Doctor of Optometry

Course MC-DOPTOM (2012)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2012.

Year and Campus: 2012 - Parkville
CRICOS Code: 070380C
Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Level: Graduate/Postgraduate
Duration & Credit Points: 400 credit points taken over 48 months full time.


Prof Algis Vingrys



Melbourne Graduate School of Science
Faculty of Science
The University of Melbourne
Victoria 3010

Tel: + 61 3 8344 6128
Fax: +61 3 8344 3351


Course Overview:

Optometry is a professional discipline based on the optical and visual sciences. The practice of optometry involves the diagnosis and management of functional disorders and diseases of the eye and vision. An optometrist's job is to solve their patients' visual problems.

The Doctor of Optometry is a 4-year full-time program that offers intensive training in the clinical discipline of optometry. The course covers the basic and applied vision sciences that underpin optometry, and delivers a comprehensive clinical training that commences in the first year of the study. During the course, students will have the opportunity to undertake a research project, in an area relevant to the discipline, and will be given the opportunity to undertake clinical training at an overseas site as part of their final year of study.

Completion of the Doctor of Optometry satisfies the legislative requirements that permit students to register as optometrists in all states and territories of Australia and in New Zealand. The qualification also affords the opportunity, either with or without further study and examination, to register to practice in other countries around the world.


On successful completion of the course graduates should:

  • have an understanding of the normal human visual system and its physical, chemical and biological foundations that enables them to apply their knowledge to practical situations in an effective and innovative way;
  • be able to quantitatively describe light and its passage through optical systems (including ophthalmic instruments, ophthalmic lenses and the eye), design optical systems to meet required specifications, and quantitatively assess the nature and quality of optical images;
  • have developed an advanced understanding of the mechanisms and associated manifestations of ocular and visual system disease at a level that allows them to construct appropriate differential diagnoses, and arrive at correct definitive diagnoses;
  • have attained expert competency in clinical ocular examination using current best-practice methods, enabling them to fully assess and manage the health and visual performance of their patient;
  • have an expert knowledge of best practice management strategies to enable the safe and effective use of ocular therapeutic drugs;
  • have interpersonal and communication skills, both written and verbal, that allow them to establish and maintain professional relationships with their patients, professional colleagues and the general community;
  • have the skills and knowledge to be competent in the practice of optometry at a level that enables them to achieve and sustain registration with the appropriate professional bodies;
  • have the skills and knowledge required to manage the establishment, planning, promotion, finances, operations and workforce of an optometric practice.
  • have a strongly developed sense of professional and ethical responsibility for patients, colleagues and the community generally, and be aware of the moral and legal responsibilities of professional practice;
  • have attained advanced skills in problem identification, and developed expertise in applying these skills to scientific problems in the visual and clinical sciences, as well as to particular problems presented by patients; and
  • be prepared to take a leadership role in the advancement of optometry on a global stage, both in clinical and research spheres.
  • have a sense of intellectual curiosity and a desire for lifelong learning, with the ability to adapt to scientific, technological and social change, and a capacity to be creative and innovative.
Course Structure & Available Subjects:

Students must complete 400 credit points over the 4-year program. These 400 points of credit are accumulated from a compulsory series of six core subjects totalling 100 points per year.

Doctor of Optometry 1st year (100 points): Covers the basic vision sciences and pre-clinical optometry training.
Doctor of Optometry 2nd year (100 points): Covers the applied clinical vision sciences and clinical optometry training, as well as research in vision and optometry.
Doctor of Optometry 3rd year (100 points): Covers further applied clinical vision sciences and clinical optometry training, as well as clinical optometry practice.
Doctor of Optometry 4th year (100 points): Covers advanced clinical optometry practice

Subject Options:

Doctor of Optometry 1st year

Compulsory subjects:

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:

Subject by invitation only:

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:

Doctor of Optometry 2nd year

Compulsory subjects:

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:

Doctor of Optometry 3rd year

Compulsory subject:

OPTO90026 Clinical Optometry Practice will commence in 2013

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Not offered in 2012

Doctor of Optometry 4th year

Compulsory subject:

OPTO90028 Advanced Clinical Optometry Practice will commence in 2014

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Entry Requirements:

1. The Selection Committee will evaluate the applicant's ability to pursue successfully the course using the following criteria:

  • An undergraduate degree (or equivalent); and
  • a second or third-year subject (or equivalent) in anatomy or cell biology; plus two additional subjects at second or third year level (or equivalent) from one or more relevant biological science disciplines.
  • Completion of either the GAMSAT (Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test), OAT (Optometry Admission Test (USA)), or the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test (USA)).
  • A written statement submitted in accordance with the requirements of the Selection Committee.

