Studying online

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Unit Overview


In this unit, students will gain a broad foundation in the principles of optics that underpin the practice of optometry, with the use of problem-based learning approach. In studying these topics, students will learn to apply the knowledge, for example, by performing ray traces through optical elements, such as curved surfaces or lenses, and determining the different characteristics of the images formed by these elements. Practical classes will provide the opportunity for the students to observe the ‘real world' effect of the different optical elements of light, whilst also introducing them to working in teams. These principles of optics will provide the necessary basis for higher levels of study relating to ophthalmic dispensing, contact lenses, low vision and eye examination techniques.

Specific topics to be addressed in this unit include:

- the physical nature of light, colour;

- basic principles of reflection and refraction;

- plane and curved mirrors; thin and thick lenses; and

- mathematical principles that govern ray tracing

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face

Students are able to (1) describe a range of fundamental concepts and principles in optics, especially pertaining to the visual system; (2) demonstrate the knowledge about optical elements involving objects, images, distances and angles using appropriate symbols, sign conventions, units and magnitudes; (3) compare the properties of an image (or a conjugate object) produced by a range of individual optical elements, using either graphical or analytical approaches; and (4) demonstrate the knowledge of the optical characteristics of ophthalmic lenses used for the correction of refractive errors in human eyes.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) tests; (2) written assessments; and (3) final examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Mark Lucey
Unit rules
Enrolment in
the Doctor of Optometry 91590
OPTM4102 Structure and Function of the Eye.
OPTM4103 Research Fundamentals and Methodology 1.
OPTM4104 Foundations of Optometry.
Approved quota: 64—quota places are allocated based on admission requirements contained within CAIDi 91590 Doctor of Optometry (coursework) (extended).
Contact hours
Practical, workshops and problem-based learning tutorials up to 20 hours.
Lectures and seminars up to 60 hours.

Forrester J, et al. The eye: basic sciences in practice. Saunders. 4th edition.

Atchison D, Smith D. Optics of the human eye. Elsevier Health Science. 2000.

Keating, M, Geometric, physical and visual optics. New Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann, current edition


  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.