Postgraduate study

Primary Care Ophthalmology (Online Learning)

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Part-time

Online learning

Funding available

This new three year part-time Masters programme, taught entirely online, is jointly offered by the University of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and leads to the degree of Master of Science (MSc). It has been developed in partnership with NHS Education for Scotland (NES).

Aimed primarily at optometrists seeking formal postgraduate training in community-based clinical care, this programme is also highly relevant for medical and surgical trainees entering specialty training in ophthalmology.

This degree is aligned with the curricula of both the FRCSEd and FRCOphth examinations in the United Kingdom and Ireland, making it very attractive to domestic and international students.

This programme is aimed at supporting optometrists seeking formal postgraduate training in community-based clinical care and also medical and surgical trainees entering specialty training ophthalmology.

This programme gives trainees first-rate preparation for the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (FRCSEd) and Fellowship of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (FRCOphth) examinations or equivalent, with additional emphasis on acquired knowledge and its application.

The third-year MSc research project also serves as an opportunity to develop an academic career.

The programme is taught entirely online. Students are supported by synchronous and asynchronous discussion with e-tutors - all leading clinicians in their field - and have access to a large learning resource, including subscriptions to key online books and journals. Students will be expected to lead e-seminars and e-journal clubs.

Our online learning technology is fully interactive, award-winning and enables you to communicate with our highly qualified teaching staff from the comfort of your own home or workplace.

Our online students not only have access to Edinburgh’s excellent resources, but also become part of a supportive online community, bringing together students and tutors from around the world.

The programme is headed up by Professor Baljean Dhillon.

Delivered through an online learning environment, this programme runs on a semester basis over three years and involves approximately 10-15 hours of study each week in a flexible, modular manner. All modules are compulsory and are taught and assessed using a clinical problem-based approach and involve participation in discussion boards and reflective portfolios.

Students accumulate credits by completing a series of modules leading to a Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma or Master of Science degree. The minimum time for completion of the full Masters programme is three years, and the maximum time for completion is six years.

At the certificate and diploma levels, students must attend an end-of-year examination, held in Edinburgh for UK-based students or with a pre-approved partner institution for international students.

Year 1: Certificate

  • Basic Ophthalmic Science: Anatomy, Pathology, Physiology of the Ocular Structures
  • Basic Examination & Investigation Techniques
  • Basic Glaucoma
  • Basic Macular Disease
  • Basic Acute Eye Disease & Vision Loss
  • eTriage and Referral Refinement

Year 2: Diploma

  • Advanced Ophthalmic Science: Anatomy, Pathology, Physiology of the Ocular Structures
  • Advanced Examination & Investigation Techniques
  • Advanced Glaucoma
  • Advanced Macular Disease
  • Advanced Acute Eye Disease & Vision Loss
  • Advanced eTriage and Referral Refinement

Year 3: Masters

The final year involves a supervised masters research project, which will be undertaken in an approved topic that reflects your subspecialty interest and will require the submission of a written project report.

This programme is designed for:

  • optometrists who wish to enhance their knowledge with particular regard to diagnosis and treatment of ocular disease as they take on an increasingly expanding role in the management of eye disease as part of a multidisciplinary healthcare team
  • medical and surgical trainees who aspire to specialise in ophthalmology, enabling them to study towards their FRCSEd, FRCOphth, or equivalent, in a flexible way

The award of MSc will highlight the student’s commitment to continuing professional development in their chosen career and will ensure a competitive edge when applying for clinical positions. The MSc will also help prepare them for an academic or research career.

The MSc is also relevant to GPs and trainee GPs with a special Interest in ophthalmology, family medicine physicians, orthoptists, ophthalmic nurses and other eye healthcare professionals seeking to advance their understanding of primary care ophthalmology and its interface with secondary care.

A medical degree (MBChB or equivalent), or a UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent, in optometry, orthoptics, dispensing optics, ophthalmic nursing or biomedical sciences.

We will also consider your application if you have 3-5 years' relevant work experience or professional qualifications, such as RGN, with appropriate clinical experience.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 (at least 6.0 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 92 (at least 20 in each module)

  • PTE(A): total 61 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections; the "Enabling Skills" sections are not considered)

  • CAE and CPE: total 176 (at least 169 in each module)

  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your degree programme. IELTS, TOEFL, Pearson Test of English and Trinity ISE must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.*

(*Revised 8/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

UK government postgraduate loans

UK nationals, those with settled status, and some EU nationals not resident in the UK, could be eligible for a postgraduate loan towards fees - and in some cases living costs. Full guidance and information can be found on our Scholarships & Student Funding website:

Find out more about scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • MSc Programme Administration
  • University of Edinburgh, ESSQ Office Room G10/G11
  • Simon Laurie House, 196 Canongate
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 8AQ
Programme start date Application deadline
9 September 2019 30 August 2019

We strongly recommend you submit your completed application as early as possible, particularly if you are also applying for funding or will require a visa. We may consider late applications if we have places available.

You must submit a reference with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • MSc Programme Administration
  • University of Edinburgh, ESSQ Office Room G10/G11
  • Simon Laurie House, 196 Canongate
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 8AQ