Information for prospective students2019-04-18T10:38:32+01:00

Important information

It is a combination of academic study and clinical placements. The clinical placements are across the UK and Republic of Ireland with the possibility of international ones too.

Graduates leave university with a professional and vocational qualification which enables them to practice as an orthoptist straight away.
There are high employment rates in orthoptics

The employability skills that are acquired during the degree will open up opportunities across a wide range of employment sectors. 

Orthoptic roles are expanding, with the opportunities to perform different extended roles particularly in view of an increasing elderly population.  There is a demand for orthoptists in the UK, and a shortage in Europe and across the world.

A newly qualified orthoptist will earn a competitive graduate salary with significant earning potential.

(new graduate NHS band 5 £21,909 to NHS band 9 £90,537)

Where can I study orthoptics?

There are 3 universities that offer an orthoptic degree in the UK

University of Sheffield

University of Liverpool

Glasgow Caledonian University

The entry requirements vary for each university so please check their websites for more detail.

The general requirements are that you must have good GCSE Maths, English and Science grades and A levels/ Highers or equivalent in at least one science subject such as Biology, Maths, Physics or Chemistry. Alternative qualifications are considered and mature students are welcome to apply.

If you do not have the relevant academic background, there are options to study a Foundation Year degree or Access to Higher Education Diploma in Science (link: ) prior to commencing the Orthoptic degree. For further details about Foundation Year degrees see following links:

University of Sheffield:

University of Liverpool:

The costs vary depending on which university you choose and if you are a UK, EU or International student. Please check the university websites for more detail.

University of Sheffield:

University of Liverpool:

Glasgow Caledonian University:

There is  a huge amount of information available on student finances. A good introduction, dispelling some of the myths is available on

The NHS Learning Support Fund also offers support for the following:

  • practice placement travel and/or temporary accommodation costs (Travel and Dual Accommodation Expenses
  • students with at least one dependent child (Child Dependants Allowance)
  • students experiencing financial hardship (Exceptional Support Fund)

Find out more here.

In the UK most orthoptic graduates take up an orthoptic post in the National Health Service (NHS). They begin as a band 5 or band 6 orthoptist and the starting wage is in the range of approximately £22,000 – £26,000.

There is scope for progression to be a band 7 and 9 and earn up to approximately £90,000 at the highest level. More detail about the NHS pay scale can be found here:

Orthoptists have excellent opportunities to extend their clinical role and become specialist orthoptists, for example in stroke, neuro-rehabilitation, low vision, vision screening, glaucoma, intravitreal injections.

As UK orthoptic degrees are recognised worldwide orthoptists have the opportunity to work across the globe. Many graduates have gone to work abroad for some time or permanently.

If you are interested in research and keen to enhance your skills. There are many post-graduate study opportunities.

For example:

The University of Sheffield offers a distance-learning MMedSci degree in Vision and Strabismus and stand-alone Masters modules:

All 3 universities offer MPhil and PhD opportunities and you are recommended to visit their websites for further information.

More key information

In the UK the majority of orthoptists work in eye clinics in NHS hospitals. Some orthoptists also work in community clinics, specialist centres for children with disabilities or carry out vision screening in schools. Orthoptists also assess patients on hospital wards such as neuro-rehabilitation and stroke wards.

The orthoptic degrees are recognised worldwide. Orthoptists working in other countries work in hospitals or private eye clinics together with an Ophthalmologist.

If you enjoy science, working with people of all ages and would relish the challenge of problem solving and making decisions independently within a wider medical/eye care team this could be the career for you.

It is important to ensure this is the right career for you and the UK universities require or strongly recommend that you observe the work of an orthoptist in an eye department before you apply. Contact your local hospital and their orthoptic/eye department to find out if it would be possible to observe an orthoptist. It is a great way to find out what orthoptists do and what it is like to work in a hospital environment.

If you are having any difficulties arranging an observational visit, please contact the university admissions teams and they should be able to help.

There are three universities in the UK where you can study the orthoptic degree: University of Sheffield, University of Liverpool and Glasgow Caledonian University.

Applications for the orthoptic degrees are through ucas ( )

The orthoptic degree is a full-time 3 year course in England and 4 years in Scotland. It is a ‘hands on course’ where you will be going on clinical placements at different hospitals during you studies. This means you will be learning and developing your clinical skills in a hospital environment, and assess and manage patients.

Throughout the orthoptic degree you will go on clinical placements at different hospitals. This will give you an opportunity to develop your clinical and interpersonal skills. At each placement a clinical tutor will support you. They will help you to improve your skills to become a competent clinician and guide you in assessing, diagnosing and treating patients of all ages.

The clinical placements are located at hospitals across the country. This link shows which hospitals provide clinical placements for students:

During your studies to become an orthoptist, you will develop interpersonal and communication skills to enable you to provide excellent patient care. You will study subjects relevant to orthoptics including anatomy, physiology, ocular conditions and diseases, optics, and research. An interest in science subjects is essential.

Orthoptics is a regulated profession. To practise in the UK as an Orthoptist you must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and meet the HCPC standards of professional skills, knowledge and behaviour (

Orthoptists must also adhere to the British and Irish Orthoptic Society (BIOS) code of ethics.

The code includes the expected values and principles used in promoting, maintaining and disseminating the highest standards of behaviour expected of Orthoptists and Orthoptists under training as members of the health care profession.

The universities run open days for prospective students to find out more about the orthoptic degree and studying at university.

University of Sheffield:

There are careers events taking place across England where Health Careers NHS Health Education England participates (

UCAS also runs a number of career exhibitions across UK