Undergraduate Course

FdSc Oral Health Science

FdSc Oral Health Science


The details
Oral Health Science
September 2021
2 years
Southend Campus

Please note that we are no longer accepting applications for 2021 entry for this course. We will be accepting applications for 2022 entry from Autumn 2021.

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. Following the successful completion of this course, you may consider continuing your training with us to become a Dental Therapist through our BSc (Hons) Oral Health Science programme.

There's never been a better time to train as you can now apply for a £5000 grant that you won't need to pay back! There is also an extra £3000 funding available depending on your personal circumstances. You can find more information about eligibility and how to apply on the HSC Scholarships and Funding page.

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.

The cost of required uniform will be fully covered by the school.

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.

Unfortunately if you need a Student Visa to study in the UK this course is not suitable for you. This is due to the high percentage of work placement which exceeds the amount permitted in the Student Visa regulations.

Professional accreditation

The General Dental Council quality assures and approves qualifications for registration, for the following registrant groups: Dentists; dental hygienists; dental therapists; dental nurses; clinical dental technicians; dental technicians; and orthodontic therapists.

Why we're great.
  • 100% of our undergraduate School of Health and Social Care students are in professional employment or postgraduate study within six months of graduating from Essex (DLHE 2017).
  • 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.
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

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 HSC 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 Social Care 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.

97% of our School of Health and Social Care students are in employment or further study (Graduate Outcomes 2020).

“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

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

UK entry requirements

GCSE: Mathematics and English C/4. Acceptable alternatives to our GCSE Maths and English requirements are listed further down this page.

GCSE Science C/4 is also required if you are applying with a National Dental Nurse Certificate or Diploma in Dental Nursing.

Plus one of the following:

  • A-levels: CC to include a core science (Biology, Chemistry, Applied Science or Physics)
  • BTEC: MPP in a science-related subject.
  • Access to Higher Education Diploma in a science-related subject - 45 Level 3 credits at Pass or above.
  • National Dental Nurse Certificate or Diploma in Dental Nursing, along with:
    • a minimum of two years' experience from either pre- or post-qualification employment (please list employment details carefully on your UCAS application); and
    • GCSE Science C/4 – can be single Science, Biology, Chemistry or Physics

If you are taking or have achieved any qualifications that are not listed here, please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office.

GCSE/level 2 requirements

All applicants must have, or be working towards, acceptable level 2 mathematics and English qualifications such as GCSE grade C/4 or equivalent.

  • We can accept a number of level 2 maths qualifications in place of GCSE Maths C/4, including Functional Skills level 2, Key Skills level 2 or numeracy units taken as part of an Access to HE Diploma.
  • If you do not require a Student visa and are either a first language English speaker or have a lived in the UK for over three years, we can accept a number of level 2 English qualifications, including Functional Skills level 2, Key Skills level 2 or literacy units taken as part of an Access to HE Diploma, in place of GCSE English C/4.
  • If you have not listed a suitable maths or English qualification in your application this may form part of any offer given to you.

Additional requirements

You must also have a satisfactory Occupational Health Check and enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check (including child and adult barred list check) - both of these are organised by the University. Please contact our DBS team if you have any questions relating to this.

A satisfactory Overseas Criminal Record Check/Local Police Certificate is also required, in addition to a DBS Check, where you have lived outside of the UK in the last 5 years for 6 months or more.

Application process

If your achieved or pending qualifications meet our requirements, you will be invited to attend a compulsory interview via Zoom.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please select your country page where you'll find this information.

English language requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall.

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


Course 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.

Teaching and learning disclaimer

Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.

The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently planned for 2021 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.

Components and modules explained


Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

Status What this means
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.


Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

HR 100  4  FY

The department or school the module will be taught by.

In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

The module number. 

The UK academic level of the module.

A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

The term the module will be taught in.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms


Personal Effectiveness

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.

View Personal Effectiveness on our Module Directory


Clinical Governance and Patient Safety

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.

View Clinical Governance and Patient Safety on our Module Directory


Biomedical and Psychosocial Science for Dental Practice

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.

View Biomedical and Psychosocial Science for Dental Practice on our Module Directory


Health Policy, Law and Ethics 1

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.

View Health Policy, Law and Ethics 1 on our Module Directory


Introduction to Oral Health and Disease

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.

View Introduction to Oral Health and Disease on our Module Directory


Promotion of Oral Health and Prevention of Oral Disease

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.

View Promotion of Oral Health and Prevention of Oral Disease on our Module Directory


Development of Practical Skills, Practice Supervisor Report 1

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.

View Development of Practical Skills, Practice Supervisor Report 1 on our Module Directory


Health, Illness and Disease for Dental Practice

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.

View Health, Illness and Disease for Dental Practice on our Module Directory


Critical Appraisal and Research Skills for Dental Practice

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.

View Critical Appraisal and Research Skills for Dental Practice on our Module Directory


Management of Oral Diseases

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.

View Management of Oral Diseases on our Module Directory


Special Needs

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.

View Special Needs on our Module Directory


Development of Practical Skills, Practice Supervisor Report 2

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.

View Development of Practical Skills, Practice Supervisor Report 2 on our Module Directory


  • 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

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee


International fee


Unfortunately if you need a Student Visa to study in the UK this course is not suitable for you. This is due to the high percentage of work placement which exceeds the amount permitted in the Student Visa regulations. Find out more about work placements below. EU students commencing their course in the 2021-22 academic year will be liable for the International fee.

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

Home/UK fees and funding information

International fees and funding information

What's next

Open Days

Our events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. We run a number of Open Days throughout the year which enable you to discover what our 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 book a campus tour here.

2021 Open Days (Southend Campus)

  • Thursday, August 12, 2021
  • Saturday, October 16, 2021


Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. 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.


If you are an undergraduate student who has received an offer from us to study with us from October 2021, you will be invited to interview with us by Zoom from the comfort of your own home. We use the interview as an opportunity to get to know you, to find out about your ambitions, and to hear about how prepared you are for the course. It’s important for us to be sure that you know what you’re signing up for, so we’d expect you’ve done some research about the course and the associated careers it may lead to. We have some more information about how to demonstrate you have what it takes at the bottom of ourundergraduate page.

Please be aware that we are not able to offer personalised feedback to applicants who have attended an interview for Oral Health Science, although applicants will receive generic information on how to self-evaluate their performance in the interview and tests. Further information is available in the Undergraduate Admissions feedback policy.

Southend Campus

Visit Southend Campus

With its lively, state-of-the-art facilities and a close-knit international community, Southend is the perfect environment for living and learning.

If you're joining our School of Health and Social Care, East 15 Acting School, Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, or Essex Business School, you may well be studying at our Southend Campus.

Famous for its beach resort and pier, Southend-on-Sea stretches along seven miles of award-winning coastline, providing plenty of opportunities for a wide range of water sports and leisure activities.


Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tours allows you to explore our University from the comfort of your home. Check out our Colchester virtual tour and Southend virtual tour to see 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.

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.

Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification 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, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the 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 students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

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