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Operating Department Practice (South West) - DipHE

  • UCAS Code: B991
  • Level: Undergraduate
  • Starting: January 2021
  • Study mode: Full Time (2 years)
  • Location: Royal Devon And Exeter Hospital

Studying with us in 2020/21

While the majority of our teaching will be carried out face-to-face this year, you will be taught as part of a blended learning approach. This means that you will have a mix of on-campus and online learning. Find out more about learning and teaching in 2020/21.

This two-year Diploma programme, delivered with the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital as part of a wider peninsular partnership, prepares you to become an 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 knowledgeable, compassionate and skilful health professionals who meet the needs of both patients and healthcare employers.

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. This unique partnership, delivered at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital Campus, has been developed to meet the future workforce needs of the NHS and independent sector in the South-West as well as providing national employment opportunities

What's covered in the course?

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.

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.

It is anticipated that the development of transferable skills throughout your programme will enhance your employability on graduation and provide a sound foundation for future professional development.

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.

Why Choose Us?

  • Funding - Allied health profession students will receive at least £5,000 a year in additional funding for maintenance and associated study costs. Download the funding FAQs
  • We are one of the largest and most diverse providers of health and social care education in the country.
  • We use advanced and innovative education methods to ensure you get the most from your experience and learning
  • We have close links with a wide range of clinical practice partners to maximise your experience
  • Exposure to quality placement learning experiences to develop skills and professional relationships 
  • Wide variety of career opportunities available upon successful completion, such as working in orthopaedic clinics, transplant teams, research and education

Students outside Millennium Point

Open Days

Our Open Day for this course will take place in March 2021. Register now and we will contact you when the booking form goes live.

Register your interest
This course is not open to International students

Entry Requirements

We 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 enrolment:
at Grade C or above in English Language and Mathematics or Functional Skills (English and Maths) and a science subject. (GCSE equivalents are accepted, e.g. Key Skills Level 2, Adult Numeracy, Adult Literacy).
Irish Leaving Certificate, Grade B3 or above to include English and Mathematics and a science subject.
Scottish qualifications, Intermediate Standard 2 or above in English and Mathematics and 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 tariff points.
BTEC National Certificate in Health and Social Care
Minimum Grade DD required (88 tariff points)
BTEC National Diploma in Health and Social Care
Minimum Grade MMM required (88 tariff points)
BTEC National Certificate in Early Years
Will be considered in conjunction with other qualifications to equate to 88 tariff points.
BTEC National Diploma in Early Years
Minimum Grade MMM required (88 tariff points)
International Baccalaureate Diploma
Minimum Grade 24 (88 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 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 88 UCAS tariff points.
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 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:

Portfolio Route for those holding Level 3 Diploma in Perioperative Support (QCF)

This recognition of prior learning and experience route recognises that your previous experience and achievement contributes towards entry to the Diploma of Higher Education in Operating Department Practice, and when combined with successful completion of your award, may lead to successfully gaining a place in the programme.

In order to demonstrate this you are required to complete a portfolio which complements your certificated learning, and demonstrates your ability to study in Higher Education. To find out more please contact Course Enquiries

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 clearance 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 successful 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. Candidates will be offered a tour of the educational facilities at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. Following all remaining candidates will participate in a formal interview process which will conclude the day. Applicants will be made aware of the outcome on the selection day as soon as possible. 

International candidates

Those who meet residency/academic requirements of UK students but whose language is not English will need to hold IELTS with an overall score of at least 7.0 with no element below 6.5.

  • UK/EU students
  • International students

Award: DipHE

Starting: Jan 2021

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Sorry, this course is not available to International students.

The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament up to a maximum of five per cent.

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.

Additional costs

We offer a wide range of professionally accredited and vocational courses that require the purchase of, among other things, uniforms, equipment, subscriptions, professional body memberships and DBS checks, and may require you to pay to attend conferences or participate in placements.

The link below provides our estimate of the possible costs associated with key activities on specific courses. Please bear in mind that these are only estimates of costs based on past student experience and feedback. The actual costs to you could vary considerably (either greater or lower than these estimates) depending on your choices as you progress through the course. We set out where we can, based on experience, where these indicative costs are for activities that are optional or compulsory.

All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.

Find additional costs for your course

Learning Support Fund

From 1 November 2017 you may be able to apply for elements of the learning support fund if:

  • you are studying a pre-registration healthcare course
  • are studying in England and
  • your course started on or after 1 August 2017

Visit NHS student services for more information

Worried about personal statements?

Worried about personal statements?

