dental nurses using phantom head lab practicing dental work

Dental Nursing CertHE

Get the knowledge and practical skills to become a GDC-registered dental nurse on this 1-year Dental Nursing course, accredited by the General Dental Council.

Key information

UCAS code:



This course is Accredited

Typical offer:

80 UCAS points to include a minimum of 2 A levels, or equivalent, with 32 UCAS points in a pure Science subject

See full entry requirements
Study mode and duration
Start date

Showing content for section Overview


Dental nurses support dental care professionals in all aspects of dental treatment and patient care and are an integral part of the dental team

On this 1-year full-time, 2-year part-time CertHE Dental Nursing course, accredited by the General Dental Council (GDC), you’ll get the knowledge and practical skills required to achieve safe beginner status, become a vital member of the dental team and register with the GDC when you graduate.

Course highlights

  • Build your team-working skills by studying alongside dental hygiene, dental therapy and final year dental students from King’s College London Dental Institute
  • Use some of the best dental facilities for students in the country at our Dental Academy, with 44 treatment bays, 2 individual surgeries, a phantom head skill lab, full radiography suite and an electronic patient records system
  • Work with real patients in the local community, gaining valuable work experience supporting our dental outreach projects such as working with the homeless community and Portsmouth Football Club
  • Placement opportunities in environments such as special care dentistry, maxillofacial departments and general dental practices 
  • Qualify with a CertHE in Dental Nursing when you complete the course, which allows you to register with the GDC as a dental nurse

Accredited by:

This course is accredited by the General Dental Council (GDC).


Explore CertHE Dental Nursing at Portsmouth

Discover how you'll gain the knowledge and practical skills to become a vital member of a dental team.

Jane Cuthbert: The certificate in higher education for dental nursing is a level four qualification, running for one academic year. It enables the students to get the full university experience. 

We have a clinical module which trains the students for the practical side of dental nursing. We also have a module which treats the legal and ethical side of dental nursing and a science-based module which teaches anatomy, and we also have a module that leads onto research in evidence-based dentistry, which is really important. 

The facilities we have here at the dental academy include two fully functioning clinics in which we treat patients from the local community. We have radiography pods. We also have a phantom head classroom. 

So the thing I love most about the course is the students having many more opportunities, which leads them also onto a professional registration with the General Dental Council. There are also opportunities for them to go on and study to become radiography dental nurses, special care dental nurses as well as orthodontic and implant specialities as well. 

Community outreach opportunities that we offer include primary schools, walk-in clinics for the local homeless community and Portsmouth Football Club. The opportunities here at the University of Portsmouth Dental

Academy will set you up for a great and rewarding career. 

Contact information


+44 (0) 23 9284 5566

Contact Admissions

Entry requirements

CertHE Dental Nursing entry requirements

Typical offers

  • A levels - CDD
  • UCAS points - 80 points to include a minimum of 2 A levels, or equivalent, with 32 points in 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 - Pass (C or above in the core) - Merit. Acceptable T Level Subjects:
    T Level in Health (Acceptable Occupational Specialisms: Supporting the adult nursing team, Supporting the mental health team), T Level in Healthcare Science (Acceptable Occupational Specialisms: Assisting with healthcare science), T Level in Science
  • BTECs (Extended Diplomas) - MMP
  • International Baccalaureate - 26

Selection process

  • All shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend an interview in support of their application.
  • 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.

See alternative English language qualifications.

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.

Explore more about how we make your offer

Values and the NHS Constitution

We embed the principles and values of the NHS Constitution in all our health and social care courses. When you apply for this course, we’ll expect you to demonstrate how your values align with the values of the Constitution.

Find out more about the values we look for.

Facilities and specialist equipment

Dental Academy photoshoot, 14th November 2018

Dental Academy

Hone your practical dental skills in our Dental Academy, which includes 2 patient clinics with 44 dental treatment bays.

Find out more about the Dental Academy

Dental Academy photoshoot, 14th November 2018

Phantom Head lab

Build your skills and your confidence using our realistic industry-standard phantom heads, designed to simulate working with real patients.

Explore the Phantom Head lab

18/05/2021.B-Roll - day 4..All Rights Reserved - Helen Yates- T: +44 (0)7790805960.Local copyright law applies to all print & online usage. Fees charged will comply with standard space rates and usage for that country, region or state.

Dental radiography

Learn how to take dental X-rays and explore dental imaging techniques in our dental radiography booths.

Explore the Dental Academy

Take a tour of our Dental Academy at the University of Portsmouth, where we teach Dental Hygiene, Dental Therapy and Dental Nursing courses.

A video showing highlights of studying in the Dental Academy at the University of Portsmouth -  using phantom heads and live patient clinics, develop your practice with x-ray machinery, fillings, scaling and impressions. (No dialogue.)

