Dental Surgery BDS

Undergraduate degree course/programme Dental Surgery BDS A200

Dentistry is a challenging and rewarding profession. In the context of an ageing population who are retaining teeth into old age, the importance of understanding interactions between general and oral health is paramount. Excellent communication skills are needed to enable dentists to treat patients as individuals and a sound understanding of the biological basis of oral disease and preventive approaches to care are essential foundations of dental practice.

Advances in technology and dental materials have increased the scope of practice and the expansion in the numbers of Dental Care Professionals (DCPs) has led to an emphasis on the dentist’s role as a diagnostician and team leader together with the dentist focusing on undertaking complex, rather than routine, dental treatments.

The course at Birmingham is regulated by the General Dental Council (GDC) and will provide you with a solid foundation of learning on which to base your clinical experience and patient care. The ongoing strand of whole patient care in Clinical Practice enables you to integrate speciality teaching and perform the most appropriate treatment for your patients.

You will be taught in our brand new Dental Hospital and School, currently under development just a mile from the University's main campus in Edgbaston. As the first integrated, stand-alone dental hospital and dental school to be built in the UK for almost 40 years, the new £50 million hospital will provide world-class research facilities and a modern learning environment for more than 600 undergraduate and postgraduate students and trainees.

The University of Birmingham is ranked 8th in for Dentistry in the UK according to the Complete University Guide and in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) assessment, Dentistry was ranked first in the UK for research recognised as internationally excellent.

In 2015, the results of the National Student Survey (NSS) showed that 98% of our students were satisfied with the overall quality of our programme and 97% were satisfied with the teaching on this programme.

First year

The early part of the programme lays the foundation for clinical practice. A range of biological science modules provide a systems-based approach to understanding the human body and incorporate a range of different subjects. These are delivered by the Medical School and they provide an important foundation for the Human Diseases modules later in the programme. Alongside these modules, you will have early contact with patients, observing and reflecting on treatment sessions in the dental hospital. You will also start to develop an understanding of being a professional and of patients’ perspectives through a large module taught at the School of Dentistry.

A wide range of teaching methods are used, but the emphasis is on enquiry-based learning. You are also expected to become an independent learner and will be supported in this by our in-house virtual learning environment, the e-course.

Second year

The second year of the programme builds on the first, with an increased amount of time being spent at the School of Dentistry. Biological science modules focus on the head and oral cavity and other modules enable you to understand the wider context of dentistry and influences of patient behaviour on their oral health. You will undertake further sessions with senior students, assisting them during their patient care. These modules are assessed at the end of the spring term.

The summer term of second year is devoted to developing a range of practical skills and understanding about practical aspects of patient care. You will work in the clinical skills laboratory on phantom heads preparing and restoring teeth. You will also work with your peers, taking medical histories, carrying out dental examinations and also learning how to administer local anaesthetics. You will also gain understanding of a research project in the periodontology teaching area and other academic work will focus on dental pathology, radiography and restorative dentistry.

Third year

At the start of the third year you begin treating your own patients under supervision within the dental hospital and start to put into practice the skills and knowledge that you have developed in the early years. This core of Clinical Practice, where you have your own small list of patients, continues through until final year and enables you to understand the importance of continuing care and integrated clinical practice and working with a dental team.

At the beginning of the spring term, you will be introduced to other clinical speciality teaching areas which provide a basis for understanding different aspects of patient treatment and will contribute to whole patient care in Clinical Practice.

In parallel with the clinical work on patients, you will undertake other academic subjects including the Introduction to Human Disease module. This comprises Infection, Pathology and Pharmacology, and builds on your solid biological science foundation. This area of teaching is particularly important in helping you to understand the links between general and oral health and the impact of medical treatment on patient care. Dental Public Health and Behavioural Science is also a strand module which starts in this year and enables you to put clinical dentistry into a wider context of population health and dental service provision.

