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Dental hygienists treat and prevent oral diseases. They support people in maintaining their oral health by providing treatments and advice designed to improve the health of the mouth, teeth and gums.
If you want a career as a dental hygienist, this BSc (Hons) Dental Hygiene degree course is for you.
Studying in our Dental Academy, you’ll get the skills and knowledge for registration with the General Dental Council (GDC), which is essential for practicing as a dental hygienist.
- Be taught in our Dental Academy, complete with the latest technology used in dental practices including 2 clinics with 44 dental treatment bays, 2 individual surgeries, a phantom head room, a new haptics suite, a decontamination suite, and radiography booths
- Build your experience working as part of a dental team, studying alongside dental therapy, dental nursing and dental students as well as qualified professionals
- Get out of the classroom to work with real patients, performing dental procedures and taking part in local community outreach projects
This course is accredited by the General Dental Council (GDC). This allows you to register with the GDC when you complete the course.
The GDC continually assess the course to make sure it meets the standard required for accreditation, so you'll know you're getting the most relevant and up-to-date teaching available.
Explore BSc (Hons) Dental Hygiene at Portsmouth
Discover how our BSc (Hons) Dental Hygiene degree course will equip you with the skills and knowledge for registration with the General Dental Council (GDC).
Debbie Withers: The BSc Dental Hygiene course is a three-year degree course where you will come out as a qualified dental hygienist and be able to go out and get a job in practice.
I think what attracts students to this course, you get to use quite complex dental instruments and also you get to look after people. We're quite fortunate, we've got really good facilities. We've got two big open-plan clinics, we've got our phantom head lab where we get to practice on plastic teeth before students are let free on patients. So it just provides as realistic as possible element of teaching.
[The course is accredited by the General Dental Council]
Debbie Withers: You can work in dental practice, you can work in prisons, in special care, in hospitals. You can work in public health, you can work in schools, it's a really diverse career that's available to students who qualify here.
We're really proud of the support we offer both as a university and departmentally and we're really, really proud that all of our students can get a really good job or final study after they graduate.
BSc (Hons) Dental Hygiene degree entry requirements
- A levels - ABB-BBB
- UCAS points - 120-128 points from 3 A levels, or equivalent, including 40 points from a pure Science subject. For A levels which include a separate science practical component, a pass is desirable and may strengthen an application (calculate your UCAS points).
- T-levels - Merit. Acceptable T Level Subjects:
T Level in Healthcare Science (Acceptable Occupational Specialisms: Assisting with healthcare science), T Level in Science
- BTECs (Extended Diplomas) - DDM
- International Baccalaureate - 29-30
- All shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend an interview in support of their application. Shortlisting occurs up until the end of February and interviews take place between March and April.
- Applicants must pass Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and Occupational Health checks before starting the course. This includes screening to exclude infectivity with Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV.
You may need to have studied specific subjects – find full entry requirements and other qualifications we accept
English language requirements
- English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 7.0 with no component score below 6.5.
We also accept other standard English tests and qualifications, as long as they meet the minimum requirements of your course.
If you don't meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.
We look at more than just your grades
While we consider your grades when making an offer, we also carefully look at your circumstances and other factors to assess your potential. These include whether you live and work in the region and your personal and family circumstances which we assess using established data.
Hear from our Dental Academy students, Cynthia and Said
Dental Academy students Cynthia and Said talk about their experiences studying dentistry at the University of Portsmouth.
Cynthia: Reading about the University of Portsmouth in the Dental Academy, I realise it's a good place for me to harness my potential of becoming the dental nurse I've always wanted to become.
Said: Looking after the patient, caring for the patient has been the best part of my degree.
Cynthia: Right after your first year, you become a qualified dental nurse so while you are studying, you can still practice.
Said: The most useful skills were the clinical skills that I acquired during my phantom head sessions where I did extensive work on periodontal treatments. Working now in clinics with patients I feel more confident and having the support of the staff and other colleagues has helped me quite a lot.
Cynthia: We have a very friendly staff, nurses who are willing and always available to help students. When you find yourself in like any kind of confusion, they are there at your beck and call.
Said: You have to be really good with communication as well because you will continuously be communicating with patients. Also, staff and students and collaborative and professional work needs good communication skills.
Cynthia: For those willing to study at the University of Portsmouth, I would encourage you, once you get here, to make good use of all the facilities available.
Said: Caring for the patient is not just looking at their mouth and treating what we see but also is strongly correlated with the general health of the patient.
Facilities and specialist equipment
The excellent facilities - highly advanced decontamination suite, recently renovated clinic, sophisticated dental equipment - I think the University of Portsmouth stands out in this aspect.
Careers and opportunities
As the title suggests, dental hygienists help patients keep their teeth clean, but there's much more to the role than this alone.
Dental hygienists provide treatments, carry out procedures and give dietary and oral hygiene advice to maintain a healthy mouth, teeth and gums. Patients are often referred to dental hygienists by dentists, although many opt to see a hygienist regularly themselves.
