Operating Department Practice BSc (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (3 years)

Cambridge, Chelmsford



Fascinated by the surgical environment? Our Operating Department Practice degree will have you in the theatre from the word go. Study full-time in Cambridge or Chelmsford, out on placements and in true-to-life skills labs. Our course is validated by the Health and Care Professions Council, so you’ll graduate ready to embark on a fast-paced career as an ODP, with opportunities ranging from anaesthesia or intensive care to A&E or transplant teams.

Full description


We work with employers to make sure you graduate with the knowledge, skills and abilities they need. They help us review what we teach and how we teach it – and they offer hands-on, practical opportunities to learn through work-based projects, internships or placements.

This course places an emphasis on practical clinical experience, meaning that when you graduate, you’ll have the skills you need to appeal to employers and perform effectively in the workplace. You’ll also be able to apply to be a registered operating department practitioner (RODP) with the Health & Care Professions Council.

Career opportunities are wide-ranging in the UK and overseas, and include:

  • anaesthesia
  • recovery
  • management
  • education
  • sterile supplies
  • transplant teams
  • intensive care units
  • A&E
  • helicopter emergency services
  • patient transfers.

Modules & assessment

Year one, core modules

  • Introduction to Perioperative Practice
    Get the knowledge, skills and experience to begin to communicate and respond competently, with care and compassion, to a variety of patients in the perioperative environment. You’ll begin to explore how psychological well-being can impact on recovery and the importance of patient focused care and empowerment (Francis 2013, NHS Constitution 2012). You’ll peer assess technical and non-technical skills (caring, compassion, communication, team working, decision-making and situation awareness) during the sessions. You’ll be encouraged to identify your own learning needs, acknowledging any personal study challenges and build upon your strengths. To progress through a professional programme you’ll need the ability to retrieve and analyse information from various sources and to test its veracity and efficacy. You’ll also need to be able to demonstrate the ability to work in a team and enhance learning by doing so. The assessment of the module is in the form of a team based poster presentation which will be based on the NHS values, with an accompanying individual commentary allowing you to reflect upon the impact of team based learning. You’ll also be assessed in your practical placement further demonstrating how the NHS values underpin clinical practice.
  • Exploring Aspects of Anatomy and Physiology
    Human anatomy and physiology is more than just interesting - it is fascinating. A sound foundation of the knowledge of how the human body works is crucial to the provision of quality care for the patient. This module will equip you with knowledge of the various systems in the human body, and begins to introduce you to their interactions with one another. Body systems will initially be related to normal physiology, and will be closely linked with your concurrent module, Principles and Practices of Anaesthesia, enabling you to gain an understanding of how the body works, and importantly how physiology can change in the perioperative environment. Appreciate the uniqueness of the human body and how it functions, its relevance to care, and how essential basic knowledge can be further explored and developed in subsequent modules. Distance teaching sessions working through online content, applying learning to clinical practice, preparing and engaging in learning activities, formative assessment, webinars, reading and assessment preparation, videos and podcasts. You’ll also have the opportunity to work on a series of worksheets, quizzes and other interactive activities throughout your learning.
  • Principles and Practices of Anaesthesia
    Develop your skills in the field of anaesthesia with our Principles and Practices of Anaesthesia module. It’s designed for post-registration nurses to cover the basic principles of anaesthesia and relevant pharmacology. It provides an opportunity for those of you who are employed in operating departments to achieve the basic knowledge required to function as a member of the anaesthetic team, while taking into account the broader issues of physics, environmental factors and legal and ethical issues. It also provides an introduction to anaesthetics and will act as the foundation, to be built upon in more depth, when you progress to our next anaesthetic module, Care of the Patient Undergoing Anaesthesia.
  • Practical Concepts in Anatomy and Physiology
    Following on from Exploring Aspects in Anatomy and Physiology, you’ll build on the knowledge gained and begin to understand the processes involved in abnormal physiology. Considering different service user groups, you’ll study the anatomy and physiology of concepts such as wound healing, inflammation and infection, and begin to investigate the physiology behind some of the common causes of surgery, such as cancer, fractures, growths and disease caused by infection or inflammation. This module will closely align with your concurrent module Care of the Patient in the Surgical Environment. Teaching will be very interactive, incorporating the use of discussion, worksheets, team investigations and team work, and will include use of podcasts and videos to supplement the teaching resources.
  • Holistic Care of the Surgical Patient
    Provides the opportunity for you (if placed in an operating department) to achieve the basic knowledge to function as a member of the 'circulating' or 'scrub' team. It gives an introduction to the surgical environment and the principles and practices of infection control and sterile techniques. It also allows you to gain the knowledge and skills to utilise various surgical equipment and the associated risks to the patient. It’ll cover the importance of communication, maintaining confidentiality and equality for all individuals. Finally it will allow you to explore relevant anatomy and physiology to various minor/intermediate operative procedures. The module will therefore act as the foundation on which to build in more depth within the second year. Assessment of theory will be a reflection on a patient experience. Consideration and inclusion of the NHS Constitution Values will need to be demonstrated throughout the study and its effect on practice decisions. Practice skills development will be through the achievement of clinical competencies which will also reflect the NHS Constitution values. The NHS constitution values will underpin the module content and delivery to ensure you are informed and aware of how these values inform their learning and practice development.

