Operating Department Practice - DipHE

UCAS Code:
Full Time (2 years)
September 2017

This is a specially designed two-year Diploma to prepare you to become a fully qualified Operating Department Practitioner - a vital part of the operating theatre team, with a role that varies from day to day.

Operating Department Practitioner programmes at Birmingham City University (BCU) have an excellent track record of developing high quality professionals who meet the needs of a range of care providers nationally.  

The employability of our students is maximised by exposure to quality placement learning experiences and the development of transferable skills which is reflected in consistent and exceptionally high employment on graduation.

Your work will be assessed using a mix of methods depending on the module or area of study and includes text based submissions, written examinations, oral examinations, presentations and clinical skills assessment both in placement and simulated in university.

The range of assessment methods is chosen to not only indicate a level of achievement but to also develop and demonstrate a range of skills transferable to the modern healthcare environment including; reflection, oral and written communication, confidence and competence in care delivery and the ability to research, appraise and evaluate evidence. It is anticipated that the development of transferable skills will enhance your employability on graduation and provide a sound foundation for future professional development.

The programme combines theoretical and practical components, complemented with clinical placements in a range of specialities and settings.  The overarching aim is to develop and refine clinical competence and the application of best evidence based knowledge to direct patient care in contemporary healthcare settings.

The academic team are dedicated to the development of future caring professionals and have many years of experience delivering perioperative education in the academic and clinical settings. The teams’ experience of delivering perioperative care in the ‘real world’ provides an excellent resource that helps students develop a clear understanding of the relationship between theory and practice. Additionally, the team are committed to the enhancement of perioperative care more widely through publication and information sharing in the wider healthcare environment.

  • We are one of the largest and most diverse providers of health and social care education in the country.
  • We use our advanced and innovative education facilities to simulate the real life health care situations.
  • We have one of the UK's largest specialist health education libraries.
  • We have very close links with a wide range of clinical practice partners to maximise your experience.


This course costs...

£9,250 per year

To welcome all new home and EU undergraduate students starting in 2017 or 2018, we're giving at least £150 worth of credit to spend in a host of ways, on books and a range of learning materials. Even better, it doesn’t have to be repaid.

This course is not open to International students

Where our students go

Our students have gone on to work in places such as:

  • University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust
  • Birmingham Children's Hospital
  • Her Majesty's Armed Forces

And in jobs such as:

  • Operating Department Practitioner Band 5

Changes to funding

In the Government's Autumn Statement (25 November 2015), Chancellor George Osborne announced changes to funding for students starting nursing, midwifery and allied health subjects from Autumn 2017.

Get more information on changes to NHS funding

Do you have questions about funding or student loans?

Download information about fees for health students in 2017/18

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 88 UCAS tariff points:

Level 2 qualifications which must be achieved prior to application:
GCSE at Grade 4 or above (previously Grade C) in English Language, Mathematics and Science. Passes in the following qualifications are also acceptable: Functional Skills Level 2 (English and Maths), Key Skills Level 2(Application of Number or Communication), and City and Guilds Level 2 Certificates (Adult Literacy/Adult Numeracy). 
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
88 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 88 UCAS tariff points. General Studies and Critical Thinking excluded.
GCE/AVCE Double Award in Health and Social Care
Minimum Grade AB required (88 tariff points)
GCE A/A2 Level with additional AS/A1 (9 units)
Will be considered in conjunction with other qualifications to equate to 88 UCAS tariff points.
BTEC National Certificate in Health and Social Care
Minimum Grade DD required (88 UCAS tariff points)
BTEC National Diploma in Health and Social Care
Minimum Grade MMM required (88 UCAS tariff points)
BTEC National Certificate in Early Years
Will be considered in conjunction with other qualifications to equate to 88 UCAS tariff points.
BTEC National Diploma in Early Years
Minimum Grade MMM required (88 UCAS tariff points)
International Baccalaureate Diploma
Minimum Grade 24 (88 UCAS tariff points)
CACHE Diploma in Childcare and Education
Minimum Grade C required (88 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 - 88 UCAs tariff points).
NVQ Level 4 in Health and Social Care
Full award required.
Irish Leaving Certificate
88 UCAS tariff points from a maximum of 5 Highers at Grade C1/H4 or above.
Scottish Leaving Certificate
Maximum of 5 Advanced Highers at Grade C or above to achieve 88 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
OCR National Extended Diploma
Minimum M3 
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.

Sample Numeracy and Literacy Test and Answers

Sample Test for Literacy - Answers

Sample Test for Numeracy - Answers

The UCAS tariff is changing

If you're considering applying for this course to start in September 2017 onwards, it's important to know that the UCAS tariff system is changing.

UCAS tariff points – the points system most universities use to compare different qualifications – will be introducing a new system on how points are calculated.

More about the new tariff

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
DipHE Sep 2017 FT 2 years £9,250 per year Apply via UCAS

International Students

Sorry, this course is not available to international students.

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.

