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Dental Materials Science MSc/Diploma/Certificate

Start date
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught

Annual tuition fee for 2024/25:
UK: £10,530 full-time
International: £29,340 full-time
More details on fees and funding

Postgraduate Study in the School of Dentistry, University of Birmingham

This programme provides a foundation in key materials science principles and training skills for successful research and publication, and towards the development of the next generation of materials and processes.

There are very few aspects of dentistry that do not rely on materials, and the science of dental materials is arguably the most important subject that a dental practitioner, allied teacher or researcher should learn. The dental materials market also rapidly evolves and has a quick turnover of products. Further education in dental materials science will be beneficial for daily clinical practice and successful completion of this programme will provide greater employability in dental practice and when applying to undertake postgraduate research degrees

The one-year full-time (and two-year part-time) Masters programme welcomes students from a variety of backgrounds from clinical practitioners and dental technicians who are required to teach the subject, to those pursuing a career in a related research field, whether having a clinical or non-clinical undergraduate education, and whether from the UK or abroad.

Scholarships for 2024 entry

The University of Birmingham is proud to offer a range of scholarships for our postgraduate programmes. With a scholarship pot worth over £2 million, we are committed to alleviating financial barriers to support you in taking your next steps.

Each scholarship has its own specific deadlines and eligibility criteria. Please familiarise yourself with the information on individual scholarship webpages prior to submitting an application.

Explore our scholarships

The programme:
  • will provide mechanical, physical and chemical properties of materials as structured systems, including bulk and surface properties at the molecular, micro-, and macroscopic level and interaction of materials with the biological environment.
  • will help you develop a critical understanding of factors that determine the successful clinical application of dental materials and contribute to state-of-the-art and emerging dental material technologies, including digital dentistry and manufacturing and the future of dental materials and related tools.
  • is focused on a research-led educational programme where theoretical concepts of materials science delivered by a range of teaching methods are reinforced by gaining insight and deeper understanding within a laboratory setting.
  • is based on practical exploration of concepts, generating ideas and assembling and testing explanations, ultimately providing a strong foundation for the final 12-week research project and developing career research skills beyond.
  • is based on the format and delivery of existing and successful MSc programmes in Dental Materials Science established by Professor Brian Darvell (University of Hong Kong, University of Kuwait, and now University of Birmingham) and is led by Professor William Palin (University of Birmingham).

Why study this course?

  • Tuition from world-leaders in relevant clinical and scientific fields.

  • A purpose-built, integrated Birmingham Dental Hospital and School of Dentistry (the first to be built in the UK for almost 40 years) designed to offer world-class research facilities and a modern learning environment for over 600 students and trainees.

  • Training in fundamental aspects of the biological interaction of materials.


All 20 credits, unless otherwise stated:

  • Foundation in Materials Science

This module is designed to provide each student with adequate grounding for the remainder of the curriculum. The module will provide fundamental knowledge (either as a refresher or developed and applied learning) in mechanical, physical and chemical properties and applying them to the function of dental materials in clinical service.

  • Applied Polymer Science

Many aspects of processing dental materials at the chairside and in the dental laboratory involve polymerization reactions: from the manufacture of denture bases, photopolymerization of resin restorative materials, to taking impressions of hard and soft tissue. The purpose of this module is to extend the students’ understanding of basic polymer science principles (learnt or recapped in Foundation in Materials Science) to advance knowledge in a variety polymer-based systems and related processing technologies used in dentistry.

  • Ceramic and Cement Systems

Ceramics represent an important material class used in dentistry with unique mechanical, chemical and optical properties. This module will consider the various classes of ceramic systems from traditional feldspathic porcelain to pressable, milled and 3D-printable materials. The module will also provide a detailed understanding of the structure-property relationships of cements and liners, either as a restorative material or for retention of laboratory processed dental prostheses, ranging from traditional zinc phosphate cements to hydraulic silicates (for endodontics), ion-leachable glasses, and resin-based adhesives.

  • Metals and Metal Alloys

Metals and metal alloys play an important role in dentistry, as in many technologies, because of their unique combination of properties. It is important for students to develop a systematic understanding of the effects of structure on the key properties of metals and metal alloys. The purpose of this module is to describe and apply the fundamentals of metal structure and alloy constitution to mechanical, chemical (corrosion) and biological properties of metallic dental materials.

  • Biological Interactions of Dental Materials

The success or failure of dental materials depends on many factors, not least the interactions with tissues, cells and microbes. This module will link aspects of materials to human cells and also address bacterial infections, antimicrobial techniques and covering the important aspect of antimicrobial resistance, including: an introduction/revision to eukaryotic cells and bacteria relevant in the oral cavity, an overview of cell and tissue interactions with both conventional and novel materials, tissue regeneration, cytotoxicity and wound healing.

