Student blog post

Life as a first-year dental student at the University of Dundee

Thinking of studying dentistry? Find out what being a dental student at Dundee actually involves.

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I know a lot of you have been on the edge of your seats waiting for someone from Dundee Dental School to answer your burning question of “what does being a dental student at Dundee actually involve?”. Well ta daaa! Here I am to tell you that after the gruelling application process, the UCAT (formerly known as UKCAT) and the interview, dentistry comes with a lot of learning! In fact, by deciding this career path, it means you will be a student for the rest of your life – literally. You’ll study for five years but have to carry out your reflective learning (through CPD) for as long as you decide to be on the register as a dentist. But it’s nothing to be scared of, it’s really exciting if you love learning new things everyday!

They say dental school is tough but life as a dental student at the University of Dundee begins much like any other degree! In fact, let me reassure you by saying that you spend the first a few weeks getting to know your colleagues by doing mini projects together such as creating fun fact top trump cards for teeth and using the library’s creative space to print 3D models of teeth for FREE! This is probably the best time to make friends and socialise as things start going downhill quite quick – and by that, I mean workload wise. 

During the first couple of weeks, we spent quite a lot of time talking about professionalism and the use of social media – something serious but something that may not seem serious at the same time. Well, it is serious in a sense that you have to really think about what you post on social media (GDC guidelines) but it’s not much of an academic subject. But things started to pick up in the third week and we started learning about real teeth! With the 4D curriculum at Dundee, things are quite different and we get hands-on early, which is very exciting! In fact, I managed to get my dental partner to take a photo of me whilst drilling a real tooth (a maxillary left first premolar) in my 4th week.

I think we (my cohort) are very lucky to be starting dental school in 2019 as we are the second generation to study dentistry through the new 4D curriculum. This means we learn through evidence-based dentistry by working on different cases (clinical core case scenario) every week. These cases are normally given to us through a small lecture on Mondays, where we work on each case as a group and present to either the whole class or other groups on a Friday morning. Followed by this, we have our exciting clinics every Friday afternoon!


Dundee dental school is unique in its own ways. Firstly, we have our designated school, where the majority of our lectures happen. Secondly, the dental school is actually a dental hospital where patients are seen by undergraduates, postgraduates and other dental professionals. This means we get to work with professionals early on. I remember my first clinic was four days after I started university, in the operative dentistry clinic at the dental hospital. Whilst this session was only an induction, it felt really good to dress up smart and turn up at the clinic, where real patients were around. Sounds exciting right?

Usually, by the end of the day after clinics, it’s time to write up a quick reflection of what I learnt during the clinic before my weekend starts! It’s important to write the reflections as soon as the clinic finishes to ensure I don’t forget anything. After finishing up my reflection, I make some time to go to the gym for a work-out followed by 15 minutes in the steam room (my favourite part). Depending on the workload, sometimes I’ll either head to the library for an evening of catching up or return home to prepare for some weekend procrastination – well for me it’s in the form of photography and videography! It’s important to maintain a good work-life balance so I usually decide how I feel that evening.

Aryan Dariush

BDS Dentistry student, a BSc Biomedical Science graduate and a professional photographer.

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Student voice category Study, Courses