Operating Department Practice - DipHE

Course Overview

The essential course information

Download the course factsheet
UCAS Code:
Full Time (2 years)
School of Allied and Public Health Professions
City South (and Clinical Placements)

The course enjoys an excellent record in graduate employment, and gives you eligibility to apply for Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)* registration. It prepares you to play a vital role as an operating department practitioner, working primarily within operating theatres as a surgical, anaesthetic or recovery practitioner, caring for patients through the perioperative journey, and ensuring the safe preparation of instruments and equipment.

What's covered in the course?

Your study and academic skills are developed through structured lectures, enquiry-based learning and use of our multimedia facilities. The focus for learning in the classroom is to help you to work as part of a team, and how, as an operating department practitioner (ODP), you fit into that team. However, you spend the greater part of your time learning through practice.

You gain an understanding of the role played by other professionals, and learn how to effectively manage your clinical workload. You learn how to make informed decisions, communicate effectively, and adapt to different practice settings. You also gain effective reporting and recording strategies.

Placements are primarily within operating theatres within NHS trusts and private healthcare facilities throughout Birmingham and beyond, and there may also be opportunities for broader healthcare experiences. While on placement, you receive continuous support and encouragement from both your personal tutor and trust placement manager.

*The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) formerly known as the Health Professions Council (HPC).

“It’s challenging...two years ago I never thought I would be in an operating theatre, standing there handing instruments to the surgeon; it’s fantastic.”
Patrick Power

Why Choose Us?

  • Strongly emphasising practical skills and experience, the course involves spending up to 70 per cent of your time on clinical placement.
  • Our excellent relationships with NHS trusts and other health providers mean you will have plenty of opportunities to gain relevant and beneficial experience.
  • Our teaching staff, all of whom have an appropriate clinical background and many years of teaching experience, can offer unique first-hand perspectives on current practice.
  • The course offers excellent potential for career development and typically achieves a 100 per cent employment record for graduates.
  • You will be based in the £30 million award-winning Seacole Building, outstandingly equipped with mock hospital wards, mock operating theatre, plaster room and laboratory.

Download the Course Programme Specification

Entry Requirements

Literacy and Numeracy testing is now required as part of the selection process for this programme. Try our sample tests and see how you would do!

Sample Test for Literacy

Sample Test for Numeracy

We now recruit to the values of the NHS constitution. This influences our selection criteria and especially the values we are seeking to be demonstrated in both your application and interview, which we view as essential in any individual involved in patient care.

A minimum of 220 UCAS tariff points:

Level 2 qualifications which must be achieved prior to application:
GCSE at Grade C or above in English Language and Mathematics. (GCSE equivalents not accepted, e.g. Key Skills Level 2, Adult Numeracy, Adult Literacy).
Irish Leaving Certificate, Grade B3 or above to include English and Mathematics and preferably a science subject.
Scottish qualifications, Intermediate Standard 2 or above in English and Mathematics and preferably a science subject.
Plus one of the following Level 3 qualifications which you may be working towards:
GCE A/A2 Level
220 UCAS tariff points from a maximum of three A/A2 level passes. A typical offer would be CCD. General Studies and Critical Thinking excluded.
GCE AS/A1 level
Two subjects accepted with A/A2 Level passes. Must achieve a minimum or 220 UCAS tariff points. General Studies and Critical Thinking excluded.
GCE/AVCE Double Award in Health and Social Care
Minimum Grade AB required (220 tariff points)
GCE A/A2 Level with additional AS/A1 (9 units)
Will be considered in conjunction with other qualifications to equate to 220 tariff points.
BTEC National Certificate in Health and Social Care
Minimum Grade DD required (240 tariff points)
BTEC National Diploma in Health and Social Care
Minimum Grade MMM required (240 tariff points)
BTEC National Certificate in Early Years
Will be considered in conjunction with other qualifications to equate to 220 tariff points.
BTEC National Diploma in Early Years
Minimum Grade MMM required (220 tariff points)
International Baccalaureate Diploma
Minimum Grade 24 (260 tariff points)
CACHE Diploma in Childcare and Education
Minimum Grade C required (240 UCAS tariff points)
Access to HE Diploma
Full award (60 credits) of which a minimum of 45 must be at Level 3 including 18 at Merit or Distinction of which a minimum of 12 must be in a Science or Health related subject and 15 at Level 2, must include Mathematics and English Language GCSE equivalent if not already achieved.
Advanced GNVQ in Health and Social Care
Distinction required (equates to AB at A2 - 220 points).
NVQ Level 4 in Health and Social Care
Full award required.
Irish Leaving Certificate
Maximum of 5 Highers at Grade C3 or above to achieve 220 UCAS tariff points.
Scottish Leaving Certificate
Maximum of 5 Advanced Highers at Grade C or above to achieve 220 UCAS tariff points.
14 –19 Progression Diploma in Society, Health and Development
Minimum Grade B required (250 points).
14-19 Advanced Diploma in Society, Health and Development
Full award.
OCR National Diploma
Minimum Grade D (240 points).
OCR National Extended Diploma
Minimum M3 (240 points)
The Open University K101 - An Introduction to Health and Social Care (or equivalents)
Completion of full year (transcripts will be required).
Foundation Degree
Foundation degrees will be reviewed on an individual basis and will require a transcript of the content of the course.

