Undergraduate Course

BSc Oral Health Science

BSc Oral Health Science


The details
Oral Health Science
January 2022
1 year
Southend Campus

Applications for January 2022 entry close on 5 November 2021.

Are you a registered Dental Hygienist who wants to register with the General Dental Council as a Dental Therapist? Do you want to develop your role within your dental team while maintaining the flexibility to continue to work in your current role as a Dental Hygienist?

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.

Our BSc (Hons) Oral Health Science is a full-time, one-year course designed to meet an identifiable need for Dental Therapists within your dental team. There is currently much interest in the future role of the Dental Therapist in the delivery of oral healthcare in the UK, and our course enables you to register with the General Dental Council (GDC). This course leads on well from the University of Essex FdSc Oral Health Science programme, or from a dental hygienist qualification obtained elsewhere.

Here 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 and education. We offer courses that both commissioners and employers believe in, and our training integrates NHS values and principles, meaning that your abiding focus is on helping people.

People are at the heart of all we do, and students are involved in the appropriate treatment of patients from early on within the programme. This allows you to develop and enhance crucial skills that prepare you to care for patients and clients in the workplace.

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

Dental Therapists fit for the future

Your development from Dental Hygienist to Dental Therapist will occur through flexible study, including attendance both at our Southend Campus and within a primary care-based placement. This will ordinarily be the existing workplace environment where you currently work as a Dental Hygienist (minimum 14 clinical hours per week).

You increase your clinical skills in a dedicated, state-of-the-art dental skills laboratory at the University, experiencing the academic rigour of a Bachelor’s Degree through structured learning that builds upon your existing knowledge.

Your academic study is integrated with other healthcare professionals to promote excellence and understanding of your role in general health. You benefit from small group teaching and personalised feedback and further develop the skills and competencies required of a Dental Therapist in the primary care environment.

Benefits to Dental Practices

Even for industry leaders, keeping pace can be a challenge. So when considering the latest investments, it can be easy to overlook your most valuable resource – your staff. Because above all, your patients need to know they’re in good hands.

Our course provides you with the opportunity to be closely involved in the professional development of a valued member of your team. Enrolling a student on our course will increase the clinical skill set available within your practice, putting you in an advantageous position in terms of skill mix in anticipation of changes in how dentistry is delivered in the future.

As the programme is taught through flexible study including university and work based teaching, the student will continue to work in practice whilst studying.

Placement Opportunities

The primary care based placement where you develop your skills, will ordinarily be an existing workplace environment where you currently work as a Dental Hygienist (minimum 14 clinical hours per week).

You will need to identify a clinical supervisor (clinical educator) who will support your learning within the placement.

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 of 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 including dentists and dental therapists, 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.

Other members of staff include Sarah Murray, a leading dental hygienist/therapist in the UK, who was awarded the 2007 Hygienist of the Year Award, and the 2013 British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy Gerald Leatherman Award for services to the profession. Sarah also works with a number of national organisations and professional bodies to promote dental hygienists and therapists, including the GDC, Faculty of General Dental Practice Royal College of Surgeons UK.

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 BSc 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.

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

As a Dental Therapist, you will be a working as a Dental Care Professional in all sectors of dentistry. A Dental Therapist provides a range of restorative dental treatments to adults and children and the delivery of oral health care and advice. You will need a flexible team approach, high levels of manual dexterity, professionalism and a caring attitude. Good communication, problem-solving and decision-making skills will also be vitally important for you in this role.

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

On successful completion of this course you will be eligible to register with the General Dental Council (GDC), which is the statutory body for regulating dental professionals within the UK. The GDC monitors education, and our BSc’s curriculum has been designed to comply with the GDC documents Preparing for practice and Standards for Education.

For further details on the role of a Dental Therapist, please review the Preparing for practice PDF from the GDC website – which is under the header “Dental team learning outcomes for registration”.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

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

You should have:

  • current registration with the GDC as Dental Hygienist
  • evidence of your existing dental hygiene qualification
  • evidence of core training in or extended skills training in infiltration and ID block analgesia, dental radiography and dental impressions (if these competencies were not part of the applicant’s dental hygiene qualification)
  • current IR(ME)R CPD certification regarding dental radiography (as part of CPD cycle if appropriate)
  • for those students for whom English is not your native language, you would also need to successfully complete the IELTS testing with a score of 6.5 or above

Please note:

You must also have:

  • 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. 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.


