Preparing to Apply

non academic requirements

Academic excellence is not the only criteria for a successful application. It is important for you to demonstrate your motivation towards a career in dentistry.

During our selection process for the BDS Dental Surgery course, it is important to show that you are highly motivated towards a career in dentistry and possess other qualities required of a dentist. You'll be required to declare your commitment, involvement and understanding of the need to work 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 future dentists. We look carefully not only at your academic record and potential, but consider fully your confidential report and non-academic interests and achievements.

It is essential that strong evidence of your commitment to Dentistry is provided in an application. Nevertheless, we do advise applicants 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.

Work Experience

It is essential that you develop an understanding of working in a healthcare environment and have commitment and passion towards studying and practising dentistry. The types of experience that we advise you to undertake include voluntary work in a nursing home, care home, hospice or hospital volunteer. We cannot advise on the amount of experience that is needed to develop your knowledge of healthcare practice. At interview, though, we will expect a sophisticated level of understanding of how personal qualities relate to the provision of effective care and support. This must be evidenced, in part, through your own experiences. We recognise that extracurricular activity in areas outside of healthcare can supplement the development of the broader qualities required of a potential dentist. These aspects (e.g. an ability to make rational decisions and to communicate these with compassion) will also be relevant to successful performance at interview.

You must also show evidence that you will be able to acquire the values of the NHS (including: working together for patients, respect and dignity, compassion, commitment to quality of care, resilience). You will begin to acquire these values, in part, through people-focused work experience or volunteering.

In order to appreciate the career that a BDS degree will prepare you for, usually it is essential that all applicants carry out work shadowing within a dental practice setting and we would normally require at least 3 days work experience in an NHS or mixed NHS and private practice. This is to ensure you have a reasonable idea of the job you will be training to do. Fully private practice experience or hospital experience is valuable as an addition to NHS practice experience, but is not a substitute.

For applicants applying for study in 2023 we are aware that work experience and voluntary placements have been cancelled. We appreciate that volunteering within a community setting may have been impossible since March 23rd 2020, therefore this will no longer be a requirement for 2023 entry. However, if you have been able to complete any voluntary placements either before this, or have been able to volunteer remotely in any capacity since 23rd March 2020, please do detail this on your UCAS form. 

We want to reassure you that if you are unable to gain experience of work in a healthcare setting because of the impacts of COVID-19 you will not be at a disadvantage in our selection processes. We're considering very carefully all of the implications of COVID-19 on our admissions processes and we will provide updated guidance as soon as we are able.

We recognise that experience in a healthcare setting can provide you with a great deal of insight into the profession you aspire to join. This can help you to decide if a career in a caring profession is right for you and also help you to identify the skills you need to develop. In the absence of face-to-face experiences, it is important that you use other means to gain an understanding of the work and challenges faced by healthcare staff. Reports on the present situation in the national media highlight that healthcare staff are working under great pressure. You must recognise, however, that this situation is unprecedented and an understanding of a more routine life in healthcare can be gained using on-line resources.

In summary, all of these non-academic aspects are important for preparation to study dentistry and many will be considered at interview. The personal statement will be used to select for interview, alongside the criteria outlined above. If invited for interview, candidates may be asked to provide details of their work experience placements.