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DipHE Operating Department Practice

Operating Department Practice video
  • UCAS Code:
  • Institution:
  • Delivery:
    Full time according to Funding Council definitions

Operating Department Practitioners (ODPs) are an instrumentally vital part of the perioperative team, who are responsible for delivering safe, high quality care to surgical patients during anaesthesia, surgery and post anaesthesia (recovery).

This ODP course will teach you both the theory and practical skills you'll require to assess patients' needs and learn how to provide the appropriate care. You'll have plenty of opportunities to put that learning into practice on challenging work placements that make up approximately 50% of your time on the course.

96% of our final year students are satisifed with the quality of the course, so why not visit us yourself to find out more about it. What's more, 100% of our graduates are working within six months of completing course.  

All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.

Key information

Next start date:

September 2017, September 2018


Bournemouth University, Lansdowne Campus


2 years, including mandatory placements


Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC)

Relevant subjects:

Science or Health & Social Care related studies

Entry requirements:

For 2017 entry: (we will use the new UCAS tariff) 96 tariff points from 3 A-Levels or equivalent qualifications. BTEC Extended Diploma of MMM. Offers will be subject and grade specific, particularly in the science subjects. For more information check out our 2017 entry requirements page

International entry requirements:

If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS (Academic) 7.0 with minimum 6.5 in each of the 4 components or equivalent.

For more information check out our international entry requirements page

Course details

During the ODP course you will acquire suitable clinical skills, experience and knowledge to empower you to become an effective practitioner who can deliver high-quality and appropriate care. Throughout the course you will receive a theoretical introduction to an area through seminars, lectures, group work/projects, presentations, practice simulation in skills labs, reading and online tests. 

You can view information on our facilities and take a 360 tour of our simulation suites here.

On this course you will usually be taught by a range of staff with relevant expertise and knowledge appropriate to the content of the unit. This will include senior academic staff, qualified professional practitioners, demonstrators and technicians. 

Year 1

Core units

  • Fundamental Communication Skills: In this unit you’ll learn to develop communications skills and explore group process in both professional and partnership settings.
  • Foundations in Anaesthetic Care: You’ll discover how to care for the patient before, during and after anaesthesia, understand the role of the anaesthetic assistant.
  • Foundations in Surgical Care: You’ll discover the basics of circulating and scrubbing for surgical cases as well as gloving & gowning, surgical instrumentation and patient positioning.
  • Foundations in Postanaesthetic Care: You’ll learn the role of the postanaesthetic practitioner, airway management, equipment and preparation, pain assessment and management, and pharmacology.
  • Foundations in Perioperative Practice: You will be taught a range of subjects to prepare for clinical practice. You’ll enjoy a variety of clinical experiences; facilitated, supported and assessed by registered practitioners.

 Year 2

Core units

  • Exploring Evidence to Guide Professional Practice: During this unit aims you’ll be required to demonstrate an understanding of how different forms of evidence can effectively guide practice.
  • Care in Anaesthesia: This module will teach you pathophysiology, invasive monitoring, pharmacology, physiological interpretation and advanced pain management. Clinical skills include a refresh of anaesthetic machine & monitoring preparation, invasive monitoring and specialist airway management.
  • Care in Surgery: In this unit you’ll explore the practice of intra-operative care and gain insight and understanding of your individual responsibility in the co-ordination of safe and competent care.
  • Care in Postanaesthesia: Here you’ll explore the continuing care of the postanaesthesia patient and gain insight and understanding of the autonomous role of the post anaesthesia practitioner. Clinical skills will include recognising the deteriorating patient.
  • Developing Perioperative Practice: You're taught a range of subjects, including understanding of human factors, service improvement, humanisation, safety to enable you to work in groups on a real perioperative project that may have impact on practice.

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

Contact hours

Throughout the course, 60% of your time will be spent on placement. This means that your study time at BU will be split between scheduled learning and teaching activities and guided independent learning, such as preparing for and writing up coursework assignments.

