Dentistry (BDS)

Our BDS programme is delivered in the only dental School in Wales which houses state of the art training facilities.

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Our BDS programme is delivered in the only dental School in Wales which houses state of the art training facilities. It is located in the Dental Hospital at the University Hospital of Wales.

Our School has been ranked 1st in the Guardian University Guide 2016 and the Times Good University Guide 2016, making it one of the best places to study dentistry in the UK!

Employment prospects are excellent, with typically 100% of BDS graduates in employment within six months.

Key facts

UCAS CodeA200
Entry pointAugust 2016
Duration5 years
AccreditationsGeneral Dental Council (GDC)
Typical places availablePlease contact the school for more information
Typical applications receivedPlease contact the school for more information
Typical A level offerAAA, including Chemistry and Biology
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerWBQ core will be accepted in lieu of one A-level (at the grades specified above), excluding the required Science A-levels.
Typical International Baccalaureate offer36 points, with a minimum score of 6 at Higher Level in Chemistry and Biology
Other qualificationsApplications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome.

Detailed alternative entry requirements are available for this course.
QAA subject benchmark


Admissions tutor(s)

Mr Robert Mcandrew, Admissions Tutor

Important Legal Information: The programme information currently being published in Course Finder is under review and may be subject to change. The final programme information is due to be published in June 2016 and will be the definitive programme outline which the University intends to offer. Applicants are advised to check the definitive programme information after the update, to ensure that the programme meets their needs.

Renowned for excellence in teaching and research, our School of Dentistry offers outstanding facilities and a friendly atmosphere so it is no surprise the BDS course attracts students from throughout the world.

The School is located at the Heath Park campus and is based in the Dental Hospital, which is part of the University Hospital of Wales. This means the School has a close working relationship with the NHS.

Our integrated dental curriculum gives you early contact with patients – in year one you will spend one day a week at the Dental School, while the foundation year of the six-year programme (year zero), and most of year one for the five and six year programmes are taught in Cardiff School of Biosciences at the Cathay's Park campus.

In years two to five you will be based in the School of Dentistry and there are increased opportunities to practice in community clinics, district general hospitals and satellite academic units throughout Wales.

As the only School of Dentistry in Wales, there is a seamless link with the Dental Service Group of the Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust based in the University Dental Hospital. This provides the majority of the clinical experience you will gain during your studies providing advice and treatment for patients from Wales and from neighbouring parts of England.

What attracted me to Cardiff Dental School was the uniqueness of the course it offers. Firstly, it offers the BDS degree as an Hons degree, something that no other school offers. Secondly, the entire last year is completely practical based - something which all the other dental schools envy.

Greg Coffey, Undergraduate student

Year one

You will spend most of the first year studying in the School of Biosciences learning the basic sciences of anatomy, physiology and biochemistry which are the foundation for the practice of dentistry. Teaching is delivered through a series of lectures, seminars and practicals. You will also undertake library, IT and study skills training at the Dental Hospital.

Year two

Following successful completion of the first year, you will continue to learn about the foundation topics that become integrated with the oral ecosystems theme. This covers the basic sciences relevant to the mouth including the development, physiology and biochemistry of oral and dental tissues. These themes are enhanced and supported by the human diseases theme through which you will learn those aspects of medicine, pharmacology and surgery required by a dentist. You are also introduced to clinical dentistry, commencing with the pre-operative techniques course. The pre-clinical laboratory which is required before progressing to work with your own patients in July of the second year. You will cover areas such as radiology, dental pathology, periodontology, dental materials, cariology, paediatric dentistry and orthodontics. The dentistry in the wider community theme covers the behavioural sciences and ethics required to work within the community, as well as continuing the family study programme which you started in the first year.