Year two, core modules

  • Perioperative Pharmacology and Physiology
    This module will span two trimesters and aims to build on the concepts covered in the Level 4 modules Principles and Practices of Anaesthesia, Exploring Aspects of Anatomy and Physiology and Practical Concepts in Anatomy and Physiology, allowing you to apply the principles of perioperative pharmacology to patient physiology during surgical procedures. You’ll gain an enhanced understanding of perioperative pharmacology, including the demonstration of knowledge of monitoring and responding to the effects of various classes of drugs on the patient in the perioperative environment, whilst also considering concepts of changing haemodynamics, homeostasis and the effects of the stress response and shock on the body. It’ll also consider the legal aspects of pharmacology in the perioperative environment, relating to correct storage, preparation and recording of drugs, including controlled drugs. You’ll be encouraged to utilise your critical thinking skills, and will use enquiry based learning to inform your learning, as well as critical debate, evidence based practice, drug calculation knowledge, and learning from peers. Summative assessment will be in the form of a two part examination, which will include multiple choice calculations and short answer questions.
  • Care of the Patient Undergoing Anaesthesia
    Following on from the Principles and Practices of Anaesthesia module you’ll now be entering the second year of learning. During clinical placements in this second year the breadth and depth of knowledge will now need to be enhanced to facilitate a deeper understanding of anaesthetic techniques. In addition you’ll now need to develop not only practical skills but also the critical thinking skills necessary to function as a reflective practitioner. This module will provide you with the knowledge and experience to recognise, communicate and respond competently, with care and compassion, when a patient’s clinical condition indicates that they are becoming acutely unwell. You, as an Operating Department Practitioner will explore how psychological well-being can impact on recovery and the importance of patient focused care and empowerment (Francis 2013, NHS Constitution 2012). The placements will provide you with the relevant practical experience relating to more enhanced anaesthetic techniques, the curriculum will provide underpinning knowledge of these but more importantly an opportunity to develop critical analysis skills, argument construction and presentation skills. The aim of this module is to provide you with relevant theoretical inputs. Thus enabling you to gain the underpinning knowledge required to function in the role of anaesthetic practitioner during advanced anaesthetic techniques. The analytical nature of the sessions aims to provide opportunities for analysis and group discussion thus enabling the development of a critical thinking mind. The assessment of this module is in the form of a presentation seminar and you’ll need to be explicit in how the NHS Constitution values inform your practice when considering the role of the student ODP. Practice will be assessed utilising a competencies document. The NHS constitution values will underpin the module content and delivery to ensure you are informed and aware of how these values inform your learning and practice development.
  • Promoting Best Practice in the Operating Theatre
    Explore the ever changing roles and responsibilities of perioperative practitioners. In practice you’ll advance your clinical skills by participating in intermediate and major procedures as a scrubbed or circulating practitioner, allowing you to develop the knowledge and skills required to function as a valued member of the multidisciplinary team. At University, this will be underpinned by examining critical incidents from the workplace in depth, allowing you to identify areas of poor practice and use evidence to improve on these. You’ll investigate the root causes of critical incidents, discovering that these incidents can be incredibly complex and related to many different factors, and that they may not be due to the factors perceived at first glance. This will enable you to develop the skills which will be necessary in your future employment to continually evaluate your own practice, and that of others, and facilitating the best possible standards of patient care. You'll explore factors influencing patient safety and wellbeing through a combination of reflection, critical thinking and incident analysis looking at the interventions, as well as exploring human factors and the legal and ethical issues surrounding patient safety. The assessment of the module is in the form of a 3,000 word essay consisting of a critical incident analysis. This will need to incorporate inclusion of the NHS Constitution values and how these informed the analysis of the incident. Clinical competencies will be assessed in practice. The NHS constitution values will underpin the module content and delivery to ensure you are informed and aware of how these values inform their learning and practice development. This module will be taught through a series of interactive seminars and group work, using electronic resources to support the material. Critical debate will also be employed, as well as relating the subject matter to your own clinical environment and incidents.
  • Post-Anaesthetic and Acute Care
    You'll explore how psychological well-being can impact on recovery and the importance of patient focused care and empowerment (Francis 2013, NHS Constitution 2012). You'll peer assess technical and non-technical skills (caring, compassion, communication, team working, decision-making and situation awareness) during the module delivery and clinical practice. The aim of this module is to equip you with knowledge, skills, competencies and attitudes required to function as a recovery practitioner delivering a high standard of quality care to both post anaesthetic and critically ill patients. Skills in recognising the deteriorating patient and necessary treatment interventions will also be developed whilst undertaking this module. You’ll also submit a 2,000 word assignment; a critical reflection of how the NHS Constitution values are adopted within clinical practice and used to improve patient treatment and care. Clinical Competence, incorporating an Immediate Life Support qualification, will be assessed using a clinical practice skills document. The NHS constitution values will underpin the module content and delivery to ensure you are informed and aware of how these values inform your learning and practice development.

