Dental Hygiene and Dental Therapy Higher Education Diploma
School of Clinical Dentistry
A 27-month full-time course (with an April start date) enabling students to gain professional accreditation as dental hygienists and dental therapists.
We recognise the importance of training the dental team together so you’ll learn alongside dental students in a way that prepares you for practice.
You’ll also benefit from our outreach training programme. It’s one of the most rigorous placement programmes in the UK. Treating patients of all ages and backgrounds in real work environments sharpens your skills and gives you a head start in your career.
Our students find the course provides them with opportunities to explore ideas, apply what they have learned and to achieve their best. This is reflected in the National Student Survey where we consistently achieve high scores for overall student satisfaction.
Our teaching is driven by world-class research so you’ll learn about the new techniques and advances that are rapidly taking place in the field of dentistry. Our research is multidisciplinary with a mix of biomedical, engineering and social scientists working together for the advancement of clinical excellence.
The modules listed below are examples from the last academic year. There may be some changes before you start your course. For the very latest module information, check with the department directly.
Choose a year to see modules for a level of study:
UCAS code: DENU103
At the beginning of the first year you’ll develop your understanding of the anatomy and physiology relevant to dentistry. You’ll also be introduced to a range of study skills to help you thrive at University.
After the first month you’ll begin clinical skills training so you can treat patients. You’ll be introduced to the concept of putting patients’ needs first, as well as careful and thorough instrumentation. Alongside this you’ll visit and assist on clinics to help build your confidence and communication skills in a clinical environment – we place great emphasis on helping you become a caring, competent and confident member of the dental team.
Throughout the first year you’ll also develop your knowledge and understanding in other subject areas including law, ethics and professionalism, health promotion and education and oral disease. Our course is very dynamic and within no time you’ll be treating patients under close supervision in the Dental Hospital.
Virtual reality operative dentistry
During your first year you'll benefit from our simulation suite, where you can practise dentistry in a virtual reality environment. This state of the art, innovative technology provides real-life visual, auditory and tactile sensory feedback and will enable you to learn, develop and improve your operative dentistry skills. This fun learning and teaching opportunity is a unique feature of our programme and complements the ‘traditional’ training you will undertake in the clinical skills learning environment on ‘phantom heads’.
Integrated learning and teaching
At Sheffield we recognise the importance of training the dental team together. During your first year you’ll complete some of your clinical skills training alongside our dentistry students. You’ll also attend a series of integrated lectures. This integrated teaching approach will help prepare you better for practice.
Currently our first year learning and teaching is divided up into the following themes:
- Study Skills and Personal Development
- Dental Foundation
- The Human Body in Health and Disease
- Law, Ethics and Professionalism
- Pre-Clinical Skills I
- Health Promotion and Education I
- Clinical Practice
- Oral Disease I
- Pre-Clinical Skills II
- Pre-Clinical Skills III
- Health Promotion and Education II
- Dental Radiography
The second year is mainly clinical – you’ll be treating your own patients and will be expected to show a commitment to compassionate, high-quality care. You’ll rotate around different specialist departments within the Charles Clifford Dental Hospital, helping to broaden your clinical experience.
There will be the opportunity to attend Sheffield Children’s Hospital to assist with oral surgery and you’ll visit care homes to train staff in oral health care. You’ll also benefit from clinical experience in the School’s Dental Practice Unit. In addition you’ll further your knowledge and understanding in important areas of dentistry.
Oral health promotion project
During your second year you will work towards an oral health promotion project. Oral health promotion is one of the roles pivotal to all dental personnel and this project will give you the opportunity to plan and deliver your very own scheme to promote oral health for a targeted group of people. This is an exciting opportunity to make a real impact, with previous schemes launched in primary schools and residential care homes.
During the second year you will spend part of your time working as a team in a range of primary care settings currently in Yorkshire and the East Midlands. We use carefully selected placements in community dental services and general dental practices. Our pioneering outreach training programme provides a real working environment to encourage your professional development. It will give you an exciting opportunity to see and treat a variety of patients and maximise your clinical and communication skills.
Typically you will work in three placements, two days a week, each for around two months. Usually these will be in contrasting settings. As a working member of a dental team you will learn from the inside how the services operate and gradually build confidence and speed of working in your new role. Transferring skills learned in the Dental Hospital to new working environments should ease your move into employment upon qualification.
Many students find this outreach training a challenging but rewarding and reassuring part of the course. It’s one of the most rigorous placement programmes in the UK, giving you a head start in your career.
Currently our second year learning and teaching is divided up into the following themes:
- Clinical Practice
- Dental Radiography
- Health Promotion and Education III
- Oral Disease II
- Principles of Practice
The third year consists of one term only.
By the time you reach the third year and the last few months of the course, you will have acquired a vast range of knowledge, skills and experience. Our principles of practice theme will inform you of the important issues you will confront in the workplace and help ensure you begin your career as a well-rounded professional.