Year three

In the third year, you will follow the clinical dentistry, human diseases and dentistry in the wider community themes, covering topics such as integrated restorative dental care, endodontics, prosthodontics, periodontology, paediatric dentistry, orthodontics, statistics, oral surgery, medicine and pathology and dental public health. In addition to this, you will increase the amount of time spent in the clinics treating patients and developing interpersonal and clinical skills. Students also start work on a final project to be submitted in the final year. The Project aims to provide you with experience in research methodology, critical appraisal of literature and scholarship

Year four

In the fourth year you will continue to work through the themes as listed for year three, as well as to continue with clinical experiences and work on the Project.

Year five

The final year provides a substantial amount of time for training outside the School of Dentistry. You will spend your time in the dental units of district general hospitals, local and outreach community dental clinics and a primary dental care unit remote from the School.

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.

The School of Dentistry provides a high-quality, evidence-based, research-led, innovative and student-centred educational experience. The School aims to deliver modern, efficient and effective programmes that produce high calibre graduates who can make a positive impact on society by enhancing patient care and advancing dental science.

In 2015, 100% of the School’s graduates were in employment within six months of graduation. Employers included a variety of NHS Trusts and higher education institutions.


  • Specialist Dental Practice
  • Community Dental Practice
  • Medical Research Posts


5 Year(s)

Next intake

August 2016

Places available

Typical places available


Applications received

Typical applications received



QAA subject benchmark

QAA subject benchmark


Overview and aims of this course/programme

The Bachelor of Dental Surgery (Hons) equips students with the knowledge, skills and behaviours required for registration with the General Dental Council (GDC) and prepares them to enter the Vocational Training Scheme and DF1 training. The new integrated Theme-based programme has no separation between the basic and clinical sciences, and graduates are awarded a fully classified University degree. The programme isnormally completed in five years with a six year option that includes a Foundation year, for those applicants who cannot meet the subject requirements for entry to the five-year programme.

A new curriculum, introduced in 2012, includes early clinical experience, enhanced integration between the basic and clinical sciences and increased clinical training. Year 1 amalgamates the basic sciences with early clinical contact. In years 2-5 teaching is primarily based in the School of Dentistry but with opportunities to practice in community dental clinics, district general hospitals and satellite academic units throughout Wales, including the St David’s Education Unit and the new Mountain Ash Unit.

The programme provides students with knowledge of the basic sciences and human diseases that underpin dentistry and highlights their practical application in the clinical setting. Students draw upon a broad range of teaching expertise from each of the major sub-disciplines that exist within Dentistry, with teaching delivered across a variety of settings. In years 4 and 5 students undertake a research project that encourages them to develop advanced critical thinking and problem solving skills.

Students are provided with clinical contact from the beginning of their studies, which increases substantially as the course progresses, to the extent that by their final year they are competent at managing and treating patients with minimal supervision. They have the opportunity to practise on a wide variety of patients with a wide range of treatment needs. Outreach placements ensure that students develop their interpersonal and clinical skills, and allow them to become accustomed to their roles and responsibilities as dentists of the future.

What should I know about year five?

·         Attendance is expected for all aspects of the programme, including lectures and seminars. Students will be required to complete either a self-certificate or provide a signed medical certificate in respect of any sickness during the programme. Any unauthorised absence may be viewed as failure to engage with the programme and could constitute grounds for exclusion from study.

·         Students must comply with all local policies and procedures when undertaking clinical placements within the University Dental Hospital, and similarly when attending placements in the community. Students should be dressed smartly when engaged in clinical activity, and should behave in a professional manner at all times.

·         In addition to timetabled sessions, students are expected to undertake a substantial amount of self directed study.

·         Students are expected to be aware of the Cardiff University policy on ‘Plagiarism and Unfair Practice'.

·         Students are expected to adhere to the Cardiff University policy on ‘Dignity at Work and Study'.

Students are expected to aware of the Cardiff University policy on ‘Fitness to Practice.

How is this course/programme structured?

Please see 'How will I be taught?'

What should I know about year four?

No specific equipment required

What should I know about year three?

