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    Ophthalmology Advanced Clinical Practice (Paediatrics)

    School of Allied Health Professions, Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health

    Expand the role you play in providing eye care for children and young people. Take your career as an orthoptist, optometrist or ophthalmic nurse to the next level and become an advanced practitioner.
    A child having their eyes examined

    Course description

    Lead academic: Dr Charlotte Codina

    This course is designed to help you advance your knowledge, skills and experience in paediatric ophthalmology. Orthoptists, optometrists and ophthalmic nurses who provide eye care for children and young people can access key new and improved skills and tools to become leaders in their field and improve the services they provide.

    You will cover all four pillars of advanced practice: clinical practice, leadership and management, education and research. In your first year, you will study how to diagnose and manage a wide range of ophthalmology conditions that primarily affect children and young people, at an advanced level. You will apply this knowledge to your practice through work-based learning.

    In your second year, you will take our Clinical Leadership and Education in Ophthalmology module. This is the only module of its kind, which focuses on the knowledge and skills that leaders and educators need when working in eyecare specifically. There are also optional modules on assessing and managing low vision patients, diseases that affect ocular motility, the prescription and non-prescription medicines that orthoptists can use, and research methods.

    The programme is led by practising orthoptists and eyecare experts. In your final year, you can work with them on an independent research project, either by collecting and analysing your own data, or exploring the latest findings on a specific topic.


    This programme has been submitted for accreditation by the NHS Centre of Advancing Practice. When accredited, it will make you eligible to be listed on the Advanced Practice Directory and work as an advanced clinical practitioner in paediatric ophthalmology.


    A selection of modules are available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    CPD modules

    If you are not ready to apply for the three-year MMedSci programme, most of the modules on this programme can be taken as a standalone CPD module. Find out more on our continuing professional development web pages.

    Year one core module:

    Paediatrics ACP

    The module is ideal for eye-care practitioners who want to advance their ophthalmic practice skills, to reach the highest levels of innovative and cutting-edge paediatric ophthalmology practice. The module is suitable for practitioners already working in paediatric care, who are forward-thinking, independent learners and who wish to pioneer new or improved services. The module will allow students to gain comprehensive and advanced knowledge of the issues surrounding paediatric ophthalmological care. As well as studying the core elements of how to diagnose and manage a wide range of ophthalmology conditions primarily affecting paediatric patients, students will practise techniques and management solutions during work based learning. Paediatric practitioners desiring to implement patient-led improvements by means of reflective practice and those wishing to reach advanced clinical practitioner status in paediatric ophthalmology, would benefit from this moduleThe core 60 credit first year module includes an introduction to the role of the ACP in paediatric ophthalmology, diagnosing and managing blepharitis, dry eye, allergic conjunctivitis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, inherited retinal disease, retinal imaging, electrodiagnostic testing, retinoscopy, glaucoma, contact lenses, investigative techniques, cerebral visual impairment, communicating with vision impaired children, disc and neurological screening, nasolacrimal duct obstruction, chalazion, surgical consent and surgical listing and emergency eye treatment and continued professional development.  

    60 credits

    Year two core module (semester one):

    Clinical Leadership and Education in Ophthalmology

    The aim of this module is to enable eye-care practitioners developing as advanced clinical practitioners in paediatric ophthalmology, to deliver high quality, compassionate and efficient care to patients.  In this speciality in particular, it is imperative that clinical practitioners are highly effective in managing and balancing uncertainty and risk.  As such, they need expertise with decision-making tools and frameworks, in order to take management and leadership positions that will benefit patients.  They need to be effective educators, to ensure that colleagues can adopt the strategies and changes implemented.  Leadership and education in paediatric ophthalmology needs to adapt to local and national organisational strategies and agendas and implement reflective learning from significant patient events. The aim of this module is to facilitate effective clinical leadership and education for practitioners specialising in paediatric ophthalmology. It represents two of the key pillars of advanced clinical practice set out by Health Education England (clinical leadership and facilitating education).  The module will be fully aligned with the Advanced Clinical Practice framework and students will be equipped with models regarding decision making and managing and balancing risk in the midst of an often evolving, incomplete and complex clinical picture.  As such, they will develop effective advanced clinical practice, using resources appropriately in order that they will relieve clinical pressure on paediatric ophthalmologists. Students will critically explore and analyse theories and evidence underpinning clinical practice improvements, critical decision-making in paediatric ophthalmology and service redesign.  Students will develop resourcefulness for creatively providing high quality paediatric ophthalmic care and implementing transformational change, which positively impacts patients and colleagues.  As with other modules on this ACP programme, the intention is to deliver content through blended learning using online lectures, tutorials, independent and work-based learning.

