Entry Requirements to Study Dentistry in the UK

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Study Dentistry in the UK: Entry Requirements, Age Criteria and Selection Process for International Students

There are only 18 dental schools in the UK that are accredited by the General Dental Council (GDC), therefore getting into one of these institutions takes a lot of work. To make the process a little easier for students, we have collated all of the information for admission to dentistry schools in the UK into this one article. It goes over the standards for admission, age eligibility, and the selection procedure used by dental schools in the UK.

Overview of Dentistry in the UK

But before you start reading, let us jot down some important criteria for getting admission to a dental school in the UK. 

Entry-level degree Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS or BChD) 
Duration of degree 4 to 5 years (6 years with preliminary course)
Specializations MSc specializations in pediatric dentistry, endodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, orthopedics, etc.  
Age requirement 18+
Regulatory body GDC
Entrance exams The University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) or the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT)
English proficiency tests accepted  TOEFL, IELTS

Top colleges for Dentistry in the UK 

This is a comprehensive list of top dental colleges that are accredited by the General Dental Council (GDC) of the UK. 

University Name Complete University Guide Ranking 
Queen’s University Belfast 1
Newcastle University 2
University of Bristol 3
University of Glasgow 4
University of Manchester 5
University of Leeds 6
King’s College London 7
University of Dundee 8
University of Sheffield 9
Cardiff University 10
University of Liverpool 11
University of Birmingham 12
Queen Mary University of London 13
University of Plymouth 14
University of Central Lancashire 15
Teesside University, Middlesbrough 16
University of Aberdeen  NA
Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry NA

Age criteria for Dental schools in the UK

The minimum age requirement for admission to a dental degree in the UK is 18 years at the time of application. Students who are under 18 years of age before the start of course enrollment are given a deferred entry and must meet the minimum age requirement by the commencement of the course. However, there is no upper age limit, and mature students of any age can apply to dental schools.

Entry requirements for Dental universities in the UK

To become a dentist in the UK, a student needs to have a Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS or BChD) degree from a GDC accredited university. Dental colleges in the UK offer BDS either as a standard degree (with or without a preliminary year) or a graduate-entry degree. 

The standard entry BDS program runs for a duration of five years. If a student did not complete his or her secondary education in the necessary science subjects then they have to take up a standard entry BDS program with a preliminary year (foundation course). The grade requirement for the preliminary courses is an “A” level. This extra year gives students the necessary scientific training needed for the BDS degree. Many universities also ask international students to complete a foundation year before admitting them to their dental school. The modules for a dentistry foundation year are as follows:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Dentistry 
  • Academic English skills
  • Project skills

Currently, the University of Manchester School of Dentistry and Cardiff University School of Dentistry offer foundation courses for dental schools in the UK.  

The graduate entry BDS program is for those students who already have a degree in biomedical science. It runs for a duration of four years. The following dental universities offer graduate-entry BDS programs:

  • University of Aberdeen School of Medicine and Dentistry
  • University of Central Lancashire School of Dentistry
  • King’s College London Dental Institute
  • King’s College London Dental Institute (3 years: for medically qualified applicants only)

Nearly all dental schools in the UK use standardized tests like UCAT or BMAT as part of their admissions process. Students can choose whichever they want to take depending on the university they are applying to. UCAT test is a computer-based aptitude test taken for 2 hours that consists of the following sections:

  1. Verbal Reasoning
  2. Decision Making
  3. Quantitative Reasoning
  4. Abstract Reasoning 
  5. Situational Judgement 

All the questions in the five sections of UCAT are in multiple-choice question format. The BMAT is also an aptitude test taken for a 2-hours and consists of the following three sections: 

  1. Thinking skills 
  2. Scientific Knowledge and Applications
  3. Writing task 

The first two sections are multiple-choice questions and the third section is a writing task. BMAT is conducted at various test centers across the world. 