·         Team-working –During the programme, students undertake a variety of group-based activities. Whilst undertaking clinical activity, students often work in pairs, and alternate between operating and assisting, developing their ability to work collaboratively. The programme ensures that students work closely with members of the wider Dental Team, including; NHS Consultants, Dental Care Professionals, Dental Nurses, Dental Technicians and administrative staff to replicate the working environment that graduates will enter upon completion of the course.

·         Communication Skills –Students develop their ability to communicate effectively throughout the programme, from formal lectures (based on Communication Skills) in Year 1, to continued interaction with individuals from a broad range of; ages and ethnic/social backgrounds. Students are expected to develop their ability to communicate effectively through a commitment to reflective practice and are encouraged to do so via a reflective ePortfolio, which is introduced in Year 1.

·         Self Directed Learning -Throughout the programme students are expected to commit a substantial amount of time to self directed learning, utilising the vast information resource that the School and University provides. Student’s ability to drive their own learning and development will be vital to their continued personal and professional development as they enter into employment.

·         Information Technology-All students are formally assessed on their ability to utilise Information Technology via the ECDL qualification. Students will also develop their Information Technology skills through: Computer Aided Learning, Word Processing, Statistical Packages, Presentation software, information skills and the computer-based patient booking and electronic record system SALUD.

.          Interview Skills –Students are prepared for interviews (specifically for Dental Foundation recruitment) via dedicated sessions with actors, preparing them for the various scenarios that they could face during OSCEs (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) along with techniques to utilise during formal interviews.

What should I know about the preliminary year?

The BDS (Hons) programme is non-modular and delivered by the Schools of Biosciences and Dentistry. Students will be exposed to, and participate in a wide range of teaching and learning activities including, lectures, seminars, group work, practical laboratory sessions, and clinical training. There is a substantial element of directed and self-directed learning as well as enquiry-based learning that allows students to acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and professional values and behaviours for safe and successful completion of the programme. The distinctive features of the programme include:

·       Integrated theoretical and practical components of learning, teaching and assessment;

·       Early clinical exposure in Year 1;

·       Extensive clinical training in modern clinics and primary dental care education units;

·       Research project in Years 4 and 5;

·       Excellent learning environment with support from personal tutors and the Student Services;

In Year 1 students spend the majority of their time studying at the School of Biosciences developing their knowledge of Human Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry. Students are also timetabled to spend one day per week at the University Dental Hospital observing clinic activity, learning about clinical procedures, professionalism and dental terminology, as well as learning about the role and responsibilities of the Dental Team.

In Year 2 students continue to develop their scientific knowledge via the Oral Ecosystems Theme, focussing on the development, physiology and biochemistry of oral and dental tissues. This is further enhanced and supported by the Human Diseases Theme through which students investigate the; Medical, Pharmacological and Surgical Interventions that may impact on the practice of Dentistry. Year 2 builds on the early clinical observation and includes experience in the preclinical Cariology & Operative Dentistry course, which utilises state of the art facilities to develop student’s manual skills and clinical techniques for restoring teeth in a simulated clinical environment. This culminates in students treating patients requiring periodontal therapy within the University Dental Hospital. In Year 2 the Clinical Dentistry Theme also introduces:, Endodontology, Paediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics, Radiology, Dental Pathology, Dental Materials, and within the Dentistry in the Wider Community Theme, Behavioural Sciences and Law & Ethics.

In the third and fourth years, students are taught within the Clinical Dentistry, Human Diseases (including Medical Emergencies) and Dentistry in the Wider Community Themes covering topics such as; Integrated Restorative Dental Care, an integrated Paediatric Dentistry/Orthodontics course, an integrated Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology and Oral Radiology course, and Dental Public Health. This stage of the programme also sees significant increases in the time that is allocated to clinical practice, with students spending the majority of their time treating patients, and also in placements at the St David’s Primary Dental Care Unit. Students entering the fourth year of the BDS (Hons) programme are required to undertake a Research Project that contributes to their overall degree classification; the project aims to provide students with experience of research as well as the critical appraisal of literature.

