Want to study dentistry but did not meet the requirements for the standard entry course? Read this guide to see whether the foundation dentistry course would be the right fit for you!

What is a Dentistry Foundation Course? 

The foundation dentistry course is primarily aimed at students who got great A-Levels but did not take the required A-Levels for Dentistry. This is similar to the gateway dentistry courses which is an alternative route open for those who have had barriers to their education and have been held back due to personal circumstances.

Both these routes into dentistry may be appealing as they allow for a smoother transition from school into the BDS programme. This may also be especially suited for students who did not study any science A-levels and are looking to study Dentistry without taking a gap year. 

Your first year in the foundation or gateway course would be science-based, after which you will join onto the standard 5-year dentistry course. This course will equip students with the required scientific knowledge and skills to join onto the standard course confidently.

Students will be trained in various course modules that align with dentistry to prepare them with the correct knowledge for entry into the BDS programme.

This is the case for the majority of universities offering the foundation dentistry course, except for King’s College London, where students will receive additional academic support in the 5-year course. 

Benefits of Dentistry Foundation Courses

There are many benefits to studying the foundation or gateway dentistry course: 

  • Smoother transition from A-Levels to the Dentistry Degree.
  • Bridging the gap between undergraduate education and clinical dentistry.
  • Teaches students the scientific knowledge and skills required for Dentistry. 
  • Allows students to apply for dentistry without science A-Levels. 
  • Opportunity for students applying from non-selective state schools or from low socio-economic areas. 
  • Students receive additional academic support. 
  • Students receive hands-on experience and develop clinical skills under supervision.
  • Gain insight into the wide range of dental specialties and opportunities after graduation. 

The foundation dentistry course offers students the chance to gain valuable skills and expand their knowledge of the basic dental and healthcare sciences. 


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Which Dentistry Schools Offer Foundation Courses? 

Currently, there are 6 universities that offer the Foundation and or the Gateway Dentistry Course: 

University of Bristol (Gateway)

  • Grade Requirements: BBC 
  • Admissions Test: UCAT 
  • Interview: MMI
  • Programme Duration: 6-years, full-time. 
  • UCAS Code: A208 
  • Fees: £9,250 

King’s College London (Enhanced Support Programme)

  • Grade Requirements: AAB 
  • Admissions Test: UCAT 
  • Interview: MMI
  • Programme duration: 5-years, full-time. 
  • UCAS Code: A206
  • Fees: £9,250 

University of Leeds (Foundation Year) 

  • Grade Requirements: ABB
  • Admissions Test: Maths Exam (part of interview process) 
  • Interview: Panel and MMI 
  • Programme Duration: 6-years, full-time. 
  • UCAS Code: CFG0
  • Fees: £9,250

University of Liverpool (Gateway)

  • Grade Requirements: A-Levels not considered, only mature students.
  • Admissions Test: None 
  • Interview: MMI
  • Programme Duration: 6-years, full-time. 
  • UCAS Code: 0AAW
  • Fees: £9,250

University of Manchester (Foundation Year)

  • Grade Requirements: AAB
  • Admissions Test: UCAT 
  • Interview: MMI
  • Programme Duration: 6-years, full-time. 
  • UCAS Code: A204 
  • Fees: £9,250 

University of Plymouth (Gateway)

  • Grade Requirements: BBB 
  • Admissions Test: None
  • Interview: MMI
  • UCAS Code: A205
  • Programme Duration: 6-years, full-time. 
  • Fees: £9,250 

Universities may change their entry requirements and details regarding their course on a yearly basis. It’s important to check on the UCAS dentistry page for each dental course for the most up-to-date information! 

Choosing the Right Dentistry Foundation Course 

Choosing the right foundation course alongside the right university can be a difficult choice. It’s important to research about each foundation dentistry course as they all vary in entry requirements, eligibility, course structure and course duration. 

Often, most of these universities will offer a 6-year course, with the first year being a scientific bridging year into the standard dentistry course. However, some universities will offer the foundation course as a stand-alone year and upon successful completion, you will be allowed to progress onto the dentistry course and some with additional support provided throughout the standard course.

Other factors that you may want to consider are the location, the structure of the course and teaching methods. Dentistry is a long and difficult course, so it is important that the university location, course structure and teaching style appeal to you.

Dental schools vary in teaching styles from integrated courses to more traditional courses. You can visit different campuses on their open day and speak to the current students there to gain a better picture of the university and the course before making a decision. 

Finally, each university will have different advantages with regards to the hospital you will be based at, the research facilities available and the patient population that you see. This may be something to take into consideration whilst applying! 

Preparing for a Dentistry Foundation Course 

Universities offering the foundation dentistry course vary in their entry requirements. Some may require the UCAT before applying, so this would be useful to prepare and study for! Some universities may also require work experience in the dental field to show you motivation and passion for dentistry.

Whilst this may not be compulsory, it may be useful to reach out for work experience. Dentistry is a highly competitive degree therefore, having work experience may show your dedication and commitment to the course.

It will also help in the interviews with any questions regarding your motivation to purse a career as a dentist. Furthermore, work experience can help you to review basic dental knowledge and skills needed to begin the course. There are also various resources to use that will outline the essential aspects of dentistry. This will highlight your knowledge of the subject and help you feel prepared before entering the foundation course. 

Finally, ensure that you have checked on UCAS for all the foundation year dentistry courses available and have all the necessary information. This will allow you to compare the entry requirements and eligibility for different courses to see which is more suited for you. 

How do I Apply for A Dentistry Foundation Course? 

Applying for the foundation dentistry course is very similar to applying for the standard dentistry programme. You will need to submit an application into your UCAS portal. Ensure to check that you have the correct UCAS codes (as stated above) for each course. The course names may sound similar, however, check the duration, code, and university carefully. 

Finally, if there are specific requirements for eligibility onto any of these courses (e.g., non-selective state school, low socio-economic area), you will be able to share information about your circumstances on your UCAS application. Your referee may also outline any circumstances or challenges that you have faced in the reference provided. 


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