Complete guide to work experience required for Dentistry courses

So you want to be a dentist?  Are you struggling with the dreaded ‘work experience’ section of your planning for dental school? 

Not to worry!  We’ve spent hours collating a list of work experience requirements needed by each dental school and trust us when we say this wasn’t as easy as it sounds!

University of Aberdeen Dental School

Get a feel for life as a dentist:

  • Undertake as much work experience/shadowing as possible
  • Talk with dentists about their careers
  • Speak to dental students about their experiences

Gain an appreciation of the concerns of patients, the disabled, the elderly etc.

  • Undertake work of a caring nature
  • Work with people in any capacity
  • Be involved in caring/charity groups

Demonstrate you are able to work in teams, communicate effectively, and are able to assume different roles within the team

  • Undertake leisure, sporting, and creative activities

University of Birmingham

You will be required to declare your commitment, involvement and understanding of the need to be working for the benefit of others in the wider community. You must also demonstrate an understanding of the empathy needed when dealing with different members of our society.

We stress that you must, before applying, have had some work experience in a general dental practice so that you are fully aware of the opportunities, changes and demands of the profession.

The University of Birmingham Dental School require at least 3 days work experience, and more credit will be given to those who have carried out work experience / shadowing in an NHS practice setting. 

Alongside this, extra work experience placements in associated dental settings (for example with fully private practitioners, dental laboratories, hygienists, receptionists, specialist practitioners) are beneficial, however they are not considered a substitute for NHS work shadowing in a practice.

In addition, all applicants must have carried out a voluntary placement within the wider society which will enhance communication skills and enable wider appreciation of the needs of a public facing health career. 

Examples of particularly useful placements:

  •  voluntary working in a care home, 
  • working with people from diverse and sometimes challenging backgrounds such as the homeless, those with learning difficulties or 
  • hospital in-patients 

Voluntary placements carried out within applicant’s own schools or sports clubs will be given less credit than those which are more challenging.

Here’s a direct link to the work experience requirements on their official website.

University of Bristol

We look for:
• Motivation and commitment to dentistry
• Amount and variety of dental work experience, paid or unpaid (where possible this
should be within various fields of dentistry)

• Evidence of manual dexterity (for example, playing an instrument, car or bike
maintenance, art and craft activities)
• Evidence of teamwork and leadership
• Evidence of voluntary, charitable and/or mentoring activities
• Extracurricular interests, including sporting, musical and other personal

Interviewees must provide evidence of their work experience, including details of the
practice/lab and dates of attendance, in advance of, or on the day of, the interview. This
information may be used as a basis for discussion at interview.

Here’s a direct link to the work experience requirements on their official website.

University of Cardiff

All applicants are expected to have an appreciation of the length of the training programme and the career structure, and how this relates to their own situation and circumstances.

The selection process for prospective dental students also involves a judgement about the individual’s ability to meet the academic, physical and emotional demands of healthcare training.

The School recognises that opportunities for certain types of work experience and participation in some non-academic activities will vary according to individual circumstances, including an applicant’s cultural or socio-economic background, or the activities available in their local area.

Therefore, selectors are not prescriptive about the ways in which the nonacademic selection criteria may be demonstrated but, where asked for, it is expected to be shown and documented as necessary.

Here’s a direct link to the work experience requirements on their official website.

University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN)

Work experience within Dentistry; we recommend a minimum of two weeks shadowing experience in an NHS General Dental Practice.

However, in general, the more dental work experience an applicant has the better their understanding is of dentistry as a career as well as broadening their knowledge of current dental issues.

It is also beneficial for you to have had at least a year’s general work experience.

Here’s a direct link to the work experience requirements on their official website.

University of Dundee

You need to have carefully investigated dentistry as a career and have undertaken some work shadowing with a general dental practitioner or community dentist. There is no prescribed length of time for this, but you should be able to tell us about your experiences in your personal statement.

  • Dentistry is a course that enables you to care for the patient’s oral health. It requires an empathetic spirit and a desire to help people and communities.
  • You will have to work very hard and acquire a great deal of knowledge and apply this throughout a long course.
  • You will need to have first rate communication skills and enjoy working as part of a team.
  • You will need to work with your hands and will have to acquire a high degree of manual dexterity.

University of Glasgow

All applicants must have work shadowing experience, preferably within a General Dental Practice Setting.  Applicants should have a minimum of 3 days and a maximum of 14 prior to applying. 

Any applicant with less that 3 days work shadowing will not be invited to interview. Applicants must provide proof that they have attained the required work shadowing and will be asked to provide a certifying letter if made an offer.

