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Operating Department Practice (Diploma)

  • B990

3 years (Diploma) (Full-time) / n/a (Part-time) / n/a (Distance / E-Learning)

The School of Healthcare Sciences anticipates that in September 2014 the 2 year full time Diploma of Higher Education in Operating Department Practice will be replaced by a new 3 year full time BSc (Hons) Operating Department Practice programme in line with other allied health profession degrees.

Entry requirements for the new BSc (Hons) programme will remain unchanged from those of the previous diploma.

Tuition fees and means tested maintenance bursaries for UK and EU students awarded NHS funded places for the 3 year full BSc (Hons) Operating Department Practice programme will be paid by the Welsh Government.

The School of Healthcare Studies is the leading provider of education and research for Allied Health Professionals in Wales, and one of the leading Schools in the United Kingdom.

The 2012 Times Good University Guide ranked the University as joint 4th in the UK for the quality of its healthcare programmes (‘Subjects Allied to Medicine’) on the basis of student satisfaction, entry standards and graduate prospects. Our students also rate their experience highly: overall student satisfaction with teaching was 90% in 2011, one of the highest scores in the University.

Validated by the Health & Care Professions Council, the Diploma of HE in Operating Department Practice opens up exciting career opportunities in operating departments and other medical settings. The two-year programme, which can be converted into a full BSc via the completion of a third top-up year, combines University study with clinical placements working alongside practising professionals and with patients. Completion of the Diploma provides eligibility to apply for registration as an Operating Department Practitioner with the Health & Care Professions Council.

The School also provides pre-registration programmes recognised by the UK Health & Care Professions Council, in Operating Department Practice, Physiotherapy, Diagnostic Radiography and Radiotherapy & Oncology. These professional strengths contribute to vibrant inter-disciplinary environment, with opportunities for shared learning and inter-professional education that are not available at many institutions.

A wide range of post registration and postgraduate programmes are also offered, supported by a rapidly developing research profile. Substantial investment is taking place to ensure that the facilities and staff - the environment within which you will be studying – are at the forefront of the expansion of knowledge and expertise in healthcare.

Key Facts

UCAS Code B990
Duration 2 years, full time
How to apply
Typical places available  c.40 Home/EU Welsh Government funded places
Typical applications received c.130
Scholarships & Bursaries

Funding for Healthcare related courses

How to apply for NHS funding (PDF)

NHS Bursary Scheme

Typical A-level offer CCC
Admissions Tutors Mr Paul Hennessy
Tel Number 029 2068 7689
Email address
School website

Operating Department Practitioners (ODPs) are registered health professionals, who have to work both autonomously and as skilled members of the inter-professional team. As part of your role you will ensure infection control and safety standards are met, monitor patients’ vital signs, manage patients’ pain, and be responsible for monitoring equipment and disposables used during surgery.

On qualifying, most ODPs are primarily based in the operating department but can also work in accident and emergency departments, intensive care units, maternity departments and as members of the cardiac arrest team.

Our Diploma programme is designed to prepare you for demanding clinical practice immediately upon qualification, and also to prepare you to continue your learning beyond registration and to promote continuous improvement in patient care. The programme runs for two years, during which you will gain theoretical and practical knowledge in 12 academic/clinical modules in a series of 22 study weeks within the School. The rest of the time is spent building on this knowledge and developing skills through additional theoretical input and practical instruction in the clinical environment during 13 placements.

The Diploma of Higher Education provides eligibility to apply for registration as an Operating Department Practitioner (ODP).

The course structure is as follows:

Year One

Year 1 will introduce you to the concepts and principles that underpin operating department practice. You will be guided to develop a questioning, reflective approach and to apply this approach in clinical practice. This year includes a total of 11 study blocks with the remainder of the time spent developing skills and knowledge within the clinical environment. You will study a total of 6 modules in year 1.

Year Two

In this year you will develop many of the concepts and themes introduced in year 1. You will have the opportunity to build upon the knowledge and understanding previously gained, since all 6 modules in this year have direct links to the year 1 modules. You will be encouraged to take a greater responsibility for your own development, demonstrating a greater reflective approach compared to year 1, that will enable you to develop as an effective professional fully prepared for practice in the multi-disciplinary environment of the operating department. As with year 1 there are 11 study blocks with the remainder of the time spent in the clinical environment.