Fourth year

You will be introduced to two new speciality teaching areas this year, paediatric dentistry and oral medicine. In paediatric dentistry you will learn how to adapt the clinical and patient management skills you have already gained to children within the Dental Hospital and later in the year, in an outreach clinic. This will help you to understand the environment which children are growing up in and give you the opportunity to work in your own surgery with a qualified dental nurse, thus further appreciating the importance of team working. Oral Medicine gives you the opportunity to hone your diagnostic skills, further appreciate the link between oral disease and general disease and build on the knowledge and understanding you have gained from the Introduction to Human Disease and the Clinical Human Disease module.

Outreach placements for adult primary dental care start in the summer term and continue through until Easter of final year. These take place in community clinics and provide you with experience to support your transition into Dental Foundation Training after graduation.
There is also an opportunity for you to undertake an individually tailored module, either an elective project on a subject of your choice, dental or non-dental, at home or abroad. If you prefer, you may remain on clinic to extend your range of experience or consolidate your learning.

Fifth year

In this final year of your BDS programme, whole patient care is the focus of your clinical work and a programme of tutorials and lectures prepares you for practising once you have qualified. You will continue with some speciality teaching, for example oral surgery, and you will also undertake a block of dental sedation teaching to help you manage extremely anxious patients.
There will also be an opportunity to choose a special study module which will allow you to expand your knowledge, skills and experience in a clinical area of your choice.

Why study this course

University of Birmingham Dental Hospital and School: The new University of Birmingham Dental Hospital and School will be the first integrated, stand-alone dental hospital and dental school to be built in the UK for almost 40 years. The new build is conveniently located just a mile from central campus meaning you will benefit from having easy access to all the University facilities including Students’ Guild and nearby accommodation.

High League Table Rankings and Student Satisfaction Ratings: The University of Birmingham is ranked 8th for Dentistry in the UK according to the Complete University Guide. In 2015, the results of the National Student Survey (NSS) showed that 98% of our students were satisfied with the overall quality of our programme and 97% were satisfied with the teaching on this programme.

Taught in a Dental Hospital: You will be based at the sole dental hospital and school in the Midlands, one of only 10 in England, allowing you to learn from, train and work alongside practicing clinicians and other members of the dental team on a daily basis.

Excellent Facilities: You will benefit from state-of-the-art learning environments including a fully-computerised ‘phantom head’ laboratory, where you will you will learn how to manage dental decay and to restore teeth, among other practical tasks.

Innovative Teaching Methods: You will have access to new web-based applications to support your learning. Developed by staff in the School of Dentistry, the custom-made systems encourage you to take responsibility for your learning through a process of self-reflection and target setting. You can also keep a visual record of your progress in practical sessions by uploading images of your work on to your record. Furthermore the applications act as an additional support mechanism, allowing staff to identify early on students who need extra support and the areas in which they need it most.

Active Birmingham University Dental Student Society (BUDSS): BUDSS is the oldest and largest dental student society in the UK. Membership is open to all students of the School of Dentistry –Dentistry, Dental Hygiene and Therapy, and Biomedical Material Science students. With students from each of the courses acting as representatives on the committee.

Outstanding Alumni: Many BDS Dentistry graduates have gone on to be leaders in their respective fields. We are proud to say that our distinguished and notable alumni include:

  • Barry Cockcroft (BDS, 1975) Chief Dental Officer, Department of Health
  • Nigel Carter (BDS, 1975) Chief Executive, British Dental Health Foundation
  • Janet Clarke (BDS, 1981) Clinical Director, Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust
  • Elizabeth Treasure (BDS, 1979; PhD 1983) Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Cardiff University
  • Amrik Bhandal (BDS, 1983), Balbir Bhandal (BDS,1985) and Baljit Bhandal (BDS,1987) – founders and owners of Bhandal dental practices


Year 1

  • Introduction to Biomedical Science
  • Digestive, Renal and Endocrine System
  • Neuromusculoskeletal System
  • Cardiovascular and Respiratory System
  • Professionalism and the Foundations of Dental Practice

Year 2

  • Oral Biology
  • Craniofacial Biology
  • Psychology as Applied to Dentistry
  • Public Health & Epidemiology
  • Disability Studies
  • Practical Dental Skills
  • Fundamentals of Clinical Dentistry