Guidance for UK/EU students


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

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

Applying through UCAS
 Register with UCAS
 Login to UCAS
 Complete your details
 Select your course
 Write a personal statement
 Get a reference
 Pay your application fee
 Send UCAS your application

Our advice for applying to a health care course

Applying for a course and preparing for an interview can be a daunting process, so we have created a series of films to help you through the process, including what to put in your personal statement.

More guidance

Personal statement

Your personal statement is a highly important part of your application. It gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Course choice

Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?

Career plans

If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.

Work experience

Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.

School or college experience

Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.

Non-accredited skills or achievement

eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.

You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

NHS funding

Places on this course are funded by the NHS in September 2016 only.

Get more information about NHS funding

Changes to funding

From 1 August 2017, new students in England on nursing, midwifery and most allied health professional (AHP) pre-registration courses will have access to the standard student support package of loans for tuition fees and living costs, rather than getting an NHS grant.

Download information about fees for health students in 2017/18

Sorry, this course is not available part-time

Got any questions?

Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.

Loans and Grants

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible undergraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.

Course structure

Taught in state-of-the-art facilities, including an operating theatre, at Birmingham City University we use a variety of teaching methods to help you get the most from your study, reflecting the subject matter and your individual needs.

And as we're one of the largest ODP centres in the UK, we can offer you the chance to experience everything from transplant surgery to specialist oncology to neurosurgery.

From structured lectures to personal use of our multimedia facilities, we'll teach you how 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

You will study 120 credits each at Level 4 and 5 and there's a 60-40 split between blocks of study and clinical placement.

Number of hours in the classroom per week

You will spend between 25 - 30 hours per week in the classroom when on study block. 

Course breakdown

Year One

Caring in the perioperative environment

This module introduces you, a student Operating Department Practitioner (ODP) to the essential knowledge required for working in a modern operating department and delivering safe and effective perioperative care. The module focuses upon a holistic, patient centred approach that encourages students to become autonomous, dynamic, reflective and self-directed learners within the three perioperative phases of Anaesthetics, Surgery and Post-Anaesthetic Care.

Introduction to Anaesthetic & Post Anaesthetic Care
  1. This module provides you with an introduction to the role and responsibilities of the Operating Department Practitioner (ODP). Working in anaesthetics and post anaesthetic care and delivers essential knowledge required for working within a modern operating department, delivering safe and effective perioperative care.
Introduction to Bioscience

A working knowledge and understanding of bioscience at the beginning of the programme is essential in providing the basis for future learning in clinical practice and providing holistic, patient centred care. The module will provide you with this essential knowledge and will encourage you to explore and develop your understanding. It will enable you to better apply clinical theory to your practice and to develop your skills as a practitioner.

Student transition to higher education, becoming an Allied Health Care Professional

This module focuses upon the basic principles and responsibilities that underpin professional practice for the student who is aiming for professional registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). It will introduce you to some of the fundamental principles that underpin care within the National Health Service (NHS).

Introduction to Surgical Practice

Surgery is an essential component of health systems across the globe. This module provides you, a first year student Operating Department Practitioner (ODP) on the Diploma in Higher Education and BSc ODP programmes, to study the fundamental principles of surgical practice as part of the multidisciplinary team.

Year Two

Developing Surgical Practice

This module allows you to develop your role as a circulating and scrub ODP to a level capable of dealing with the scheduled, non-scheduled and complex nature of surgery. Using knowledge and skills you acquired in the first year and other second year modules such as the Applied Bioscience and Perioperative Care modules, you will critically examine how your role impacts upon the safe and effective care of the patient during the intraoperative stage of their perioperative journey.

Applied Biosciences

This module builds on the knowledge you gained in the level 4 module Introduction to Bioscience. It allows you to explore the application of this knowledge in situations of injury and illness. You will have the opportunity to investigate the use of pharmacological interventions specific to operating department practice and its use in effective care delivery, this knowledge will then continue to develop throughout the other modules you will engage in throughout the year.

Influences on perioperative practice

To be successful and to function safely as a student Operating Department Practitioner and post qualification, you need to know how to apply relevant information to your practice and academic work. This module explains evidence-based practice (EBP) and its importance and relevance to your profession; with a clear understanding that if you practice an evidence-based approach, then you are set to give the best possible care for patients.

Managing Anaesthetic Care and Post Anaesthetic Care

This module enables you to develop your role and practice as a second-year student ODP; enabling you to deliver care to patients undergoing elective and non-elective cases. This will include patients with complex needs.

Transition to Registered Practioner

Considering the Programme Philosophy and Aims this module prepares you to apply for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and subsequent employment on graduation. You will be encouraged to become a professionally aware, autonomous and reflective practitioner at the point of registration and it enhances your employability skills on qualification and beyond. It is designed to prepare you for the transition from student to Registered Operating Department Practitioner and develop skills to support your continuing professional development alongside the ability to manage yourself and others.

