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FdSc Oral Health Science

Why we're great

  • We have a fantastic 100% success rate for employability and excellent satisfaction scores.
  • You learn clinical skills in our dedicated, state-of-the-art dental skills lab.
  • You are involved in the treatment of patients right from the beginning of the course.

Course options2017-18

UCAS code: B750
Duration: 2 years
Start month: September
Location: Southend Campus
Based in: Health and Human Sciences
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £29,353
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 873666
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About the course

Our FdSc Oral Health Science is a programme which leads to the award of a Foundation Degree, and qualifies you 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.

At Essex we have one of the largest portfolios of oral health science courses in the East of England, putting us in a strong position to provide you with excellent training on this programme. You learn clinical skills in our state-of-the-art dental laboratories and academic dental clinics, studying oral health issues affecting the health of individuals and communities including:

  • Pathology and disease
  • Environment and work-safety issues
  • Heredity, lifestyle, education, socio-economic factors
  • Media influences

Through integrating your studies with other healthcare professionals, we ensure that you consider these wider issues in order to adopt a holistic approach to patient care.

Our aim is to create 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 and autonomy.

At the same time, we develop professional hygienists who through continuing professional development (CPD) courses, foster the habit of lifelong learning in order to meet the future needs of individuals and society. Our overarching aim is to widen access to professional education so that you can practise as registered practitioners safely and competently.

Placement Opportunities

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.

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.

“I was very keen to study oral health at Essex because the placement rotation allowed for a varied experience in numerous areas of dentistry. 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."

Sarah Cheeseman, FdSc Oral Health Science, 2011

Professional accreditation

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 uphold these values.

For us, involving not only our students but service users, experts by experience, carers and NHS/non NHS professionals in the creation and delivery of all programmes is vital.

Our expert staff

A unique feature of our School is that you will be taught by a team of specialist clinicians with over 250 years experience in dentistry. This enhances our grasp of the contemporary links between academic research, the major issues of the day and real-life practice.

Oral Health Science is taught by registered experienced staff with a variety of different backgrounds. Prof Phil Cannell, Subject Lead for Oral Health Science, is also a partner at Chalkwell Dental Practice, and has won awards for staff management in the past. As a respected educationalist, he was recently awarded the first Fellowship in teaching, education and assessment by the Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK) (FGDP) of the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

Bryan Paddison, Programme Lead for the FdSc Oral Health Sciences, qualified as a dentist from King's College London in 2001, and spent ten years in general practice in Essex. He became a Clinical Educator for the FdSc Oral Health Science in 2008, and in 2012 left clinical practice to teach full-time on our course.

Full details of our staff can be found on the HHS Staff Profiles.

As a School, 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. We also host the NIHR Research Design Service for the East of England.

Specialist facilities

The School of Health and Human Sciences is located at two sites; in the Kimmy Eldridge building at our Colchester Campus and in the Gateway Building at our Southend Campus.

The Oral Health Science facilities are located in the Gateway Building, and FdSc Oral Health Science is currently taught at our Southend Campus. We offer clinical laboratories with the very latest equipment and IT facilities - in particular, a state-of-the-art dental skills lab with the latest simulation ‘phantom heads’ to practise on and a 20-chair dental education unit.

At Southend you will find purpose-built accommodation to meet the needs of a growing and lively School. We offer excellent physical and online resources in terms of libraries, computer labs, datasets, archives and other research materials including the Forum library on the Southend campus.

Your future

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.

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Example structure

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.

These carefully selected modules will give you the chance to explore, question, and create powerful ideas. Picked to give you an extensive and in-depth education, they’ll equip you with the specialist knowledge, vital transferrable skills, and the confidence to make a genuine difference to the world around you.

We’re reactive, we’re pioneering, we never stand still, so modules might change from year to year in response to new developments and innovation. Those listed below show how a typical course might look, but more detail on course structure, including details of all optional modules, is available on our Programme Specification.

Year 1

Personal effectiveness is about taking responsibility for developing your learning and communication skills, in order to improve your personal performance and to positively influence the performance of others. You will look at the key skills and techniques that can help you with this and learn how to apply them when building trust with patients and when dealing with other people.

Clinical Governance is all about ensuring patients are safe and managing risk. People who work in health and social care are expected to meet a certain standard of knowledge and skills and this module introduces you to the notion of professional accountability and responsibility and the measures introduced by the NHS to protect public safety and improve patient care.