Year three, core modules

  • Research Methods
    Get the necessary tools to undertake research using qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods of inquiry. This module will serve to aid your critical analysis of the results of research articles read. It’ll build on those transferrable skills introduced from the beginning of the course, and will look at the development of a research project from conception to completion, concentrating on the forming and shaping of a study using a variety of approaches. As such, this module will involve the development of an understanding of the use of statistics in research, and will introduce students to some of the statistical data analysis techniques used in medical and scientific literature. It’ll also create an appreciation for the rationale involved in making the correct choices when undertaking research, and evaluating the relative ‘strength’ of evidence-based practice in healthcare. Summative assessment will be by production of a research proposal.
  • Enhanced Clinical Skills in Perioperative and Critical Care
    In this module you’ll consolidate the clinical skills you have already gained in the first two years of the course, building on them and learning new skills which will be of benefit to you in the clinical environment. In practice you’ll have competencies to achieve across the perioperative and critical care environments, but you’ll also have the opportunity to visit specialities which you have not yet covered, work the full 24 hour shift rotation pattern and enhance your leadership skills in order to allow you to graduate as a well-rounded and valuable qualified ODP. Sessions at University will be largely based in our state of the art facilities, incorporating SimMan, simulation suites and theatre skills laboratories.
  • Undergraduate Major Project
    The individual final project module allows you to engage in a substantial piece of individual research or technology development project that will be focussed on a topic relevant to your studies. The project topic will have been assessed for suitability with discussions with an appropriate project supervisor to ensure sufficient academic challenge and research feasibility. The project may be in the form of primary research (e.g. laboratory, human or questionnaire-based data, clinical service evaluation, clinical placement, or other relevant acceptable sources), the development of medical technologies, or in the form of an extended literature review. The chosen topic will require you to identify/formulate problems and issues, conduct literature reviews, evaluate information, investigate using suitable methodologies, process and analyse data, critically analyse, appraise and present findings using suitable methods or media. Formative assessment is an individual presentation of the research topic, methodology undertaken (and any data acquired). This will assist in a ‘feed-forward’ manner in the development of the final Summative assessment would normally include a substantial written project report.
  • Leadership Practice in Health and Social Care (Distance Learning)
    Effective leadership is essential to providing high quality practice in health and social care settings. Staff morale and motivation, retention and recruitment, professional development, quality improvement, service efficiency and effectiveness all depend significantly upon the style and quality of leadership at the front line. This module will empower you to develop the necessary leadership skills in order to become a facilitator and motivator of change in the workplace. The focus is upon contemporary theories of leadership such as transformational leadership, distributive and leaderful practice and the notions which underpin leadership such as personal dispositions, values and skills. The module will be delivered via distance learning, to meet the needs of individual students and groups across a range of health and social care settings. The assessment process will involve application of leadership to practice development.