Near peer teaching
During the third year, you will have the opportunity to apply for the innovative near peer teaching scheme. If your application is successful, you’ll take on the role of clinical tutor, teaching our junior students as part of their pre-clinical skills training. It will enable you to develop expertise in teaching, give you an insight into the clinical teaching profession and consolidate your previous learning. Many students have found this scheme very rewarding and enjoyable.
Currently, our third year learning and teaching is a continuation of our second year themes.
The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.
Learning and assessment
You'll learn through lectures, clinical skills learning environment work, clinical sessions and tutorials. A strong emphasis is also placed on directed self-learning.
Many of our staff are internationally respected for their research. Some are general dental practitioners with years of clinical experience.
Throughout the course, you will be assessed by a variety of methods including written and practical examinations, assignments and an extensive project. As part of your final examination you will present a patient for whom you have provided an extensive range of treatments.
You'll also have to demonstrate you clinical competence in a range of key clinical skills expected of a qualified dental hygienist and dental therapist. Through our broad range of assessment methods you will develop a wide collection of transferable skills.
This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.
These are the minimum requirements for our April 2021 intake that must be met by the deadline for receipt of applications. Pending qualifications, due after the deadline for receipt of applications, will not be taken into consideration.
5 GCSE at grade C / grade 4 to include Mathematics, English Language and Science.
Plus one of the following options:
Level 3/4 Dental Nurse Qualification plus 1 A Level in a relevant Science subject (preferably Biology) at grade C.
Post-qualification certificates in Dental Nursing can strengthen an application but cannot be used to meet the minimum requirements.
Level 5/6 Dental Nurse Qualification.
2 A Levels to include one in a relevant Science subject (preferably Biology) at grade CC.
Access to Higher Education Diploma (60 credits with 45 at Level 3 at grade Merit) including 36 Level 3 credits in relevant Science units (preferably Biology) at grade Merit.
An Access to Higher Education Diploma can also be used in lieu of two GCSEs, however you must still have GCSE grade C / level 4 in Mathematics, English Language and Science.
BTEC National Diploma at grade MM including 90 credits or 540 GLH of relevant Science subjects (preferably Biology) at grade Merit.
2:2 degree in a relevant scientific subject.
We will consider other national and international qualifications on an individual basis. If your qualifications aren’t listed here, please contact us to discuss your application.
Applicants with international qualifications are also encouraged to submit a certificate of comparability from UK NARIC with their application form.
Proof of all qualifications will be required.
- Clinical requirements
Our School also has a series of clinical requirements for clinical students. Before accepting an offer of a place, you must confirm you will comply these requirements.
- Personal qualities and experience
You must possess a high level of manual dexterity and demonstrate attention to detail. You must also demonstrate excellent verbal and written communication skills, and have the ability to work as a team, think logically and respond positively to feedback. You must have a genuine interest in the care and treatment of patients, be empathetic and act without discrimination.
You are strongly advised to spend some time observing dental care professionals to ensure you have a good understanding of the profession.
The School offers a free online course via Future Learn which explores the impact dentistry has on our lives. You may find it useful to complete our discover dentistry course before you apply.
We also seek to select dental students with values and behaviours which align with the values of the NHS Constitution.
- Working together for patients
- Commitment to quality of care
- Improving lives
- Respect and dignity
- Everyone counts
The NHS core values form part of the NHS constitution. You are advised to take a look at the NHS constitution before you apply.
The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
See main listing
Mature students - explore other routes for mature students
If your first language isn’t English, you may need to take a language test – for example, IELTS 7.0 with 6.5 in each component (the test should have been completed no more than two years before the start date of our course).
If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.
School of Clinical Dentistry
Our teaching is driven by world-class research. You'll learn about the new techniques and advances that are rapidly taking place in the field of dentistry.
We believe in training the whole team together. Our dentistry and dental hygiene and therapy students learn alongside each other in a way that helps to prepare them for practice. Our combination of integrated teaching and practical experience produces caring, confident professionals.
Most of our teaching takes place in the Charles Clifford Dental Hospital, which is attached to the School of Clinical Dentistry. We also have links with the Medical School and the local community.
Our students find that our courses provide them with opportunities to explore ideas, apply what they have learnt and achieve their best. This is reflected in the National Student Survey where we consistently achieve high scores for overall student satisfaction.
We're committed to delivering an exceptional student experience. Our staff are involved in the quality assurance of teaching in Sheffield and other universities, and some have gained national recognition. Prestigious awards include: Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Association for Dental Education in Europe (ADEE) Mature Educator, and National Teaching Fellow.
Our placement programme for students is outstanding. You'll learn the value of evidence-based dentistry and how to apply it to clinical practice.
