10 Steps to Study Postgraduate Dentistry in the UK

Dental students study for years, then undergo extensive on-the-job training to finally see patients — but the learning doesn’t end there.

Professional development is a key factor in a successful dentistry career. The best dentists, and those with the highest earning potential, continually hunt for new opportunities, skills, and development programmes to increase the treatments and the quality of care they offer.

If you’re a newly qualified dentist, or a professional dentist looking to take the next step in your career, then a postgraduate dentistry course in the UK is a great choice. 

In this comprehensive guide we break down the ten steps to studying dentistry at a postgraduate level in the UK. We’ll look at how to select the right course, how to find funding, and how to make sure you’re eligible to study in the UK with the correct visa and documentation.

Step 1: Assess Your Motivation and Goals

Before you get started on your journey of studying postgraduate dentistry in the UK, it is crucial to assess your motivation and goals. 

Take some time to reflect on why you want to pursue postgraduate dentistry and what you aim to achieve. Are you looking to specialise in a specific area of dentistry to offer more treatment options to your patients? Are you wanting to enhance your general clinical skills? 

Not only will doing this help you to choose the course right for you, it will also help you stay motivated while you are studying.

Step 2: Research and Identify Postgraduate Programmes

The next step is to research and identify postgraduate dentistry programmes in the UK that fit with your goals. 

There is a huge variety of universities, dental schools, and higher education institutions offering postgraduate dentistry courses here in the UK, and some have better reputations and wider specialties than others. 

It’s important to do your research before you apply. When you start to research dental schools, consider things like the syllabus, quality of the teaching staff, career prospects of alumni, and other academic considerations. 

Alongside this, consider also whether the school is in a place that you’d like to spend a lot of time — do you like big cities, or do you prefer a more rural university location? Can you afford the high costs of living in London, Birmingham, or Manchester, or would a remote course offer better value for money?

Once you’ve completed this research, create a shortlist of your chosen institutions. This will take you to the next step!

Step 3: Meet the Eligibility Criteria

Now, it’s time to prepare yourself for your application.

Each programme will have specific requirements that you must fulfil before you can study there. Here at the London Dental Institute, we offer postgraduate courses to all qualified dentists with a primary dental qualification and one year’s experience as a registered dental practitioner. Other universities or HE institutions, however, may ask for specific academic qualifications, professional experience or proof of funds.

To ensure that your application has the best chance of being successful, you should research and carefully review the eligibility criteria for each programme on your shortlist. Pay close attention to academic prerequisites, such as the minimum GPA or degree classification required, and if you will need proof of finances, visas, or sufficient funds to support yourself and your studies. 

Step 4: Submit Your Required Documents

Once you are confident that you meet the school’s eligibility criteria, the next step is to gather and prepare all the necessary documents required for your application. 

Note – this list is not exhaustive! Each programme will have specific document requirements, so it is essential to carefully review the application guidelines provided by the universities or institutions to ensure that your application is complete.

Typically, universities and higher education institutions here in the UK may require the following documents:

  • Academic Transcripts: Including official transcripts from your undergraduate dental degree or equivalent qualification. You may have to get these ‘officiated’, or certified, to prove that they are the originals. 
  • Your CV or Resume: Including your relevant experience, qualifications, and additional skills.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Typically, universities ask for letters of recommendation from your academic professors, dental mentors, or professional colleagues who can attest to your skills, knowledge, and suitability for postgraduate dentistry studies. Before you use someone as a reference, it’s a good idea to make sure they are happy to write a letter like this for you, and capable.
  • A Personal Statement: Your personal statement should include things like your motivation for applying, your career aspirations, and additional information that might be relevant to your application, such as volunteer experience, mitigating circumstances, and relevant professional experience.
  • English Language Proficiency Test Results: If English is not your first language, you will probably need to prove that you can speak and understand English well enough to do well on the course. Most universities and HE institutions require your certificates from exams such as the IELTS or TOEFL, and may provide a minimum level that you should have achieved.
  • Proof of Professional Registration: For those courses who require professional experience, you may need to demonstrate evidence of your professional registration.

