Ophthalmology at The University of Edinburgh

Clinical Ophthalmology at The University of Edinburgh


Ophthalmology is part of the School of Clinical Surgery and sits within the Clinical Sciences Teaching Organisation (CSTO) of the Deanery of Clinical Sciences of the Edinburgh Medical School, College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine and is affiliated to NHS Lothian’s Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion (PAEP), the tertiary referral eye hospital in Edinburgh.  The programmes’ Clinical Leads are Professor Baljean Dhillon and Professor Roshini Sanders, Programme Directors.  Dr Heather Ellis, Deputy Programme Director, is the Academic Lead.

The general and subspecialty expertise spans all aspects of medical and surgical ophthalmology and has strong active research links with other specialties at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE), including the Anne Rowling Clinic in regenerative neurology, and the Western General Hospital in neuro-ophthalmology and infectious diseases. Ophthalmology has access to excellent research mentorship and state of the art research facilities based in the Queen’s Medical Research Institute, Clinical Research Imaging Centre (Director Professor van Beek), the MRC Centres for Regenerative Medicine (Director Professor C Ffrench-Constant), Brain Sciences (Director Professor S Chandran) and Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology (Professor I Deary).


Ophthalmology contributes significantly to the undergraduate curriculum of the MBChB and offers two, part-time online postgraduate taught degrees: the MSc in Primary Care Ophthalmology and the ChM (Master of Surgery) in Clinical Ophthalmology.  Both Masters support learning for the Fellowship examinations of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (FRCSEd Ophth) and of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists (FRCOphth).



Divisional Research Activities in Ophthalmology


Academic ophthalmology draws together both basic and clinical scientists and spans a range of clinically relevant topics including age-related macular degeneration, regenerative ophthalmology, stem cell transplantation, retinal imaging, paediatric eye disorders and retinopathy of prematurity, retinal markers of cardiovascular disease, cognitive dysfunction and neurodegeneration. The research group has access to the Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine, University of Edinburgh King’s Buildings Research Institute, and research laboratories in the Chancellor’s Building. They are equipped to the highest international standard for cellular, biochemical and molecular research.


Surgery at the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion (PAEP) is a large, well-resourced and active section with a commitment to excellence in research and teaching. The research programme has benefited from support by Wellcome, MRC, CSO, UK Stem Cell Foundation, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Leverhulme and the Macula Society. The clinical research profile of the surgical group is excellent and the group has actively participated in international and national multi-centre trials.


The University of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh


There are long-standing, well-established links between the University of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) in the professional education and examination of ophthalmic trainees and independently practising ophthalmologists from around the world who aspire to the esteemed Fellowship in Ophthalmology of the RCSEd (FRCSEd Ophth).


The University of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh have established the principle of sharing the development of novel undergraduate and postgraduate surgical programmes. The highly successful, award-winning educational programme (Edinburgh Surgical Sciences Qualification, ESSQ, now known as Edinburgh Surgery Online) was introduced in 2007 and provides education in the basic surgical sciences which leads, over three years, to the award of a Masters in Surgical Sciences. This computer assisted online learning programme prepares candidates for Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons. The course has proved extremely popular and recruited the largest number of students to the first year of an MSc programme at the University of Edinburgh.


The two institutions have built on the success of the ESSQ (which was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2013) by developing additional, part-time online postgraduate taught Masters degrees to support the advanced surgical trainee in the surgical subspecialities. A two-year Master of Surgery (ChM) was piloted firstly in General Surgery in 2011 to consolidate learning towards the intercollegiate examination and to recognise the subspecialty interest of the trainee. Masters programmes in Trauma & Orthopaedics; Urology; and Vascular and Endovascular Surgery followed.  The MSc in Primary Care Ophthalmology was launched in 2014 and the ChM in Clinical Ophthalmology in 2015.  


The University of Edinburgh and NHS Education for Scotland’s Optometry Directorate (NES Optometry)


NHS Education for Scotland is a Special Health Board of the Scottish National Health Service which provides education and training to all of Scotland’s NHS staff in support of government policy and promotes best practice in teaching and learning. The Optometry Directorate (NES Optometry) was established in 2009 with a remit to upskill postgraduate community optometrists delivering the General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) (Scotland) contract for the Scottish NHS for which it receives funding from the Scottish Government’s Health and Social Care Directorate.


Tasked with developing and delivering a structured education and training programme for both community and hospital optometrists, NES Optometry worked in partnership with the University and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh to develop the three-year, part-time, online MSc in Primary Care Ophthalmology (SCQF Level 11).  This programme is designed for optometrists and junior medical and surgical trainees but it is also highly relevant for GPs with a Specialist Interest in Ophthalmology, ophthalmic nurses, orthoptists, dispensing opticians and ophthalmic science practitioners making it a truly interprofessional and international Masters programme.


Our Faculty expertise will ensure that those who undertake our Ophthalmology Masters programmes will be able to engage and deliver effectively for those in need of modern eye care as part of a team of eye healthcare professionals within the primary and secondary care environments.


Dr Heather Ellis, BA, MA(Hons), PhD, Senior Lecturer

Deputy Programme Director and Personal Tutor for the Ophthalmology Masters Programmes:


MSc/PG Dip/PG Cert in Primary Care Ophthalmology

ChM (Master of Surgery) in Clinical Ophthalmology


Ophthalmology  l  The University of Edinburgh  l  College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine  l   Edinburgh Medical School  I  Deanery of Clinical Sciences  l  Lauriston Building  l  First Floor l  39 Lauriston Place  l  Edinburgh EH3 9EN


Email: heather.ellis@ed.ac.uk

Direct Tel: +44 (0) 131 536 2033