Year 3

  • Simulated Clinical Procedures
  • Introduction to Clinical Practice and Speciality Teaching
  • Dental Pathology, Immunology & Dental Materials
  • Introduction to Human Diseases
  • Dental Public Health and Behavioural Science (strand)
  • Radiography (strand)

Year 4

  • Advanced Simulated Clinical Procedures
  • Intermediate Clinical Practice and Speciality Teaching
  • Clinical Human Disease
  • Oral Pathology (strand); Dental Public Health and Behavioural Science (strand)Radiography (strand)
  • Individually tailored module (required component)

Year 5

  • Advanced Clinical Practice and Specialty Teaching
  • Dental Public Health and Behavioural Science
  • Oral pathology
  • Radiography

The modules listed on our website may occasionally be subject to change. For example, as you will appreciate, key members of staff may leave the University and this might necessitate a review of the modules that are offered. Where a module is no longer available, we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply
Learn more about fees and funding

Scholarships: To find out what scholarships and awards are available see scholarships and awards

Addtional costs for the course are minimal. Students are required to purchase a lab coat at a cost of around £10.

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required:
Typical offer:
AAA and AS level at grade B/A. For 2016 entry applicants will be expected to offer the UKCAT test.

Please note that for 2016 entry applicants will be expected to offer the UKCAT test. 

Required subjects and grades: Three A levels at grade A, must include Chemistry and Biology (not General Studies) plus an A/S level at grade B – these must be obtained in one sitting; Human Biology may be offered, but not in addition to Biology.

Certified and non-certified A/S level  results must be provided in your application (non- certified results can be included in your reference)

GCSE requirements: Candidates must have GCSE Chemistry & Biology at grade A* (or Double Science award at grade A*A*) plus Mathematics and English Language at grade A.

Please note, at both A Level and GCSE, resits are not considered. 

Scottish applicants: Candidates will need to offer 3 Advanced Highers with grades AAA to include Chemistry and Biology plus a third subject.

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 6,6,6 at Higher Level (to include Chemistry and Biology) with a minimum of 32 points overall.

Graduates: Must have achieved (or be predicted to achieve) a First Class honours degree in medical science or related degree with A levels minimum of B grade, to include Chemistry and Biology.

Learn more about entry requirements.

Additional information:

1.  Applicants must have excellent written and spoken English. Please note that the university’s standard English language requirements are minimum standards, which maybe raised through competition. As a minimum, the English language IELTS must be 7.0 in each component.

2. We now require applicants to sit the UKCAT. The scores are used in conjunction with details from the UCAS application forms to select candidates for interview.

3.  Work experience (minimum 10 working days) in a general NHS dental practice is required before completing the UCAS form. You will be required to declare your commitment, involvement and understanding of the need to be working for the benefit of others (e.g. work in society, charity work). You must also demonstrate an understanding of the empathy needed when dealing with different members of society, something that gives you an insight into working with people from a different background to your own. 

4.  Students will be required to complete a successful Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check before admission to the programme.

5.  All students will be required to sign the subject-specific Fitness to Practise Code of Conduct on entry, details of which will be forwarded with an offer letter.

6.  The School of Dentistry has an overriding duty of care to the public with whom students come into close contact. In accordance with current Department of Health Guidelines (March 2007) all applicants who are made an offer of a place on the course will be required to complete a screening process for Blood Borne Viruses as a condition of their offer.

7.  The nature of undergraduate dental training precludes entry of those who may pose a risk of blood-borne virus (BBV) infection to patients. Therefore all potential undergraduate dental students must undergo additional health clearance before acceptance onto the programme. You are required to be screened for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV, to include HBV, HCV and HIV infectivity as part of the offer.

8.  All successful applicants must produce satisfactory evidence of immunisation against Hepatitis B and evidence of non-infectivity for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C virus prior to confirmation of a place and becoming registered as a dental student. (The UK Government Department of Health now requires all potential undergraduate dental students to undergo additional health clearance before acceptance onto the course; additional health clearance stipulates that individuals must be non-infectious for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. For further information about these requirements, please see: Medical and Dental Students: Health clearance for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV and Tuberculosis).

9.  You must provide either evidence of having received two immunisations against Measles, Mumps and Rubella, or arrange for blood tests to be undertaken to determine your immune status to these viruses.