Interprofessional Education:

It has been long been acknowledged by the Department and the Operating Department Practice profession that the operating department is a complex environment with staff of different professions and support workers working together for the care of patients. This programme utilises the opportunities offered by the interprofessional clinical environment to enhance and develop your learning. You will work alongside medical, dental and nursing students, doctors, dentists (oral surgeons) and nurses, whilst also encountering a variety of other healthcare professionals and students including, for example, radiographers, physiotherapists and pharmacists, during clinical placements.

You will also fully participate in the School’s inter-professional activities, particularly during the Year 2 Professional Practice module. Assessment on placement will also be on a multi-professional basis and you can expect to be assessed by those most suited to the particular requirements of the assessment regardless of professional background. Further, you will have opportunity to participate in the ‘buddying’ system operated by the School of Medicine for medical students on placement.

Visit the Cardiff School of Healthcare Studies website for more information about modules and credits.

The School of Healthcare Studies has an international reputation for its education provision, rating strongly in formal audits of its programmes, as well as by the students themselves. The School has scored consistently highly in the National Student Survey, in 2011 scoring 88% for overall student satisfaction with teaching. Within the survey, areas relating to learning & assessment score strongly, particularly ‘Teaching on my course’ (87%), ‘Learning Resources’ (93%) and ‘Personal development’ (91%).

The 2012 Times Good University Guide ranked the University as joint 4th in the UK for the quality of its healthcare programmes (‘Subjects Allied to Medicine’) on the basis of student satisfaction, entry standards and graduate prospects.

All our programmes of study have been designed to be stimulating, flexible and relevant to the needs of a professional healthcare career. Great emphasis has been placed on the practical and clinical aspects of the programmes, all of which have been accredited by the relevant professional bodies.

A diverse range of learning and teaching methods are used throughout the Schools Programmes, reflecting the module content students’ developing knowledge and expertise. All modules have a formalised teaching and learning structure which will employ, for example, formal lectures, seminars, workshops, skills laboratories and case scenarios, as and when appropriate.

As in the professional environment, a greater emphasis is being placed in working in a multi-disciplinary team, and opportunities for shared learning and inter-professional education – training alongside students from other disciplines – are increasingly embedded.

Information Technology

The School of Healthcare Studies has a wide range of information systems and facilities available to students, designed to support your learning and development. Our virtual learning environment is accessible on a variety of desktop and mobile devices, and ensures students have access to a variety of electronic resources from anywhere in the world. In addition, onsite dedicated computer labs, student study rooms, campus-wide WiFi networks, printing facilities and a brand-new Healthcare library are available year-round for students' use. Staff are also available onsite to assist students in getting configured and to provide support and advice.


The School of Healthcare Studies has recently implemented an unprecedented level of investment in new facilities and equipment, ensuring some of the best technology and modern facilities at your disposal throughout your career as a student. This includes the development of a mock theatre environment with human factors observation deck facilities and the latest in leardel SIM technology.

A broad general education is required with preference given to applicants who have five GCSEs obtained in one sitting at grade C or above, to include English/Welsh Language, Science and Mathematics. Scottish, Irish and International applicants must offer equivalent GCSE qualifications.

In addition to the GCSE requirements applicants are expected to have achieved:

Typical A-level Offer


General Studies, Critical Thinking and Citizenship are not acceptable at GCE AS or A-level
Typical WBQ Offer Pass in the core plus CC from 2 A-levels to be achieved in one sitting
Typical Int Bacc Offer 24 points and at least one subject must be offered at Higher Level Grade 5.  In addition, English, Science and Maths must be offered at Subsidiary or GCSE Level

Please find here further information about admissions and selection criteria for this degree programme.

Access to Higher Education Diploma

Access to HE Diplomas must have a strong academic base rather than a practical skills base. Students who are pursuing a QAA (Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education) approved science based Access to HE Diploma e.g. Access to Health Science or Nursing/Healthcare will be considered on an individual basis. The certificate must be issued by the AVA (Authorised Validating Agency) containing the relevant information and recognised logo.