Year 1 – 16% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

  • Learning and teaching: 169 hours
  • Independent learning: 481 hours
  • Non-assessed learning and teaching: 27 hours
  • Placement hours: 550

Year 2 – 12% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

  • Learning and teaching: 136 hours
  • Independent learning: 514 hours
  • Non-assessed learning and teaching: 12 hours
  • Placement hours: 550

50% of the course is assessed by coursework

  • Year 1: 58%
  • Year 2: 41%

In addition to coursework, half of the course is assessed by practical exams and a there is a small amount of written exam work to complete.

Coursework assessments are designed to be meaningful and allow students to combine their practice and theoretical learning. Previous students have used their coursework to have journal articles published, to compete (& win) in national poster competitions and to develop local hospital policies to improve service delivery.

Programme specification

Programme specifications provide definitive records of the University's taught degrees in line with Quality Assurance Agency requirements. Every taught course leading to a BU Award has a programme specification which describes its aims, structure, content and learning outcomes, plus the teaching, learning and assessment methods used.

Download the programme specification for DipHE Operating Department Practice.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the programme specification, the information is liable to change to take advantage of exciting new approaches to teaching and learning as well as developments in industry. If you have been unable to locate the programme specification for the course you are interested in, it will be available as soon as the latest version is ready. Alternatively please contact us for assistance.

All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.

Placement opportunities

An important feature of the course is the hospital that you will be based at. If you are successfully short listed then the Admissions Team will contact you to ask what location you would consider. Some placement areas are more popular than others due to geographical location and as placement numbers are limited you maybe offered a place but at a different location to your preference.

All of our linked hospitals provide a high standard of care and are committed to the teaching and assessment of the future workforce. There are a number of additional expectations that must be accepted when starting the course. During your clinical placement there may be times when you are expected to work during the evening or at weekends, so that you are working with your Mentor. Advance notice will be given.

When on placement you will experience the full 24 hour shift pattern to include 12-13 hour shifts, weekends and night shifts. You will also undertake some surgical ward experience within the first two weeks of placement in your first year of study.

Most of your clinical experience will be based in one hospital. In order to achieve the minimum number of required clinical experiences expected for the course, there may be some placements based in other hospitals. Again advanced notice will be given. ODP is a very practical role and thus the majority of learning is undertaken at ‘base’ hospitals. Bournemouth University is affiliated with the following hospitals:



South Wiltshire

At least half of your time, over the two years, is spent at your 'base' hospital.

Placements and travel costs

Your learning will be based at our Lansdowne Campus, while clinical placements will be in a variety of places within Dorset and Somerset, in order to provide the necessary breadth of experience. This will involve some travel, and may require you to find short-term accommodation in order to participate in block placements. Although your term time address and method of transport are taken into consideration when allocating your placements there is an expectation that all students will have to travel up to 40 miles to reach their placements. Due to the more rural nature of some of the placements you may be required to travel further.

The NHS Student Bursaries will inform you of the travel expenses you may be able to claim when they assess your bursary; they will also advise on expenses you may claim for accommodation costs incurred as a result of block placements away from home.

If the placement locality you have been assigned is outside of the BH postcode area (e.g. Salisbury, Dorchester or Yeovil), you may be eligible for support for travelling to Bournemouth to study. Criteria and detailed information on the support available can be found here.

Placement locations

Each of our NHS-funded training courses contains a significant amount of placement experience, with this often being undertaken in outlying areas rather than solely in towns/cities. You need to consider this when making your application and be clear about what you will be undertaking. If your placement locality is to be assigned for the full length of the course, i.e. for Nursing, Midwifery and ODP, you will need to consider the realities of training within that geographical area and be specific about which would be suitable for you – whilst being flexible may in some circumstances increase your chances of success, being unrealistic will lead to problems. Don't forget to ensure that you take note of the locality you have been assigned when you receive your offer letter and arrange your accommodation accordingly.

You can find out more about our placement locations here.

Your application

Background and experience

We want dedicated, eager and enthusiastic students who are going to make a real difference to the course they are studying. Our students learn from each other, as well as their academic staff, so it is really important that you can show us how much you care about the course you are interested in. Your UCAS personal statement is a great place to do this. Tell us about your personal achievements or any relevant work experience you have done, and show us how they make you the ideal candidate for a place on the course.

