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Dental Surgery (BDS)

  • Subject area: Dentistry
  • UCAS code: A200
  • Next intake: September 2023
  • Duration: 5 years
  • Mode: Full time

Why study this course

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Top 10

Top 10 for dentistry in the UK (The Complete University Guide 2022).

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£2.2 million simulation suite

Our £2.2 million state-of-the-art simulation suite will prepare you perfectly for delivery of dental care to patients in modern clinics.

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Early clinical exposure

You'll be taught in the University Dental Hospital, where you'll gain valuable clinical exposure working in a range of scenarios with experienced and supportive staff.

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Firm choice

As part of our offer to you, if you choose us as your firm university choice we promise to save your place for the following year’s entry if you miss your offer grades to allow you to resit your exams.

We are ranked in the Top 10 for dentistry in the UK (The Complete University Guide 2022) and Top 60 globally for dentistry in the 2021 QS World University Rankings.

Dentists work with patients and the general public to prevent and treat dental and oral disease, correct dental irregularities and treat dental and facial injuries. Dentists lead the dental team and have the skills and confidence to diagnose and treat problems and provide good advice to patients. They have high levels of manual dexterity to carry out intricate surgical and dental procedures and have excellent knowledge of human anatomy and oral diseases, as well as first-class clinical skills.

Our programme offers an exciting blend of teaching so you will learn the scientific and pathological processes underlying oral and dental disease at the same time as you acquire the clinical and practical skills to manage patients appropriately.

You will be taught by a dedicated team of dental professionals, and work under the supervision of consultants and primary care supervisors. Many senior staff at our School are internationally renowned in their areas of expertise,  as reflected in the School’s recent performance in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework.

You will be studying at the University Dental Hospital based at The University Hospital of Wales which is the largest teaching hospital in the country. Because we are based in a working hospital you are instantly surrounded by both public, professionals and researchers. There are 100,000 patient contacts per year – 75% of them directly related to clinical management of patients by our students.

State-of-the-art dental clinics are available throughout our School which facilitate chair-side teaching in a professional and caring environment. Our clinical laboratories feature the latest CAD-CAM technology and three-dimensional printing facilities for the construction of intra-oral prostheses. You will also benefit from a £2.2M refurbishment of our pre-clinical (phantom head) teaching facilities.

After graduation, clinicians who register with the General Dental Council will be able to work in various areas of the dental sector including general dental care, community dental care, dental public health, hospital dental care and within the armed forces.

Accreditations

Subject area: Dentistry

  • academic-schoolSchool of Dentistry
  • icon-chatGet in touch
  • Telephone+44 (0)29 2074 2468
  • MarkerHeath Park, Cardiff, CF14 4XY

Entry requirements

We accept a combination of A-levels and other qualifications, as well as equivalent international qualifications subject to entry requirements. Typical offers are as follows:

A level

AAA. Must include Biology and Chemistry. You will need to pass the science practical element of the A-level if this is part of your programme of study.

Please see the School-level admissions policy for details on entry requirements in you are applying as a graduate.


We carefully consider your contextual data (the circumstances in which you've been studying) upon application. Where a grade range is advertised this reflects our typical standard and contextual offers. Eligible students will be given an offer at the lower end of the advertised grade range. Where there is no grade range advertised you will usually receive additional points in the selection process. Learn about eligible courses and how contextual data is applied.

International Baccalaureate

36 overall or 666 in 3 HL subjects. Must include grade 6 in HL Biology and Chemistry.

Please see the School-level admissions policy for details on entry requirements in you are applying as a graduate.

Baccalaureate Wales

From September 2023, there will be a new qualification called the Advanced Skills Baccalaureate Wales (level 3). This qualification will replace the Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate (Welsh Baccalaureate). The qualification will continue to be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.

Other qualifications from inside the UK

BTEC

We do not accept BTECs for this programme.

T level

We do not accept T Levels for this programme.

Qualifications from outside the UK

See our qualification equivalences guide

Additional entry requirements

GCSE

Applicants with grade B/6 in English Language will be considered, but preference will be given to applicants who hold a grade A.

