University of Chester

Programme Specification
Dental Nursing CertHE
2017 - 2018

Certificate of Higher Education

Dental Nursing

Dental Nursing

University of Chester

University of Chester

Riverside or Warrington campus as determined by the Faculty of Health and Social Care.

Undergraduate Modular Programme

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory, Work-Based inc.(practice / placement)

1 year

3 Years

Annual - September



17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Health and Social Care Health and Social Care

Foundation Degree Qualification Benchmark (QAA, 2010)

General Dental Council. Preparing for practice: Dental team learning outcomes for registration (GDC, 2011)

Knowledge and Skills Framework [KSF] (2014)

Skills for Health [SfH] (2012)

General Dental Council (GDC) Registered Dental Nurse

H&SC Undergraduate Post-registration Module Assessment Board

Thursday 14th April 2016

This programme aims to provide professional dental nurse education which takes account of all the relevant professional and academic benchmarks, producing dental nurses who are fit for practice.

The aims of the programme are to:

  • Prepare students to work effectively and safely as registered dental nurses, under the instruction and supervision of a registered dentist.
  • Develop and promote the skills of reflective thinking in students.
  • Develop learners’ competence in the clinical skills required to practise as a registered dental nurse.
  • Promote the ethos of lifelong learning and advance students' sense of personal responsibility, accountability and commitment to their ongoing education and development.
  • Prepare students to work inter-professionally as a member of a multi-disciplinary dental team.
  • Develop an appreciation among students that knowledge and understanding are acquired within an evidence-based framework.
  • Help students to recognise that learning can occur in both education and practice environments, and assist them to exploit the relationship between them.
  • Provide a learning environment that promotes flexibility and creativity, leading to a dynamic and quality educational experience.
  • Develop dental nurses who act with professionalism and integrity, working within ethical and legal frameworks and in accordance with agreed local protocols.
  • Develop key transferable skills in the context of local, national, international and global health care delivery.

Students should be able to demonstrate the ability to appraise the underpinning theoretical base of dental nursing using a reflective framework including:

  • Evidence an understanding of dental anatomy and physiology and relevant human body systems. (NM4 133)
  • Apply the principles of effective communication in a variety of dental settings. (NM4 134, NM4 130, NM4 132)
  • Identify and discuss ethical and professional principles, and their influence on dental health care. (All modules)
  • Recognise how the legislative framework informs clinical dental nursing practice. (NM4 134, NM4 131, NM4 130)
  • Explore the relationship between oral and general health. (NM4 130, NM4 131, NM4 133)
  • Appreciate the impact of public health policy on the oral health of the population. (NM4 134, NM4 131, NM4 130)
  • Examine theories of leadership and management, and their application in the dental setting. (NM4 134)
  • Analyse theories of learning, teaching and assessment, and their application in practice settings. (NM4 134)
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of dental nursing. (All modules)

Students should be able to:

  • Reflect on their experience and their contribution to the broader learning context. (NM4 132)
  • Consider and question their own value base, and how this impacts upon attitudes and behaviour. (All modules)
  • Apply and analyse relevant knowledge to inform practice. (All modules)
  • Recognise, evaluate and respond to policy initiatives at individual, local and national levels. (NM4 131, NM4 130)
  • Access and process evidence-based information applicable to practice. (All modules)
  • Demonstrate independence of thought. (All modules)

During the programme students will acquire key skills required for successful registration as a dental nurse as outlined in the GDC Preparing for practice: Dental team learning outcomes for registration document. The programme is designed to facilitate the students' development on both personal and professional levels.

Students should also be able to:

  • Demonstrate the ability to seek supervision as appropriate. (All modules)
  • Identify and apply appropriate protocols, policies and guidelines in the workplace. (All modules)
  • Demonstrate safe practice, as identified in the Standards for the dental team document (GDC, 2013). (All modules)
  • Evaluate and reflect on the limits of their knowledge and skills. (All modules)
  • Achieve a range of appropriate practice skills relevant to their role. (All modules)
  • Demonstrate evidence-based practice. (All modules)
  • Demonstrate collaborative, interdisciplinary working practices and partnerships. (All modules)

Effective communication skills are recognised as a vital component of competent dental nursing, and as such communication will be inherent in all the modules.

Students should also be able to:

  • Communicate effectively with individuals, groups and communities. (All modules)
  • Make effective use of information technology. (All modules)
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of their communication and interpersonal skills. (All modules)
  • Give and receive feedback effectively to other members of the team. (All modules)
  • Recognise and act within the principles of information governance. (All modules)
  • Maintain contemporaneous, complete and accurate patient records in accordance with legal requirements and best practice. (All modules)
  • Recognise the use of a range of communication methods and technologies, and their appropriate application in support of clinical practice. (All modules)
  • Communicate effectively and sensitively by spoken, written, and electronic methods, and maintain and develop these skills. (All modules)

This programme prepares dental nurses for registration with the General Dental Council (GDC), and will meet all of the requirements of the GDC's Preparing for practice: Dental nursing learning outcomes for registration (GDC, 2013). The five level 4 modules will straddle both semesters as they all include content which is vital to underpin safe and effective dental nursing practice. This will facilitate the programme team to ensure vertical and horizontal alignment of the curriculum, and ensure that the module content reflects the employers' expectations of the students as they progress. During semester 1 the predominant focus will be on study skills, health and safety, and clinical procedures for dental nursing, with the emphasis gradually shifting to anatomy and physiology, working in a professional environment and management of care during semester 2.

