Postgraduate study

Primary Care Ophthalmology (Online Learning) MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Part-time

Online learning

Funding opportunities

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

It is designed to support optometrists seeking formal postgraduate training in community-based clinical care and who are interested in taking on extended, shared care roles in managing the ophthalmic patient in partnership with ophthalmology, and early career medical and surgical trainees entering ophthalmology specialist training. It is also highly relevant to GPs with a Special Interest in Ophthalmology, ophthalmic nurses, orthoptists, dispensing opticians, ophthalmic science practitioners and other allied health professionals involved in delivering eye care.

The programme develops your ability to take an evidence-based approach to clinical practice and to assess and provide quality primary and secondary care for the ophthalmic patient, enhancing collaborative working relationships amongst members of the multiprofessional eye health care team and improving the ophthalmic patient’s journey and outcomes.

Compulsory courses are aligned to the ophthalmology fellowship curricula of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (FRCSEd), Royal College of Ophthalmologists (FRCOphth) and International Council of Ophthalmology and have also been designed to reflect the postgraduate curricula of the College of Optometrists in the UK.

*(Revised 4 June 2019 to add more detailed programme description information.)

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, Professor Roshini Sanders and Dr Heather Ellis.

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 which will be held at a pre-approved examination centre. Students will choose a preferred centre from a list of UK and international options.

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

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

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

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

  • PTE Academic: 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

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.*

(*Revised 8/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates. Revised 22/03/2019 to provide more accurate/comprehensive information.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScPrimary Care Ophthalmology3 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for 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 one 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