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Core Competencies

COVID-19 Update

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, on 7 August 2020 we approved temporary changes to the Optometry Handbook and the Supervision policy.

The term 'core competencies’ is used to describe the knowledge and skills an optometrist or dispensing optician must possess in order to register with us and practise in the UK.

There are core competencies in four areas of practice:

  • Optometry;
  • Dispensing optics;
  • Contact lenses (for dispensing opticians); and
  • Independent prescribing (for optometrists). 

To gain a qualification in optometry, dispensing optics, contact lenses or independent prescribing, students and trainees on GOC-approved programmes must demonstrate that they are proficient in the core competencies. 

The core competencies for each area of practice are published in our Education Handbooks. The Handbooks also contain the standards used by the GOC to approve and quality assure education and training programmes.


Acrobat Reader icon Optometry Handbook 2015

Acrobat Reader icon Optometry Core Competencies Stages 1 & 2 Combined


Dispensing opticians:

Acrobat Reader icon Dispensing Handbook 2011

Acrobat Reader icon Dispensing Competencies 2011


Contact lens:

Acrobat Reader icon Contact Lens Handbook

Acrobat Reader icon Contact Lens Specialty Competencies 2011


Independent prescribing:

Acrobat Reader icon IP Handbook

Acrobat Reader icon 2011 independent prescribing competencies

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