10.  You should also provide evidence of either having received BCG immunisation against TB or a Heaf test grade 2-3 / Mantoux test 6 – 14mm and evidence of immunity to Varicella (Chickenpox) either by positive history of having the virus or by blood test.

Selection of Students

Dentistry is an extremely popular subject at Birmingham. During our selection process academic excellence is only one criterion; it is vital to be able to show that you are highly motivated towards a career in dentistry and possess other qualities required of a dentist. You will be required to declare your commitment, involvement and understanding of the need to be working for the benefit of others in the wider community. You must also demonstrate an understanding of the empathy needed when dealing with different members of our society.

Our system is designed to find suitable and capable students keen to become our future dentists. We look carefully, therefore, not only at your academic record and potential, but consider fully your confidential report and non-academic interests and achievements. 

We stress that you must, before applying, have had some work experience in a general dental practice so that you are fully aware of the opportunities, changes and demands of the profession.

As stated elsewhere it is essential that strong evidence of commitment to Dentistry is provided in an application. Nevertheless, we do advise an applicant to apply for an insurance course should their application for Dentistry be unsuccessful. It is important for the applicant to contact the admissions staff for the proposed insurance programme in advance of submitting an application to ensure that their application will be considered. Please note that we will not consider an application submitted to both Dentistry and a different healthcare professional programme, such as Medicine.

All applicants will be fairly considered, with the stronger candidates being called to interview. This final stage of student selection will be run over one week mid-February in the form of multiple mini-interviews (MMIs). Interviews will take place during the February half-term week commencing Monday 15th February to Friday 19th February 2016 inclusive.

An MMI session will be approximately 1 hour in duration and consist of a circuit of approximately 10-12 interview stations. On each day of the MMIs, an opportunity will be given for candidates to tour the Dental Hospital and talk to some of our current students.

International students:

We welcome applications from EU and overseas students.

Applicants must have excellent written and spoken English. Please note that the university’s standard English language requirements are minimum standards, which maybe raised through competition. As a minimum, the English language IELTS must be 7.0 in each component.

Please contact our admissions team for more information on entry requirements for overseas applicants.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS at  
Learn more about applying

Key Information Set (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.

The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. At Birmingham we advocate an enquiry based learning approach, from the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.

You will experience a range of learning and teaching methods throughout the course, including lectures, small group work and individual tuition in clinical areas. (Please note that the percentage of time spent in lectures, seminars and similar reported in the Key Information Sets (KIS) data does not include clinical training, and additional time is allocated for this vital form of learning, which depending on the particular clinical year ranges from between an additional 20 - 50 per cent). The emphasis throughout is on giving you constructive feedback, an insight into your own learning style and ongoing information about how you are progressing in academic and clinical studies. Our in-house virtual learning environment (the ecourse) provides complementary learning materials and supports you in your enquiry-based approach to learning.

To begin with you may find this way of working challenging, but rest assured that we’ll enable you to make this transition. You will have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues, and a formal transition review during your first year to check on your progress and offer you help for any particular areas where you need support.

Find out more about the staff in the School of Dentistry.

Students on the BDS programme are expected to abide by a generic code of conduct, which is aligned to the University’s document. In addition, students are introduced to the General Dental Council’s document ‘Standards for the Dental Team’ in their first week at university and are expected to conform to this throughout the course.

Our Academic Skills Centre also offers you support with your learning. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. It is the centre’s aim to help you to become a more effective and independent learner through the use of a range of high-quality and appropriate learning support services. These range from drop-in sessions with support with mathematics and statistics based problems provided by experienced mathematicians, to workshops on a range of topics including note talking, reading, writing and presentation skills.

You will be taught in our brand new Dental Hospital and School, currently under development just a mile from the University's main campus in Edgbaston. As the first integrated, stand-alone dental hospital and dental school to be built in the UK for almost 40 years, the new £50 million hospital will provide world-class research facilities and a modern learning environment for more than 600 undergraduate and postgraduate students and trainees.

Our facilities

The College of Medical and Dental Sciences houses state-of-the art facilities to support a range of teaching, learning and research activity. 