Dentistry students are based at the School of Clinical Dentistry, situated within the University campus to the west of Sheffield. The school has a very close working relationship with the adjacent Charles Clifford Dental Hospital, a specialist facility offering dental services to people in Sheffield and surrounding areas.
We aim to provide a stimulating interdisciplinary environment, with access to first-rate facilities. In our virtual simulation suite you can practice dentistry in a virtual reality environment.
We have dedicated research facilities and laboratories for tissue culture, molecular biology, materials science, histology-microscopy and electrophysiology, all with dedicated technical support.
We continually seek to improve our range of state-of-the-art facilities to meet the needs of our student and research community.
Why choose Sheffield?
The University of Sheffield
A Top 100 university 2021
QS World University Rankings
Top 10% of all UK universities
Research Excellence Framework 2014
No 1 Students' Union in the UK
Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2019, 2018, 2017
School of Clinical Dentistry
Research Excellence Framework 2014
Times Higher Education (THE) World Subject Rankings 2021
The Guardian University Guide 2021
Our graduates can register with the General Dental Council and work in dentistry as dental hygienists and dental therapists. Career opportunities exist in local NHS and private dental practices, hospital services, community dental services and the Ministry of Defence. Others go on to research and teaching roles within universities or hospital trusts.
There are also opportunities within multinational organisations which specialise in healthcare and pharmaceutical products. You may even consider 'topping up' your qualification to a degree, studying for a postgraduate qualification, or studying to become a dentist.
Fees and funding
The annual fee for your course includes a number of items in addition to your tuition. If an item or activity is classed as a compulsory element for your course, it will normally be included in your tuition fee. There are also other costs which you may need to consider.
Funding your study
Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for a bursary, scholarship or loan to help fund your study and enhance your learning experience.
Use our Student Funding Calculator to work out what you’re eligible for.
If you're studying one of our health care courses, you could be eligible for funding from the NHS.
University open days
There are four open days every year, usually in June, July, September and October. You can talk to staff and students, tour the campus and see inside the accommodation.
At various times in the year we run online taster sessions to help Year 12 students experience what it is like to study at the University of Sheffield.
If you've made an application to study with us, we may invite you for an interview. If you are then successful in receiving an offer, we'll invite you to one of our applicant days. These applicant days have a strong department focus and give you the chance to really explore student life here, even if you've visited us before.
Campus tours run regularly throughout the year, at 1pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Applications for our intake in April 2021 have now closed.
If you would like to receive email updates on our April 2022 intake, including notification of applications opening please register your interest.
To apply for a place on our Higher Education Diploma in Dental Hygiene and Therapy course, you'll need to complete and submit an online application for Alternative Routes and Programmes at the University of Sheffield. Applications are not made through UCAS.
It is in your best interests to submit your application as early as possible. This will enable us to clarify any details necessary to assess your application fully.
Please read the following sections carefully to find out more about the application process.
- Step 1: Apply online
Read the following guidance before you fill out our online application. If you don’t read this guidance, you may jeopardise the success of your application.
You should only submit an application if you will meet the minimum entry requirements by the deadline for receipt of applications. Pending qualifications, due after the deadline for receipt of applications, will not be taken into consideration. Your application will be automatically rejected if you don’t meet the minimum entry requirements by the deadline for receipt of applications.
Create an application account
You’ll need to set up an application account online. You'll need an email address in order to do this.
You'll have the option to save and return to your online application as many times as you like. Once you’ve filled in all the mandatory sections you’ll be able to submit your application.
- Step 2: Attend our selection day
If your application is short listed, you’ll be invited to attend a selection day.
During the selection day you will have a structured interview and take part in an interpersonal skills test.
Your interview will be conducted by two members of staff and will last approximately 15 minutes. All applicants will be asked the same questions.
The questions may cover:
- motivation for the course
- motivation for the profession and knowledge of current issues
- evidence of independent thought
- evidence of ability to apply knowledge
- relevant experience, commitment and values
After your interview, you will undergo an interpersonal skills test. This will involve a group task.
During our selection day you will also have the opportunity to find out more about the innovative aspects of our course, tour the School and its first class facilities, and meet some of our current students. Further information will be provided nearer the time.
When all applicants have attended a selection day, a selection panel will meet to discuss every application in detail. The selection panel will take into account the observations made from the structured interview and the interpersonal skills test. The selection panel may also refer back to your personal statements and qualifications.
Our assessment methods are fair, valid, and applied consistently.
- Step 3: Receive an offer
Once you have a attended our selection day we will work quickly to let you know if your application has been successful. We will write to you with details of an offer.
All offers are initially conditional and include the receipt of a satisfactory enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check and health clearance. Academic conditions may also be applied to your offer.
Once you have accepted our offer of a place we will be in touch with details on how to prepare for the start of our course. There will also be the opportunity to get to know your new classmates via our private Facebook group and attend an applicant open day.
The awarding body for this course is the University of Sheffield.
Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.