Remember, getting these documents together can take a lot of time and coordination. It’s important to start preparing your documents straight away when you begin your application, in order to have them ready to go well in advance of any deadlines. 

Our top tip is to make sure that you have copies certified, in case any documents go missing in your application process. Never send your original documents through the post! They could go missing and they might be expensive, and take a long time, to replace.

Step 5: Prepare for and Take the English Language Proficiency Test

If you’re an international student with English as your second language, you may be asked to prove your English proficiency with an exam.

Bear in mind that the rules of this step are sometimes arbitrary! Even if you were born in an English speaking country, or speak English perfectly, you may still be required to take an English exam as some higher education institutions base eligibility criteria on nationality, not individual circumstances. Always check for your individual circumstances.

Many universities and institutions necessitate that their students show proof of English language proficiency through standardised tests like the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). However, the London Dental Institute stands out as it doesn’t require such proof of English proficiency.

In cases where an English exam is required for your application, it is vital to begin preparation in good time. The IELTS and TOEFL exams, though designed for non-native English speakers, can be challenging to pass, even with good English skills. It is essential to take preparation lessons with a qualified and professional tutor to give yourself the best chance of success. Be sure to accommodate this time in your application timeline and allocate ample time for preparation if needed.

Step 6: Draft an Impressive Personal Statement

For many schools, drafting and preparing an impressive personal statement is a key part of the application process – one which requires extensive preparation. Our recommendation? Hire a tutor or a professional writer to help you prepare. 

In your personal statement, you should consider including experiences or personal qualities that mean you’re well suited to your chosen specialty. Provide anecdotal experiences from your time as a professional dentist, and explain eloquently why you have chosen to embark on postgraduate study. It’s a great idea also to demonstrate your academic readiness – showing that you are up to date on relevant research and that you engage in a continued habit of learning and professional development. 

Once you have your first draft ready, seek feedback from a trusted mentor or guide who can offer tips for improvement. Then review your second draft and repeat as necessary. Before you submit your personal statement, don’t forget to proofread! There’s nothing worse than hitting ‘submit’ and discovering a typo.

If this seems like an exhaustive job, you could look for a course which does not require a personal statement. At the LDi we don’t believe that dental professionals should spend all their time writing personal statements. We trust you to make the best decision for yourself and for your career. We know you’re busy, and so we make our application system as easy as possible. 

In fact, if you’ve chosen to study at the LDi, you can skip step six and seven and go straight to step eight!

Step 7: Get Ready for Interviews

Some universities or dental postgraduate schools require potential applicants to sit an interview when invited. If this is the case, once again it’s critical to prepare so you can show off your skills effectively.

Firstly, choose a date and time that suits you and arrange travel plans if the interview is face-to-face. Ensure you can make it on time, and that you will not be jet-lagged from the journey. If the interview is held online, make sure you have a quiet place to take your interview with a stable internet connection, and double check the time difference!

To prepare for the interview, run through some practice questions beforehand with another dental professional. Make sure you are happy speaking at length about your professional experience and your motivation for taking a postgraduate dental course in the UK. Then, prepare thoughtful responses to questions about your motivations, experiences, ethical scenarios, problem-solving abilities, and so on. 

We recommend conducting mock interviews with a mentor, professor, or trusted friend, if you can. This will give you the experience in speaking about yourself and your experience and can be a great way to prepare if you’re feeling nervous. It’s best to prepare with someone who has a knowledge of the dental profession if possible, because they’ll be able to provide you with additional questions, and respond in turn. Always remember to ask for honest feedback on your responses, communication skills, and areas that may require improvement, then take this into account as you prepare.

Don’t just work on your interview technique, but make sure that you can demonstrate knowledge of current dental topics, research advancements, and issues. In the run up to your interview, stay informed about the latest trends, technologies, and debates within dentistry by reading the latest articles and publications. This knowledge will show your interviewer that you’re passionate about this specific field, and ready to start learning.