Our facilities ensure that students receive the best possible learning experience by working in a modern environment. Among our most recent developments include a refurbishment of the Medical School foyer, Barnes library and Wolfson Centre for Medical Education.

Explore our facilities and take a tour by moving around our 360-degree panoramas:


Assessment methods

Studying at degree-level is likely to be very different from your previous experience of learning and teaching. You will be expected to think, discuss and engage critically with the subject and find things out for yourself. We will enable you to make this transition to a new style of learning, and the way that you are assessed during your studies will help you develop the essential skills you need to make a success of your time at Birmingham.

Throughout the course, there will be major professional examinations each year. There will be a range of different assessment methods and many of these are designed to develop generic skills as well as subject specific ones, for example presentation skills, data analysis and critical appraisal.

You’ll be assessed in a variety of ways, and these may be different with each module that you take. You will be assessed through coursework which may take the form of essays, group and individual presentations, laboratory-based work (depending on your chosen degree) and formal exams.

During your first year you will undergo a formal ‘transition’ review to see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support. This is in addition to the personal tutor who is based in your school or department and can help with any academic issues you encounter.

At the beginning of each module, you’ll be given information on how and when you’ll be assessed for that particular programme of study. You’ll receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done. You’ll be given feedback on any exams that you take; if you should fail an exam we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is made available to enable you to learn for the future.

Preparation for your career should be one of the first things you think about as you start university. Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal.

"Since graduating from the University of Birmingham my career has had a number of interesting and stimulating developments." Zehra Yonel, Bachelor of Dental Surgery, 2011

To find out more about our graduate employability, view our Career Profiles.

The five year BDS course is followed by a one year compulsory foundation training programme in order to work within the NHS. Entry to foundation training is competitive; however our focused teaching means that almost without exception, graduates gain employment. Most dental graduates go into general dental practice, particularly in the first few years after graduation and subsequently have followed careers in salaried dental services, industry, hospitals and universities.

Our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. Our team source exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoring, global internshipsand placements available to you. Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CV’s and job applications will help give you the edge. In addition, our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA)recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.

We also offer voluntary work which complements your studies by helping you gain practical experiences in occupational settings while contributing back to society. This can bring new skills that will be useful throughout your future and can make a positive impact on your learning whilst at university. Volunteering enables you to develop skills such as communication, interpersonal skills, teamwork, self-confidence and self-discipline all of which can be transferred into your studies.

Your Birmingham degree is evidence of your ability to succeed in a demanding academic environment. Employers target Birmingham students for their drive, diversity, communication and problem-solving skills, their team-working abilities and cultural awareness, and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

Find out more about Careers Network.

Professional accreditation

This degree is recognised by the profession’s governing body, the General Dental Council, for inclusion in the UK register. When on the register you are automatically permitted to practise.

Birmingham has transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Clubs and societies

The Guild has over 200 Societies, community volunteering groups and associations for you to join; they cover every topic and activity that you can think of - there really is something for everyone.

Birmingham University Dental Student Society (BUDSS) is a student-led society for students studying Dentistry, Dental Hygiene and Therapy and Biomedical Materials Science. BUDSS offers a wide range of activities to get involved in from sports, amateur dramatics and music to charities, volunteering and academic support.

The City of Birmingham

You will be based on a leafy campus in the suburbs of a vibrant, modern city. With over a million residents, Birmingham is home ot the UK's largest financial and creative centres outside London and it has a thriving business community. After London, birmingham is the highest ranking city for quality of life in the UK (Mercer's Quality of Living Survey 2012). There is something for everyone in Birmingham and you are sure to receive a warm welcome in one of the most culturally diverse cities in Britain.


Whether you are looking for university accommodation or a rented property in the private sector, our accommodation services team, 'Living', can help you find the right place.

University accommodation for undergraduates is located across the University's three student villages, all of which are within walking distance of the main campus. We have a range of accommodation types, including flats with study bedrooms, sharing bathroom and kitchen facilities; flats with ensuite study bedrooms; and studio apartments where you have exclusive use of both kitchen and bathroom facilities.