, distance learning (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

How do I pay my fees?

You can pay your fees in the following ways.

Tuition fee loan

UK and EU students can take out a tuition fee loan, which you won’t need to start repaying until after your graduate. Or alternatively, there's the option to pay your fees upfront.

Loans and fee payments


We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Some of these cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Explore ARU scholarships

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.

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.

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