Careers and opportunities

Dental nurses offer vital support to dentists and patients by ensuring they have all they need to treat patients, such as preparing equpment and materials, sterilising treatment areas and managing patient records. 

They also assist dentists as they carry out treatments, passing instruments as they need them, keeping a patient's mouth clear of water and saliva, and making sure patients are comfortable and relaxed throughout. 

Dental nursing is a crucial role within a dental team and since the pandemic, there is an even higher demand for dental nurses in the both the NHS and the private sector. 

On this Dental Nursing CertHE, you'll gain what you need to become a registered dental nurse, including knowledge of many dental restorative and preventative procedures, and professional and people skills.

You'll complete a programme of statutory and mandatory training as part of our commitment to the NHS, including the anatomy and physiology of the head and neck, body systems, and understanding health, safety and infection control.

Once you complete the course, you’ll be able to register with the General Dental Council (GDC) as a dental nurse, ready to work at a general dental practice, a hospital, with the community dental service or in the Armed Forces. Or, you could continue your studies at diploma or degree level.

What areas can you work in with a dental nursing CertHE?

As a registered dental nurse, you’ll be qualified to take on roles in any sector of the dental industry, including:

  • general dental practice (NHS or private)
  • corporate dental practice
  • hospital dental services
  • Armed Forces
  • specialists dental practice
  • health promotion

What jobs can you do with a dental nursing CertHE?

Our graduates have taken on roles including:

  • dental nurse
  • practice manager
  • practice owner

Potential salary

As an NHS dental nurse in 2021, your starting salary would likely be between £20,330 (Band 3) and £22,549 (Band 4). With more experience as a senior dental nurse, you could make up to £31,534 (Band 5).

You could also work in the private sector, or as a locum dental nurse, for a competitive hourly rate.

Female student at computer

Ongoing career support – up to 5 years after you graduate

Get experience while you study, with support to find part-time jobs, volunteering opportunities, and work experience.

Towards the end of your degree and for up to five years after graduation, you’ll receive one-to-one support from our Graduate Recruitment Consultancy to help you find your perfect role.

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
  • providing dental checks to the homeless community 
  • 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.

The course runs from September to July.

What you'll study

Year 1

Core modules in this year include:

  • Foundations of Dental Nursing Professional Practice – 40 credits
  • Fundamentals of Dental Nursing Practice – 20 credits
  • Science Informing Practice (Dental) – 40 credits
  • Foundation of Evidence Based Practice (Dental) – 20 credits

There are no optional modules in this year.

Year 1

Core modules in this year include:

  • Foundations of Dental Nursing Professional Practice – 40 credits 
  • Fundamentals of Dental Nursing Practice – 20 credits 

There are no optional modules in this year.

Year 2

Core modules in this year include:

  • Foundation of Evidence Based Practice – 20 credits 
  • Science Informing Practice (Dental) – 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 examinations and coursework, and your clinical development and competency is assessed via an electronic software platform (LIFTUP).

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:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • pre clinical simulated practice and live patient clinics 
  • guided reading
  • practical workshops

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 Nursing CertHE (full time). If you're a part time student, you'll study for 2 days a week in teaching block 1 (September to January) and 1 day a week in teaching block 2 (February to July). 

You’ll be in timetabled teaching activities such as tutorials, lectures, practical classes and workshops and guided independent study sessions. You’ll also be expected to 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.

Term dates

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.

See term dates

Supporting you

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
  • referencing
  • 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.

If English isn't your first language, you can do one of our English language courses to improve your written and spoken English language skills before starting your degree. Once you're here, you can take part in our free In-Sessional English (ISE) programme to improve your English further.

Course costs and funding

Tuition fees

UK/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students

  • Full-time – £9,250 per year (may be subject to annual increase)
  • Part-time – £4,625 per year (may be subject to annual increase)

EU students

  • Full-time – £9,250 a year (including Transition Scholarship – may be subject to annual increase)
  • Part-time – £4,625 per year (may be subject to annual increase)

International students

  • Full-time – £17,200 per year (subject to annual increase)
  • Part-time – £8,600 per year (subject to annual increase)

Funding your studies

Find out how to fund your studies, including the scholarships and bursaries you could get. You can also find more about tuition fees and living costs, including what your tuition fees cover.

Applying from outside the UK? Find out about funding options for international students.

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.

Additional costs

Our accommodation section shows your accommodation options and highlights 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.

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 full-time in 2024, apply through UCAS. You'll need:

  • the UCAS course code – B751
  • our institution code – P80

 Apply now through UCAS


If you'd prefer to apply directly, use our online application form.


Apply for this part-time course using our online application form. Our courses fill up quickly, so submit your application as soon as you decide which course you want to study.

Further information

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.