Special Care Dentistry, MSc

Special Care Dentistry, MSc


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.

Attendance Requirements

The taught elements of the programme are delivered entirely online with no requirement to attend the Institute of Dentistry.

What You'll Study

Year 1

Compulsory Courses

Year 1 – Certificate Stage

  • PD5506 Getting Started at the University of Aberdeen (0 credit points)
  • DE5061 Critical Appraisal and Research (15 credit points)
  • DE5062 Disability, Health and Special Care Dentistry (15 credit points)
  • DE5063 Aetiology of Disability and Clinical Care (15 credit points)
  • DE5064 Clinical Management of the Special Care Patient (15 credit points)
Getting Started at the University of Aberdeen (PD5506)

This course, which is prescribed for all taught postgraduate students, is studied entirely online, takes approximately 5-6 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks.

Topics include orientation overview, equality and diversity, health, safety and cyber security and how to make the most of your time at university in relation to careers and employability.

Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’.

Year 2

Compulsory Courses

Year 2 – Diploma Stage

  • DE5512 Clinical Practice and Service Provision (15 credit points)
  • PU5027 Fundamentals of Research Design (Online) (15 credit points)
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.
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

Optional Courses

Year 2 – Diploma Stage

Select ONE course from:-

  • DE5523 Medically Compromising Conditions (15 credit points)
  • DE5525 Physical Disability (15 credit points)

Plus, select ONE course from:-

  • DE5522 Learning Disability 2 (15 credit points)
  • DE5526 The Older Dental Patient 2 (15 credit points)
  • DE5524 Mental Health and Phobia 2 (15 credit points)

Also, select ONE course from:

  • DE5560 MSc Special Care Dissertation 1 (0 credit points)
Year 3

Compulsory Courses

Year 3

  • DE5060 MSc Special Care Dissertation 2 (60 credit points)

We will endeavour to make all course options available. However, these may be subject to change - see our Student Terms and Conditions page.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
All Students £1,290
Tuition Fees for 2024/25 Academic Year This programme is charged on a modular basis. The fee quoted is per 15 credits.

Fee Information

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 Tuition Fees page.


Self-funded international students enrolling on postgraduate taught (PGT) programmes will receive one of our Aberdeen Global Scholarships, ranging from £3,000 to £8,000, depending on your domicile country. Learn more about the Aberdeen Global Scholarships here.

To see our full range of scholarships, visit our Funding Database.

How You'll Study

A broad range of teaching methods are used throughout the course.

  • You will attend lectures and seminars and workshops online.
  • There will be distance learning materials and tasks to complete at home.
  • Assessments will be submitted and marked online.

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.
  • 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 online 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. 

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.

Please note that the next intake for this programme is the 2024/2025 academic year, commencing in September 2024. Applications for September 2024 will open in October 2023.


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 - 6.0; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0


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

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 59; Reading - 59; Speaking - 59; Writing - 59

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency:

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


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. However, these may be subject to change - see our Student Terms and Conditions page.


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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.

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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
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
AB24 3FX