In the final year of study, a substantial portion of time is allocated outside of the School of Dentistry. Students receive placements at a number of District General Hospitals, and Community Dental Service Clinics, along with receiving dedicated clinical experience at the Primary Care Education Units in the newly built Cynon Valley Hospital in Mountain Ash. Students are expected to reflect on their experiences of these placements and discuss their progression, as they encounter various clinical scenarios allowing them to apply the knowledge, skills and behaviours that they have developed over the preceding years. In Year 5 students also have the option of choosing to partake in the Erasmus Programme allowing them to undertake part of their final year in a partner institution in another European country. 

What should I know about year one?

The assessment schedule is designed to demonstrate that students: 

·         have attained the standards required by Cardiff University for the award of a Bachelors degree with Honours, and 

·         have achieved the required level of competency to become an independent practising dental surgeon having achieved the standards expected by the General Dental Council (GDC) for registration.

This will be measured across four domains identified by the GDC namely: clinical, communication, professionalism, management and leadership (Preparing for Practise 2012). Knowledge, skills and professional attitudes are assessed both formatively and summatively throughout the programme to enhance and support the learning experience, using a range of assessment tools. These assessment tasks include unseen examinations, written assignments, case reports, practical skills tests, projects, portfolios, on-line assessments, oral presentations and clinical examinations.

Formative feedback is provided following assessment tasks at all stages of the programme and students are encouraged to use their personalised feedback to inform their future learning. Assessments at each level are scheduled at appropriate stages throughout the programme to meet the assessment needs of the students, and are identifiable within an assessment blueprint.

Other information

At all times, students will receive the support of personal tutors based at the Schools of Biosciences and Dentistry; while on placements they will be supported by an experienced clinical education team.

     Much of the general communication will take place using Learning Central, the University’s Virtual Learning Environment, to which all students will have access. Notes from lectures and other course material, as well as online assessments, will be available on Learning Central. Communication will also take place using our SMS Service, which allows important information to be sent to students directly to their mobile phones. Students will also have access to the Cardiff Portal which provides a single point of access to online information and resources.  This includes email, network filespace, library resources such as the library catalogue, e-journals and online databases, and also Learning Central. These resources are also available via the Cardiff University mobile apps. Students will also receive information skills training throughout their five years on the course including: information research skills and using a reference managing tool.

            The School of Dentistry operates an inclusive curriculum policy for all its programmes. For most academic assessments reasonable adjustments can be made in line with recommendations from the Student Support Unit. High levels of professional standards are expected of students at all times, and although reasonable adjustments will be met as far as possible, the School will need to consider the requirements of the General Dental Council in their deliberations. If a student has concerns regarding the adjustments they may require, the School would be very happy to discuss the nature, implications and potential solutions as part of the pre-application process.

Distinctive features

Graduates from this programme will be able to:

·         Practise safely and effectively, making the high quality long term care of patients their first concern;

·         Recognise the role and responsibility of being a dental practitioner and demonstrate professionalism through their education, training and practice in accordance with GDC guidance;

·         Demonstrate effective clinical decision making;

·         Describe the principles of good research, how to access research and interpret it for use as part of an evidence based approach to practice;

·         Apply an evidence-based approach to learning, practice, clinical judgment and decision making and utilise critical thinking and problem solving skills;

·         Accurately assess their own capabilities and limitations, demonstrating reflective practice, in the interest of high quality patient care and act within these boundaries;

Recognise the importance of lifelong learning and apply it to practice.

How will I be taught?


Admissions tutors

Mr Robert Mcandrew, Admissions Tutor

Key Information Sets (KIS) make it easy for prospective students to compare information about full or part time undergraduate courses, and are available on the Unistats website.


Get information and advice about making an application, find out when the key dates are and learn more about our admissions criteria.

How to apply
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