Course Finder

FdSc Oral Health Science

Course code: B750
Location: Southend Campus
Qualification: Foundation Degree of Science
Mode of study: Full-time
Duration: 24 months
Tuition Fee: Home/EU, Overseas
Funding available: Find out using our scholarship finder Department: Health and Human Sciences
Facebook: University of Essex
Further information: For more information, please e-mail us or see for yourself by booking a place at one of our open days.

About the course

Our FdSc Oral Health Science is a programme that will provide you with eligibility to register with the General Dental Council (GDC) as a Dental Hygienist. It is based on the General Dental Council’s (GDC’s) guidance document Developing the Dental Team and is kept under continual review to ensure that you are ‘fit to practise’ upon qualification. The content of learning includes oral health, pathology and disease and includes wider issues affecting the health of the individuals and community, including environment and work-safety issues, heredity, lifestyle, education, socio-economic factors and media influences. We ensure that you consider these wider issues and adopt a holistic approach to patient care.

The overriding aims of our curriculum are to develop professionals who are able to meet the current dental health needs of individuals and society, and foster the habit of lifelong learning to enable continuing professional development (CPD) to meet the future needs of patients and society.

Our aim is to create flexible, professional learning pathways to bridge the skill gap of the current NHS dental workforce while meeting your learning needs and helping you develop self-awareness, confidence, autonomy and the habit of lifelong learning. At the same time we aim to widen access to professional education so that you can practise as registered practitioners safely and competently.

Why study FdSc Oral Health Science at Essex?

As a student of FdSc Oral Health Science at Essex you will experience a lively, informal environment with many possibilities to pursue your own interests. There are number of societies within our Students’ Union which allow you to pursue your interests. We provide you with an active and stimulating environment for your studies.

A unique feature of our School is that many of our staff work within primary care and other local agencies, which enhances our grasp of the contemporary links between academic research, the major issues of the day and practice. We specialise in applied, multidisciplinary research that addresses issues of national and international concern to health and social care policy and practice and related fields. Our School also hosts the NIHR Research Design Service for the East of England in our Colchester campus.

We are committed to embedding the NHS Constitution Values (which are strongly reflected in our University values) into everything we do. They define the behaviours and expectations of all our staff and students underpinning the work we do in the university, clinical arena and other workplaces. We understand that not all of our students and staff are employed within the NHS but these values uphold the underlying principles of excellent care as a standard and as such we expect that anyone who has any aspect of their work which ultimately cares for others will aspire to upholding these values. For us involving not only our students, but service users, carers and NHS/non NHS professionals in the creation and delivery of all programmes is vital. You can view the full NHS England Constitution and Values on the Gov.UK website:

Why study this subject?

Our FdSc Oral Health Science was developed jointly by staff of the University of Essex and Queen Mary School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of London. Queen Mary was chosen as the partner in developing the Oral Health programme at the University of Essex as they had extensive experience and an excellent record in training dental hygienists to the highest standard.

The programme prepares individuals for a career as a dental hygienist; successful completion of the programme leads to the award of a Foundation Degree in Oral Health Sciences and enables registration with the General Dental Council (GDC) as a dental hygienist.

Our facilities

The School of Health and Human Sciences is located at two sites; in the Kimmy Eldridge building on the Colchester campus and in the Gateway Building on the Southend campus. The Oral Health Science facilities are located in the Gateway Building. At Southend you will find purpose-built accommodation to meet the needs of a growing and lively School. FdSc Oral Health Science is taught in our Southend campus.

Our School of Health and Human Sciences has state-of-the-art clinical laboratories with the very latest equipment and IT facilities - In particular, at our Southend Campus, a state of the art dental skills lab with the latest simulation ‘phantom heads’ to practice on and a 20-chair dental education unit.

We offer excellent physical and online resources in terms of libraries, computer labs, datasets, archives and other research materials. The ‘Forum’ a new 27 million pound university library opened in September 2013 on the Southend campus.

Study abroad/placement opportunities

Due to the practical and challenging nature of this course, it is not possible to undertake study abroad. However, a significant part of the course is the placements.

