Dental Surgery BDS

Start date
5 years
UCAS code
Course Type
Undergraduate, Single Honours

Annual tuition fees for 2024/25:
£9,250 (UK) 
£27,180 (International – pre-clinical years 1)
£48,660 (International – clinical years 2, 3, 4 and 5)
More details on fees and funding

Take a tour of Birmingham Dental Hospital and School of Dentistry

Through our multi-million-pound Dental School and modern learning environment, our BDS Dental Surgery programme is designed to facilitate the development of core real-world clinical skills and patient care experiences, leading

Explore Dental Surgery at the University of Birmingham

At the University of Birmingham School of Dentistry, you will have a wide variety of opportunities to learn the essential and more advanced skills needed to excel in the field of Dentistry.  Dentistry is an evolving career and you will learn from experts in their fields in a state of the art facility purpose designed to provide high quality patient care as well as a fantastic learning environment for both Undergraduate and Postgraduate students.

Dentistry requires excellent communication skills in order to treat patients effectively as individuals. We expect all our students to possess and work on these skills as well as having a high level of professionalism throughout the course. A sound understanding of the biological basis of oral disease and preventive approaches to care are essential foundations of dental practice, all of which you will be taught during your Dental Surgery degree at Birmingham.

In your clinical sessions, you will be taught by a wide variety of staff all of whom are experienced in providing patient care in multiple settings. You will participate in Specialty Clinics staffed by staff with Specialist Training, as well as broad patient care sessions working alongside well-respected local General Dental Practitioners and academic staff. You will be treating patients in partnership with Birmingham Community NHS Foundation Trust and supported throughout all treatment sessions appropriately for your level of experience.

Continuous advances in technology and dental materials have increased the scope of practice in dentistry. You will work as part of a team, alongside dental nurses, technicians and Dental Care Professionals (DCPs).

Why study this course?

  • Learn from subject experts: You will be taught by a mixture of leading academics, well respected local clinicians, lecturers and professors, many of whom have published important works about their area of expertise.
  • Early contact with patients: Dive straight into observing and reflecting on treatment sessions and experiencing contact with a diverse range of patients in as early as your first year. You will continue to learn from senior students and simulated practice leading up to beginning to treat your own patients by the start of third year.
  • Multi-million pound Dental Hospital: Located just a mile from the University's main campus in Edgbaston, you will be based in our modern £50 million Birmingham Dental Hospital and School of Dentistry. This facility is the first integrated, stand-alone dental hospital and school to be built in the UK for almost 40 years.
  • Specialist facilities: Our state-of-the-art teaching facilities, including a fully computerised phantom head laboratory, exclusive training clinics, dedicated study spaces and computer clusters, provides you with access to world-class research facilities and a modern learning environment.

My course has been littered with practical activities and opportunities throughout my degree. We have had many practical simulations to prepare us for clinic which I have fond memories of. Personally, I love clinical practice and treating my own patients.

Reece Bushell, BDS Dental Surgery, Alumni


Modules in the first year

To lay the foundations for clinical practice, you will study a range of biological science modules creating a systems-based approach to understanding the human body, incorporating a wide range of different subjects. These are delivered by the Medical School and provide an important foundation for the Human Diseases modules covered later in the course.

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 professional conduct, 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 placed on enquiry-based learning (EBL). 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.

  • Body Systems - 40 credits
  • Craniofacial Anatomy - 40 credits
  • Introduction to Cells and Tissues - 20 credits
  • Dental Application of Biological Science - 10 credits
  • Law and Ethics - 10 credits
  • Academic Skills and Professionalism - Non-credit bearing 

Modules in the second year

The second year of your course 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 whilst other modules enable you to understand the wider context of dentistry and the influences of patient behaviour on their oral health. You will undertake further sessions alongside senior students, assisting them during their patient care. These modules are assessed at the end of the spring term.

The summer term of your second year is devoted to developing a range of practical skills and understanding the 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.

In addition to this, you will also gain an understanding of a research project in the periodontology teaching area and other academic work will focus on dental pathology, radiography and restorative dentistry.

  • Simulated Clinical Procedures and Dental Materials Science - 40 credits
  • Oral Biology, Microbiology and Immunology - 20 credits
  • Public Health and Epidemiology - 20 credits
  • Behavioural Management and the Foundations of Dental Practice - 20 credits
  • Foundations of Clinical Practice - 20 credits
  • Professionalism and Preparing for Clinical Practice - Non-credit bearing

Modules in the third year

At the start of your third year you will begin to treat your own patients under supervision within the dental hospital and start to put into practice the skills and knowledge that you have developed in your early years of study. 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 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.

