Oral Biology (MSc)

Oral and Dental disease is a world-wide problem, often leading to loss of quality of life. This course offers in depth knowledge of Oral Biology, including disease mechanisms, understanding of the complex interplay between host and microorganisms driving pathology, as well as current approaches to tissue repair and regeneration. Dental, basic science or applied Science graduates with the desire to become future leaders in teaching or research in dental schools are ideally suited for this programme.

Dr Vera Knauper at the microscope
The MSc in Oral Biology explores the latest scientific discoveries in treating diseases, including cancer and stem cell therapeutic approaches. Dr Vera Knauper, MSc Oral Biology course director and PGR director Cardiff Dental School.

This 12-month full-time MSc course explores the interdisciplinary field of oral biology, for those from either a scientific or clinical background. It provides the opportunity to develop a systematic understanding of knowledge and a critical awareness of current problems and new insights around the subject.

The course involves four taught core modules and a five-month laboratory research project leading to a dissertation. It encompasses a wide breadth of biomedical research that is also applicable to clinical dentistry and medicine, derived from the research strengths available within the School of Dentistry. The course has a strong research focus in the taught element, as well as the laboratory research projects, and it is envisaged as an entry for postgraduate research.

Distinctive features

The distinctive features of this course include:

  • This is a hybrid course, which provides taught components and a laboratory-based research project.
  • The taught part of the course has a strong focus on research methodology and modern experimental design/approaches, as well as the relevant Oral Biology background, thus laying a good foundation for the research project.
  • Students will develop laboratory research skills.
  • Training is provided to enable students to use research equipment independently.

Key facts

Next intakeSeptember 2017
Duration1 year
Admission Tutor contact(s)

Admissions criteria

This course is suitable for biologists, biochemists, biomedical engineers, dentists, physicians, chemists or pharmacists.

Applicants should possess a minimum second class honours degree (or equivalent), preferably higher, in Biology, Biochemistry, Biomedical engineering or clinical dental (BDS, MBBS, BSc Therapy and Hygiene) or medical backgrounds. Applicants with a Chemistry or Pharmacy background will also be considered.

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to obtain an overall IELTS score of 6.5 (with no less than a score of 5.5 in each of the four bands) or an equivalent qualification – this test should have been taken within 2 years of commencement of study. Applicants are required to have achieved the IELTS prior to an application being submitted.

Applications can be submitted through the University's Online Application System.

Applicants should also upload a CV which details all relevant qualifications achieved and pending, and two academic references.

Applicants will be interviewed as part of the admissions process. Interviews will be performed on a rolling basis using Skype.

Decisions will be made on a continuous basis throughout the year.

Application deadline: 30 June each year

Confocal microscopy laboratory
Confocal microscopy and hands-on laboratory training in a broad range of experimental methods will be provided allowing you to develop your research skills.

This is a 12-month full-time multidisciplinary modular programme consisting of four taught core modules (part 1) to a total of 120 credits and a laboratory-based research project (part 2) studied over five months and worth 60 credits.

Part 1: Taught Component

During Part 1, the modules are delivered concurrently over a 26-week period.

Part 2: Research Project

Following satisfactory completion of the assessed course work and examinations in Part 1, you will progress to Part 2 of the course, the dissertation, which commences in April. You will be required to complete and submit a laboratory-based research project dissertation and present your work as a poster presentation (total 60 credits) to obtain a Master’s degree.

The research projects offered as part of the MSc course in Oral Biology are all laboratory-based. Research projects will be collated from supervisors in the School of Dentistry and their collaborators. We have an extensive collaborative network with co-supervisors/collaborator based in the Schools of Medicine, Biosciences and Pharmacy. You will be asked to propose a first and second choice of research project, and in most cases students will be able to pursue their first choice. 

Those who do not achieve the MSc in Oral Biology may be eligible for the exit awards of a Postgraduate Diploma in Oral Biology (120 credits) or a Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits).

For the Postgraduate Certificate award, students must have completed a particular module together with one other module, which will give them the knowledge and the intellectual, practical and transferable skills appropriate to a qualification in basic science and its practical application.

This is a 12-month full-time multidisciplinary modular programme consisting of four taught core modules (part 1) to a total of 120 credits and a laboratory-based research project (part 2) studied over five months and worth 60 credits.