During your study you will undertake six placements. These are based on educational need and are allocated by the placement lecturer. You will be required to undertake 14 hours of placement per week. Our placements are primarily based in Essex but you can also expect to access services in Hertfordshire, Suffolk and London.

As a student of FdSc Oral Health Science you are not eligible for an NHS Bursary but can claim travel expenses if the travel mileage from term time address to placement is greater than term time address to university.

Hear what our students have to say

Graduate profile

Sarah Cheeseman, FdSc Oral Health Science ’11, United Kingdom

“I was very keen to study oral health at Essex because the placement rotation allowed for a varied experience in numerous areas of dentistry, and the teaching staff are widely recognised and respected. I found my introductory module very helpful, as I had no previous health care experience, and I also particularly enjoyed the Law and Ethics module.

“The facilities at our Southend Campus are fantastic – you get to learn the basics in the skills labs and with the phantom heads before trying your skills out for real on patients!

“After graduating, I quickly secured employment with dental practices and am now working as a dental hygienist at several different practices. The placement-based learning made me very attractive to employers, and enabled me to enter new roles confident that I will be able to cope under pressure within a dental surgery environment. My course at Essex truly helped to prepare me for work in the real world, and I have been able to put all of my skills and knowledge into practice.”


Foundation degrees are work-related, higher education qualifications designed in conjunction with employers to offer accessible and flexible learning opportunities relevant to a student’s career. A foundation degree is shorter than a standard undergraduate degree but is a higher education qualification in its own right and it can be used as a progression route to a full undergraduate degree.

The successful completion of this programme leads to the award of a Foundation Degree Oral Health Science, with 240 academic credits. This qualification is recognised by the General Dental Council (GDC) and gives you eligibility to register as a dental hygienist.

This programme is full-time and you are expected to complete the minimum number of weeks required by the GDC, which is 90 weeks. Term dates do not coincide with our normal University term dates due to this requirement and you are in placement throughout the summer. Any time missed by non-attendance, through sickness or other personal reason, will need to be made up in order to register.

The dates for holiday breaks are timetabled throughout the programme and these cannot be changed for individual students. The planned holiday periods include time at Easter, summer, Christmas and New Year.

The theory part of this programme is taught at our campus at Southend on Sea, which is ideally located next to the High Street and Southend Central Station. Practical skills are gained through a variety of clinical environments, including community and general dental practices across the county of Essex.

You attend six separate placements during this programme. You will have close supervision from a named Clinical Educator in the workplace to support and guide you; these may be dentists, dental hygienists or dental therapists. The Clinical Educators will also provide tutorials to link academic learning with your clinical experience.

Please note that module information on our course finder provides a guide to course content and may be subject to review on an annual basis.

Year 1

Year 2


As a new undergraduate, you may find university-level learning, assessment and studying differs from work, school or college. Here at Essex, we understand and recognise this by having support in place for students of all ages.

Each module is assessed separately using a variety of different methods including written coursework, end-of-term tests and practical work. This allows for swift identification of specific learning needs and developmental feedback in a supportive environment.

If you successfully complete the Foundation Degree you may wish to go on to an honours degree programme. We currently offer a one year “top-up” BSc Oral Health Science, which could lead to eligibility to register as a Dental Therapist.

Teaching methods and styles

All modules provide theoretical and practical outcomes: the theoretical understanding is taught using a wide range of stimulating and supportive teaching methods including problem based learning, tutorials, e-learning and seminar based teaching. To embed the holistic approach to patient care, some teaching takes place with other health students within the School of Health and Human Sciences to promote multidisciplinary learning and working.

The practice outcomes, that include communication and clinical skills, are taught in our state-of-the-art clinical skills laboratory, using the very latest equipment and IT facilities to assist the effective learning and the acquisition of new skills. You will practice to master clinical skills while in placements.

We work closely in partnership with the NHS and the independent health sector to provide placement opportunities on our courses. We also work closely with the Health Education East of England in the development and delivery of innovative and professionally relevant clinical programmes and modules.

You spend 2 days a week at the University of Essex Southend Campus and one day of guided learning per week. During the course of your studies you undertake placements in six different clinical settings.