Dental hygienists are needed in both the NHS and within private healthcare. Once you graduate you'll be ready to take your skills into areas such as general dental practice, hospital dental services or the Armed Forces, so you'll have great employment prospects as you embark on your dental career.
Looking to study dental hygiene and learn how to carry out additional procedures such as fillings and extractions? Take a look at our BSc (Hons) Dental Hygiene and Dental Therapy degree.
What areas can you work in with a dental hygiene degree?
When you graduate, you'll be qualified to work in areas such as:
- general dental practice
- hospital dental services
- the Armed Forces
- the NHS
- health promotion
What jobs can you do with a dental hygiene degree?
Roles our graduates have taken on include:
- dental hygienist
- oral health educator
- practice manager
- practice owner
You could also continue your studies or do research at postgraduate level.
State of the art facilities, supportive teaching staff and a fun learning environment. The Dental Academy is the ideal starting place for any aspiring dental care professional.
As an NHS dental hygienist in 2021, you could expect a Band 5 starting salary of £25,655, moving up to £31,534.
With more experience, you could earn from £32,306 to £39,027 (Band 6) and with a role training, you could make up to £45,839 (Band 7).
In the private sector, dental hygienists make from £16.56 to £31.18 an hour.
Work experience with patients in the community
To help you gain professional experience, you'll help to provide free dental health services to the public at the Dental Academy and work with patients in local community settings.
You'll have the chance to offer preventative and educational dental support within institutions such as school clinics and hostels for homeless people, enabling you to gain a better understanding of the social impact of good dental care.
Our community work experience projects include:
- outreach activity in community surgeries and maxillofacial departments in local hospitals
- oral health promotion
- supervised tooth brushing in infant schools
- helping staff to develop oral care plans in residential homes
- providing dental screening to offenders in the probation service
- providing dental check ups to elite athletes, including first team players from Portsmouth Football Club
Portsmouth FC players get a check up at the Dental Academy
Thanks to a collaborative partnership with Portsmouth Football Club, our undergraduate dental students gave first team players Clark Robertson and Liam Vincent a full oral health assessment at our Dental Academy.
Check ups like these are an opportunity to catch any potential issues early, such as dental trauma from the sport, tooth decay from a diet that’s often high in carbohydrates and sugars, or dental erosion caused by acidic sports drinks.
Professor Chris Louca: Today we are resurrecting a collaboration between the University of Portsmouth and Portsmouth Football Club. So in this case, we've got final year Dental Hygiene students who are looking at the Portsmouth Football Club players and they're carrying out a full oral health assessment.
This is a really big area of interest, looking at the link between oral health and the performance of elite athletes. There's a growing body of evidence to show that there is a link between these two areas.
Francesca Lee: So an athlete's diet consists of high sugar, so the advice I'd give to athletes is to minimise eating sugary foods and drinks and if they're going to have it, eat it in one sitting rather than snacking throughout the day.
Liam Vincent: I've just had a check up and they've removed some decay off my teeth. My teeth are a lot better now!
I never really considered the health of my teeth before, as much as I will do now.
Clark Robertson: I didn't really think about it too much in relation to actually playing football, but it's something I'll be more aware of moving forward.
Each module on this course is worth a certain number of credits.
In each year, you need to study modules worth a total of 120 credits. For example, four modules worth 20 credits and one module worth 40 credits.
What you'll study
Core modules in this year include:
- Foundation of Evidence Based Practice (Dental) – 20 credits
- Foundations of Dental Hygiene Practice – 40 credits
- Fundamentals of Dental Hygiene Practice – 20 credits
- Science Informing Practice (Dental) – 40 credits
There are no optional modules in this year.
Core modules in this year include:
- Applied Dental Hygiene Professional Practice – 40 credits
- Communication For the Dental Team – 20 credits
- Dental Radiography – 20 credits
- Engaging With Service Improvement (Dental) – 20 credits
- Evidence Based Decision Making (Dental) – 20 credits
There are no optional modules in this year.
Core modules in this year include:
- Behaviour Management – 20 credits
- Enhancing Dental Hygiene Professional Practice – 40 credits
- Leading Safe and Effective Care (Dental) – 20 credits
- Project – 40 credits
There are no optional modules in this year.
Changes to course content
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. If a module doesn't run, we'll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative module.
How you're assessed
You’ll be assessed through:
- written examinations
- computer examinations
You’ll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark.
You can get feedback on all practice and formal assessments so you can improve in the future.
Teaching methods on this course include:
- pre clinical simulated practice and live patient clinics
- practical workshops
- guided reading
Our academic staff have expertise in clinical practice and research, and you'll be fully supported by online lecture and study materials.
How you'll spend your time
One of the main differences between school or college and university is how much control you have over your learning.
We use a blended learning approach to teaching, which means you’ll take part in both face-to-face and online activities during your studies. As well as attending your timetabled classes you'll study independently in your free time, supported by staff and our virtual learning environment, Moodle.