For Operating Department Practice, we are looking for applicants who:

  • Have an interest in the compassionate care of surgical patients to improve their lives as well as the motivation and commitment to undertake the course
  • Show respect and give dignity to people recognising that everyone counts
  • Have undertaken care experience, preferably within an operating department
  • Have an awareness of the technical as well as caring aspects of the profession
  • Can demonstrate commitment to the quality of care and the importance of personal skills and qualities to work together for patients.

It is recommended that you have some care experience and that you have insight into working in an operating department. If you do not have any, you are strongly recommended to be able to demonstrate that you have a clear insight into the nature of this profession. To assist in gaining an insight, we encourage you to access experience within an operating department. Applicants without suitable experience should contact us as we may be able to provide a contact from a hospital for you to arrange an informal visit.

Our courses are built around the NHS Constitution's values, and when assessing your application we will take these values into consideration:

  • Working together for patients
  • Respect and dignity
  • Commitment to quality of care
  • Compassion
  • Improving lives
  • Everyone counts.

Find out more about the NHS Constitution principles.

IT Skills

IT skills are increasingly important in almost all professions. In the healthcare sector IT is now a vital tool for accessing and maintaining patient records, accessing literature to client care and conducting clinically-related research. As a student you will receive an introduction to IT near the beginning of your course and you will be provided with computer access and your own email address. During the course you will be expected to use your developing IT skills to produce assignments, to conduct literature searches, and to use client-related record systems in the clinical setting.

Selection methods

We’ll use the UCAS applications to create a shortlist of candidates that we would like to find out more about. You can find some handy hints about filling in your UCAS form on our how to apply webpages.

Because we need you to have practical and applicable skills in this particular subject, we’ll then invite the very best students for an interview. You must be able to demonstrate at interview that you show the necessary insight into operating department practice, as well as the motivation and commitment to become a practitioner.

What to expect at interview

The day will start at approximately 9.00am. You will be met by a member of the Admissions Team who will register your attendance. The interview session starts with a tour of our ODP skills lab by current ODP student(s). This is followed by a talk, informal group work and then individual interviews. Individual interviews start at 10.15am and last up to half an hour per applicant. You will be emailed a scenario a few days prior to your interview. The scenario will be discussed during your individual interview. You will be scored using a common template and offers will be made based on these scores.

You can find further information about interviews with the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences here.

Additional reference

In addition to the reference on your UCAS form, once we’ve received your application we will contact you to ask for a second reference; this can be a different teacher/lecturer, employer or person who knows you in a professional capacity.

Our offer making process

Our offer making will typically be based on your three main graded qualifications, including any required subjects. Additional study may be valuable for breadth of study, and we will look at a range of qualifications and subjects, including the Extended Project Qualification and General Studies, although these may not be part of our offer.

If you do not meet the criteria of your original offer, we may still offer you a place. We will review your whole application and consider all academic qualifications (including those not in the offer) and the rest of the application to see if you have the academic potential to succeed on the course. If we feel the answer is yes, we will still confirm your place.

How we'll assess your application

We look at individual applications and make a tailored offer based on your potential to succeed on the course considering a range of factors, including your academic achievements, work and other experience, predicted grades, reference and personal statement, and in some cases, your performance at an interview/selection test.

If you meet one or more of our contextual data indicators for educational disadvantage (such as being in care, living in a low participation neighbourhood or in an area with less advantaged socio-economic characteristics), your offer could be between 6-20 points below the published tariff.

Unconditional offer scheme 

Our Unconditional Offer Scheme seeks to reward exceptional applicants who are predicted to achieve top academic results. The scheme is offered to applicants on all courses who are predicted AAA at A-level/DDD in BTEC Extended Diploma, or above, or equivalent, subject to any course selection measures and meeting other entry criteria (i.e. required qualifications).

We believe that unconditional offers will reduce pressure on applicants who will continue to strive to achieve the best grades possible. International qualifications are considered in the scheme; however applicants must satisfy the English language requirements.