Other qualifications:

Applicants’ qualifications that are not listed will be considered on an individual basis.

In addition:
  • Applicants must have evidence of study within the last 5 years.
  • Applicants are required to undertake an interview*.
  • Places are subject to a satisfactory Occupational Enhanced Heath Check, Disclosure and Barring Service report and registration with the Independent Safeguarding Authority.
  • Applicants should be aware that qualifications, personal statement, interview and reference all form part of the selection criteria for this course.

* Interviews: Candidates who are successfully short listed will be invited to attend a selection event. This will consist of an introduction talk from one of the ODP team which will include an outline of the day. This will be followed by a 30 minute numeracy paper followed by a short comfort break and then a literacy paper. Candidates will be offered a tour of the facilities here at Birmingham City University whilst the numeracy papers are marked. Any candidate who has not reached the required standard on this paper will not progress onto the interview stage and will be advised of this on return from the tour. Following lunch all remaining candidates will participate in an interview which will conclude the day. Applicants will be made aware of the outcome of the selection day by 31 March 2015.

Sample Numeracy and Literacy Test and Answers

Sample Test for Literacy - Answers

Sample Test for Numeracy - Answers

How to Apply

Full Time: Apply through UCAS.
UCAS Code: B990.
Apply via UCAS

This course is not available to International Students.

UCAS Information

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.

UK, EU and international students applying for most undergraduate degree courses in the UK will need to apply through UCAS.

You submit an application via the UCAS website with a list of up to five courses. All choices are confidential during the application process so universities and colleges considering an application cannot see your other choices. Applications must be completed by mid-January of the year that you wish to start university.

You can monitor the progress of your application using the UCAS Apply system.

Fees and Finance

Fees for students from the UK or EU countries?
Start Mode Duration Award Fees
Sep 2015 FT 2 years DipHE NHS Funded

The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

This course is not available to International Students.

Additional costs

We recommend you join a Union or professional body, approximate annual fee £35.

NHS Funding

UK students
Eligible UK students who have a place on a NHS-funded course will normally have their tuition fees paid on their behalf and may apply for a means-tested maintenance bursary plus funding for subsistence. They may also be able to apply for a partial student maintenance loan from Student Finance England if they meet the eligibility criteria.

EU students
Full-time and part-time undergraduate EU students may be eligible to apply to the NHS for support with their tuition fees only.

For further information (UK and EU students) visit the NHS Student Bursaries website.

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible financial support. This includes how to access non means tested grants, means tested bursaries and any additional grants.

University Approach to Employability

Birmingham City University is committed to preparing students for successful employability and professional careers. We have an innovative approach to employability that will help you obtain an interesting and well-paid graduate job.

Read our Employability Statement to find out more.

Employment Opportunities

Upon registration as an ODP with the Health and Care Professions Council you will work within a multi-disciplinary operating theatre team. Although primarily employed within operating theatres, they are increasingly recognised for skills, clinical experience and knowledge which can be transferred to many health care settings, including:

  • Anaesthesia, resuscitation, surgery, transplant
  • Trauma teams
  • Post-anaesthesia care unit (recovery)
  • Management
  • Education
  • Intensive care units
  • Accident and emergency
  • Helicopter emergency medical services
  • Pre-assessment clinics
  • Casting rooms/orthopaedic clinics.