A typical week
We recommend you spend at least 35 hours a week studying for your Dental Hygiene degree. In your first year, you’ll be in timetabled teaching activities such as tutorials, lectures, practical classes and workshops and guided independent study sessions. The rest of the time you’ll do independent study such as research, reading, coursework and project work, alone or in a group with others from your course.
Most timetabled teaching takes place during the day, Monday to Friday. You may occasionally need to go to University and course events in the evenings and at weekends.
The academic year runs from September to June. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter.
Due to the clinical elements of the course and the professional, regulatory and statutory body requirement of the General Dental Council, the Dental Academy (UPDA) term dates will differ from the standard University dates, meaning you'll need to attend campus from early September to the end of July.
The amount of timetabled teaching you'll get on your degree might be less than what you're used to at school or college, but you'll also get support via video, phone and face-to-face from teaching and support staff to enhance your learning experience and help you succeed. You can build your personalised network of support from the following people and services:
Types of support
Your personal tutor helps you make the transition to independent study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your time at university.
As well as regular scheduled meetings with your personal tutor, they're also available at set times during the week if you want to chat with them about anything that can't wait until your next meeting.
You'll have help from a team of faculty learning support tutors. They can help you improve and develop your academic skills and support you in any area of your study.
They can help with:
- improving your academic writing (for example, essays, reports, dissertations)
- understanding and using assignment feedback
- managing your time and workload
- revision and exam techniques
As well as support from faculty staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University's Academic Skills Unit (ASK).
ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:
- academic writing
- note taking
- time management
- critical thinking
- presentation skills
- working in groups
- revision, memory and exam techniques
Our online Learning Well mini-course will help you plan for managing the challenges of learning and student life, so you can fulfil your potential and have a great student experience.
You can get personal, emotional and mental health support from our Student Wellbeing Service, in person and online. This includes 1–2–1 support as well as courses and workshops that help you better manage stress, anxiety or depression.
If you require extra support because of a disability or additional learning need our specialist team can help you.
They'll help you to
- discuss and agree on reasonable adjustments
- liaise with other University services and facilities, such as the library
- access specialist study skills and strategies tutors, and assistive technology tutors, on a 1-to-1 basis or in groups
- liaise with external services
Library staff are available in person or by email, phone, or online chat to help you make the most of the University’s library resources. You can also request one-to-one appointments and get support from a librarian who specialises in your subject area.
The library is open 24 hours a day, every day, in term time.
Course costs and funding
- UK/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £9,250 per year (may be subject to annual increase)
- EU students – £9,250 a year (including Transition Scholarship – may be subject to annual increase)
- International students – £20,200 per year (subject to annual increase)
Funding your studies
Applying from outside the UK? Find out about funding options for international students.
Additional funding – at least £5,000 a year
Students on this course may be eligible for additional funding through the NHS Learning Support Fund of at least £5,000 a year. The bursary is non-repayable and is in addition to any other support you are eligible for, including Government student loans.
For more information, including eligibility criteria, please visit our scholarships and bursaries page.
Additional course costs
These course-related costs aren’t included in the tuition fees. So you’ll need to budget for them when you plan your spending.
Our accommodation section show your accommodation options and highlight how much it costs to live in Portsmouth.
You’ll study up to 6 modules a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each module.
You can borrow most of these from the Library. If you buy these, they may cost up to £60 each.
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.
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.
You’ll get 3 sets of scrubs (clinical clothing) and a name badge at the start of the course. You can order extra or replacement scrubs at £8 per set or £4 an item. You can also order replacement name badges for £7.
You’ll need to buy your own visor frame (available from the Dental Academy for £8) and a pair of black shoes which enclose the foot (not canvas or clogs).
Plastic skulls are available for a £30 deposit to assist your learning of oral anatomy during your first year.
You’ll need to bring your own 40mm padlock if you use our locker facilities.
You’ll attend outreach locations to support your studies, and you’ll need to cover travel costs. The NHS may meet some of these costs through its Learning Support Fund.
Optional conference trips will cost in the region of £100–£200. You may have the opportunity to engage in the Erasmus programme, which will incur additional costs.
How to apply
To start this course in 2024, apply through UCAS. You'll need:
- the UCAS course code – B752
- our institution code – P80
If you'd prefer to apply directly, use our online application form.
You can also sign up to an Open Day to:
- Tour our campus, facilities and halls of residence
- Speak with lecturers and chat with our students
- Get information about where to live, how to fund your studies and which clubs and societies to join
If you're new to the application process, read our guide on applying for an undergraduate course.
Applying from outside the UK
As an international student you'll apply using the same process as UK students, but you’ll need to consider a few extra things.
You can get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region.
Find out what additional information you need in our international students section.
If you don't meet the English language requirements for this course yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.
Admissions terms and conditions
When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to abide by our Student Contract (which includes the University's relevant policies, rules and regulations). You should read and consider these before you apply.