The following is a summary list of general academic requirements for admission to a standard BDS program in the UK:

  • Secondary school education (GCSE equivalent) with an aggregate of 90% and above in chemistry, biology, mathematics, and physics 
  • Academic transcripts (UK equivalency) 
  • Valid passport
  • Strong UCAT or BMAT scores
  • Personal statement 
  • Passport photographs
  • Completed visa application
  • Letter of recommendations
  • A copy of bank statement showing adequate funds for at least one academic year of tuition
  • English proficiency test scores such as TOEFL (95 and above) or IELTS (7.5 and above)

The following is a summarized list of general academic requirements for admission to a graduate-entry program in the UK:

  • A bachelor’s degree in science with a GPA of 3.0 and above (4.0 scale)
  • Academic transcripts (UK equivalency) 
  • Valid passport
  • Strong UCAT or BMAT scores
  • Personal statement 
  • Passport photographs
  • Completed visa application
  • Letter of recommendations
  • A copy of bank statement showing adequate funds for at least one academic year of tuition
  • English proficiency test scores such as TOEFL (95 and above) or IELTS (7.5 and above)

Upon completion of their BDS degrees, dentists are required to do one or two years of supervised practice called foundation training and get licensed from GDC before they can move to master’s specializations. Some popular areas of dental specialization are: 

  • Orthodontics
  • Oral surgery
  • Dental public health
  • Forensic dentistry 
  • Pediatric dentistry 

Here are some general admission requirements for master’s specializations in dentistry. 

  • A certified bachelor’s degree in dentistry with a GPA of 3.0 and above (4.0 scale)
  • Academic transcripts 
  • Valid passport
  • Passport photographs
  • UCAT or BMAT scores if applicable 
  • Completed visa application
  • Motivational letter
  • Panel interviews, multiple mini interviews (MMIs) or online interviews 
  • Resume
  • Recommendation letters (two)
  • Work experience (highly recommended) 
  • English language proficiency (TOEFL 90 or above and IELTS 6.5 and above)

The selection process for Dental universities in the UK

Nearly all dental schools in the UK accept applications through the common Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). The selection to dental colleges in the UK is based on the following criteria:

  1. Academic qualifications and performance: The first step is the screening of academic qualifications to determine whether the applicant meets the standard academic threshold to be considered for admission.
  2. Test score: Most dental colleges require a UCAT score of the third decile or above or a BMAT score of 3.0 and above
  3. English proficiency test score: Universities prefer students with an IELTS score of 7.5 and above
  4. Medical fitness: Applicants to dental colleges should be medically fit to serve their patients.
  5. Criminal background checks: Students should stay clear of any criminal activities to be considered for admission. 
  6. Personal interview: The interviews are designed in a way to test students’ noncognitive skills, maturity, empathy, interpersonal skills responsibility, and morality. 
  7. Prior-dental experience: A few weeks of pre-dentistry work experience increases the chances of a student getting selected for admission.  

Although not the prime factor in getting a seat at dental schools, some top dental schools in the UK prefer students who have an excellent portfolio of hobbies, interests, and skills. Students should strive hard to write an excellent statement of purpose to show their motivation for the dental field. They should also consider writing recommendation letters from their professors who know about their passion for this field.  

Competition to study dentistry in the UK is fierce due to the limited number of colleges. Students from all across the world compete for a seat at these universities. Before applying to dental schools in the UK, students should double-check their eligibility and other prerequisites. If not, a student may miss the UCAS deadline and thus miss out on an opportunity to become a dentist in the UK.

Looking at the struggles of students, Gyanberry has come up with admission counseling services. Students can avail of these services to increase their chances of admission to dental schools in the UK. We also have a QnA section where we have answered a few common questions concerning dentistry studies in the UK. 

*Note: All prices mentioned in the USD are for reference only. Exchange rates may vary from time to time and from country to country.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, a student should be a minimum of 18 years old at the time of application to dental schools in the UK. 

Prospective dental students must take one of two standardized examinations as part of their admissions process: UCAT or BMAT.

Some dental schools in the UK offer admission to their BDS programs to students with a degree in biomedical science. This degree runs for four years as opposed to a standard BDS degree of five years.