Finally, make sure you prepare a list of thoughtful questions to ask the interviewers at the end of the interview. This demonstrates your interest in the programme and allows you to gather more information to make an informed decision if you receive an offer. Questions could be, ‘How does the university (or school) support alumni when they return to practising dentistry?’, or ‘What does an average day look like for a postgraduate student here?’.

Preparing for an interview for a postgraduate dental course in the UK is a lengthy process and you should allocate appropriate time and resources to ensure that you can perform at your best. 

Alternatively, choose a school with an incredible reputation and no interview requirements! The London Dental Institute knows that if you’re looking to study postgraduate dentistry in the UK, you are already a self-motivated professional. That’s why we don’t have an interview requirement, and making an application to study with us is fast and easy.

Step 8: Secure Funding and Financial Support

Of all of the steps, this one is probably the hardest for all postgraduate dental students in the UK: securing adequate funding. 

Getting your postgraduate degree or qualification in the UK often comes with significant cost, and we’re not just talking about the tuition fees. Living costs in big cities like London, Birmingham, and Manchester are significantly higher than in other countries, and renting an apartment, buying groceries, and even taking public transportation can add up. These costs add up even faster if you have to take a year or more out of your job to commit to your studies. 

However, there may be some ways of mitigating the high costs, by applying for research scholarships or grants. Many universities and higher education institutions offer scholarships or extra funding for dentists who wish to expand their career but who do not have the private funding to support their application. Your country may even offer grants or loans to cover the cost too.

If this is out of the question, or if you’ve been turned down in your application for a scholarship or grant, then it might seem daunting to still pursue your dream of studying for a postgraduate dentistry degree in the UK. Instead of giving up, however, you could consider studying part time around your job to keep your income coming in.

This is how many of our students come to study here at the London Dental Institute. We make it easy to study around your existing job with our app and the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) – accessible 24 hours a day no matter what your work schedule looks like! Plus, through our case portal on the VLE, our team of expert tutors and dental professionals can provide live, real advice on the cases and patients you’re treating right now, helping you put into practice your valuable new skills immediately.

We do this for two reasons: firstly, so our online students can get hands-on experience treating patients in the real world, and secondly, so our students can start to benefit from a return on their investment into postgraduate study right away. 

Finally, the LDi offers flexible payment options, meaning you can spread the full cost of the course over a whole year. There’s no need to pay large tuition fee instalments every term, instead you can split your payments up over the whole year. We do everything we can to make finances easy for you – if you have more questions about your specific situation, why not speak to an enrolment advisor? They’ll be happy to help.

Step 9: Obtain the Necessary Visa and Immigration Requirements

We’ve made it to the penultimate step!

You’ve got the place, your funding is secured, and you’re excited to start learning… Now it’s time to start thinking about the logistics of your relocation. That means getting your documents in order. 

Navigating the visa application process and making sure you comply with immigration regulations can be a challenge, but this step is critical if you want to study in the UK hassle free. Here are our recommendations for the steps you need to take to come to the UK to study here.

  1. Firstly, determine the correct visa type for your situation using the UK government website, and understand what information you need to make sure your application is successful.
  2. Then, check your visa requirements and start to collect the documentation you need for your application. Always ensure you meet the criteria and have the necessary supporting documents before you accept and pay your first instalment of the tuition fees. You may not be eligible for a refund if your visa is denied.
  3. Prepare all your supporting documents, including a letter from your university or college, your financial statements, proof of English language proficiency, and so on.
  4. Schedule a biometrics appointment (if you need to have your fingerprints taken and photograph taken), then schedule and attend your visa interview, if required.
  5. You’re almost there! While you’re waiting for a decision, you can usually track your application, and monitor any updates or  requests for additional information or documentation, using a visa application portal on the .gov website.
  6. Travel to the UK with all the documents you need when you visa is granted. Keep spares just in case you get asked more questions at the border control of the airport you arrive at.
  7. Once you’re in the UK, you must then comply with all the rules and regulations of your visa, including attending your registered institution, keeping up to date with valid health insurance, and adhering to the visa’s work restrictions, if applicable.

