A new optometry course is to welcome 30 students at the University of the West of England in September 2018.

The three-year BSc degree will enable undergraduates to gain practical experience in leading high street opticians and specialists clinics, as well as in a fully functioning clinic on campus.

The course, which sits within the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences, will be based at the university’s Glenside campus, where optometry students will have access to new purpose-built facilities in a refurbished Grade II listed building. These state of the art facilities include an optics lab, project rooms, multi-functional teaching spaces, and training bays containing specialist equipment.

For the first two years, undergraduates will use these facilities to apply their knowledge in a simulated clinical environment, where they will practise learned techniques on each other and on manikins. Within the optics labs, they will carry out experiments with light, learning about refraction, diffraction and polarization.

The course also provides students with practice-based training during several one-week placements throughout the three years in high street optometrists, specialist clinics and hospitals.

Dr Vivien Gibbs, who is head of department for Allied Health Professions, said: “From our perspective, it was very important that we make this course practice-oriented, so that these practitioners can go out into the work place with real-world experience and are ready to step into the role.”

The course is set to fill a gap in the regional market, given a lack of home-grown optometry professionals in the area. Sally Moyle said: “Some leading opticians have to recruit optometrists from abroad, and we will be able to train many students for this workforce who live within a 50-mile radius of Bristol.”

To boost students’ employment prospects and to develop them as enterprising practitioners, the course also offers a business module covering the retail sector and basic accounting.

As of September 2019, the programme is set to double its intake and receive 60 undergraduates.

To find out more, visit: uwe.ac.uk