2017 entry requirements

The new UCAS Tariff will be used for September 2017 entry

The entry requirements for this course are 96 tariff points from 3 A-Levels or equivalent qualifications. BTEC Extended Diploma of MMM. Offers will be subject and grade specific, particularly in the science subjects. 

UCAS have created a helpful calculator so you can calculate points to use for courses starting from September 2017 onwards.

Excluded subjects: This course does not accept General Studies A or AS-level but Critical Thinking is accepted.

GCSEs: This course requires a minimum of 4 GCSEs (grades A*-C (or grade 4 or above in the newly reformed GCSE grading) including Maths and English or equivalent qualifications.

Numeracy and Literacy: We need to be sure that you can express yourself in written English and have basic numeracy skills. We look at level 2 of the National Qualifications Framework, which includes, but is not limited to, GCSEs, iGCSEs, Key Skills and Functional Skills level 2. If you do not have formal qualifications to this level or have alternatives, we may still be able to consider your application – please contact the askBU Enquiry Service to find out more.

Other qualifications

We have outlined below other qualifications that we consider for this course. If you are studying a qualification that is not listed, please contact the askBU Enquiry Service – it may be that we can still consider it.

Access Courses: BU welcomes Access to HE Diploma applicants. This course requires you to Pass the Access to HE Diploma with 60 Credits, at least 45 at level 3 and the remainder at level 2 or equivalent. Offers will be subject and grade specific, particularly in the science subjects; any combination of grades to meet the overall tariff is acceptable.

BTEC Qualifications

  • Extended Diploma: This course requires Merit, Merit, Merit. Offers will be grade and subject specific, particularly in the science subjects.
  • Diploma: This course requires a Distinction*, Distinction. Offers will be subject and grade specific, particularly in the science subjects. Offers will be grade and subject specific, particularly in the science subjects.
  • 90-credit Diploma: The 90-credit Diploma will be accepted as part of your overall tariff but it must be accompanied by A-Levels or equivalent qualifications. Offers will be grade and subject specific, particularly in the science subjects.
  • Subsidiary Diploma: The Subsidiary Diploma will be accepted as part of your overall tariff but it must be accompanied by A-Levels or equivalent qualifications. Offers will be grade and subject specific, particularly in the science subjects.

A combination of BTEC qualifications to meet the overall course tariff is also acceptable.

Cambridge Pre-U Diploma: We welcome applicants studying the Cambridge Pre-U Diploma or a combination of Pre-U subjects and A-levels.

European Baccalaureate: Applicants are required to achieve a minimum score of 70%.

International Baccalaureate (Diploma): The IB Diploma is welcomed as part of the International Baccalaureate (IB). This course requires 26 points including 5 points from each of the 3 Higher Level subjects.

Scottish Qualifications: Scottish Advanced Highers, Scottish Highers and other Scottish qualifications are all welcomed providing that your results meet the overall course tariff and include relevant subjects as appropriate.

Welsh Baccalaureate: The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma is welcomed alongside A-Levels or equivalent, to meet the overall course tariff.

Open University: If you currently have some academic qualifications but do not have Biology/Human Biology and this is a required subject for your course we recommend you consider studying the Open University course SK277.

OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical Qualification: The OCR Extended Diploma or a combination of one Diploma and one Introductory Diploma is acceptable for entry to this course. 
Extended Diploma
This course requires Merit, Merit, Merit. Offers will be grade and subject specific, particularly in the science subjects.
Other combinations of OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical qualifications to meet the overall course tariff may be acceptable.

Extended Project Qualification: The grade achieved for the Extended Project may be taken into account when considering whether or not to accept a candidate who has marginally failed to meet the conditions of their offer.

Other Health Care Level 3 Qualifications and Bridging Programmes: We are aware that there are a wide range of health care qualifications which people undertake in their workplace. Find out more information about Bridging Programmes and some frequently asked questions about them here. If you would like to know if the qualifications you have or are working towards meet our entry criteria; please ring 01202 967307 or email us for further information and advice.

Deferred Entry: We are happy to consider applicants for deferred entry.