IELTS (academic)

At least 7.0 overall with a minimum of 7.0 in speaking and a minimum of 6.5 in all other subskills.

TOEFL iBT

At least 100 overall with a minimum of 24 in speaking and 22 in all other subskills.

PTE Academic

At least 70 overall with a minimum of 76 in speaking and a minimum of 69 in all other communicative skills.

Trinity ISE II/III

III: at least a Merit in all components.

Other accepted qualifications

Please visit our English Language requirements page for more information on our other accepted language qualifications.

You must have:
- English language or Welsh language at GCSE grade B/6 or an equivalent. If you require a Student visa, you must ensure your language qualification complies with UKVI requirements.
- and six GCSEs including grade AA/77 in Double Award science or Biology and Chemistry as separate subjects, or equivalent qualifications (level, subjects and grade).
- and sat the UCAT prior to submitting your application.

We do not accept Critical Thinking, General Studies, Citizenship Studies, or other similar equivalent subjects.

ENROLMENT CONDITIONS
Before you start your course, you will need to undergo a health check—including screening for blood-borne viruses—by our Occupational Health Service. If you are non-immune to Hepatitis B, you will need to complete a full immunisation programme before taking part in clinical procedures.

You will also need to have had a Tetanus vaccination within the last 10 years.
Having a blood-borne virus or other infectious diseases won’t prevent you from completing this course and obtaining General Dental Council registration, but some specialties won’t be open to you during training or in your career.

If you have a health issue that you think might have an impact on your ability to study or practice, please contact us before submitting an application. 

You will be required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check if your application is successful. If you are applying from certain countries overseas, a Certificate of Good Conduct may be required.

If you have a relevant criminal conviction, this will be stated in the check and may affect your ability to enrol on the course. Applicants who are on the barred list should be aware that applying to this course is likely to be considered a criminal offence.

Please see our admissions policies for more information about the application process.

Interview or selection process

We won’t make an offer without an interview.

All applicants must meet the minimum requirements at Level 2 (typically GCSE) and Level 3 (typically A-level) in order to be eligible for consideration for interview.

Those with predicted A-levels (or equivalent) of BBB (including Biology and Chemistry) may apply but will be required to meet the minimum entry requirements to meet the terms of their offer if successful at interview.

Applications are scored according to the highest seven achieved GCSEs (or equivalent), UCAT score and Situational Judgement Test (SJT) scores.  The personal statement and reference will also be evaluated. Those who have already met all minimum entry requirements (no predicted grades) will be given one additional point. We are committed to Widening Participation.

The top scoring applicants will be invited to interview.  Where applicants have the same score, priority will be given based on SJT score, then UCAT score.

Our interview process

We use the multiple mini interview (MMI) format, which is a series of short, carefully timed interview stations that you will rotate around in turn.

The MMIs help us to determine if you:

  • can think on your feet
  • have thought about some of the issues that are important to the profession
  • can critically appraise information
  • can communicate ideas effectively.

They also focus on exploring the personal qualities and attributes that are important to your future career development.

These interviews allow us to meet you in person and assess information that isn’t always readily forthcoming in the application process—they aren’t intended to test the amount of prior knowledge you have about the subject or the profession.

Frequently asked questions

I did not take the correct subjects at A-level (or equivalent).  What are my options?
You can take the required qualification at any time. This will be accepted if it is not a resit.

Do you accept resits?
We accept resits for GCSEs (or equivalent).  We do not accept resits for A-levels (or equivalent) unless you have been successful at interview and accept our offer as your Firm choice.

Do you have a minimum score for UCAT and SJT?
We do not have a minimum cut off for UCAT and SJT scores.

What do you look for on the personal statement?
Applicants must submit a satisfactory personal statement and references to be eligible for consideration for an interview.  The personal statement must show evidence of the following:

  • Evidence of commitment to a career in Dentistry.
  • Evidence of qualities and skills required for dental healthcare.
  • Evidence of work experience or knowledge of the nature of Dentistry.

The personal statement is not scored or assessed in relation to other applicant’s personal statements.

Tuition fees for 2023 entry

Your tuition fees and how you pay them will depend on your fee status. Your fee status could be home, island or overseas.

