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Studying for Postgraduate Dental Degree Courses in the UK

Universities in the UK offer postgraduate degree programmes in a variety of dental subjects. The postgraduate courses offered may be at the level of a master’s degree or a doctorate. You need to look at the UK Border Agency website for the regulations and restrictions of applying for post graduate degree courses under a Tier 4 Visa in the UK.

It is not advisable to apply for a postgraduate degree course in the UK immediately after passing your final BDS examination. Most universities would prefer that applicants for higher degrees have at least two years clinical experience of working as a dentist before applying for a postgraduate degree course.

In the UK a masters programmes can be a taught course or research based. In addition higher degree programmes can be offered in clinical and non-clinical subjects. A Masters course teaches research methods and is usually taken before considering a PhD programme.

In general courses in clinical subjects tend to be more expensive than non clinical subjects. Overseas student charges will be applicable to most candidates and it is important that you also remember to take into consideration the cost of living expenses in the UK. University charges vary between universities so you need to look at each university website to make sure you know what additional expenses are involved (bench fees) and whether the course will provide tuition in the area you wish to study.

When applying for a postgraduate degree course in the UK it is important to consider: your motivation for starting that particular course, where you are hoping to work on completion of the degree, will the degree awarded be of any help in becoming a specialist in that area either in your country or the UK, will the postgraduate degree from the UK be recognised in your home country. In the UK the award of a higher degree in a clinical subject (MSc or PhD) will not mean that you are a specialist in that subject. However, a higher dental degree can form part of specialist training. In the UK trainees in specialist clinical areas are awarded training numbers at the start of training and their training is monitored by the post graduate deanery. A training number is not awarded or applied retrospectively. It is important that you confirm the status of your proposed degree either in the UK or with your own country before starting the course.

As a postgraduate student in the UK with a Tier 4 Visa, you are eligible to work for up to 20 hours a week during term time. Please note that this does not mean working as a dentist. Please see the restrictions of working as a dentist under temporary registration on the GDC website.

Be cautious about applying for non dental courses, which may be a lot cheaper, seem to have some links with for example: health services, social care, management, public/allied health sectors or esoteric research in applied science areas or business studies but have no relevance to dentistry you wish to practice either in the UK or to your home country. For example there would be no point in studying for a degree in health service management in the UK if your real aim is to work and train as a specialist periodontist in your home country or the UK. As a general rule look for universities that have a proven track record of postgraduate dental degrees and ask yourself, will this postgraduate degree be of use in my home country. If you have any questions about courses in the UK or the relevance of a degree in the UK, please contact the NACPDE for advice.

Finally you need to be aware that even if you are awarded a postgraduate degree from a UK university, this in itself will not allow you to practice dentistry in the UK (see registration with the GDC).

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