Teaching breakdown

12 Time in lectures, seminars and similar MidnightBlue
43 Time in independent study RoyalBlue
45 Time on placement LightSkyBlue

Assessment breakdown

27 Written exams DarkOrange
73 Coursework FireBrick

Student stories - Katrina

Operating Department Practice student Katrina Ballie explains how enrolling on this course has benefited her and enhanced her career prospects.

Student stories

ODPs play a crucial role working alongside surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses, preparing instruments and equipment, delivering patient care and assessment, and ensuring every operation is as safe and effective as possible.

Student Sean Duffy talks about his experiences on the DipHE Course Operating Department Practice at Birmingham City University.

Study and work abroad

If you are interested in undertaking part of your studies abroad, the Erasmus scheme may be of interest to you. It allows higher education students to study for part of their degree in another European country.

It is open to undergraduates in their second year (or above) and offers a unique opportunity to enhance your CV and experience new cultures. If you study with us you will have access to an Erasmus co-ordinator, who can provide information about which institutions we have links with.

Find out more

Further study

After completing this Diploma, you can specialise post-registration, or move into management or teaching.

A comprehensive portfolio of post-registration courses called Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is available within the Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences and can be found here. Many are taught as part-time flexible modules to fit around your work and domestic commitments.

Student stories

Award winning students

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

Enhancing Employability Skills

To prepare students to meet the requirements for eligibility to apply for entry onto the Health and Care Professions Council register as Registered Operating Department Practitioners.

Combines theory with clinical placement to enhance awareness of different specialities in preparation for employment in operating theatre departments.

 Develops transferable skills for working in a range of health care settings and recognising the need for life-long learning.


Clinical placement experience is a minimum 60% of the course and a mandatory element in meeting the standards expected to become an Operating Department Practitioner. When in placement you will be supported by an allocated mentor and other registered staff who will assess your competence in clinical practice and your ability to uphold professional values and behaviours.

Placements will be with NHS and independent health providers across the West Midlands area. This does involve travelling to placement with no guarantee of a specific hospital.

More about our placement opportunities...


OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.

Examples of real graduates and their roles

Previous graduates are now holding management posts within the NHS and private sector.

Alumni have senior educational posts in the NHS and as part of the course teaching team. This includes individuals who have published and presented at a national level.


BCU Graduate+

Through our courses we give you the skills and experience needed to get a head start when applying for jobs. But we offer something extra too – Graduate+.

Our unique programme gives you the chance to develop valuable skills outside of the more formal classroom learning. We award points for Graduate+ activities (including firewalking!) and these can be put towards a final Graduate+ award.

More about Graduate+

Graduate Jobs

The very nature of the Operating Department Practice course is that it is a professional program leading to eligibility to apply for registration with the HCPC if successful.

The course develops essential skills enabling you to practice safely and effectively as a Registered Operating Department Practitioner and gain employment post qualification. However, we also want to encourage you to think about your potential future career path and help you plan your development to meet your long term expectations. Future career choices and development may lead to roles in the following but not limited to management, education, extended health care role (perioperative care practitioner, surgical first assistant).

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.

We are keen supporters of giving our ODP course students paid-for roles across the University, for example you’ll have the chance to get involved on our busy Open Days. You might also have an opportunity to carry out some small teaching posts, to foster a cascade learning approach, or as an academic advisor to help develop our curriculum for future students.

Student opportunities  >>


We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities.

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 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.

Staff Introduction

The academic team are dedicated to the development of future caring professionals and have many years of experience delivering perioperative education in the academic and clinical settings. The teams’ experience of delivering perioperative care in the ‘real world’ provides an excellent resource to develop an understanding of the relationship between theory and practice. Additionally, the team are committed to the enhancement of perioperative care more widely through publication and information sharing in the wider healthcare environment.

Simon Nixon

Senior Lecturer

Simon has worked at the University for just over 10 years, prior to this he was in the British Army for nearly 30 years. During this time he served in many areas both in and out of the United Kingdom. His job roles during this time were varied including working as an Operating Department Practitioner, Theatre Manager, Staff Officer and Office Commanding of a small Hospital.

During his time at Birmingham City University he has been involved in the development of the current Operating Department Practitioner curriculum and has ran modules primarily in the second year of the program. He has many interests around the student academic experience and is currently undertaking a number of Master of Education Modules to further enhance his teaching and learning experience.

Simon is also a member of a number of committee’s within the Health Faculty and teaches on the Paramedic Science Program in addition to being the pathway manager of the Faculties’ Perioperative Practice Pathway which offers further study opportunities for qualified nurses and Operating Department Practitioners.

Julie Quick

Senior lecturer

Julie has spent 25 years working within the perioperative environment. In her last NHS she worked as a Surgical Care Practitioner in general surgery at Trust within the West Midlands. Julie is passionate about perioperative care and has a particular interest in surgery, research and advancing surgical roles.  

UK prospective students:

UK enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5595

EU / International prospective students:

International enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5389

Already applied?

Email the applications team

+44 (0)121 331 6295