Newcastle University School of Dental Sciences

Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) Honours 5 year course (1st year entry)


UCAS course code A206, institution code N21

5 year full time course (1st year entry) integrating scientific teaching and application with clinical experience


Teaching is provided in the form of lectures, seminars and practicals as well as self-directed study, and teamwork-based project work.

Course topics

The first two years of the BDS programme with provide students with a firm grounding in science to prepare for clinical decision making.

During year one, students will concentrate on general biomedical science including topics such as biology of cells and tissues, metabolism and homeostasis, cardiovascular and respiratory physiology, neurobiology, and anatomy of the head and neck. Students will also be introduced to dentistry with topics such as tooth morphology.

From year two, students will begin to study more specialised oral science topics such as dental tissues, craniofacial development, oral environment, dental materials science and clinical oral functions. Students will also continue to study applied biomedical science, with topics such as nutrition and diet, pharmacology, immunity and inflammation, and behavioural sciences. Students also begin to learn clinical techniques.

During years 3 and 4, study is focused on integrated human disease via lectures, seminars, practicals and patient contact. Students will develop their understanding and application of science to the clinical dental setting, including disease processes and the relationship between dental / oral health and general health. Understanding will be gained in the development and behaviour of the individual from birth to adulthood and also the nature and role of society and the individual in controlling or influencing public health.

Clinical experience

From year one, students will have the opportunity to gain insight into clinical experience by shadowing students from senior years as they undertake their clinical duties. This valuable experience will help students see the relevance of their theoretical studies and also gain experience of the application of interpersonal skills and team work.

In year 2, pre-clinical training in the practical skills of dentistry such as manual dexterity is developed in the state of the art Clinical Skills Laboratory. Clinical problems are simulated on model (phantom) heads using natural teeth and clinical materials.

Towards the end of year 2, students are divided into small groups and will begin their introduction to clinical work, which can take place in various departments of the Dental Hospital. Students will begin to carry out simple treatments on patients under close supervision. From year 3, students will begin to take responsibility for treating their own patients. Clinical competence is achieved by the development of diagnostic and treatment skills including the use of safe working practices. Students will be taught how to prevent disease, plan treatment, treat dental decay and gum disease, carry out restorative procedures such as fillings and root canal treatments, and make dentures. Students will also learn how to extract teeth and may have the opportunity to carry out some surgical procedures. Cross-infection control and the safe use of radiographs is taught, as well as special skills required for treating child patients. Professionalism and team working skills are developed through the clinical experience where students take increasing responsibility for their own learning and decision making.

From year 4, students have the opportunity to observe and treat patients under close supervision using advanced techniques such as orthodontics, dental implants, and sedation. Students will also see some specialist treatment and see how complex cases are managed by attending referral clinics run by specialist consultants in oral and maxillofacial surgery, oral medicine, paediatric dentistry, orthodontics and restorative dentistry.

During years 4 and 5 at Newcastle University School of Dental Sciences, clinical experience is further extended via outreach clinical training, whereby students have the opportunity to treat patients in several primary care clinics located in various parts of the region. Students are able to provide a wide range of dental care in the primary care setting and treat patients in their own local environment whilst developing team working skills as they work closely with outreach teachers, qualified dental nurses, peers and other healthcare professionals.


All students are allocated a personal tutor at the start of the BDS programme who they will meet with on a regular basis to monitor progress an offer both academic and personal advice and guidance throughout the course through regular personal tutor meetings.

Progress and development is monitored regularly through individual personal portfolios which record achievements throughout the course and allow the student to reflect on what they have done.

During the first two years of the BDS programme, students are formally assessed in January and at the end of the year in the form of exams. Students are also continually assessed via essays and projects. Assessment of clinical skills is also carried out continually with careful feedback which allows for progress.

Special features

There is opportunity for students to take one year out from the BDS program in order to obtain an additional Honours degree in a chosen specialist science subject area.

