Dental Surgery BDS

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

Annual tuition fees for 2022/23:
£9,250 (UK) 
£24,600 (International – pre-clinical years 1)
£44,100 (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

BDS Dental Surgery at the University of Birmingham will provide you with a solid foundation of learning on which to base your clinical experience and patient care, leading you to a highly successful career in the world of dentistry.

As the population ages, people are retaining teeth for a longer period of time. The importance of understanding interactions between general and oral health is therefore paramount. At Birmingham, 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.

Dentistry requires excellent communication skills in order to treat patients effectively as individuals. 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. 

Continuous advances in technology and dental materials have increased the scope of practice in dentistry. In addition to this, 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. Dentists now tend to focus on undertaking more complex treatments, rather than carrying out routine dental treatments.

You will be based at Birmingham Dental Hospital and School of Dentistry, located just a mile from the University's main campus in Edgbaston. The £50 million hospital provides world-class research facilities and a modern learning environment. Facilities include a fully computerised phantom head laboratory where you will learn how to manage dental decay and restore teeth amongst other practical tasks.

The BDS Dental Surgery course at Birmingham is regulated by the General Dental Council (GDC).

Birmingham is ranked 20th in the world for Dentistry in the QS World University Rankings 2021.

First Year

The early part of the course lays the foundation for clinical practice. A range of biological science modules provide a systems-based approach to understanding the human body, incorporating a wide range of different subjects. These are delivered by the Medical School and they 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.

Second Year

The second year of the 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.

Third Year

At the start of the 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 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

During your fourth year of the Dental Surgery course, 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 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 your 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. This will consist of either an elective project on a subject of your choice, dental or non-dental, carried out 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 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.

I love how we're involved in patient care almost from the get-go, they really prepare you for the real world.

Delan Hadad, BDS Dental Surgery

Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest updates and FAQs for future students and offer-holders

Visit our FAQs


Modules in the first year

The early part of the Dental Surgery course 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.

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

Modules in the second year

The second year of the course builds on the first and you will spend an increased amount of time 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. 

  • 20 credits - Oral Biology, Microbiology and Immunology
  • 20 credits - Craniofacial Biology 1 & 2
  • 40 credits - Foundations of Clinical Practice
  • 40 credits - Behavioural Science and Population Health

Modules in the 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. 

  • 20 credits - Simulated Clinical Procedures and Dental Materials
  • 40 credits - Introduction to Clinical Practice
  • 40 credits - Human Diseases
  • 20 credits - Restorative Dentistry Speciality Teaching 1

Modules in the fourth year

In your penultimate year of study, you will be introduced to two new speciality teaching areas, paediatric dentistry and oral medicine.

  • 10 credits - Oral Pathology
  • 10 credits - Advanced Simulated Clinical Procedures
  • 40 credits - Intermediate Clinical Practice
  • Non-credit bearing - Individually tailored module
  • 20 credits - Dental Public Health and Behavioural Science
  • 20 credits - Restorative Dentistry Speciality Teaching 2
  • 10 credits - Integrated Paediatric Speciality Teaching 1
  • 10 credits - Oral Surgery and Oral Medicine Speciality Teaching 1

Modules in the fifth year

In the final year of your Dental Surgery 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.

  • 50 credits - Advanced Clinical Practice
  • 10 credits - Restorative Dentistry Speciality Teaching 3
  • 20 credits - Integrated Paediatric Speciality Teaching 2
  • 20 credits - Oral Surgery and Medicine Speciality Teaching 2
  • 20 credits - Final BDS

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 2022. 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 2022/23 are as follows:

  • UK: £9,250
  • International: Pre-clinical years 1: £24,600
  • International: Clinical years 2, 3, 4 and 5: £44,100

Visit our tuition fees page for more information.


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.

For further information on tuition fees, living costs and available financial support, please see our pages on undergraduate fees and funding.

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

How To Apply

Apply through UCAS at www.ucas.com  
Learn more about applying

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.

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

We will accept a new application for a place if you have not applied before and wish to take the autumn exams. You must have a minimum assessed grade profile of ABB and you will then be expected to meet AAA in full in the exams (which can be combination of grades from exams or assessed grades already awarded). The requirement to sit the UCAT test is required as well as attend an interview if selected, as per all other applicants.

We will accept any 2021 Dentistry offer holders who wish to take an exam in one or more subject on the basis that you reapply for 2022 entry, notifying us that you were a previous 2021 offer holder.  If you achieve AAA, then your place will be confirmed at that point. 

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. During our selection for interview process we look at the following aspects of an application:

• Academic achievement
• Personal statement
• UCAT score

The exact mechanism by which we shortlist candidates may change annually based upon the number of applicants in a particular year and other external factors.

7 or above in Mathematics
7 or above in English Language OR Literature
8 or above in Biology
8 or above in Chemistry (or 2 grade 8 or above in double science or equivalent)

For applicants who took their GCSEs in 2020 and were unable to sit their examinations, we will accept up to 2 grade drops in one of the above subjects and grades, or one grade drop in two of the above subjects and grades. 

BTEC: BTEC Extended Diploma, Diploma and Subsidiary Diploma are not accepted

Scottish applicants: Scottish Highers of AAAAA plus advanced Highers at AA in Chemistry and Biology with no need for a third advanced higher.  

Graduates: Must have achieved 2:1 in a health sciences related degree (or 65% average if unclassified degree), and a minimum of ABB at A Level to include Chemistry and Biology plus one other.

Learn more about entry requirements.

 Read our BDS Dental Surgery FAQ's

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 UCAT. The scores are used in conjunction with details from the UCAS application forms to select candidates for interview.

3.  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. For applicants applying for study in 2022 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 2022 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.

Some resources are listed on our 'Support for school and college students applying for healthcare degrees' webpage.

4. Students will be required to complete a successful Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check before admission to the course. You will receive an email from our central admissions team regarding DBS checks approximately 2-3 weeks after you have firmly accepted your place on the course. This email will contain further instructions, next steps and advise of the deadline for submitting your DBS application. Please be sure to check your junk/spam folders for this email before contacting us. 

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.

11.  You should note that placement providers may require evidence of your Covid-19 vaccination status before permitting you to commence work in the placement setting.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check and the Excluded Students Database (ESD)

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

Selection of Students

During our selection process for the BDS Dental Surgery course, academic excellence is only one criterion; it is also vital 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.

All applicants will be fairly considered, with strong candidates being called to interview. For 2022 intake, in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic, all interviews will be undertaken in an online format. These will mimic our usual MMI format as closely as possible.

International Students

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

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.

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. Our in-house virtual learning environment (the ecourse) provides complementary learning materials and supports you in your enquiry-based approach to learning.

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, meaning you will benefit from state-of-the-art facilities including modern research facilities, lecture theatres, dedicated study spaces and computer cluster.

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.

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.

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. Find out more about 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

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

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.

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.


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