You will be required to attain a pass of 60 credits, to comprise a minimum of 45 credits at level 3 with 18 Level 3 credits at Distinction and 27 level 3 credits at Merit grade in relevant areas; this requirement is under continual review and would be at the discretion of the Admissions Tutor.

For more detailed entry requirements, please refer to our website.

Open Days

Prospective students are encouraged to attend one of the four Cardiff University Open Days. Details can be found via our website.

Additional Requirements for Admission

Health Checks

All offers given by the School of Healthcare Sciences will be conditional upon a satisfactory health check. A Health Declaration form will be sent to applicants when offers are made. Applicants who have decided to accept offers given by Cardiff University will be sent an 'Occupational Health Questionnaire' which they are required to complete and return to the University's Department of Occupational Health by 31st July in the year of entry.

Criminal Record Check

Admission is subject to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (1974) Section 4(2) (Exemption) Order 1975 and DHSS Circular HC (88)9 guidelines regarding child protection and criminal record checks. It is also considered important to ensure that an applicant’s attitudes and values are such that they can reasonably be admitted to the profession. All offers given to applicants will therefore, include a condition relating to a satisfactory criminal record check. This condition must be satisfied by 31st July in the year of entry. Applicants will be required to complete the University’s own Criminal Record Disclaimer form and also to complete the Disclosure and Barring Service process (at the “Enhanced” level). DBS application forms will be sent to all applicants who decide to accept Cardiff University's offer, in their year of entry.

Information on the Disclosure process can be found on the Disclosure and Barring Service Website:

Enrolment on to the course cannot take place until a satisfactory disclosure has been received from the Disclosure and Barring Service. Delay in returning the DBS form may also compromise an applicant's university accommodation options. Those who are known to be travelling overseas at the relevant time should endeavour to authorise another individual to deal with this correspondence on their behalf.

Detailed information will be given to successful applicants with letters offering places. Information on the Disclosure process can be found on the Disclosure and Barring Service website:

All information will be treated in absolute confidence and applicants with convictions to declare will be assessed as to their suitability for the programme to be studied.

Resit Candidates

The School of Healthcare Studies will consider resit applicants on an individual basis.

UCAS Personal Statement

The personal statement is an important part of the selection process and assessment of this may have implications on the conditions set for entry. Demonstrating that you are making an informed choice of career is vital in your personal statement.

International Applicants

Applications through UCAS from international students are welcomed. While the majority of applicants offer A-level subjects, some other international qualifications are acceptable.

Information on the acceptability of other international qualifications can be obtained by contacting the Undergraduate Admissions Office.

International applicants who have not been educated in the UK and for whom English is not their first language are required to offer an internationally recognised English Language qualification:

  • IELTS - An average score of 6.5 or above (with a minimum of 7.0 speaking, 6.5 listening, 6.5 reading and 6.5 writing)
  • TOEFL iBT (with Tests of Spoken and Written English) with a minimum score of 90

Please find here further information about admissions and selection criteria for this degree programme.

We are committed to supporting the School's recent graduates in finding meaningful employment. Bespoke online and text message-based early warning systems have been established to highlight job postings, relevant courses that would strengthen CVs, advice on job applications and plenty of other useful information to help in the preparation of job applications, such as writing a personal statement and practice interview questions.

On qualifying, most ODPs are primarily based in the operating department but there may also be opportunities in accident and emergency departments, intensive care units, maternity departments and as members of the cardiac arrest team.

Our graduates have the third highest job prospects of the 72 institutions in ‘Subjects Allied to Medicine’ in the Times Good University Guide 2012, and within 12 months 100% of our 2011 graduates had found graduate employment or gone on to further study. Employers included: NHS Trusts, private clinics, community health services, local government social service departments plus organisations such as Age Concern and the Cardiff Blues rugby team. Career destinations included: occupational therapist, physiotherapist, diagnostic radiographer, therapeutic radiographer and operating department practitioner.

Next intake: September each year

School Contact

Name: Healthcare Admissions Office  

Telephone: 029 2068 7689 

Fax: 029 2068 7733 


School Website:

More information

School of Healthcare Sciences