Learn how we decide your fee status

Fees for home status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £9,000 None
Year two £9,000 None
Year three £9,000 None
Year four £9,000 None
Year five £9,000 None

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national, your tuition fees for 2023/24 be in line with the overseas fees for international students, unless you qualify for home fee status. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.

Fees for island status

Learn more about the undergraduate fees for students from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Fees for overseas status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £25,450 None
Year two £39,700 None
Year three £39,700 None
Year four £39,700 None
Year five £39,700 None

Learn more about our tuition fees

Financial support

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Additional costs

Course specific equipment

You do not need any specific equipment.

Accommodation

We have a range of residences to suit your needs and budget. Find out more on our accommodation pages.

Living costs

We're based in one of the UK's most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.

Course structure

Teaching on the BDS programme is integrated, so you will learn the scientific and pathological processes underlying oral and dental disease simultaneous with acquiring the necessary skills to manage patients effectively. In year one you will spend one day a week at the Dental School, with the remainder of teaching at the School of Biosciences situated on the Cathays Park campus.

In years two to five you will be based in the School of Dentistry. As you become more experienced in your fourth and fifth year, you will spend time away from the Dental School in primary care settings for a period of around five weeks.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2023/2024 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2023.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2023/2024 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2023.

Year one

During year one, you will spend much of your time pursuing your studies in the School of Biosciences. Here you will learn about the human body in health and disease as well as disease of the teeth and the supporting tissues.

You will spend every Friday in the School of Dentistry, where you will be introduced to aspects of clinical dentistry. As you progress through the course, you’ll learn more advanced skills in patient management.

Throughout the undergraduate training,  there will be an emphasis on the importance of whole patient care and long-term management to prepare you for independent practice by the time you are a qualified dental surgeon.

Year two

In year two onwards you will be based in the School of Dentistry. Initially in year two you will develop your clinical skills and knowledge through a variety of lectures, seminars and simulated clinical activities undertaken in our pre-clinical laboratory. Under close supervision you will see your first patient, and from then on you will be allocated more patients to manage and treat going forward in your training.

To underpin this you will need to understand the basics of disease including those that affect the dento-facial area, their management and prevention along with the diagnostic tools required for clinical practice. Fundamental to clinical practice is the requirement to work professionally and ethically and be able to communicate effectively to patients and staff. These essential skills are explored in detail at many points during the course through innovative and exciting interactive sessions.

Year three

In year three you will continue to develop your clinical skills and knowledge through a variety of lectures, seminars and simulated clinical activities. In addition, you will further enhance your ability to manage and treat patients in the clinic.

You will continue to understand the basics of disease including those that affect the dento-facial area, their management and prevention along with the diagnostic tools required for clinical practice.

The requirement to work professionally and ethically and be able to communicate effectively to patients and staff will remain important elements of your teaching. These essential skills are explored in detail at many points during the course through innovative and exciting interactive sessions.

Year four

In year four the emphasis is on developing clinical skills in a variety of environments including the School of Dentistry, community dental clinics, district general hospitals and dedicated outreach teaching facilities in and around Cardiff.

A deeper understanding of the treatment planning process, the management options, including preventive orientated patient care, are developed giving our students a very broad based education to prepare them for their exciting careers.

Year five

In year five there is continued emphasis on developing clinical skills in a variety of environments including the School of Dentistry, community dental clinics, district general hospitals and dedicated outreach teaching facilities in and around Cardiff. A deeper understanding of the treatment planning process, the management options, including preventive orientated patient care, are developed giving our students a very broad-based education to prepare them for their exciting careers.

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.

Learning and assessment

We use a variety of methods to enrich your learning experience. These include lectures, small-group seminars and tutorials, individual teaching on clinics and e-learning. Project work allows you to work in groups or individually and you will be encouraged to research topics and present work to your peers. Other methods include problem solving exercises and practical classes. Simulation is used to deliver and develop key skills such as managing medical emergencies.

How will I be supported?

You will receive pastoral support from personal tutors throughout your undergraduate training. When on placements, you will be supported by an experienced clinical lead. Furthermore, you will benefit from individualised academic support from the supervisors, topic and year leads.

