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 Institute of Dentistry 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. The programme gives the busy dental practitioner the freedom to choose whether they study for a PG Certificate, Diploma or full MSc. For students wishing to continue beyond the Certificate there is no expectation to complete the subsequent components in three consecutive years, however it is recommended that there is no more than a two year gap between finishing and commencing the Certificate, Diploma and MSc.

Note for 2022 Applicants

Clinical Care

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, for the clinical care elements of the programme, you will be required to see patients entirely within your own workplace, so it is important that you have the ability to access a full range of special care patients.

Attendance Requirements

The taught elements of the course will be delivered entirely online in 2022 with no requirement to attend the Institute of Dentistry. It is envisioned that the course will revert in 2023 to 6 study days in Aberdeen (3 x 2 day sessions) combined with several mandatory online sessions (10-12 days).

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.

View detailed information about this course
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.

View detailed information about this course
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.

View detailed information about this course
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.

View detailed information about this course
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
Clinical Practice & Service Provision (DE5512)

15 Credit Points

This course covers, in relation to special Care Dentistry:

Health, Personal Health, Development and Stress

  • Appraisal
  • Assessment
  • Research

Maintaining good clinical practice

  • Probity
  • Information Technology
  • Clinical Governance
  • Guidelines

Local, National and International service planning

  • Principles of health systems (including NHS)
  • Legal Considerations
  • Financial considerations
  • Business planning

Team work and working with colleagues within and without your own discipline.

  • Systems for communication
  • Patient pathways
View detailed information about this course
Fundamentals of Research Design (PU5027)

15 Credit Points

Fundamentals of research design provides the student with skills in both quantitative and qualitative design enabling the student to plan ethical research in a health context. Students are taken through each step - from formulating the research question, to study design, sample selection, methods for data collection to dissemination of results.

Upon completion of this course you will be able to:

  1. Summarise the key factors involved in the research process
  2. Evaluate the appropriateness of study designs commonly used in applied health research studies
  3. Identify the advantages and disadvantages associated with quantitative and qualitative research methodologies
  4. Develop a research proposal to answer a health-related research question which maximises research quality and rigour.v
View detailed information about this course

Optional Courses
Learning Disability (DE5513)

15 Credit Points

With regard to learning disability, this course will explore the definition, prevalence, aetiology, relevant biological science, relevant behavioural science, the effect on oral health and dentition, the management of the condition for optimal oral health and treatment planning.

View detailed information about this course
Medically Compromising Conditions (DE5514)

15 Credit Points

With regard to medically compromising conditions this course will explore the definition , prevelance , aetiology, relevant biological science, relevant behavioural science and the effect on oral health and dentition, the management of the condition for optimal oral health and treatment planning

View detailed information about this course
Physical Disability (DE5515)

15 Credit Points

With regard to physical disability this course will explore the definition , prevalence,aetiology, relevant biological science and relevant behavioural science.

The effect on oral health and dentition will be explored as well as the management of the condition for optimal oral health and treatment planning

View detailed information about this course
The Older Dental Patient (DE5516)

15 Credit Points

With regard to the older dental patient this course will explore the definition, prevalence, aetiology , relevant biological science and relevant behavioural science

All aspects of the older dental patient will be covered with particular emphasis on dementia, stroke and Parkinsons disease The effect on oral health and dentition as well as management of the conditions associated with aging will be addressed in respect of oral health and treatment planning.

View detailed information about this course
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 Institute of Dentistry.
  • 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 during the programme.
  • 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 Institute 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.
  • We are ranked Top 5 in the UK for Dentistry and the University of Aberdeen is a top 20 UK University (Guardian League Table 2022).

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 2022 intake will be notified of the outcome of their application by the end of November 2021.


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 - 59; Reading - 59; Speaking - 59; Writing - 59

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced, C2 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 £1,115
Modular fee programmes - Tuition fees for 2021/22 academic year. This programme is charged on a modular basis. The fee quoted is per 15 credits.
Indicative Programme Fee £14,060
Indicative programme fee based on studies beginning in the 2021/22 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.


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.

Watch Now

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.


Image for Foresterhill Health Campus
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.

Image for Library facilities
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
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
AB24 3FX