MSc Occupational Hygiene / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Oral Health & Disease in Populations

Course unit fact file
Unit code POPH76061
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


Dental problems continue to cause much morbidity and incur large treatment costs, despite effective preventive management being possible for most of these problems. Historical patterns and complex vested interests have constrained change and oral health tends to have a low priority.

This course unit aims to give a broad understanding of dental health issues and how they may be prevented or managed at a service and population level. It will enable the student to assess needs for oral healthcare and plan a service to meet them.

It is not assumed that students have taken any other course units prior to starting Oral Health and Disease in Populations.


This unit is one of two which may be taken as the additional mandatory unit for the Dental Public Health pathway, alongside the mandatory core units of POPH60041, POPH60991 and POPH60982.

The other option is:

  • POPH76072 Implementing Strategy in Dental Services


  • To develop a strategic approach to dental health problems in populations.

Learning outcomes

  • To understand the principles of the main dental diseases, how they may be prevented and managed to understand how population oral health needs may be assessed.
  • To understand how policy and strategy are formulated.
  • To understand the principles of managing performance and evaluating outcomes.


Topics covered include:

  • the main dental diseases, prevention and management, and impact on health;
  • the role of dental public health in the management of health, disease and the workforce engaged in its prevention and treatment;
  • how to measure dental disease in populations;
  • how to identify inequalities in dental disease and their determinant;
  • the impact of dental disease on quality of life;
  • assessing demand, supply and utilisation of dental services;
  • the role of screening, whole population and risk approaches
  • options for how health care policy is formulated and can be influenced;
  • an ethical framework for deciding priorities;
  • theories of rationing in oral healthcare;
  • theoretical background of strategy development and delivery;
  • the political, organisations, legal and resource constraints to developing strategy
  • how to translate the outcomes of oral health needs assessment into a coherent oral health strategy for different populations;
  • project planning methods and change management;
  • implementation of strategy into action;
  • potential approaches to reviewing performance in oral healthcare systems and supporting improvement
  • principles of evaluation;
  • methods for evaluation of health technologies, healthcare systems, patient experience and health care process data;
  • economic appraisal methods.

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching will be web-based, with a high degree of student-led learning through interactive exercises to test understanding built into the web-based teaching materials, and exercises and assignments involving seeking out, retrieving and reflecting upon information from a range of mainly web-based resources.

There will be opportunities for student-student and student-tutor interaction through dedicated discussion groups. Students will be encouraged to share their experiences and examples from their own practice. Material will be made as relevant as possible to the professional and organisational backgrounds of students.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Students will demonstrate analytical skills through applying their learning to different settings and practical challenges
Problem solving
Students will need to apply a logical approach to analyse oral health problems and dental services and be able to plan improvements
Written communication
Students will need to be able to communicate their arguments coherently in the assignment questions demonstrating literacy and a strong command of the English language

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 100%

Feedback methods

Students will be provided with personalised feedback for their final summative assignment (2,500-3,000 words or equivalent) within 20 working days.

Further opportunities for formative feedback (on non-assessed work) will also be provided during a course unit.

Recommended reading

There is no set textbook. The resources are online.

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Lucy O'Malley Unit coordinator

Additional notes

If you have any questions about the content of this unit, please contact the course unit leader  Lucy O'malley  via email on  If you have any other queries, please contact the PGT programme administrators via email on


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