CertHE Dental Nursing - University of Portsmouth
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Dental Nursing

UCAS codeB751

Full Time 1yr

Practical and professional training in our first-rate facilities

Course Overview

Why take this course?

Dental nurses are essential across the dental industry. They contribute significantly to the care of patients undergoing dental treatment and are vital members of the dental team.

Our course is designed to ensure you are able to safely and competently support the operator and patient during the provision of dental care.

The course only takes one academic year (September – July).

On successful completion you will have gained 120 degree level 1 credits and be able to register as a qualified dental care professional with The General Dental Council.

Values and the NHS Constitution

We endeavour to recruit students to our health and social care courses who have the right values base and demonstrate appropriate behaviours. We embed the values of the NHS Constitution throughout our admissions processes and they are an essential part of the curricula. Find out more about the values we look for.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Study alongside dental hygiene, dental therapy and dental students, enabling you to build effective team-working skills
  • Learn about and experience a range of dental procedures and techniques in our purpose-built Dental Academy
  • Put your learning into practice by working alongside qualified professionals in a range of outreach locations delivering healthcare to patients

What opportunities might it lead to?

Our courses are accredited by the General Dental Council. Once you complete this course, you’ll be able to register and work in any sector of the dental industry. These might include:

  • general dental practice (NHS and/or Private)
  • hospital dental services
  • the Armed Forces
  • specialist practice
  • health promotion environment


Shweta Patel, dental student

The Dental Academy at Portsmouth has great facilities. Being able to interact with patients in a clinical environment from year one is great.

Shweta Patel, dental student


Dental Nursing

Find out what our students say about studying at Portsmouth including:

  • The practical team-based approach to dentistry that helps prepare you for life beyond university
  • The fantastic facilities and real-life learning that simulate work in a real dental practice
  • The enthusiastic lecturers who offer great support in a friendly environment
  • The great range of outreach opportunities that allow you to put your learning in to practice

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Structure & Teaching

The subjects covered will ensure you have the complete knowledge and skills to safely and competently support the operator and patient during treatment.

You will specifically focus on the following areas:

  • general anatomy and physiology
  • oral anatomy and physiology
  • health safety and infection control procedures
  • human and oral diseases (pathology and microbiology)
  • instruments, materials and equipment associated with a range of dental procedures
  • methods of assisting the operator during a range of dental treatments
  • patient management techniques
  • preventive dentistry
  • dental public health
  • law and ethics
  • reflective practice and professionalism
  • assisting the operator during dental radiographic procedures

Core units in this programme include:

  • Dental Nursing Practice
  • Foundations of Clinical Practice
  • Introduction to Behavioural Science
  • Introduction to Human Sciences
  • Personal and Professional Development

As part of our commitment to the NHS, each student will complete a programme of Statutory and Mandatory training in line with the NHS framework.

During your study with us you will learn about the anatomy and physiology of the head and neck, understand body systems, investigate and apply national guidance in relation to health, safety and infection control, explore methods of communication across a range of mediums, relate evidence based theory and learn the practical skills necessary to support dental care delivery in the UK.

We use the best and most current research and professional practice, alongside feedback from our students, to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.

Teaching and Assessment

You will be taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, practical laboratory work and guided reading. Our academic staff have expertise in clinical practice and research, and we provide a student-centred approach to teaching, with all units fully supported by online lecture and study materials.

How are you assessed?

On this course there is a balance of formal examinations and coursework assessment. You will be expected to complete coursework throughout the year, whereas exams take place at the end of the academic year.

Tutor's view


Tracy Wallis

There are fantastic facilities for both theoretical and practical learning. All units incorporate a blended learning approach where you actively engage in a variety of teaching such as practical group sessions, seminars as well as traditional lectures. Supported by experienced dental staff, the Academy provides clinical simulated opportunities prior to your progression onto our clinical floors; where you will support student dental clinician's, treating NHS patients, in the role of Dental Nurse.

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Facilities & Features

The Dental Academy

We have built the optimal environment for you to study both the theoretical and practical elements necessary to succeed. Offering a balance of state-of-the-art teaching and clinical facilities, here’s a taste of what you’ll have access to:

  • two clinics (44 dental treatment bays)
  • two individual surgeries
  • a phantom head room
  • decontamination suite
  • radiography suite
  • four radiography booths
  • a clinical skills laboratory and a simulation decontamination environment

Working as a Team

Our Dental Academy is a training ground for undergraduate King’s College London Dental Institute students as well as you and others on your course. So with dental care professionals and undergraduate dentists under the same roof, you’ll really get a feel of what it’s like to be part of a dental team working within a primary dental care setting.

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Budgeting for your studies

There are extra costs associated with studying, which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Recommended texts:
If you wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow from the University Library, the average price is £50-£60. You may be studying up to 6 units a year, each with a standard recommended text.

General costs:
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for costs of photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

Final year project:
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose to develop.

Other costs to consider

We provide you with three sets of scrubs (clinical clothing) and a name badge at the start of the course. Extra or replacement scrubs can be ordered at £8 per set or £4 for individual items. Replacement name badges can be ordered at £7. You will need to purchase your own visor frame (available from the Dental Academy for £8) and a pair of black shoes which enclose the foot (not clogs). You will also need to pay £30 for the use of a model skull (with extra fees if not returned). Locker keys require a deposit of £10.

There are a variety of outreach locations that you will need to attend to support your study. For NHS bursary students, you will be reimbursed for any travelling costs incurred which are unlikely to surpass £50.

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Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Career prospects
Where next?

On completing this course, you’ll be qualified to become a valuable member of the dental team. You’ll be able to register as a member of General Dental Council (GDC) and gain employment within all sectors of dentistry, whether it’s in a dental practice, hospital environment or so on.

Another option is further study. You could apply for a place to study on our BSc (Hons) Dental Hygiene and Dental Therapy (it should be noted that this is not a guaranteed route of entry) or a variety of post-registration courses in areas such as radiography, oral health education and hygiene.

Roles our graduates have taken on include:

  • dental hygienist
  • dental nurse
  • practice manager
  • dental therapist
  • practice owner

Work experience

Work experience
Employment boosting opportunities

To broaden your range of hands-on experience, some learning can occur outside the University. Outreach increases the diversity of practice, widening your skills base. You’ll therefore have the option to work in a number of local settings, including:

  • a range of dental practices offering NHS dental care
  • oral health promotion
  • supervised tooth brushing in infant schools
  • helping staff to develop oral care plans in residential homes
  • working alongside others in the dental team to provide dental screening to offenders in the probation service  
  • work experience in maxillofacial departments in local hospitals

Career planning

Career planning

To make sure you take the right steps on your career path, we’re here to give you help, support and advice throughout your study. Even after you’ve graduated, we continue to give you support for up to five years.

Employers tell us that they want graduates to be able to demonstrate certain skills when they come out of university. Our courses take account of this. We make sure we prepare you for employment through work-related learning, projects, placements and working in simulated environments that are designed to prepare you for the working world.

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Apply now or visit us

Apply for 2018 entry

To apply, you'll need this course's UCAS code, which is at the top of this page, and the University of Portsmouth institution code – P80.

Apply now

After you apply, we'll invite you to an Applicant Experience Day where you’ll get to speak to lecturers and meet your future classmates.

Open Days for courses starting in 2019

Come to an Open Day and explore our course facilities, tour the campus and have a look around our halls of residence.

Book your Open Day

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.

University of Portsmouth
University House
Winston Churchill Avenue
Portsmouth PO1 2UP

T: +44 (0)23 9284 8484