Non-academic requirements

Occupational Health (OH) Checks

ODP is physically and mentally demanding and you will  need to be mentally and physically able to undertake your chosen course. Places are offered subject to passing an OH check, and this will be carried out at the University Hospital Southampton. Health conditions  need to be dealt with on an individual basis e.g. deafness, blindness, eczema (or other dermatological allergic reactions) on exposed areas, epilepsy,  back problems, or mental health conditions, eating disorders and other disabilities. These do not automatically exclude you but please ensure that you fully disclose your condition  to OH. The University can then consider the recommendations made by OH and whether reasonable adjustments can be made to support you on your chosen course. If you require more guidance please contact us for more information.

You will be required to provide a record of your immunity status or be vaccinated or have the required blood tests. Please see this table for the required immunisations. You may need to ask your GP or current OH department or find your childhood vaccination record  for details of your past immunisation records. You should be aware that there may be charges made (for which you will be liable) relating to your gaining the appropriate immunity required prior to starting your training programme.

Refusing Immunisations

Students who refuse immunisations, or who cannot be immunised for medical reasons, will be reviewed on an individual basis by occupational health. Refusal to have immunisations may result in the student not being allowed to attend practice placement and being withdrawn from the course. There is no opportunity to appeal against the requirements of the immunisation policy.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check (previously known as CRB)

All successful applicants will be subject to an Enhanced Disclosure and Barred List Check; this will be a condition of offer and will need to be completed prior to commencing the course. Please see the Government website for the most up to date information.

International entry requirements

From September 2017 we will be welcoming international students to this course.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:

  • IELTS (Academic) 7.0 (with minimum 6.5 in each of the 4 components of writing, speaking, listening and reading or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

If you do not meet the English language requirement for your degree then why not join our Pre-Sessional English course. Successful completion of our Pre-Sessional English course will meet your English language requirement, without the need to re-take IELTS.

Academic entry requirements

You can find details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our entry requirements for non-UK students’ page.

We offer a number of preparatory programmes through the Bournemouth University International College. These courses offer you progression from High School in your home country to a Bachelor’s degree at BU.


  • Students in professional/managerial job six months after graduation: 100%*
  • Students in work/study six months after graduation:100%*

You might think that the name of this course covers all the potential career options, but the skills you'll gain through this degree will make you just as suited to a role in critical care as to operating department practice.

Within six months of graduating 100%* of our students are working in professional or managerial jobs, with the majority taking on roles within operating theatres, although a growing number are moving into other areas of critical care, such as anaesthesia, helicopter emergency medical services and trauma teams.

An ODP qualification is therefore incredibly versatile and can lead you into a wide range of careers and healthcare environments, including:

  • First assistant to the surgeon
  • Surgical assistant
  • Accident and emergency
  • Manager
  • Anaesthesic practitioner.

On graduating successfully, you will be eligible to apply for professional registration with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) and this course is also accredited by the College of Operating Department Practitioners (CODP).

HCPC registration will not only enable you to work as an ODP in the UK, but in many other countries all over the world.

Industries worked in

  • Healthcare
  • Education.

Future study

Once you have completed an undergraduate Honours degree, you can further develop your education by studying for a postgraduate degree. Please visit our Postgraduate section for further details about our range of Master's degrees.

You can also continue your education through professional development units and courses.

*All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.

Hear from our staff

Lesley Elcock

This course prepares students for a career in a perioperative environment through mixing clinical skills and academic knowledge, with 60% of the course working alongside practitioners in the operating departments of the region's hospitals

Hear from our alumni

James Ackroyd

I really would recommend BU to anyone that wants not only to achieve a great qualification, but also wants to have a great time doing it.

Additional information

student nurse

NHS bursaries for February 2017 entry

The NHS provides financial assistance to students studying eligible health and social care courses in February 2017 - learn more about the various bursaries.

applicant open days

Open Days

We give a warm welcome to anyone who comes to meet us and we love showing off our campuses and Bournemouth to prospective students and their families. 

An NHS student

NHS placement locations

Find out more about our NHS locations and where you may be based for some of your NHS placements.

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Operating theatre

Operating theatre

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