The course encompasses a wide breadth of biomedical research that is also applicable to clinical dentistry and medicine, derived from the research strengths available within the School of Dentistry. The course has a strong research focus in the taught element, as well as the laboratory research projects and it is envisaged as an entry for postgraduate research.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Research MethodsDET03130 credits
Cell Biology of Oral TissuesDET03430 credits
Microorganisms in Oral DiseasesDET03530 credits
Tissue Repair, Regeneration and Scientific MethodsDET06630 credits
DissertationDET00360 credits
The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.
Student with Petri dish
Research strength in the role of microorganisms in oral disease and novel strategies for prevention informs teaching on the MSc Oral Biology course.

How will I be taught?

All taught elements are delivered within the School of Dentistry. Students may attend other Schools (such as Medicine, Pharmacy or Biosciences) to undertake their research project.

A range of teaching methods is used on this programme, including:

  • Lectures
  • Small group teaching
  • Discussion groups
  • Self-directed learning
  • Oral scientific presentation
  • Poster / scientific presentation
  • Laboratory research skills
  • Writing a dissertation

Due to the relatively small intake for the MSc course, most teaching is delivered via small group teaching, involving seminars or student-led discussion groups. Such a teaching environment should facilitate a good student-teacher relationship, where academic problems can be identified and addressed with relative ease. Students may arrange for additional mentoring as required via the module leaders.

Additionally, all students will attend Student Induction, which includes presentations on the structure of the course and each module, the student services and graduate centre, a tour of the building and library and IT facilities.

During the taught component, you will be provided with reading lists for each module. To foster the high research element of the course the majority of course reading will be via peer-reviewed research journals which are readily accessible via the University electronic library for e-journals. Text-books are available within the libraries on the Heath Campus.

How will I be supported?

You will be allocated a personal tutor, who will be able to provide pastoral support throughout the course. Due to the small student numbers on this course, this tutor will also be responsible for ensuring your academic progress and will meet you formally on a regular basis.


You will receive feedback within two weeks of completing a particular assessment. 

How will I be assessed?

Throughout the course, you will be issued with student assessments that may take the form of essays, presentations and reports. These will be used to monitor your academic progress.

You must pass both parts of the course in order to qualify for the Master’s degree. You must pass Part 1 in order to progress to Part 2.

Module assessments are used to assess learning outcomes and allow you to express Master’s level concepts of understanding, analysis, evaluation and presentation. You will be required to pass all four module assessments in the taught element and the dissertation with a minimum pass mark of 50%.

You must complete each assignment according to the assignment submission schedule issued to students at the start of the course.

What skills will I practise and develop?

By fully engaging in this course, you should be able to gain the following skills and knowledge: 

Knowledge and Understanding

  • In-depth knowledge and understanding of oral biology relevant to oral disease, health, repair, regeneration including cancer.
  • Develop research skills to formulate hypothesis-driven research and design suitability controlled experiments with appropriate statistical evaluation.
  • Wide knowledge of research technologies and practical experience gained in using some of them in the research project.

Intellectual Skills

  • Critically analyse, synthesize and evaluate cell and molecular Oral Biology including clinical conditions in order to drive modern treatment options required to prevent Oral Diseases.
  • Applying your intellectual skills in developing research hypothesis, argue / discuss approaches and critically implement original research strategies.   

Professional Practical Skills

  • Develop advanced communication skills to communicate data to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
  • Demonstrate problem solving skills and plan research independently using effective experimental designs which require adaption for new protocols. 

Transferable/Key Skills

  • Clear concise scientific presentation skills: Posters, oral lecturing skills and written reports.
  • Develop critical discussion skills and research literature to improve practice or research.
  • Undertake research tasks with minimum guidance for your professional development.  

A Master's degree in Oral Biology opens the door to a variety of possible future careers. The modules are designed to prepare each student to optimise their learning towards their chosen future career. The core skills modules immerse you in the research environment, developing research skills which will be practised in the laboratory-based research project, leading to a dissertation. This should allow you to distinguish yourself in today's highly competitive job market.

We anticipate that students will pursue further PhD qualification leading to research careers in the biomedical or pharmaceutical industry or an academic career in biomedical or dental research and teaching.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2017/18)

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Students from outside the EU (2017/18)

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.