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Home › Examinations › Dental › License in Dental Surgery (LDS)

Licence in Dental Surgery (LDS)

Exam overview

The Licence in Dental Surgery (LDS) is the oldest continuously existing dental qualification in the UK, awarded by the Faculty of Dental Surgery of the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS).

The award of this postgraduate qualification offers key career benefits for dentists worldwide. Successful UK candidates are eligible to become a member of the RCS, while successful international candidates are eligible to apply for registration with the General Dental Council (GDC).

The LDS exam is comprised of two parts. A successful LDS candidate will meet the following criteria:

  •  have had a broad academic and dental education and be able to function in all areas of clinical dentistry;
  • be trained in biomedical science;
  • be able to work together with other dental and health care professionals in the health care system;
  • have good communication skills;
  • be prepared to undertake continuing professional development supporting the concept of life-long learning;
  • be able to practice evidence-based dentistry based through a problem solving approach;
  • use basic theoretical and practical skills.

View Part 1 eligibility

View Part 1 exam format

View Part 1 syllabus

View Part 2 eligibility

View Part 2 exam format

View Part 2 syllabus

View documents for download

View application guidance

View exam dates

Part 1

An overview of LDS candidate eligibility is provided below. For full details, please read the LDS exam regulations document.

To be eligible to enter each part of the LDS exam all candidates must:

  • If registered on a course of study at a UK undergraduate dental school, produce evidence that they have satisfactorily completed a five-year curriculum as described and recognised by the General Dental Council (GDC) and have passed the dental schools final exams, and are registered with the GDC.
  • If in possession of a qualification awarded by an EEA university or licensing body that is recognised by the GDC for purposes of full registration in the UK, produce evidence of qualification, certificates of the courses of study attended and exams passed for such a qualification.
  • If holding a qualification awarded by an overseas university or licensing body that is not recognised by the GDC for purposes of full registration in the UK, produce evidence of qualification and a NARIC certificate. In addition, it is necessary to provide certificates showing that the studies and courses undertaken were in line with the standards described in the First Five Years: a Framework for Undergraduate Dental Education 3rd edition (interim) (General Dental Council, 2008). A NARIC certificate is required unless temporary registration with the GDC is current and can be verified.
  • Produce evidence of having had no fewer than 1600 hours clinical experience where you have personally treated patients in the dental chair. The number of hours of this clinical experience will either be hours spent undertaking appropriate investigations and administering dental treatment during the dental degree, during post-qualification experience, or a combination of the two and must have occurred during the period immediately prior to sitting Part 2 of the exam.
  • Demonstrate linguistic competence by means of the Academic International English Language Testing System(IELTS) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Exemptions only apply to EEA nationals, those who have indefinite leave to remain in the UK or undertook their undergrad or postgrad dental degree in a UK institution. Original or certified copy of degree must be submitted to prove exemption.
  • Produce a certificate or letter of good standing.

Exam format

The LDS Part 1 exam is comprised of two papers, each of up to three hours duration.

The format will be single best answer (SBA) and extended matching (EMQ) questions centred mainly on knowledge and its application to:

a) Clinically applied dental science and clinically applied human disease.

b) Aspects of clinical dentistry, law and ethics, and health and safety.

In order to progress to Part 2, both Part 1 papers will need to be passed at one sitting. If either paper is failed candidates will be required to re-sit all of Part 1.

The Part 1 LDS exam is normally held at least once per year in the UK and/or in designated overseas centres.


Below is an outline of the major competencies/learning outcomes that may be assessed. These represent broad categories of professional activity and concerns that occur in the general practice of dentistry and are interdisciplinary in orientation and must embrace an element of critical thinking.

They may apply in differing ways to patients of all ages, including children, adolescents, adults and the elderly.


a) Professional attitude and behaviour

b) Ethics and jurisprudence

Interpersonal, Communication and Social Skills

 a) Communication

Knowledge Base, Information and Information literacy

a) Application of basic biological, medical, technical and clinical sciences

b) Acquiring and using information

Clinical Information Gathering

a) Obtaining and recording a comprehensive history of the patient’s medical, oral and dental state

Diagnosis and Treatment Planning

a) Decision-making, clinical reasoning and judgment

b) Education of patients and management of comprehensive primary care

c) Oral medicine management

d) Periodontal management

e) Caries and endodontic management

f) Surgical procedures

g) Pain and anxiety management

h) Restorative/prosthodontics management

i) Orthodontic management

j) Emergency treatment

Health Promotion

a) Improving the oral health of individuals, families and groups in the community

These major competencies are underpinned by sub-sets of more detailed supporting skills, understanding and professional values. The detail, along with associated assessment methods are set out in the Learning Outcomes and Examination Syllabus document.

Part 2


In order to progress to the LDS Part 2 exam, candidates must have taken Part 1, and are advised to have written confirmation of a pass in Part 1. Candidates are permitted a maximum of four attempts at each Part and Part 2 must be passed within five years of obtaining Part 1.

Candidates are not permitted to apply for both sections of the exam at the same time.

Full details of candidate eligibility are provided in the LDS exam regulations document. 


The LDS Part 2 exam is held over a minimum of 3 days and consists of 3 sections:

  • Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) of 2 hours duration
  • An operative test on a dental manikin of up to three hours duration
  • The ‘Unseen Case’ (based on an objective structured long examination (OSLE) model) - an examination designed to test the candidates’ diagnosis, treatment planning and clinical reasoning. Approximately 1 hour duration (32 minutes for each scenario).


The major competencies/learning outcomes that may be assessed in the LDS Part 2 exam are the same as in Part 1. For full details please read the Learning Outcomes and Examination Syllabus document below. 

Documents for download

Application guidance

We will only accept the following number of candidates:

LDS part 1 –  up to 100 candidates

LDS part 2 – up to 55 candidates

Candidates must pass part 2 within five years of passing part 1. Up to four attempts are allowed for each part of the exam. Places are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, and you may be unable to secure four part 2 places in five years. Candidates are advised to prepare well for the exam and aim to pass on the first or second attempt.

It is a candidate’s responsibility to apply for resits. Candidates who fail to apply for the earliest available resit opportunity will manage fewer attempts in the 5 years than candidates who re-apply promptly.

NOTICE: For all future LDS exams, candidates must submit their completed application form and supporting documentation by post only. Application forms will not be accepted if submitted by hand. Hand delivered application forms will not be processed and will be returned. Please note in addition that applications will not be accepted if delivered by courier unless these applications have been sent from outside of the UK. Candidates are advised to get proof of postage when submitting their application form.

Please do not contact the Exams Department until you have received confirmation. Any incomplete applications will be sent back.

All applications must be received by 5pm on the closing date. Please read the exam guidance page before applying for any exam.

Exam dates

The following dates have been set for the LDS exam in 2015. All dates are subject to change

LDS Part 1

Title Applications and Fees Due Written MCQ and EMQ Papers Exam Fee
LDS Part 1 CLOSED 4 April 2016 £590

LDS Part 2

Title Applications and Fees Due OSCE Unseen Cases Dental Manikin Exam Fee
LDS Part 2 12 April 2016 4 August 2016 5 August 2016 6 August 2016 £2400

Completion fee

There is a £230 completion fee for those completing an FDS Royal College of Surgeons of England diploma. This fee will be collected once you have passed the exam.