We carry out regular assessment so that you and your tutors can monitor your progress. Besides exams, you'll be assessed on assignments, presentations, research critiques, critical-incident analyses, case studies, literature reviews, and specialised practice competencies. 

This is a three-year programme

Please note that you will need to complete all of the above core modules. This course does not have any optional modules. Modules are subject to change and availability.

Where you'll study

Your faculty

The Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care is the largest in ARU, with over 7,000 students. Our Faculty is teeming with expertise and primed to meet the demand for creating health professionals, teachers, doctors, scientists and educators for the three districts we serve: Chelmsford, Cambridge and Peterborough.

We have been training undergraduates for professional roles for over 25 years, with a reputation for quality, dedication and ambition balanced with student satisfaction.

We know that to give our students the very best experiential learning, prior to getting into the workplace, simulation is second to none, for safe, realistic, learning environments. We have invested heavily in purpose built simulated wards, science labs and skills space, to support our students through their learning.

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

Tindal Building on our Chelmsford campus

Our striking, modern campus sits by the riverside in Chelmsford's University and Innovation Quarter.

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Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students starting 2020/21 (per year)


UK students starting 2021/22 (per year)



DBS check - £44

How do I pay my fees?

You can pay your fees in the following ways.

Tuition fee loan

UK students (and EU students in the 2020/21 academic year) can take out a tuition fee loan, which you won’t need to start repaying until after your graduate. Or 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

Training grants

From September 2020, nursing, midwifery, operating department practitioner (ODP) and paramedic science students will receive funding of at least £5,000 a year to help with living costs. Some students may be eligible for more, and this money does not have to be repaid.

Entry requirements

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Important additional notes

Whether you're studying entirely online or through a blend of on-campus and online learning in September 2020, you'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. A small number of our courses require additional technical specifications or specialist materials. Before starting the course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning. Our website also has general information for new students about starting university in September 2020.

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.

We don't accept AS level qualifications on their own for entry to our undergraduate degree courses. However for some degree courses a small number of tariff points from AS levels are accepted as long as they're combined with tariff points from A levels or other equivalent level 3 qualifications in other subjects.

International students

This course is open to UK and EU applicants only, as the availability of work placements in the UK health service is limited.

Interview information

Visit our interview page for advice on what to do if you're invited to attend an interview.

Occupational health

You must have a satisfactory occupational health clearance in order to be allowed out on placement. Heales Medical will undertake the vaccinations on behalf of ARU. However, if this is undertaken by a third party (your own GP), ARU is unable to reimburse the cost.

If you can produce acceptable evidence of already having the vaccinations you won’t need to have them again. However if you have not previously had the vaccinations you can expect to have the following.

  • Measles immunity blood test
  • Rubella immunity blood test
  • Varicella (chicken pox) immunity blood test
  • Hepatitis B immunity blood test

  • IGRA blood test (TB screening)
  • Hep B surface antigen blood test (Hep B surface antigen screening)
  • Hep C blood test (Hep C screening)
  • HIV blood test (HIV screening)

  • Three or four Hep B vaccinations
  • Two MMR vaccinations
  • Two varicella (chicken pox) vaccinations
  • One BCG (TB) vaccination

You’ll be contacted by Heales Medical after you have firmly accepted your offer (minimum of six months before your course starts) who’ll first ask you to complete a medical questionnaire and arrange a meeting with the nurse.

Apply now

UK and EU students

Apply through UCAS for 2021

UCAScode: B991

Start your application

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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