A three-year diploma course in ophthalmic dispensing - leading to the ABDO Level 6 FBDO qualification.

This blended-delivery course comprises of units completed through the ABDO College Virtual Learning Platform (VLP), block release study, and practice-based learning.


The Fellowship Dispensing Diploma course is based around the ABDO Syllabus and the GOC Core Curriculum for Dispensing Opticians.


Year 1

Theory: Ophthalmic Lenses, Optics, Professional Conduct and Communication.
Practical: Ophthalmic Dispensing Practice.


Year 2

Theory: Theory in Ophthalmic Dispensing, Advanced Theory of Ophthalmic Lenses, Abnormal Ocular Conditions and Standards of Practice, Ocular Anatomy, Paediatric Dispensing and Communication.


Year 3

Theory: Refractive Management, Low Vision and Contact Lenses.
Practical: Advanced Ophthalmic Dispensing Practice.


The diploma course is for trainee dispensing opticians working in optical practice in the UK, Ireland or overseas who are interested in advancing their optical knowledge but do not want to achieve a university degree.


For further details, please refer to the ABDO College Website, as the following address:


Fellowship Dispensing Diploma: Year 1

ABDO College specialises in the provision of blended and distance learning education for the optical profession. The Fellowship Dispensing Diploma course is for trainee Dispensing Opticians working in optical practice in the UK, Ireland or overseas who are interested in advancing their optical knowledge but do not want to achieve a university degree.

The distance learning assignments will be delivered through a virtual learning environment (VLE). It is a requirement therefore that you have regular access to a computer, with internet connection, a scanner and Microsoft Word.

The course comprises of the following elements:

Coursework – 32 units to be studied by distance learning. Students will be expected to study for a minimum of 15 hours per week.

Block release – four weeks. Students will be required to attend ABDO College in Godmersham for two weeks twice each academic year for face to face learning in a classroom setting.

Practice based learning – 30 hours per week. Students will be required to work as a trainee Dispensing Optician under the supervision of a suitably qualified person.

The course takes three years and prepares students for the fellowship diploma examinations (FBDO). The course is made up of units of distance-learning coursework and assignment questions, block release study and practice based learning. The dispensing courses are periodically reviewed by the General Optical Council (GOC) who have recorded their approval of the College as a recognised training institution in accordance with the Optician’s Act.

Entry Requirements The minimum entry standard (as set out by The Association of British Dispensing Opticians) is the achievement of grade C or higher in the General Certificate of Secondary Education in the following subjects: · Mathematics · English · A science based subject · Two other subjects Applicants who have regular work experience in a relevant optical environment, 5 GCSEs at grade C or above (including English, maths and science) and the support of their employer may be considered for a place on the programme.

Applicants will be required to show evidence of recent learning; i.e. within five years of the date of application. ABDO College recognise the importance of knowledge and skills that have been developed through work and may assign accreditation for prior experiential learning (APEL) for those applicants with at least five years relevant experience. Please note however that ALL candidates are required to have achieved the required academic level in mathematics and English. ABDO College 2017-18 (03/17) For those that do not possess GCSEs (or equivalent) in the required subjects, or evidence of recent learning, Access courses are available in the following subjects: · Mathematics · English · Optics and Dispensing · Human Biology · General Science.  These short distance learning courses, delivered by ABDO College, run each February in order to prepare students for intake to dispensing the following September.

Potential students must submit evidence of having attained the required educational standard (or appropriate equivalent) before they can be admitted to the programme.


Employer Involvement

Employers are expected to take an active role in the selection of participants for admission. All students on the Fellowship Dispensing Diploma programme must be employed as a trainee Dispensing Optician in an environment that will provide them with opportunities to meet the GOC competencies and expectations for practical experience under the continuous personal supervision of a suitably qualified professional. The employer will normally sponsor the trainee by providing the means, the opportunity and the support for them to be successful in their studies. This contribution to, and involvement in, the trainee’s education is not to be under-estimated. Employers may contribute financially through the payment of tuition fees, purchase of textbooks, accommodation costs, travel and subsistence, membership fees (ABDO), registration fees (GOC) and exam fees (ABDO). In addition to this explicit financial burden employers must also contribute considerably in terms of hidden costs. In order to ensure continuous personal supervision of the trainee in practice there will be the employment costs of both the trainee and the Supervisor. This may often require a change in working patterns in the practice and there may be a loss of clinic time for the Supervisor; especially for the new trainee who will require close supervision. Over time the trainee will gradually become more autonomous in preparation for unsupervised practice post qualification. Trainees will be out of practice for a minimum of four weeks each academic year to attend block release sessions at ABDO College and will also require extra support and time out of practice in preparation for examinations (e.g. to attend revision courses). In addition to this, employers need to make time available for the trainee and Supervisor to spend time together in practice for the training and assessment of practical skills and for pastoral support and guidance. Employers are an essential aspect of successful delivery of this programme as are all those in the workplace who support the trainees in their personal, professional and academic development. The commitment of the employer is paramount and will require a genuine dedication to investment in their trainee to a high level.


College Attendance

As a part of the three year fellowship dispensing diploma course students must attend ABDO College in Godmersham, Kent for two separate fortnights during each course year. This is a ABDO College 2017-18 (03/17) compulsory requirement of the course as instructed by the GOC and enables students to discuss their studies with lecturers at the college. It is NOT possible to exempt any UK or Irish students from this block release study under any circumstances. Continuous Assessment Final marks will be made up of a combination of continuous assessment and examination scores. The pass mark is 40%. In order for students to be eligible to sit ABDO theory and practical examinations, 100% of assignments, need to be submitted on time, and gain an average mark of 40% or more, in each topic. Examinations Students who successfully complete the three year Fellowship Dispensing Diploma course and related examinations will become qualified Dispensing Opticians and earn the right to add the suffix FBDO after their name. ABDO practical examinations can only be taken in the UK (excluding Malaysian students).

For further information, please see the ABDO College website at the following address: