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 - ABDO College

Fellowship Dispensing Diploma – Year One



The FBDO qualification takes a minimum of 3 years to complete

Assessment Methods

Students must submit and pass all weekly assignments (pass mark = 40%) in order to gain entry into the external ABDO professional exams. Formal assessment is then carried out via these examinations, 1 practical, 2x theory.

Course requirements

Students are required to be working in practice for a minimum of 30 hours per week under a GOC registered supervisor (Practice Education Lead - PEL, or Practice Task Supervisor - PTS). Students must apply to the GOC for student membership and retain this registration, along with complying with all relevant GOC regulations throughout their studies. Students must also be ABDO members for the duration of their study - this includes ensuring that all patients are made aware of their student status. The distance learning element of the course requires some essential textbooks. The booklist is available at the bottom of this page as well as the prices and order form for ABDO College Bookshop. The programme is paperless so basic IT requirements are listed below.

Application Deadline

28th July 2024

Entry Requirements

Candidates require 5 GCSE's grade A-C (4 to 9 from 2017). These must include English, Maths and Science. Candidates with 5 years or more experience in optical practice can apply with just English and Maths GCSE grade A-C (4 to 9 from 2017). Equivalent qualifications (such as leaving certs, national certificates etc) from Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland as well as international qualifications are also accepted. Please contact ABDO College directly to check eligibility.


Year 1 = £4570 (end of year exams booked and paid for directly with the Association of British Dispensing Opticians and are not included in course fees)

Course Structure

Students study via 'blended learning'. This refers to a combination of distance learning, teaching at the College as well as learning in practice. Students complete 32 weekly distance learning assignments (all online) and attend the College in Godmersham, Kent, for 2 residential blocks each academic year. Students also complete in practice tasks to re-enforce and demonstrate the skills learnt.

Course start date



ABDO College specialises in the provision of blended and distance learning education for the optical
profession. The Fellowship Dispensing Diploma course is for trainee Dispensing Opticians working
in optical practice in the UK, Ireland or overseas who are interested in advancing their optical
knowledge to achieve a professional qualification.

The distance learning assignments will be delivered through a virtual learning environment (VLE). It
is a requirement therefore that you have regular access to a computer, with internet connection, a
scanner and Microsoft Word/PDF software.

The course comprises of the following elements:
Coursework – 32 units to be studied by distance learning.
Practical Training Timetable – these are set tasks to be completed in practice working with, or under the observation of, a student’s Practice Education Lead.
Block release – Students will be required to attend ABDO College in Godmersham for two periods of block release each academic year for face to face learning in a classroom setting. Block 1 is 1 week, Block 2 is a fortnight.

The course takes three years and prepares students for the Fellowship Diploma examinations
(FBDO). The course is made up of units of work, assignment questions, block release study and
practice based learning.

The dispensing courses are periodically reviewed by the General Optical Council (GOC) who have
recorded their approval of the College as a recognised training institution in accordance with the
Optician’s Act.

Employer Involvement

It is a requirement of the course to be working in a dispensing practice, for a minimum of 30 hours
per week, while undertaking the Fellowship Dispensing Diploma course. This must be under the
supervision of a suitably qualified person (DO, CLO, Optometrist), in an environment that will provide them with opportunities to meet the GOC competencies and expectations for practical experience. Each student must have a nominated ‘Practice Education Lead’ and can also have further named Practice Task Supervisors. This may require a change in working patterns in the practice to ensure that there are frequent, regular progress reviews between the supervisor and the student.

Trainees will be out of practice each academic year to attend block release sessions at ABDO College and will also require extra support and time out of practice for examinations. In addition to this, employers need to make time available for the trainee and Practice Education Lead to spend time together in practice for the training and assessment of practical skills and for pastoral support and guidance.

Submission of assignments and continuous assessment

All students should be aware that if their work is submitted late, reduced or no marks will be
allocated in line with the ABDO College Late Submission Policy. Students unable to achieve course schedules will be withdrawn with no refund.

There are 32 weekly assignments to complete. The pass mark for each assignment is 40%.
In order for students to be eligible to sit ABDO theory and practical examinations, 100% of
assignments need to be submitted on time and passed at a mark of 40% or more in each assignment.

Block release course studies
All ABDO College students in the UK and the Republic of Ireland are required to attend ABDO
College for two separate block release periods each academic year, as instructed by the GOC. Failure to
attend for your blocks will result in removal from the course.

ABDO College does have a small amount of student accommodation. This is booked on a first come, first served basis and applicants can apply to stay at this location as part of the application process. It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that they have suitable accommodation arranged for their block release periods.

Learning materials and IT requirements

The FBDO programme uses a paperless system in order to work alongside ABDO College’s commitment to sustainability. Therefore, all handouts and block materials are made available to all students at the beginning of the academic year through the Virtual Learning Environment. We encourage all students to attend block release with IT equipment to use for note taking. To facilitate this, power sources are available in all relevant classrooms and all block materials are fully editable, meaning students can make notes in a way that suits them. Should students prefer to make handwritten notes, they are required to print their materials ahead of block release and bring them along.

All examinations are run by ABDO Exams and Registration. Theory exams will be online. Students will need access to a PC, a stable internet connection, a webcam and a mic.

Advice from ABDO Exams regarding the computer setup to run the assessment system is below:

  • Laptop / computer with 4GB of available memory. The app will not work on phones, chrome books, or iPads/tablets. We cannot guarantee service on touchscreen devices as some devices might be incompatible with the app. We recommend that candidates source a non-touchscreen device for their exams.
  • A Windows v7.0+ or Mac10.10+ operating system, and MacOS BigSur users need to upgrade to 11.3+.
  • Intel Core i3 (or equivalent).
  • A working webcam that can be used to scan the room, microphone and speakers.
  • Minimum candidate internet speed of 2 Mbps.
  • Recommended screen size of at least 13″ and a resolution of 1024 x 768.