Methods of assessment

The modular 2-year foundation degree employs a variety of assessment methods to test the learning within and at the end of each module. You must pass both the theory and placement based assessment in order to pass the module and must pass all modules. Failing a module will result in withdrawal from the programme. Continuous assessment, module by module, means that there is no end of year examination.

Career destinations

This Foundation degree will be suited to you if you are interested in a career in oral health practice, as, a dental hygienist. Successful completion of our programme enables eligibility to register with the General Dental Council (GDC) as a dental hygienist.

Your employability

Graduates of the programme have had a 100% employability record to date. At Essex we take your employability seriously, helping you become a rounded individual with the ability to succeed, whatever your plans. You will find we work with our Employability and Careers Centre to inform you about options to study or work overseas, your Faculty Employability Coordinator finds degree-related work placements, and our Students’ Unions ensures that, annually, over 700 students volunteer and more than 4,000 get involved in sports, clubs and societies.

At Essex we have the award-winning Frontrunner scheme as well as graduate-level paid internships, and opportunities to develop discipline-specific skills.

We help you understand your skills, and how to demonstrate these to an employer. You can get our extra-curricular employability award – the Big Essex Award – recorded on your transcript, receive one-to-one advice on careers, use our Essex CV guides on applying for work, learn from famous entrepreneurs and take part in workshops, and meet employers through on-campus events.

We develop your employability prospects through fantastic opportunities, and give you the tools to explore the meaning of your unique experiences, so you are ready for your future.

Postgraduate opportunities

Within our School of Health and Human Sciences, we offer taught courses and research supervision for PhD, MPhil and Masters by dissertation. We also offer professional doctorates, which are awarded in named areas of health and social care. We are currently developing Masters level courses in Oral Health Science – if you are interested in finding out more, please contact us at

Examples of current research projects include those addressing social exclusion and health inequality; focussing on vulnerable residents living in bedsits; to those analysing national databases; and identifying causes of health inequality. We have a number of studies that focus on mental health and optimal treatment pathways or therapies. Our aim is to have a real impact on actual patient experience as well as health and social care policy.

Entry requirements for 2016


Please be aware that we are not able to accept applications for deferred entry for this course.

Entry is based on your ability to study at Foundation degree level, demonstrated by a range of Level 3 qualifications, such as:

  • A-levels: 160 points, including CC, including one core science subject OR;
  • NVQ Level 3, BTEC or Access to HE Diploma in Oral Health Care or health/science related subjects OR;
  • National Dental Nurse Certificate or Diploma in Dental Nursing (with a minimum of two years’ experience).
Please note, only one of the above, or an equivalent, is required for entry onto this course.
You must also have GCSE English and Mathematics, and one science related subject: C or above.

We accept a wide range of other qualifications from applicants studying in the UK, EU and other countries. For further details about the qualifications that we accept, please e-mail us with information about the high school qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

In addition applicants must have satisfactory Advanced Disclosure & Barring Service clearance (formally known as Criminal Record Bureau enhanced disclosure); and complete a satisfactory work health assessment/Occupational Health Check (organised by us).


Interviews will take place from December 2014 for the September 2015 intake. If you are selected for interview, you will be required to sit a literacy, numeracy and practical test.

International students

Access to this course is supported by Health Education East of England for home or EU students, however if you are a non-EU/UK student and want to train as a dental hygienist we are now able to offer a limited number of places to international applicants. Please e-mail us for further information.

Open Days

Come to one of our Open Days at our Colchester or Southend campuses and see for yourself what makes Essex an outstanding place to study. Our Open Days are your chance to attend general and subject-specific talks, tour our campus and accommodation, chat to current students about their experiences, and find out more about what Essex has to offer.

Campus Tours

If you can't make one of our Open Days then don’t worry, we offer regular Campus Tours at our Colchester and Southend campuses. Please let us know which campus you want to visit using the email addresses below and we’ll organise a tour with a current student for you.

Please try to give four working days' notice and if you or any of your guests have any specific individual needs. Please include details in your email and we can arrange to tailor your visit accordingly.

Southend Campus

We try to offer campus tours when requested. Please email, letting us know when you would like to come.

Watch our Southend Campus tour on Vimeo.

See our videos on our University of Essex Vimeo channel.

Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.

Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.

The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are ‘L’ and ‘S’ respectively.