Other student opportunities

To enhance your CV, we offer extra-curricular student opportunities, such as a major incident simulation, that you can get involved in.

Student opportunities  >>


Placements are available within NHS Trusts and Private Healthcare Facilities throughout Birmingham and beyond. Placements are primarily within Operating Theatres but opportunities may be available for broader Healthcare experiences.

A placement is your chance to be a part of the working world of health and social care as it really is: your first taste of your career. For most of our courses, it's a compulsory part of your training; it's that important.

Placements help you with your confidence, by putting theory from the classroom into practice. We make sure you get a quality experience and that you are fully supported by a workplace mentor on hand throughout your placement.

Further Studies

You can specialise post-registration or move into management or teaching.

A comprehensive portfolio of post-registration short courses that focuses on Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is available, along with other postgraduate schemes.

Many are taught as part-time flexible modules to fit around your work and domestic commitments.

Advice is available on an individual basis on request, with reference to appropriate subjects, levels and routes of access.

Full Time

About KIS data

From September 2012, all universities and colleges are publishing standardised information for all undergraduate courses in the form of a Key Information Set (KIS). The KIS data is designed to meet the needs of prospective students and allow for informed decision-making when choosing a university course.

Putting our students first

We pride ourselves on our student satisfaction levels which have risen from 73 per cent to 83 per cent between 2010 and 2012. Our dedication to improving the student experience is illustrated by our award-winning student engagement, our close links with business and industry and our £180 million investment in new facilities.

Employability facts

100 per cent of leavers from the Operating Department Practice course who responded to our survey entered employment (and/or further study), earning an average salary of £21,000 after six months. Employers including Birmingham City Council and Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust offering positions such as Social Worker and District Nurse.

Working with your Students’ Union

Improving student satisfaction is a priority commitment shared by both Birmingham City University and its Students’ Union. In its strategic planning, the Union has pledged to be more accessible, more relevant and provide more opportunity to engage with a diverse student community.

The Students’ Union is already a key stakeholder in supporting an excellent teaching experience at Birmingham City University, through joint projects such as the Extra Mile Teaching Awards and the Student Rep scheme, which allows students to share their ideas on how they are taught.

As Birmingham City University moves towards a two campus strategy where it can better support enhanced learning and student support facilities across a two-mile radius, the Students’ Union will also be better able to implement its commitment to improve communication and engage with its valued student membership.

Course Structure

The course is taught in state-of-the-art facilities, including a mock theatre and plaster room, where we use a variety of teaching methods to help you get the most from your study, reflecting the subject matter and your individual needs.

From structured lectures to personal use of our multimedia facilities, the focus for learning in the classroom is to help you to:

  • Work as part of a team
  • Understand how an ODP fits into the team and what they do
  • Understand the role played by other professionals
  • Manage your clinical workload
  • Make informed decisions
  • Communicate effectively
  • Adapt to different practice settings
  • Adopt effective reporting and recording strategies.

What else we offer

In 2013 after months of training, a select few health professionals ventured to Nepal to learn about international healthcare as part of an optional extra-curricular experience. This is their diary.

Additional support

If you are dyslexic, have a specific learning difference or a disability, we have a Disability Tutor who can help and support you. 

More on our disability tutor >>

We offer extra technical and learning support.

Course Modules

You will study 120 credits at each of Levels 4 and 5.

Upon successful completion you will graduate with a Diploma in Higher Education, Operating Department Practice (ODP), which will make you eligible to apply for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

ODPs are a vital part of the operating theatre team and their role varies from day to day.

Working alongside surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses and healthcare support workers, they ensure that every operation is as safe and effective as possible. Primarily employed within operating theatres to work as surgical, anaesthetic or recovery practitioners, they maintain and restore the physical and psychological patient status at all levels, through the assessment, planning and delivery of individualised care.

ODPs are involved in the preparation of instruments and equipment including anaesthetic machines, intravenous equipment and airway devices to ensure the safety of patients.