Ultimately, even once your study place has been granted, it can still be a struggle to get yourself into the UK, and there’s still a long way to go before you can sit back and relax. But you can still benefit from a UK accredited university without this hassle, by studying for your postgraduate dental programme online. When you become an international student at the London Dental Institute, there’s no need to organise expensive visa appointments or attend biometric screenings – you can study right from the comfort of your home.

Step 10: Plan for Accommodation and Settling In

The day is finally here for you to move to the UK! It’s time to get your accommodation sorted, and start to think about building your community here in the UK. Taking steps to prepare now will help you maximise your time here, and fully take advantage of everything that the UK has to offer postgraduate students of dentistry.

Before you jump on that plane, make sure to research accommodation options in advance. Get a feel for prices, and the kind of documentation you need to rent an apartment or house here. Our recommendation is to always rent through your university approved landlords or letting agencies. This will help you find somewhere close to campus and which meets the university’s expectations for quality. You might find a postgraduate hall of residence a better, and more cost effective, option.

Then, start to think about the necessary utilities and services that you require. You’ll probably need a UK number, a new wifi connection, a bus or travel pass, and maybe even a bank account. Research in advance how you can get these, and use your knowledge to make appointments. Remember, even if you come from an English speaking country, we might do things differently here, so be prepared!

As well as getting ready to move into your new home, make sure your finances are in order too. This means creating a realistic budget, taking into account accommodation costs, groceries, transportation, study materials, and other essential expenses. Make sure you have enough money to cover your expenses, and keep it stored securely in a bank account which has international access. Don’t forget, life in the UK is expensive, and there may be hidden costs that you had not anticipated — make sure you have some wiggle room for unexpected expenses. 

Our final top tip is to research and connect with the student support services. This team can help you find fun activities, make friends, and build a community. They’ll also help you to get set up with support services, health services, and your academic schedule, too. They’re your first port of call here in the UK if you have any questions or challenges.

Remember, life in the UK can be a difficult adjustment. Although this is likely a dream you’ve had for a long time, it can be difficult to adapt into life in a new country, even when it’s something you really want. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed or anxious, and struggle in the first few weeks to really settle in. Give yourself some time to adapt, you’ll soon make friends and adjust.

Experiencing the UK isn’t just for international students. Here at the LDi we know that a taste of life here is part of the reason that many students look to study in the UK, and a trip to London is a great way to see the sights, too. That’s why we host an annual conference in London for all our students.For a few days, we pack out a London conference centre with the leading voices in dentistry from around the globe, and all your peers and fellow alumni of the Institution. This way, you can experience life in the UK and make lifelong friends face-to-face, without having to commit to years in the UK or leaving your community behind. To learn more about our in person conference, and to book your ticket, click here.

Study as a Postgraduate Online with the LDi

Studying for a postgraduate dentistry qualification is a big professional and personal commitment. There’s lots to do before you even accept your place at a UK university, and just getting a visa and finding the funding is half the battle.

But your dream of getting a UK accredited professional qualification is achievable, and the good news is that you don’t have to break the bank or leave behind your job and community to study here. You can study with an accredited UK institution online, in your own time, and around your current job.

We’d love to welcome you onto one of our postgraduate diploma courses. They run periodically throughout the year, and we welcome international students from across the globe. With a team of expert tutors and world-leading dental professionals, you can experience top-class teaching and learn cutting-edge dental techniques. As well as this, you’ll become a valued member of our international alumni community, forging friendships for life, and building an extensive network of dental peers. 

To learn more about studying at the London Dental Institute, click here to speak to an enrolment advisor, who will be happy to discuss your personal situation and the best courses for you. Alternatively, browse our current courses here.