Here’s a direct link to the work experience requirements on their official website.

King's College London

We would normally expect that applicants will have undertaken some voluntary work experience in a caring/health environment and/or observation in a dental clinical setting. It is important for applicants to have a realistic appreciation of what a career as a health professional involves.

Any voluntary contribution to your community is taken into account, eg volunteer in a care home. We look for evidence that you have worked in a setting where you can interact with the general public eg in a pharmacy, check-out or restaurant.

Any scholastic activity would be considered eg general reading, debating, theological interests etc.

We look for applicants who not only have interests but may have also achieved in these areas eg music, sport, first aid, etc.

We look for applicants who have participated as fully as possible in school, college or community life, making the most of the opportunities available to them and also demonstrated some experience of society beyond their immediate environment. Your interests, achievements and contribution to your community are taken into account eg clubs, theatrical, religious etc.

Here’s a direct link to the work experience requirements on their official website.

University of Leeds

Leeds School of Dentistry understands that sometimes gaining dental work experience can be tricky, so although it is desirable there are many other ways to show your motivation and insight, passion and commitment.

For example, if you’ve been successful in finding a placement at a care home with mobile dentistry, this would be great work experience. Alternatively, you could get insight into the field by completing a free course or watching our playlist that relates to dentistry. Perhaps you have been to open days or taster classes at a dental school, or maybe you recognise the skills that a dental professional should display by visiting your dentist every 6 months for your check-up.

Evidence of social and cultural awareness

An understanding of the diversity of the world we live in is one of the key skills a dental professional requires.

Think about activities that give you the opportunity to learn about other cultures, and groups. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes and give yourself a new perspective on life. Working in a care home, at a community event, in paid or unpaid work and relevant employment, or you might have cared for your siblings or elderly relatives.

If you are the one that drops in every week to meet a lonely elderly person and brighten their day, you are exhibiting skills and qualities that we want to see on your personal statement. Working in a shop that serves a wide range of people – all these activities (and so many more) will give you some good grounding in being socially and culturally aware. Through your experience you can demonstrate: empathy, respect for diversity, listening skills, compassion and care.

Evidence of life experience

You will have something to talk about in this section that reflects who you are, what you have learnt and how your life experiences will make you a better practitioner. There are many ways you can demonstrate responsibility, which is a skill that we look for. You might be the Head Girl/Boy, or team captain.

Please don’t underestimate the fact that you may have held down a job for many months or years because it tells us something about you if an employer is willing to employ you. You must be trustworthy, reliable, punctual and a good worker.

Here’s a direct link to the work experience requirements on their official website.

University of Liverpool

Evidence of work experience required. Considered when marking personal statement and at interview.

Here’s a direct link to the work experience requirements on their official website.

University of Manchester

Require applicants to undertake some relevant work experience prior to application in order that they can gain some insight into what the role of a dentist involves.

Work experience may be paid or voluntary and should include some time spent in a dental setting but can also include examples from other healthcare and related environments.

As important as the detail of the work experience is the applicant’s capacity to reflect on what they have gained from their experiences and the quality of that reflection will be reviewed as part of the selection process.

A key element they’re looking for is for applicants to be able to demonstrate some understanding of the qualities and attributes required to become a healthcare professional. You should be aware that they may request confirmation of work experience.

Work experience is considered alongside all other aspects of the application.

Here’s a direct link to the work experience requirements on their official website.

University of Newcastle

Work experience will help you decide if dentistry is for you. It will give you valuable first-hand insight. It is strongly recommended if you are applying to study dentistry.

Experience encouraged in health- or care-related environments and volunteering.

Here’s a direct link to the work experience requirements on their official website.

Plymouth University

Queen Mary's School of Dentistry London

Selectors will expect you to demonstrate some knowledge about a career in dentistry and to have gained experience in a relevant setting.

QMUL School of Dentistry recognise the challenge of obtaining relevant work experience.

Here’s a direct link to the work experience requirements on their official website.

Queen's University Belfast

There should be evidence of commitment and motivation in the personal statement. 

This should include evidence of what you have done to find out about Dentistry as a career. Participation in activities within or outside School demonstrating transferable skills such as leadership, empathy, teamwork and communication skills are also considered. 

Work experience in a dental clinical setting is not a requirement for admission.

Here’s a link to application requirements on their official website.


University of Sheffield

Applicants are expected to demonstrate knowledge of the dental profession. 

As part of this you should:

  • be able to explain what has attracted you to the profession and have explored the possible career opportunities.  
  • have work experience in health care environments, including a placement within a general dental practice.  
  • understand the qualities required to be a healthcare professional.

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