  • Emerging Materials and Related Technologies

The aim of this module is to generate an understanding of how new technologies impact upon the development of biomaterials and to inform students of the current possibilities and future potential of such materials and technologies. Tissue engineering, novel restorative materials and imaging technologies will be covered, and their advantages and limitations discussed. In addition, students will be introduced to relevant translational factors such as regulatory matters and intellectual property rights that affect the development of new therapeutic solutions.

  • Final Research Project – 60 credits

The MSc programme has a strong focus on research training with 4 of the 6 modules that precede the Final Research Project providing a platform for proper application, design, execution, analysis and reporting experimental work. The 16 week, 60-credit research project will provide students with the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills developed in Semesters 1 and 2 related to the key properties, limitations and failures of dental materials.

For each core module, a practical component will provide students with full training on a wide range of state-of-the-art research equipment fostering robust critical analysis and techniques for scientific research. Each of the six, 20-credit and one, 60-credit modules will run separately and consecutively to allow for part-time study, and also to provide logical progression and development of interrelated concepts and research skills. 

Examples of previous research project titles include:

  • The effect of filler particle morphology on spatial and temporal cure in light curable resin based materials
  • Determination of the attenuation coefficient of dentine for photodisinfection and photobiomodulation
  • Bacterial decontamination of dental tissues using novel non-antibiotic light-based technologies
  • Antimicrobial properties of materials used in vital pulp therapy

Overall the skills you will gain include:

  • Research methodology
  • Analysis and data interpretation
  • Presentation skills
  • Critical appraisal


2024/25 fees per year


UK: £10,530 full-time, £5,265 part-time
International: £29,340 full-time, £14,670 part-time


UK: £7,020 full-time, UK: £3,510 part-time
International: £19,560 full-time, International: £9,780 part-time


UK: £3,510
International: £9,780

Learn more about fees and funding.


Postgraduate Loans for Masters students

As a UK resident you can apply for a government loan for postgraduate Masters study. This is a contribution towards the costs of study and whether the loan is used towards fees, maintenance or other costs will be at the discretion of the student.

Find out more about the Postgraduate Loan

How To Apply

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate taught programme, you will need to submit your application and supporting documents online. We have put together some helpful information on the taught programme application process and supporting documents on our how to apply page. Please read this information carefully before completing your application.

Apply now

Our Standard Requirements

To be eligible for the MSc[DMS], PGDip[DMS], PGCert[DMS], and in addition to the general requirements set by the University, you will:

  • hold the degree of Bachelor of Dental Surgery;


  • hold a degree or other relevant qualification for this purpose, e.g. BSc or diplomas in the physical or biomedical subject fields, dental technology


  • if required, satisfy examiners by means of a qualifying examination.

International Students - English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

English to IELTS 6.5 (with a minimum of 6.0 in each component).

If you need help with your English language skills then support is available. 

The English for Academic Purposes Presessional course is for international students who have a conditional offer to study at the University, but who do not currently meet the English language requirements. The course is tailored to your level of English and allows you to meet the English language requirements for your programme without retaking IELTS. The EAP programme runs throughout the year and offers different programme lengths ranging from 6 to 42 weeks. The length of course you need depends on your future course, your existing IELTS score and the English level you need for your university degree.

Find out more about the English for Academic Purposes Presessional course.

International Requirements

As a Birmingham student, you will be joining the academic elite and will have the privilege of learning from world-leading experts, as well as your peers. From the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.

You will have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues.

Course delivery

We have two teaching terms per year, the autumn term and spring term. Term dates can be found on our website.

As a full-time student, you will typically take three modules in each term, followed by a research project and dissertation. You can typically expect six to nine hours of classroom time per week, which is accompanied by laboratory practicals in most modules. If you are a part-time student, you will typically take three modules across each year, followed by a dissertation for MSc students.

Each module represents a total of approximately 200 hours of study time, including preparatory reading, homework and assignment preparation.

Careers Support for Postgraduate Students

Careers Network – We can help you get ahead in the job market and develop your career

We recognise that as a postgraduate student you are likely to have specific requirements when it comes to planning for your next career step. Employers expect postgraduates to have a range of skills that exceed their subject knowledge. Careers Network offers a range of events and support services that are designed for all students, including postgraduates looking to find their niche in the job market. The Careers Network also have subject specific careers consultants and advisers for each College so you can be assured the information you receive will be relevant to your subject area. For more information visit the Careers Network website.