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 - ABDO College

Foundation Degree in Ophthalmic Dispensing

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Foundation Degree / BSc (Hons) in Ophthalmic Dispensing Programme

This course is for you if you want to train and work as a Dispensing Optician, and gain a degree at the same time.

Provided by ABDO College working in conjunction with Canterbury Christ Church University, this a two-year Foundation Degree course followed by a third year BSc Degree course in Ophthalmic Dispensing – leading to BSc (Hons) and the ABDO Level 6 FBDO qualifications.

Canterbury Christ Church University

An inspiring and welcoming community

Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) is renowned for academic excellence, a warm welcoming atmosphere and community spirit. It is a modern university, immersed in culture, and with a strong reputation for delivering high quality professional public service education.

The University supports almost 20,000 students at its campuses across Kent and Medway. It has a strong record for employment, with 96 per cent of graduates in employment or further study six months after completing their studies; a flourishing research community with an international reputation; and one of the largest number of courses for public service careers in the South East.

Canterbury Christ Church University is committed to promoting equality of opportunity and diversity and widening participation. The University ensures that all its members are valued for their qualities, skills, experience, abilities and contribution to the organisation in their learning.



The programme is made up of two parts and takes three years in all. The first two years form the Foundation Degree in Ophthalmic Dispensing. In the third year you have a choice of completing a BSc (Hons) in Ophthalmic Dispensing and the FBDO or just the FBDO. We will discuss the options open to you and help you to choose a suitable course when the time comes. In both cases you will complete the examinations set by the Association of British Dispensing Opticians in order to qualify as a dispensing optician. Your initial application will be for the two year Foundation Degree.


There are six, twenty credit, modules in each of the first two years. They are all compulsory.

In the first year the modules are:

  • Foundations for Learning
  • Introduction to Optics
  • Introduction to Ophthalmic Lenses
  • Theory of General Optics
  • Theory of Ophthalmic Lenses
  • Communication in Ophthalmic Practice

In the second year the modules are:

  • Evidence Based Ophthalmic Practice
  • Standards of Practice
  • Advanced Theory of Ophthalmic Lenses
  • Ocular Anatomy & Physiology
  • Theory of Ophthalmic Dispensing
  • Paediatric Dispesning

The third year will depend on which option you choose; however, both courses will include Refractive Management, Low Vision and Contact Lenses.

The Foundation Degree and BSc (Hons) courses are based around the ABDO Syllabus and the GOC Core Curriculum for Dispensing Opticians. Both of these documents are available on request from the appropriate body.


ABDO College and Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) are running the Foundation Degree and BSc (Hons) courses together as partners. You would be a student with both.


The degree course route is for trainee dispensing opticians working in practice in the UK or Ireland who are interested in advancing their optical knowledge and gaining an internationally recognised qualification.


Yes. It is essential that you are working in practice and involved in a comprehensive variety of tasks in order to gain the necessary practical experience. You need a supervisor and the support of your employer.


Yes. You will need to have regular access to a computer and the internet as  study material will be provided on a virtual learning platform.


You will need to have five GCSEs of grade C or above in English, mathematics, science and two other subjects. You need to have evidence of recent study (within the last five years) and/or experience in practice of five years or more.


Call us and we can talk through your options with you; you may need to take Access Courses first.


Yes, you will need to retain student membership for the duration of your course.


Yes. Student registration will cost £30*. You will need to visit the GOC website and complete your application directly with the GOC.

*Correct as at January 2019


Yes. ABDO College also run a Fellowship Dispensing Diploma course by blended learning. This course takes three years and also prepares students for ABDO examinations to become a dispensing optician. The difference is that the diploma course is not accredited by a university and will not give you a recognised academic qualification.


Yes. If you want to become a dispensing optician, and we hope that you do, you will have to study for three years and take external (ABDO) examinations. Success in these examinations will enable you to attain the ABDO Level 6 ‘FBDO’ qualification required to register with the General Optical Council as a dispensing optician.


Foundation Degree Year 1

Essential reading
Cite Them Right – R Pears & G Shields
The Study Skills Handbook (3rd edition) – S Cottrell
Foundations in Nursing and Health Care: Beginning reflective practice – M Jasper
Ophthalmology Lecture Notes (11th edition) – B James & A Bron
Optics (2nd edition) – A H Tunnacliffe /J G Hirst
Practical Ophthalmic Lenses (3rd edition) – M Jalie / L Wray
Essentials of Dispensing (2nd edition) – A H Tunnacliffe
Worked Problems in Optics (2nd edition) – A H Tunnacliffe
Worked Problems in Ophthalmic Lenses (3rd edition) – A H Tunnacliffe /J G Hirst
Principles of Ophthalmic Lenses (5th edition) – M Jalie
Practical Dispensing (3rd edition) – A I Griffiths
ABDO Frame Rule with Instruction Manual (ABDO)
British Standards Extracts (BSI/ABDO)

Recommended Reading
A Handbook of Reflective and Experiential Learning – J Moon
Critical Thinking: An exploration of theory and practice – J Moon
How to Find Information – S Rumsey
How to Read a Paper: The basics of evidence based medicine – T Greenhalgh
Skills for Success: The personal development planning handbook – S Cottrell
The Handbook of Communication Skills – O Hargie
Skilled Interpersonal Communication: Research – theory and practice (4th edition) – O Hargie & D Dickson
Skills for Communicating with Patients – Siverman, Kurtz & Draper
Communication Skills for the Health Care Professional – G Van Servellen
Facial Measurement Gauge – Paul Fairbanks FSMC

Reading lists for the Foundation Degree Year 2, BSc (Hons) Year 3 and additional background reading are available from the ABDO College Bookshop.


ABDO College has its own bookshop and sell all of the books that you will need for your course. Contact Justin Hall at the ABDO College Bookshop by telephone on 01227 733 904, by email at jhall@abdocollege.org.uk or order online at the ABDO College Bookshop.


Call us. We are happy to answer questions about the available courses from ABDO College and to provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision.


Call the courses team at ABDO College on 01227 738 829 (option 1). Any member of the team will be happy to help you.


Talk to your employer straight away. There are a limited number of spaces on the degree course and when it is full, it is full! Your employer will need to provide you with a dedicated supervisor to work with you and help you with your training in practice. If your employer or supervisor has any questions they should call us.


For an information pack with details of the next intake, fees, deadline and an application form contact us by telephone, fax, email, post or via the ABDO College website.