ODPs assess and deliver individual care to patients throughout the perioperative experience and then assess the patient before discharging them to a surgical ward. This includes the assessment and management of pain, including the administration of analgesia, communication with the patient and evaluation of their vital signs.

Assessment Methods

Assessment methods include written assignments, examinations, simulations, staged tests, workshop examinations and clinical placements. Assessment takes place throughout the year to enable you to monitor your progress and obtain appropriate support.

Some of the assessments are designed to test certain competencies or essential skills but do not count as credits towards the final award. Those assessments are as follows:

Title of ModuleThe non-credit assessment name (e.g. competencies)Brief descriptionWhen (year) the assessment takes place in the programme
ODP4005 Learning in Clinical Practice Competencies Clinical competences achieved in practice. Pass/fail. 2 attempts End of year 1
ODP5013 Learning in Clinical Specialist Practice Competencies Clinical competences achieved in practice. Pass/fail. 2 attempts End of year 2 (final year)
ODP5012 Specialist Nature of Operating Department Practice Medicines Management Exam (Drug Calculations) Drug Calculations exam, pass/fail. 2 attempts. ¾ way through year 2 (final year)

Star Alumni Spencer Hampton graduated in 2009 and is now an Operating Department Practitioner.

Patrick Power

Sean Duffy

Our Facilities

We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities. It’s no surprise that the Complete University Guide placed us in the UK top 10 for spending on facilities in both 2012 and 2013.

We boast up-to-date, innovative facilities that simulate the real situations that medical staff may come across.

These resources are essential in offering students a hands-on introduction to health and social care practice. Much of our teaching is carried out within our state-of-the-art, £30m Seacole Building, which houses some of the best learning facilities in the UK.

Take a virtual tour of our skills suites at Seacole

In a sector where new techniques are constantly being discovered, we work hard to ensure that students learn using the most up-to-date equipment available. These include the only mock operating theatre in an English university and a cutting-edge radiography virtual clinical training facility, virtual ward and virtual case creator.

Operating theatre

The mock operating theatre is set up in the way that you would it find in a hospital, with all of the machinery, tools and equipment necessary. Operating theatres can be daunting and confusing places on first view but with access to our mock theatre, you will be able to build up confidence and feel comfortable in your working environment.

Skills Practice and Clinical Enhancement facility

The SPACE (Skills Practice And Clinical Enhancement) learning facility lets you further practice the skills taught in class, at your own pace and convenience.

It is fully stocked with the specialist items and equipment needed for procedures such as taking blood pressure, giving an injection, abdominal examination of a pregnant woman and caring for ill babies in an incubator.

Mary Seacole Library

The Seacole library, based at City South Campus, is one of the UK's largest specialist health education libraries. The state-of-the art facility offers an extensive range of range of information and reference materials set out in a relaxing environment, conducive to studying. There are comfortable seating areas, group study areas, a silent study area and private study rooms.

You will have access to all of the University’s libraries, including the main Kenrick Library on the City North Campus, which is open for almost 90 hours a week and holds more than 320,000 books, 2,000 print journals and carries more than 4,000 electronic journals online.

Computer facilities

The Seacole building houses a large open access IT Suite which comprises of 96 PCs, full colour printers, photocopiers and scanners. Our PCs utilise the latest Intel i5 core technology, all with:

  • Fast (unrestricted) internet connectivity
  • Ability to save files to USB, DVD & CD
  • Microsoft Office software
  • Research and statistical software
  • Storage space which can be accessed from any PC across the University and from home

Our PCs are also designed to support students who may have difficulties with reading and writing, featuring specialised software with zooming/magnification and screen reading capabilities, which may also be customised for individual student needs.

The IT Suite offers extended opening hours and is supported by a specialist Corporate ICT Open Access Assistant during term time. In addition to the open access PCs within the IT Suite, there are 12 networked student PCs available within Seacole library.


Prospective students from the UK
  • Take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions for answers to a range of questions about our courses and studying here.
  • If you need further help, you can contact the Course Enquiries Team online by using the Course Enquiry Form.
  • Alternatively, call us on +44 (0)121 331 5595.

This course is not available to International Students


For an overview of our undergraduate courses and a range of other information order a printed Prospectus or download a PDF of our Prospectus (16Mb).

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