General communication will typically be delivered using Learning Central, the University’s Virtual Learning Environment, to which all students have access. Notes from lectures and other course material, as well as online assessments, will be available on Learning Central.  Our SMS Service also allows important information to be communicated from the USC directly to mobile phones.

The School of Dentistry operates an inclusive curriculum policy. This means that, for most academic assessments, reasonable adjustments can be made in line with recommendations from the Student Support Unit. High professional standards are expected, and although reasonable adjustments will be met as far as possible, the School will need to consider the requirements of the General Dental Council. If you have concerns regarding adjustments you may need, we are happy to discuss the nature, implications and potential solutions as part of the pre-application process.

Feedback

Formative feedback is provided on every preclinical and clinical session, and following assessment tasks at all stages and students are encouraged to use personalised feedback to inform their future learning. Assessments at each level are scheduled at appropriate stages, and are identifiable within an assessment blueprint so that students can plan their studies.

How will I be assessed?

The assessment schedule is designed to demonstrate that you have: 

  • attained the standards required by Cardiff University for the award of a Bachelor’s degree. (Students achieving a high standard will be awarded a BDS with honours or commendation)
  • achieved the required level of competency to become an independent practising dental surgeon having met the registration standards expected by the General Dental Council (GDC).

This will be measured across four domains identified by the GDC: clinical, communication, professionalism, management and leadership (GDC-Preparing for Practise 2012).

For further information please visit the GDC’s website:

www.gdc-uk.org

Knowledge, skills and professional attitudes are assessed both formatively and summatively throughout the course, using a range of assessment tools and methods. This will help you to develop as learners by signposting your progress on the course. Assessment tasks include written examinations, written assignments, case reports, practical skills tests, projects, portfolios, online assessments, oral presentations and clinical oral examinations.

What skills will I practise and develop?

  • Clinical skills - You will develop the clinical skills required to graduate as an independent practising dental surgeon
     
  • Team-working - You will undertake a variety of group-based activities, working in pairs and alternating between operating and assisting. This develops your ability to work collaboratively. We ensure that you work closely with the wider Dental Team, including; NHS Consultants, Dental Care Professionals, Dental Nurses, Dental Technicians and administrative staff.
     
  • Communication skills - You will develop the ability to communicate effectively throughout the course, from formal lectures to interaction with individuals from different backgrounds. You are expected to demonstrate this ability through a commitment to a reflective practice ePortfolio.
     
  • Self-directed learning - You are expected to commit a substantial amount of time to self- directed learning, using the vast information resource provided. Your ability to drive your learning and development will be vital in continued personal and professional development.
     
  • Information technology - Skills will be developed 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 - You are prepared for interviews by dedicated sessions with actors. This gives valuable practice for scenarios you could face during OSCEs (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) along with techniques for formal interviews.
  • Project work - You will develop scientific writing skills and literature review skills during project work. 

Upon graduation, as a result of engaging fully with the course, you will be able to:

  • practise safely and effectively, making the high quality long term care of patients your 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 principles of good research, how to access research and interpret it as part of an evidence based approach to practice;
  • apply an evidence-based approach to learning, practice, clinical judgment and decision making, using critical thinking and problem solving skills;
  • accurately assess your capabilities and limitations, demonstrating reflective practice in the interest of high quality patient care;
  • recognise the importance of lifelong learning and apply it to practice.

Careers and placements

Career prospects

Once you have qualified there are a number of different career routes open to you. Everybody needs to undergo a period of vocational training whatever branch of dentistry they initially take up. Advice to help you make the appropriate choice is available from your tutor as well as other members of staff.

Graduate careers

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

Placements

We have a long tradition of clinical teaching and experience outside the School. These experiences are valued by employers. As you become more experienced in your fourth and fifth year, you will spend time away from the Dental School in primary care settings for a period of around five weeks. These placements give you the opportunity to observe and treat an extended range of patients in community dental practice and district general hospitals throughout Wales and England. In addition, the School has two dedicated outreach centres located in the city centre and surrounding areas where you will regularly manage your own patients in a primary care setting over the last two years of the course.

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HESA Data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2021. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2019/20, published by HESA in June 2022.