BDS Dentistry (first-year entry) / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course description

"The best thing about the course is having early exposure to the clinical setting and being able to work independently from the start.

"Everyone is very supportive at Manchester and there is a strong sense of community within the course and everywhere else on campus."

Priya Dhangar / Year 3 student

Our Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) course will prepare you for a dentistry career through a combination of clinical study and basic and advanced dental sciences.

Once you have mastered basic competencies in the University's skills facilities, you will move on to treating patients in both the University Dental Hospital of Manchester and local outreach clinics early in the course.

You will learn to work within a dental team to take a patient-centred approach to clinical care, practicing in a professional, safe and ethical manner.

Our students are also trained to become reflective practitioners who are committed to lifelong learning.

This course is currently being reviewed and teaching and learning may differ for 2023 entry. Offer holders will be informed and the website will be updated when any changes are confirmed.

Special features

Early clinical experience

You will be introduced to the clinical environment in the first semester of Year 1, enabling you to integrate theory and practice early on in the course.

Interdisciplinary learning

Learn alongside students and professionals from a range of backgrounds, including those training in complementary professions such as dental nursing and therapy.

Intercalation opportunities

You can study another subject to achieve a BSc award over one year between Years 2 and 3 of the BDS course.

Foundation year available

Students who do not have the required science qualifications for Year 1 entry but have achieved good grades in other non-science subjects may apply for the BDS with Foundation Year .

Teaching and learning

We use a range of teaching and learning methods on the course.

Enquiry-based learning (EBL)

The tutor establishes the task and helps the process, but you will pursue your own lines of enquiry, drawing on existing knowledge and identifying your own learning needs.

You will participate in a wide range of different learning activities including problem-based learning (PBL) sessions, small-group seminars, themed theatre events, case-based activities, computer-assisted learning (CAL), the use of web-based resources and project work.

The emphasis on EBL means that traditional lectures do not form a major part of the course.

Critically Appraised Topics

There is an emphasis on research throughout the course. Of particular note is the use of Critically Appraised Topics (CAT), in which students pose a clinical question, eg 'Is water fluoridation an effective means of preventing tooth decay?', and assess the existing published literature to draw conclusions.

These might include suggestions for further research to add to the existing evidence base or a strategy for implementing treatments where the existing research evidence is strong.

Through the review process, you will acquire skills that will equip you to assess, in a meaningful way, new developments in dentistry throughout their lifetime in practice. The reviews are added to our database of critically appraised topics and published on our website.


Throughout the course, you will complete a research project and a clinical case presentation.


These are interdisciplinary-themed theatre events combining presentations, clinical case presentations and interactive exercises.


Classes in laboratories, the anatomy dissection room and our clinical/technical skills facilities are timed to complement the knowledge you acquire through EBL.

These are designed to equip you with the competencies you will need to treat patients during each stage of their development as student dentists.


You will undertake clinical experience in a range of environments (dental hospital, outreach community clinics), working in a dental team.

Coursework and assessment

The course has been carefully designed to ensure that assessment is appropriate in terms of both timing and quantity, and that there is consistency of assessment methods throughout the course. These include:

  • multiple choice questions
  • short answer written papers
  • assessed projects
  • presentation of completed cases with companion oral examinations (sometimes known as vivas)
  • objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs) incorporating clinical competency tests
  • peer assessment
  • reflective journal writing.

A 100% attendance record is expected for all teaching elements unless there are valid reasons for absence. If you have poor attendance records, you may not be signed up to sit the end of year exams in any year of the course.

Integration and early clinical experience

The integration of non-clinical and clinical aspects of the course means that the relationship of science subjects to the treatment of patients and disease elimination is immediately apparent.

This philosophy allows for the rapid transfer of relevant research findings to the clinics. You will be introduced to the clinical environment in the first semester of Year 1.

Outreach clinics

This course emphasises exposing you to dentistry outside the confines of the University and Dental Hospital through custom-built community clinics.

Treatment needs are high, there is no shortage of patients and you will gain valuable experience of working as part of a team including dentists, dental nurses, hygienists, therapists and receptionists.


The importance of teamwork is emphasised on the course. Alongside the BDS course, we provide the BSc Dental Hygiene and Therapy course, which trains dental hygienists/therapists.

We also have close links with nearby Manchester Metropolitan University's long-standing course in Dental Technology.

Students drawn from different years of the course and from dental care professions, such as student dental therapists and student dental technicians, work as a team to meet the treatment needs of shared patients.

This helps you to experience true teamwork in a dental context throughout your time at Manchester.

Course unit details

A key feature of the course is integration between theory and practice, and early learning and teaching in the clinical context is central to this. As such, clinical subjects are taught alongside the basic dental science subjects from Year 1.

This allows links to be made between the relationship of disease processes to body structure and function, and the behavioural sciences to patient treatment.

The course is designed around five themes:

  1. Human Health and Disease
  2. The Mouth in Health and Disease
  3. Clinical Competence:
    • Diagnostic Skills
    • Manual Skills and Dexterity
    • Problem Solving
    • Patient Management
  4. Scientific Understanding and Thought
  5. Team working, Communication Skills, ICT, reflective practice

Dedicated teams have worked to develop these themes to ensure that your knowledge and skills develop over the five years of the course.

Course content for year 1

Basic building blocks:

  • Orofacial Biology 1
  • Healthy Living 1 (a healthy body)
  • Team Working, Professionalism and Patient Management 1
  • Patient Assessment 1

Course content for year 2

Building your knowledge, skills and attitudes:

  • Orofacial Biology 2
  • Healthy Living 2 (a healthy mouth)
  • Team Working, Professionalism and Patient Management 2
  • Patient Assessment 2
  • Disease Management 2

Course content for year 3

Integrating knowledge, skills and attitudes:

  • Orofacial Biology 3
  • Healthy Living 3 (a healthy mind)
  • Team Working, Professionalism and Patient Management 3
  • Patient Assessment 3
  • Disease Management 3
  • Participation in the Manchester Leadership Programme (MLP)

Course content for year 4

Achieving clinical competence:

  • Orofacial Biology 4
  • Team Working, Professionalism and Patient Management 4
  • Patient Assessment 4
  • Disease Management 4

Course content for year 5

Moving to professional competence:

  • Team Working, Professionalism and Patient Management 5
  • Preparation for Independent Practice
  • The Complex Patient

What our students say

"The Manchester Dentistry course has been the best experience of my life.

"It has brought out the best in me and my skills."

Maleehah Shaikh / Year 3 student

Find out more about what it's like to study at Manchester on the  Biology, Medicine and Health Student Blog .


You will have access to a range of clinical facilities, as well as our dedicated learning resource centre with a multimedia cluster.

University facilities

The University of Manchester offers extensive teaching and learning facilities and library and online services to help you get the most out of your studies.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Office .