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Studying Dentistry

Courses in Dentistry cover the human disease, medical sciences, clinical studies and clinical dentistry and although the amount of patient contact will vary between institutions candidates should be aware that it will be considerable.

In common with other medically related professions, dentistry and its allied specialisations are regulated by a professional organisation, in this case the General Dental Council (GDC). All dentists, dental nurses, dental technicians, clinical dental technicians, dental hygienists, dental therapists and orthodontic therapists must be registered with the GDC to work in the UK. It sets the academic standards for the professions, as well as prescribing the skills, expertise and attitudes required. You can find a great deal of useful information about the dental profession on their web site

The undergraduate course of training for a dental surgeon (UCAS code A200) lasts 5 years. It is offered by only sixteen universities in the UK and therefore there is a tremendous amount of competition for places. A list of the 16 UK undergraduate Dental School can be found at . This website, that of the Dental Schools Council, is the organisation that works on behalf of UK Dental Schools in the fields of health and research of dentistry. Again this is a very useful place to visit if you are contemplating studying dentistry.

At the end of the bachelor’s degree (BDS or BChD), all students have to take another year of vocational training before they can register with the General Dental Council and are qualified to practice.

Entrance Requirements

The popularity of Dentistry results in nearly all Dental Schools requiring a minimum of three grade A’s at “A” level, or equivalent qualifications. Usually you must offer Chemistry and Biology, if only one of these subjects is required, an AS pass at not less than grade B in needed in the other one. If you are not taking Chemistry and Biology at “A” level, you must offer a second laboratory based science. The third “A” level subject is not specified in most cases.

Nine of the 16 Dental Schools also require you to have taken UKCAT ( ). The Dental Schools that require this are, Dundee, King’s College, London, Queen Mary College, London, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, (plus pre-Dental course), Newcastle, Sheffield and the results are used as additional information in the selection process.

When you are selecting universities, you must check their websites for their detailed entrance requirements, because there are small variations. Most universities will not consider applications from students re-taking their “A” levels.

Four dental schools offer a “pre-dental” or foundation year (they are Bristol, Cardiff, Dundee, and Manchester). This is designed for students who have high “A” level grades (in practice this means As) that are not in the standard science subjects. Check the web sites for more detailed information.

Practical Experience

You will be required to have spent some time in relevant work experience before applying. Some universities specify a minimum of two weeks, and you should assume that this is the minimum for all. Typical experience involves observing a dentist in general practice but could include hospital work. You will certainly be expected to demonstrate that you gained some idea of the demands made of a dentist and understand what a career as a health professional involves.

Personal Statement

The personal statement is a crucial part of your application you will be questioned about it at interview. You must be able to show that you know the demands placed on dentists and are motivated to meet the challenges of the profession. In addition you must be able to work in a team and have good communication skills. Selectors like to see a wide range of interests and skills, especially those indicating an high level of manual dexterity. The latter is essential for a dentist and interests including handicrafts, model making, embroidery, art, musical instrument playing are examples.


All candidates who could be offered a place are interviewed. You should pay careful attention to everything in your Personal Statement because you will be asked about the interests and abilities including those that have been listed above. Thus you should expect to be asked about your work experience and what you learned about the profession. You will need to show your motivation, commitment, communication skills and speak about the hobbies or interests that require manual dexterity.

UK Dental Schools

University of Aberdeen School of Medicine & Dentistry

Barts & the London, Queen Mary School of Medicine & Dentistry

Birmingham University School of Dentistry

University of Bristol School of Oral & Dental Sciences

Cardiff University School of Dentistry

University of Dundee School of Dentistry

University of Edinburgh Postgraduate Dental Institute

University of Glasgow Dental School

King’s College, London Dental Institute

University of Leeds Dental Institute

University of Liverpool School of Dental Sciences

University of Manchester School of Dentistry

Newcastle University School of Dental Sciences

Queen’s University, Belfast Centre for Dental Education

University of Sheffield School of Clinical Dentistry

University College London Eastman Dental Institute

Peninsula Medical School and Central Lancashire University have graduate entry only.