  • Human Diseases - 40 credits
  • Introduction to Clinical Practice - 40 credits
  • Restorative Dentistry Specialty Teaching - 40 credits
  • Individually Tailored Component - Non-credit bearing
  • Professionalism and Teamwork - Non-credit bearing

Modules in the fourth year

During your fourth year, you will be introduced to two new speciality teaching areas; 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. Later on in the year, you will do this again but in an outreach clinic setting. This will help you to understand the environment which children are growing up in and gives you the opportunity to experience working 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 Human Diseases module.

Outreach placements for adult primary dental care start in the summer term and continue through until Easter of your final year. These take place in community clinics and provide you with experience to support your transition into Dental Foundation Training after graduation.

  • Clinical Patient Care - 40 credits
  • Advanced Simulation and Endodontics - 20 credits
  • Dental Public Health and Behavioural Science - 20 credits
  • Integrated Paediatric Specialty Teaching - 20 credits
  • Oral Pathology and Oral Medicine Specialty Teaching - 20 credits
  • Professionalism, Interpersonal and Emotional Skills - Non-credit bearing

Modules in the fifth year

In your final year of the BDS course, 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 also continue with some speciality teaching, for example oral surgery, and you will also undertake a block of dental sedation teaching in order to help you manage extremely anxious patients.

Further to this, there will 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.

  • Advanced Clinical Practice - 50 credits
  • Advanced Specialty Teaching - 40 credits
  • Final BDS - 20 credits
  • Special Study Module - 10 credits
  • Professionalism and the Transition to Independent Practice - Non-credit bearing

Please visit our Programmes and Modules Handbook for further details. 

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2024. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.


Tuition fees

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2024/25 are as follows:

  • UK: £9,250
  • International: Pre-clinical years 1: £27,180
  • International: Clinical years 2, 3, 4 and 5: £48,660

Visit our tutition fees page for more information 


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

Scholarships, bursaries or grants may be available to support you throughout your course. Funding opportunities available are linked to your subject area and/or your country of origin. These can be gained from the University or other sources.

View our undergraduate funding database 

Additional Course Costs

When you apply for the course, it is important that you also take into account living costs and that you will have sufficient funds to finance the full duration of your studies. Please also note that during the last three years of the programme you will be required to be in attendance for most of each year and the costs of subsistence and travel will accordingly be much greater.

Students are taught between the University Medical School and Birmingham Dental Hospital and School of Dentistry over the entirety of their degree programme. Students in years 3 to 5 undertake clinical dentistry placements within the local community. In year 4 there is a medical hospital placement where students may be placed in Coventry, Stoke or Worcester. Those locations further afield may be eligible to be reimbursed for travel expenses.

The BDS programme also offers 3rd year students the opportunity to undertake an elective course. Costs are variable depending on location.

Non-academic offer requirements – health screening

All accepted candidates will be required to complete health declaration and immunisation forms, and some will be contacted by an Occupational Health Physician where appropriate. If you accept our offer, you must submit the completed forms by the deadline stated in the offer.

Upon receipt of an offer, information will be sent as to how to complete the necessary documentation, this does not need to be done pre-application. Failure to disclose any pre-existing health conditions before the course may lead to retraction of any offer made to study. Please see the HEOPS guidance for more information prior to applying so you are aware of the potential implications of any additional needs you may have.

Health and Immunisation 

How To Apply

  • Please visit our applying to dentistry webpage for further support on how to apply for this programme. 
  • The University of Birmingham's UCAS code number is B32. You must enter this clearly on your application to ensure that it reaches us for consideration.
  • Applications will close on Monday 16th October 2023. Further key dates regarding applying to undergraduate courses can be found on the UCAS website.
  • If you need any further help with your Birmingham application or personal statement please visit our applying to Birmingham webpage. 

All applicants must:

  • Apply through UCAS
  • Offer acceptable academic qualifications
  • Sit the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) in year of application
  • Attend for interview if invited

Apply now via UCAS

Standard offer

International Requirements

Number of A levels required:
Typical offer:
Required subjects and grades:
A levels must include Chemistry and Biology. These must be obtained in one sitting, in the same exam period of the same year. Human Biology may be offered, but not in addition to Biology. GCSE A*/8 in Biology and Chemistry and A/7 in Mathematics and English Language or Literature. You must also sit the UCAT.
General Studies:
Not accepted.

Graduates: Graduates must have achieved 2:1 in a health science related degree (or 65% average if unclassified degree), and a minimum of ABB at A level to include Chemistry and Biology plus one other. You must also offer a minimum of GCSE grade C in Maths and English.

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

We receive a high volume of applications for the BDS course compared to the number of places available. This means that spaces are extremely competitive and therefore the achievement of the minimum criteria for application does not guarantee an invitation to interview. 

Minimum Age Requirement

As this programme has a mandatory clinical placement, every applicant for admission to the University must have reached the age of 18 years on 1 October of the year of entry.

