The MSc in Special Care Dentistry provides Dentists with the theoretical knowledge and clinical expertise to care for people with special care dental needs.

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
Blended Learning
Degree Qualification
36 months
Study Mode
Part Time
Start Month
Location of Study

This MSc is aimed at graduated dentists who are looking to further their knowledge and experience of special care dentistry. The programme is designed to furnish dentists with a basic understanding of special care dentistry and the concept of patient centred care as well as provide guidance to develop critical thinking, care planning and delivery from evidenced sources. Participants will initially gain a background knowledge in research / service planning as well as conditions and disabilities and get experience treating patients with special care needs in a supported environment.

Dentistry is changing and there is a growing expectation of holistic care for patients with special needs. The University of Aberdeen Dental School is well placed to assist dental professionals to build their expertise in providing care for people with special care dental needs with a robust, quality assured and flexible course.

What You'll Study

Year 1

Year 1

Compulsory Courses

There are 4 compulsory courses worth 15 credits each.

Critical Appraisal and Research (DE5501)

15 Credit Points

This course covers the basic principles behind appraising literature and undertaking research in order to assess and develop an evidence base for special care dentistry.

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Disability, Health and Special Care Dentistry (DE5502)

15 Credit Points

This course delivers practical experience in providing clinical care to a number of special care patients focussing on key skills and strategies required for the effective delivery of oral care. An understanding of risk assessment will also be covered.

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Aetiology of Disability and Clinical Care (DE5503)

15 Credit Points

This course explores the underlying medical, social and emotional effects of conditions which may cause disability and how this relates to special care dentistry.

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Clinical Management of the Special Care Patient (DE5504)

15 Credit Points

This course explores models of disability and health belief in relation to oral care.

The legal and ethical frameworks covered are put in to the context of special care dentistry and oral care.

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Year 2

Year 2

Students will get the opportunity to focus in more depth on specific patient groups.

The PgDip is made up of four 15 credit courses.

There will be a choice of two clinical courses and two compulsory background courses.


Courses 1 and 2 will be assessed via a research project submission regarding evidence based service planning for a specific special care group. The other two courses would be assessed via a review of patient log book with evidence base. Students would be expected to keep a log of their own relevant patient activity or have sessions arrange at Aberdeen dental Hospital if required.

Compulsory Courses

Course 1: Clinical practice and service planning

Course 2: Research/critical appraisal teaching and appraisal

Optional Courses

Course 3a: Dentistry for the older dental patient
Course 3b: Mental health and phobia
Course 3c: Learning disability
Course 4a: Medically compromising conditions
Course 4b: Physical disability

Year 3

Year 3

Compulsory Courses

This would be achieved by completion of a 10,000 word dissertation worth 60 credits. Each student would be allocated an appropriate supervisor for the project chosen which would ideally follow on from the developments in the certificate and diploma.

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

A broad range of teaching methods are used throughout the course both online and on campus.

  • There will be a number of supervised clinical sessions within the Aberdeen Dental School.
  • You will attend lectures and seminars and workshops.
  • There will be distance learning materials and tasks to complete at home.
  • Assessments will be submitted and marked online apart from the Single Best Answer paper.

Learning Methods

  • Clinical Learning
  • E-learning
  • Individual Projects
  • Peer Learning
  • Research
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops

Assessment Methods

There will be both formative and summative assessments.

Formative elements

  • Patient pathway for a Special Care group.
  • Health promotion programme.
  • Small project based on literature review of a topic of interest.

Summative assessment

  • Case studies of two patients you have seen during the course or within your own practice.
  • Review of a log book of the 5-10 patients you have seen at the Aberdeen Dental School during the course.
  • A Single Best Answer paper.

Why Study Special Care Dentistry?

  • You will gain a professional qualification that will provide opportunities for career progression in a growing specialist area of dentistry.
  • You will be able to put into practice immediately what you learn on the programme, effectively changing your way of working by applying the things you are learning straight-away.
  • You will have the opportunity for hands-on clinical practice, under supervision, helping you to build confidence and gain practical knowledge of what is possible with special care patients.
  • Evidence-based content will give you the confidence to know that you are doing the best for your patients.  You will have access to university academic staff and gain the ability to critically appraise research.
  • You will have networking opportunities with others on the programme and in the School as well as the opportunity to learn from other dental professionals’ experience.
  • The programme is delivered via a combination of in-practice and on-campus learning which is designed to fit around your work and life.
  • The content of the programme is focussed from a service delivery point of view, ensuring a patient-centred approach to care.
  • You will be taught by those who are delivering these services day-to-day and are experienced specialists in Special Care Dentistry.  The teaching also involves DCPs who are experienced in this area.
  • Teaching takes place in a purpose-built, modern facility with easy access to specialist equipment.

Entry Requirements

You will be a qualified dentist with interest and experience of treating patients with a special care need. You should also be registered by the General Dental Council and have had appropriate clinical experience.

Due to the limited number of places on this programme we recommend that you apply as early as possible. Applicants who have applied for the January 2021 intake will be notified of the outcome of their application by the end of September 2020.


The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

BDS or equivalent dental degree.

Qualified for at least 4 years.

Application via CV and personal statement ( 500 words ) and reference from current or most recent employer stating suitability and support for attending course. (If self-employed the reference is not necessary).

Evidence of registration with the General Dental Council is also required.

Please enter your country to view country-specific entry requirements.

English Language Requirements

To study for a Postgraduate Taught degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.5 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0


OVERALL - 90 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 51; Reading - 51; Speaking - 51; Writing - 54

Cambridge English Advanced & Proficiency:

OVERALL - 176 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 162; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Document Requirements

You will be required to supply the following documentation with your application as proof you meet the entry requirements of this degree programme. If you have not yet completed your current programme of study, then you can still apply and you can provide your Degree Certificate at a later date.

an up-to-date CV/Resumé
Degree Certificate
a degree certificate showing your qualifications
Personal Statement
a detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme
a reference letter from your university discussing your academic ability. If you have been out of education for a long time you may wish to use your current or most recent employer, or another professional person

Fee Information

Fee information
Fee category Cost
All Students £925
Modular fee programmes - Tuition fees for 2020/21 academic year. This programme is charged on a modular basis. The fee quoted is per 15 credits.
Indicative Programme Fee £11,850
Indicative programme fee based on studies beginning in the 2020/21 academic year. Fees increment annually. This fee is calculated on the basis of 180 credits of study over 3 years.

Additional Fee Information

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.


Eligible self-funded international Masters students will receive the Aberdeen Global Scholarship. Visit our Funding Database to find out more and see our full range of scholarships.

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A post graduate qualification in special care dentistry could enhance your career prospects and employability. The public dental service will often look for a postgraduate qualification when looking to appoint senior dental officers.

Institute of Dentistry

Staff and students from the Institute of Dentistry give an overview of the teaching and research in the institute.

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Our Experts

Other Expert
Dr Lois Gall
Programme Coordinator
Iain Ramsay Bovaird

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.


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Foresterhill Health Campus

Foresterhill Health Campus

The Foresterhill Health Campus is one of the largest clinical complexes in Europe which includes the Medical School, large teaching hospital, the Institute of Medical Sciences and the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health.

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Library facilities

Library facilities

A dedicated Medical Library on the Foresterhill Health Campus and the fantastic facilities in the Sir Duncan Rice Library at King’s College, are complemented by online access to the key medical and health sciences journals and textbooks.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Student Recruitment & Admissions Service
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
AB24 3FX