2. The Selection Committee may conduct interviews or may call for referee reports to elucidate any of the matters referred to above.

Applicants who need to satisfy the University’s English language requirements via an IELTS or TOEFL, will require one of the following:

  • IELTS (Academic English only) 7.0 (written 7.0 with no band less than 6.0)
  • TOEFL (paper-based test) 600 + TWE 5.0
  • TOEFL (computer-based test) 250 + 5.0 essay rating
  • TOEFL (internet-based test) 100 + written score of 24 and no band less than 21
Core Participation Requirements:

The Doctor of Optometry welcomes applications from students with disabilities. It is University and degree policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student’s participation in the degree.

The Doctor of Optometry requires all students to enrol in subjects where they will require:
(1) the ability to comprehend complex science and technology related information;
(2) the ability to clearly and independently communicate a knowledge and application of science, and technology principles and practices during assessment tasks;
(3) the ability to actively and safely contribute in clinical, laboratory, and fieldwork/excursion activities.

Students must possess behavioural and social attributes that enable them to participate in a complex learning environment. Students are required to take responsibility for their own participation and learning. They also contribute to the learning of other students in collaborative learning environments, demonstrating interpersonal skills and an understanding of the needs of other students. Assessment may include the outcomes of tasks completed in collaboration with other students.

There may be additional inherent academic requirements for some subjects, and these requirements are listed within the description of the requirements for each of these subjects.

Students who feel their disability will impact on meeting this requirement are encouraged to discuss this matter with the relevant Subject Coordinator and the Disability Liaison Unit:

Further Study:

On completion, students may wish to apply for entry into a research higher degree program.

Graduate Attributes:

Please refer to the University Graduate Attributes -

Professional Accreditation:

Upon completion of the Doctor of Optometry you can submit an application to register and practice as an optometrist in all states and territories of Australia and in New Zealand.

This course prepares students to meet the registration requirements of the Optometry Board of Australia. More information on this official body can be found at the following website -

Generic Skills:

On completion of the Doctor of Optometry students should:

  • be able to plan strategies for improving the management of information in the workplace;
  • be able to work with colleagues to develop best practice in the delivery of eye care;
  • be able to apply critical thinking and problem solving skills to new problems;
  • have highly developed written and oral communication skills;
  • have the capacity to articulate your knowledge and understanding in written modes of communication;
  • have enhanced leadership skills;
  • be able to work as part of a team to address a common goal;
  • be able to incorporate evidence-based information into your clinical practice;
  • have an appreciation of the design, conduct and reporting of original research;
  • have a capacity to manage competing demands on time, including self-directed project work;
  • have a profound respect for truth and intellectual integrity, and for the ethics of scholarship;
  • have enhanced time management skills, in particular a capacity to manage competing demands on time, and professional focus in clinical practice;
  • be able to independently advance your professional expertise and knowledge in optometry;
  • be able to evaluate scientific literature as a foundation to evidence based practice;
  • be able to articulate the interpretation of data in written form;
  • be able to develop new concepts of how to manage clinical problems based on new knowledge obtained;
  • be able to integrate knowledge from different domains and articulate knowledge and understanding in written and oral forms;
  • value the collection and recording of accurate and complete data;
  • be able to keep up to date with the latest innovations;
  • be able to reflect upon and identify deficiencies in your knowledge, and develop strategies to address those deficiencies.


Please note that the purchase of some equipment will be necessary for various compulsory subjects within this course. Students will continue to use the equipment during the remainder of the course and after graduation. Students are required to conform to prescribed dress and conduct requirements when assigned to all clinical duties with patients.

*Doctor of Optometry students will be required to have a current CPR certificate prior to entering clinic in third year.

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