    30 credits

    In addition, one 30-credit module of choice from the following options (please note, Research Methods is a pre-requisite for the 3rd year clinical research project):

    Insight into Disease

    This module will help the clinician to a wider understanding of diseases which affect ocular motility and which are frequently encountered in clinical practice. 

    30 credits
    Low Vision

    This unit is delivered by Distance Learning with an Introductory day. It aims to give the qualified practitioner the knowledge to expand into the field of low vision assessment and management; also exploring local and national services and policies. It includes the optics of, and types of, low vision aids, and their method of use. The many factors relevant to reduced visual acuity, such as lighting, glare and contrast are explored along with pathology. Relevant literature will inform the unit and the students will be required to critically analyse and synthesise evidence pertaining to the subject as they complete unit exercises throughout. The student will be working in low vision clinics and will be required to provide evidence of reflection on patients seen as part of the assessment. The remaining assessments will be through an assignment and a practical examination.

    30 credits

    This module will facilitate advanced practice in the area of prescription only and non-prescription exemption listed medicines for Orthoptists, by enhancing knowledge of the pharmacokinetics and actions of these specific medicines. It will advance learning and understanding of the different non-pharmacological and pharmacological approaches to modifying disease and inform practitioners of the potential for adverse effects and how to minimise them. Students will be enabled to apply the principles of evidence-based practice including clinical and cost-effectiveness. These areas of advanced knowledge and understanding will enable Orthoptists who are registered with the Health and Care Professionals Council, to become registered as qualified to use exemptions to sell, supply and administer specific listed medicines for any condition within their scope of practice. 

    30 credits
    Research Methods

    This unit comprises the following sections: The research question; Concepts and indicators; Validity and reliability; Data collection and sampling; Quantitative data analysis; Qualitative data analysis; Critical appraisal; Philosophy of science. 

    30 credits

    Year three module:

    Research Project

    The research project allows the student to pursue an area of interest. It involves literature searching to determine previous work in the field and the design and execution of original work.   Students will prepare, conduct and write-up a piece of original research in one of two ways: either an empirical research project or a literature based dissertation.  This will enhance their understanding and knowledge of the conceptual research process.  Students will utilise systematic research methodology to design the project, undertake the research, analyse the data collected and produce an evidence-based report

    60 credits

    The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

    Open days

    An open day gives you the best opportunity to hear first-hand from our current students and staff about our courses.

    Find out what makes us special at our next online open day on Wednesday 17 April 2024.

    You may also be able to pre-book a department visit as part of a campus tour.Open days and campus tours


    3 years part-time


    This course is taught through a combination of online and work-based learning. Introductory sessions and tutorials take place online, and during the course, you should expect to spend between 10 and 12 hours each week on self-directed study units and work-based learning activities, applying your knowledge in clinical settings and building up a portfolio of your work.

    • Year 1 introductory day: 30 September 2024
    • Year 2 introductory day: 25 September 2025

    You will need to access additional paediatric clinics for one day per week – particularly in your first year. This is so that you can observe a variety of clinical situations and practise a range of clinical skills under supervision.


    You will be assessed through essays, videos, practical work, a portfolio and a dissertation or research project write-up. The Low Vision and Exemptions modules both have an online exam that requires using a computer, webcam and microphone.

    Your career

    Graduates from this course can work as advanced clinical practitioners, specialising in paediatric ophthalmology.

    Advanced clinical practice for orthoptists

    Find out more about advanced clinical practice

    Entry requirements

    Orthoptists, Optometrists and Ophthalmic nurses with postgraduate qualifications are welcome to apply.

    Minimum 2:1 undergraduate honours degree in an eye care-related degree.

    A minimum of three years (ideally five years) professional eyecare experience is required.

    Applicants must be currently working in paediatric eye care and have the support of a local ophthalmologist or advanced clinical practitioner in paediatric ophthalmology, in order to gain clinical experience under supervision, for a wide range of paediatric eye conditions. For this course you will need to gain practical experience and clinical exposure by attending paediatric ophthalmology clinics.

    You will need to identify at least one local mentor, either Ophthalmologist or Advanced Clinical Practitioner in Paediatric Ophthalmology, who will agree to help, support and supervise you during the programme.

    A local mentor handbook for prospective and current mentors is available to download.

    Local mentor handbook (PDF, 837KB)

    You will need to complete a mocal mentor support form and return it by email to orthoptics@sheffield.ac.uk at the same time that you submit your application.

    Local mentor support form (Word, 67KB)

    We also consider a wide range of international qualifications:

    Entry requirements for international students

    Overall IELTS score of 7.0 with 6.5 in each other component, or equivalent.

    If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

    Fees and funding

    Applicants may be eligible through learning beyond registration and NHS grants via their NHS Trust.


    You can apply now using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

    Apply now


    +44 114 215 9042

    Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

    Our student protection plan

    Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.