As part of the selection process, you will be expected to demonstrate knowledge and a good understanding of the scope of work that a Dental Therapist is required to undertake. If you are selected for interview you may also be required to sit a Literacy & Numeracy test.

As part of the interview process, your proposed clinical educator from your work based placement will also be required to attend on the interview day. Your proposed clinical educator should be a different person from either of your referees.

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.


Course structure

By the end of our BSc (Hons) Oral Health Science you will be able to:

  • Treat dental caries and place restorations in permanent and primary teeth
  • Extract primary teeth under local anaesthesia
  • Fit preformed metal crowns on primary molars
  • Perform pulp therapies on primary teeth
  • Use fluoride therapies to reduce dental caries
  • Take and interpret dental radiographs
  • Provide holistic care, prevention and oral health advice
  • Appreciate the role of the Dental Therapist within oral health care and the wider health care community

Our programme is full-time over 45 weeks. Term dates do not coincide with our normal University term dates due to this requirement. Any time missed by non-attendance, through sickness or other personal reason, will need to be made up in order to successfully complete the programme.

To ensure that you have a good basis from which to develop, the first four weeks of the course are full-time at our Southend campus. After this initial period there are a number of mandatory study days which will be held on Thursdays and Fridays when you will be expected to attend University.

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 transferable 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


Extending Oral Health Practice

Gain the foundation knowledge and skills to manage plaque related diseases, including the management of dental caries and non-carious tooth surface loss. You study both restorative techniques and preventative strategies, learning to employ balanced, evidence-based arguments judged on the patient’s medical, social and dental history, as well as clinical examination.

View Extending Oral Health Practice on our Module Directory


Developing Professional Practice

Using clinical practice as a focus for study, students will focus on scholarship, research and enquiry to enhance effective clinical practice. Clinical placement, alongside lectures and tutorials, in a relevant clinical environment will develop clinical skills, as well as providing opportunities to demonstrate competence in the module’s learning outcomes.

View Developing Professional Practice on our Module Directory


Managing Oral Care of Children and Adolescents Part 1

You develop existing child psychology and behaviour management skills to an advanced level, enabling you to provide clinical and restorative treatment to young children and adolescents. You explore a wide range of topics pertaining to the managing children and adolescents, including behavioural management, diagnosis and treatment.

View Managing Oral Care of Children and Adolescents Part 1 on our Module Directory


Comprehensive Oral Healthcare Part 1

Building on theory gained from previous experience and modules, you integrate knowledge of tooth morphology, pulpal physiology and clinical radiology with cavity design, restorative techniques and dental materials. This enables you to develop a comprehensive, patient-centred, problem-solving approach to clinical assessment and treatment planning. You also enhance other key skills such as communication, anxiety management and dealing sensitively with patients.

View Comprehensive Oral Healthcare Part 1 on our Module Directory


Managing the Oral Care of Children and Adolescents Part 2

Bring together your knowledge of primary tooth morphology, pulpal physiology and clinical radiology with cavity design, restorative techniques and dental materials. Combining clinical skills with behavioural management, you learn to provide clinical restorative treatment to young children and adults, using a patient centred, evidence-based and holistic approach.

View Managing the Oral Care of Children and Adolescents Part 2 on our Module Directory


Comprehensive Oral Healthcare Part 2

Consolidate your knowledge and fine-tune your skills in a clinical setting. You draw upon your acquired knowledge of medical histories, clinical examinations, ionising radiography, diagnosis and treatment planning, advanced restorative procedures and possible complications, dental materials, oral therapeutics, pathology and medicine, as well as the social aspects and medical conditions related to aging and adolescence.

View Comprehensive Oral Healthcare Part 2 on our Module Directory


  • 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


  • Academically and clinically intense, your progress on this course will be continuously assessed throughout the programme

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee


International fee


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.


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.

Interview and tests

If you’re shortlisted for interview based on your application to this course you will be invited for a compulsory interview. As part of the interview process, your proposed clinical educator from your work based placement will be required to attend on the interview day. Offers for the course will only be made after a successful interview.

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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