Understanding the bio-psychosocial dynamic is paramount to health care delivery as it determines the appropriateness of intervention and care. This double module develops your understanding of the interplay between physiological functioning and the social and emotional wellbeing of the individual.

What are the ethical and legal issues that health care and dental care workers frequently encounter? Concerns about issues such as funding, changing role boundaries, treatment options and patient confidentiality, has led to an increase in the number of policies that define their practice. This module enables you to explore the impact of some of these changes on professional practice.

An understanding of oral health and diseases is fundamental to the role of DCPs. This module provides the structure for learning about the oral cavity and its associated structure, the dentition, and the development and maintenance of healthy teeth. You explore the factors that lead to pain, discomfort and diseases.

Promoting the dental health and wellbeing of the individual requires an understanding of the wider issues, including environment and work safety issues, heredity, lifestyle, education, social economic factors and media influence. This module expands on some of the themes introduced previously in Health and Illness.

This practical skills module will be assessed by a work based assessment to examine the learners performance in clinical practice. A skills book which evidences students’ skills and reflections of workplace activities will also need to be completed.

Year 2

This module introduces the health and illness continuum. You are given the opportunity to learn from patients about their experience of illness and the factors that influence their sense of well-being. You also explore the disease processes that threaten the patient's oral health.

Dental care professionals (DCPs) are essential members of dental care teams providing care to all age groups. The ability to self-evaluate practice and to use evidence as a basis for professional judgement is critical to effective delivery of care in an ever changing environment. The practice of evidence based dental care requires DCPs to possess critical appraisal skills. This module focuses on the research process and methods as a basis for developing critical appraisal skills and research understanding.

Gain knowledge of both common and uncommon oral diseases. Recognition of the common, minor conditions requires a broad knowledge base in order to be able to recognise and diagnose the more serious, complex and relatively uncommon conditions. This module builds upon the Oral Health and Diseases module, enabling you to acquire knowledge and skills consistent with the roles and expectations of a hygienist.

This module introduces you to groups in society who have special dental needs. Promoting access to effective and timely dental care of these groups of individuals is critical in addressing inequality in oral health. The role of the hygienist is explored in both prevention and treatment of these client groups.

This practical skills module will be assessed by a work based assessment to examine the learners performance in clinical practice. A skills book which evidences students’ skills and reflections of workplace activities will also need to be completed.


  • The theory part of this programme is taught at our campus at Southend on Sea
  • 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, with close supervision from a named Clinical Educator in the workplace to support and guide you – these may be dentists, dental hygienists or dental therapists
  • Clinical Educators will also provide tutorials to link academic learning with your clinical experience
  • Teaching methods including problem-based learning, tutorials, e-learning and seminar-based teaching
  • Teaching takes place with other health students to promote multidisciplinary learning and working
  • Communication and clinical skills are taught in our state-of-the-art laboratory
  • You undertake placements in six different clinical settings


  • Continuous assessment, module by module, means that there is no end of year examination

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UK entry requirements

One of the following:

A-levels: CC, including one core science subject or equivalent

BTEC Extended Diploma: MPP (in health science related subject)

National Dental Nurse Certificate or Diploma in Dental Nursing (with a minimum of two years' experience)

GCSE: Mathematics, English and a science-related subject C

International and EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Email for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the high school qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

English language requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. Different requirements apply for second year entry, and specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.

Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels listed above. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications

If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

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Please note that applications for 2017 entry for this course are now closed and will re-open in September 2017 for 2018 entry.

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.

Interview and tests

If you’re shortlisted for interview based on your application to this course you will be invited onto campus for a compulsory interview. As part of this, you will complete a literacy and numeracy test, practical assessment, group task and interview. Offers for the course will only be made after a successful interview, once all of the interviews have been held.

The interview and tests will form the main part of the day but you will have the opportunity to tour the campus, meet our academics and students and ask any questions you may have about studying with us. All interviews and tests must be taken at our Southend Campus.

Visit us

Open days

Our Southend Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. In 2017 we have two undergraduate Open Days (in June and October). These events enable you to discover what our Southend Campus has to offer. You have the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Southend Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.


Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

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The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its course finder is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep prospective students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

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