If you've got no idea where to start or just want to check you're on the right track, we’ve got expert advice and real examples from our students to help you nail your personal statement. You can even download our ultimate personal statement guide for free.

Get personal statement advice

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 access to simulation suites and operating theatres, at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospitals education centres. 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, 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

And as we're one of the largest ODP education providers in the UK, we can offer you opportunities to experience surgical practice in a wide range of specialities; from transplant surgery to ophthalmology to neurosurgery. 

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.

Course breakdown

Year One

In order to complete this course, you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits).

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.

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.

This module will focus upon basic anaesthetic and post anaesthetic care techniques, equipment, monitoring and the importance of working within national standards and organisational guidelines to deliver high quality, evidence based holistic care. You will concentrate on patients undergoing elective procedures in conjunction with a registered practitioner.

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.

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).

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

In order to complete this course, you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits).

20 credits

In your first year of the DipHE and BSc (Hons) ODP programme you studied the fundamental principles of surgical practice and identified the role of the scrub and circulating ODP as a member of the multidisciplinary team.

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, the decisions you make as well as the role of others impacts upon the safe and effective care of the patient during the intraoperative stage of their perioperative journey.

20 credits

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 Paramedicine 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. Pathophysiology of common conditions will be explored and compared with normal function. This will enable you to better appreciate the function and mechanisms of different disease processes and the methods employed to treat them.

20 credits

This module encourages you to develop an understanding of evidence based practice and the relationship to wider influences on perioperative care. 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.

20 credits

During the first year of the Dip He in Operating Department Practice you studied the basic principles of anaesthetics and post-anaesthetic care and established how your role fits with the other members of the multidisciplinary team. 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.

20 credits

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.

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.

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.


You will be required to travel for your clinical placements to engage in a broad range of specialities and practice areas. These placements will be with both NHS and independent health providers across Devon and Cornwall.

It is important you appreciate that fees for accommodation and/or travel will require personal financial outlay; these may be reimbursable to some extent, the most up-to-date information can be found on the NHS Business Service Authority website and the administrative team can also advise. Additionally there is no guarantee of a placement in a specific hospital or area.

More about our placement opportunities...


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+


We boast up-to-date, innovative facilities that simulate the real situations that medical staff may come across. Using a mixture of modern classrooms, a skills suite and a real operating theatre we ensure that the students experience offers students a hands-on introduction to health and social care practice.

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.

Find out more about the Research Innovation and Learning Development Building

Operating theatre

The operating theatre is operationally used within in a hospital’s day case unit and has all of the machinery, tools and equipment necessary; however with protected, supported time you will be able to build up confidence and feel comfortable in your working environment.  Operating theatres can be daunting and confusing places on first view but during clinical skills sessions, you will learn to feel more comfortable within that environment.

RILD building

RILD Library 

The library, based in the Research, Innovation, Learning and Development (RILD) building, is a specialist health education library. 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 and a silent study area as well as a numerous number of computers that students can access during theory.  In addition to this, students will have access to not only the online BCU catalogue but also the NHS libraries in their placement areas.

The library offers extended opening hours and has an ODP specific reading list.

Computer facilities

As mentioned above, the RILD library has computers, full colour printers, photocopiers and scanners. Our PCs have:

  • Fast (unrestricted) internet connectivity
  • Ability to save files to USB, DVD & CD
  • Microsoft Office software
  • Research and statistical software

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.

Fiona Urwin

South West ODP Lecturer and Admissions tutor / Clinical lead

Fiona is a Registered Nurse and during her career up to 2018, she worked within Operating Theatres of both NHS and private hospitals; her final position being that of Theatre manager. Fiona's expertise is predominantly in the surgical phase of the perioperative environment and also in team leading and management of a busy NHS department.

From 2006, she also worked closely with different Universities, supporting and mentoring their Student ODP’s and nurses whilst they were undertaking their peri-operative placements and she is passionate about the importance of a good student experience during their placements to ensure that their learning is enhanced.

Fiona has an interest in inter-professional education/learning and shared experiences and how this contributes to high quality care in the perioperative setting.

Mark Owen

South West ODP Senior Lecturer and Course Leader

Mark is an Operating Department Practitioner registered with the Health and Care Professions Council. Clinical experience includes anaesthetic, surgical and post-anaesthetic care. He successfully completed the Surgical First Assistant training to enhance his role in surgical care.

In Mark's academic role he is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and have a Master of Science in Health and Social Care Education. He has led a variety of modules including, surgery and enhanced surgery, management and leadership at pre-registration level and a post-registration module for the surgical first assistant.

Mark has an interest in Interprofessional education/learning and how this contributes to high quality care in the perioperative setting.