Students also have the opportunity in their fourth year to undertake an elective. This is a period in which students study dentistry outside of Newcastle University School of Dental Sciences. Many students choose to go abroad for their elective, but it can also be carried out in a specialist unit elsewhere in the UK or even in a research project within the University itself.


Academic entry requirements

A levels: AAB including both Chemistry and Biology at grade A. General studies in not accepted as the additional A level.

GCSEs: At least 5 GCSEs at grade B or above are required

English language: Candidates whose first language is not English must achieve a minimum of 7.0 in the International English Language Testing Score (IELTS) examination with no less than 6.5 in any of the four components, or equivalent.

Scottish qualifications: AAAAB at Higher Grade with both Chemistry and Biology at grade A. AB grades in Chemistry and / or Biology at Advanced Higher Grade are also required. English and Mathematics at grade 2 Standard Grade is required or Intermediate 2 equivalent.

International Baccalaureate: a minimum 35 points overall is required with Chemistry and Biology at Grade 6 or above at Higher level.

For additional requirements and other accepted entry qualifications and access to higher education applications, please see the institution website.

UKCAT: All applicants must successfully sit the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) in the year of application.

General entry requirements

Work experience: All applicants to the BDS course must have undertaken a minimum of 2 weeks’ dental work experience at a General Dental Practice prior to submission of their UCAS application. Other types of dental work may be considered.

Health screening: All successful candidates who accept an offer from Newcastle University School of Dental Sciences must complete a NHS occupational health questionnaire to assess the applicant’s immunisation status. Any required immunisations (e.g. Hepatitis B immunisation) will be provided by the Occupational Health Service at Newcastle University. All students must produce satisfactory evidence of immunisation against Hepatitis B (or evidence of non-infectivity if the response to immunization is unsatisfactory) prior to commencement of any clinical training. Students must also provide evidence of non-infectivity for Hepatitis C before commencing the course.

Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) enhanced disclosure: All students at dental schools will have a high level of unsupervised contact with children or vulnerable adults and must therefore undergo a CRB check at enhanced level. Newcastle University School of Dental Sciences reserves the right to discontinue a student’s studies on receipt of unsatisfactory disclosure.


Candidates must apply via UCAS. The application must include a personal statement detailing reasons for choosing dentistry and any supporting information such as team or leadership experience. The application will also include a school or college reference. Applications must be received from UCAS in the period from mid September to October 15. Applications are not normally considered after October 15.

Candidates who wish to defer entry by one year will be considered provided they intend to use their time constructively.

Once received from UCAS, applications are assessed check the acceptability of qualifications. An academic score is calculated on the basis of predicted or actual A Level grades: A = 10, B = 8, C = 6. AS Level is equivalent to half an A level; however where three A levels are offered, AS levels will not form part of the academic score. Only applicants who score 28 or more from 3 A levels are considered. Applicants who are retaking or who have retaken A or AS levels are not normally considered except where they were disadvantaged at their first attempt (for example, if they were suffering illness or overcoming a family bereavement).

From those applications that have a minimum score of 28, non-academic factors are assessed from the personal statement and reference and graded. These include a minimum of 10 days work experience, preferably in a General Dental Practice, evidence of commitment to caring for others, team working and leadership skills, other non-academic interests, and insight into a dental career and the NHS.

Candidates are then shortlisted, and those considered outstanding will be invited for interview. Strong candidates will be invited only if there are insufficient applications from outstanding candidates. Unsuccessful candidates will not be invited for interview.

Interviews are held between November and March and are normally carried out by an interview panel of 2 selectors. Candidates will be graded with respect to whether they have the aptitude, motivation and personal qualities to succeed on the BDS programme.

Unsuccessful candidates will normally be notified via UCAS by the end of March. Successful applicants will be notified by writing from the School Manager, with the official offer being sent via UCAS within one week of interview.


School Manager
School of Dental Sciences
Newcastle University
Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4BW
United Kingdom.

Telephone: +44 (0)191 222 8347