Students from Ukraine

We are not able to accept a simple transfer regardless of circumstances for our BDS Dental Surgery programme. However we are pleased to inform you that UK Government has now confirmed that students from Ukraine are eligible to apply for a university place through normal UCAS routes. Students from Ukraine can also now access home student fees, tuition fee loans and maintenance loans, and are entitled to work in the UK (for up to three years) through one of three established national schemes.

We would welcome new applications for the BDS programme and we are happy to waive any usual prohibition on not accepting those who have started dental studies elsewhere from those who have been displaced from their University due to conflict. All applicants would be required to start the course from Year 1 as we do not accept transfers.

Visit our Applying to Dentistry website for a full breakdown of our admissions process, including entry requirements for all applicant categories, how we select for interview as well as more information about the interview process.

Applying to Dentistry

Alternative offers through our Pathways to Birmingham programmes and our Contextual Offer scheme

Students who are eligible and successfully complete a Pathways to Birmingham programme will receive special consideration from admissions tutors and an alternative offer (typically two grades below the standard offer). In addition, our Contextual Offer Scheme recognises the potential of students whose personal circumstances may have restricted achievement in school or college. If you are eligible to benefit from the contextual offer scheme, you will receive an offer which is one grade lower than the standard offer.

International Students

We welcome applications from a students holding a wide range of overseas qualifications. Applicants must have excellent written and spoken English. Please note that the university’s Standard English language requirements are minimum standards. As a minimum, the English language IELTS must be 7.0 in each component.

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

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

Learn more about international entry requirements

At Birmingham, you’ll learn from a mixture of clinicians, academics and biological and material scientists in world-class settings, thereby receiving a rich diversity of academic knowledge and experience relating to Dental Surgery.

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 your course 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. In addition to this, you'll also 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.


You’ll be based in Birmingham Dental Hospital and School of Dentistry, which was built in 2016 and is the the first integrated, stand-alone hospital and school to be built in the UK for almost 40 years. You will benefit from state-of-the-art facilities including modern research facilities, lecture theatres, dedicated study spaces and computer cluster. Our dedicated fully computerised phantom head laboratory will allow you to learn how to manage dental decay and restore teeth amongst other practical tasks.

Tours of the Dental Hospital and School of Dentistry take place during our Undergraduate Open Days to give you the opportunity to see what facilities will be available to you.

Teaching Staff

Students at the University of Birmingham are taught by a mixture of professors, doctors and postgraduates, thereby receiving a rich diversity of academic knowledge and experience. Many of our teaching staff have published important works about their areas of expertise, whilst others have taught at international institutions and can offer unique perspectives of their subject areas.

For more information about staff in the school, their qualifications, publication history and specific areas of interest, visit the School of Dentistry staff profile page.

Code of Conduct

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.

Student Support

You will have access to a comprehensive support network, open to all students studying within the School of Dentistry, which will assist and help you to deal with any problems that arise throughout your studies.

In addition, the Student Services Centre, which based in the Medical School on main campus, offers many services from drop in sessions for advice and guidance, referral to internal and external services and support regarding extenuating circumstances.

You’ll also be assigned a personal tutor for the duration of your time with us. Your personal tutor will be an academic staff member that teaches on the BDS Dental Surgery course.  If there are particular areas where you need support, you will be able to address this with your tutors.

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.

Take a look at what our International Students are getting up to. 

Contact Hours

Year 1: On average you can expect approximately 26% of your time to be spent in scheduled teaching (lectures, small group tutorials and lab practice), 73% on independent study and 1% on placement.

Year 2: On average you can expect approximately 35% of your time to be spent in scheduled teaching (lectures, small group tutorials and lab practice), 55% on independent study and 10% on placement.

Year 3: On average you can expect approximately 28% of your time to be spent in scheduled teaching (lectures, small group tutorials and lab practice), 32% on independent study and 40% on placement.

Year 4: On average you can expect approximately 11% of your time to be spent in scheduled teaching (lectures, small group tutorials and lab practice), 39% on independent study and 50% on placement.

Year 5: On average you can expect approximately 9% of your time to be spent in scheduled teaching (lectures, small group tutorials and lab practice), 31% on independent study and 60% on placement.

Assessment Methods

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, clinical work and formal exams. 

At the beginning of each module, you’ll be given information on how and when you’ll be assessed for that particular area 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.

Throughout the course there will be opportunities to meet with your personal tutor to see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support. Your personal tutor is based in the School of Dentistry and can help with any academic issues that you may encounter. 

As a Birmingham graduate, you will thrive in the workplace as you to apply your knowledge and skills to your chosen career.

The five-year BDS Dental Surgery 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 all of our graduates gain employment on completion of the course. 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.

University Careers Network

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 outstanding Careers Network can help you achieve your goal. Our unique careers guidance service will help you to develop your career from the moment you arrive. Working closely with academics, alumni and employment providers, Careers Network provides you with advice and guidance on the recruitment process, including support with applications and interview preparation. 

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. 

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.

Find out more about our Careers Network 

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

View our career profiles

Professional Accreditation

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