The curriculum template is as follows (all modules are worth 20 credits unless otherwise stated):

Level 4

Semester 1

Semester 2

Exit award

NM4 132 Mastering study skills, using evidence and reflection (Core)

NM4 134 Working in a professional environment, communication and management of care (Core)

Cert of Higher Education

Dental Nursing (Registration with the GDC)

NM4 131 Health and safety for dental nursing (Core)

NM4 133 Anatomy and physiology for dental nursing (Core)

NM4 130 Clinical procedures for dental nursing (Core) (40 credits)

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
NM4130 4 Clinical Procedures for Dental Nursing 40 N/A
NM4131 4 Health and Safety for Dental Practice 20 N/A
NM4132 4 Mastering Study Skills, Using Evidence and Reflection 20 N/A
NM4133 4 Anatomy and Physiology for Dental Nursing 20 N/A
NM4134 4 Working in a Professional Environment, Communication and Management of Care 20 N/A

Credit accumulation includes 120 credits at Level 4, which entitles the student to a Certificate of Higher Education.

Derogation is sought as follows:

  • Work-based competencies can only be resubmitted on one occasion.
  • All components of a module must be passed.
  • No compensation, between modules or components, will be permitted.

This programme prepares students for dental nurse registration, and as such the following benchmarks have been mapped against the level 4 modules to ensure that national and professional regulatory quality frameworks have been met.

  • Preparing for practice: Dental team learning outcomes for registration (GDC, 2013)

Upon successful completion of this programme, students will be facilitated to apply for professional registration with the GDC.

The admission process for this programme includes a series of steps designed to ensure that successful applicants have the pre-requisite knowledge, attitude and ability to succeed on the programme.

In the first instance applicants must be over 17 years of age and possess one of the following minimum entry requirements (or equivalent):

  • 5 GCSEs at Grade C or above, including English Language.
  • Portfolio of evidence which demonstrates ability/potential to work and study at level 4 and eventually level 5.
  • NVQ Level 3.
  • A/S Level: 2 A/S levels, one of which must be in an appropriate subject area.
  • A Levels: 1 A level in an appropriate subject area.
  • AVCE or BTEC National Diploma.

Applicants who meet these criteria will progress to the interview stage of the selection process. Here the focus will be on the individual’s personal qualities and attitude as well as any experiential learning which they may have. Where it is felt that the applicant is not yet ready to undertake this programme of study, attending a ‘return to learn' course will be advised.

Following the interview process references will be checked, and applicants will be required to undergo the Disclosure and Barring Service check. Those individuals who performed well at interview and meet the requirements of the DBR check will be invited to the Induction to the dental workplace course. This pre-admission short course will address the GDC requirement for all dental nurses to have demonstrated adequate knowledge and skills before they enter the workplace. The Induction to the dental workplace course will offer an orientation to the dental workplace and the GDC Standards, and incorporates the basic health and safety information which is a pre-requisite of entering the clinical environment. At the end of this course applicants will be required to pass an assessment before being accepted onto the Certificate in Dental Nursing programme.

As previously explained, this programme aims 'to develop learners’ competence in the clinical skills required to practise as a registered dental nurse'.

The following benchmarks have been mapped against the programme to ensure that national and professional regulatory quality frameworks have been met.

  • Preparing for Practice: Dental team learning outcomes for registration (GDC, 2013)
  • Skills for Health competencies (2012)
  • NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (2004)

These benchmark standards articulate the attributes and capabilities that should be demonstrated by a registered dental nurse with the UK General Dental Council.

The level of the module outcomes demonstrates appropriate levels of taxonomy for the level of study, as do the contact and study hours.

Coherence and quality monitoring were managed by members of the University of Chester planning group, through the composition of the planning team which ensured that there were members of staff from academic and clinical practice backgrounds with experience in external consultancy and external examining.

The internal quality monitoring and validation process of the University of Chester also ensures that experts from other Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) will be fully involved in the scrutiny and validation process, further assuring the comparability of the programme with other HEIs. All of this scrutiny is invaluable in quality assuring the programme against national benchmarks and expectations.

Teaching and learning methods

In line with QAA recommendations for dental nurse education (2005), students on this programme will experience a variety of teaching and learning methods designed to facilitate the achievement of all learning outcomes and to foster personal and professional development.

Each module utilises a mix of teaching methods, which take account of the subject matter, the student group size, the students' previous experience and the resources available. Methods of learning and teaching will include:

  • Formal lectures.
  • Seminars, presentations and debates.
  • Scenario-based learning.
  • Individual and group work tasks.
  • E-learning/blended learning.
  • Learning through practice.
  • Tutorials - individual and group.
  • Discussion groups.
  • Private study sessions.
  • Directed study.
  • Audio-visual material.
  • Inter-professional learning through group work, visiting lecturers.
  • Simulation
  • Practice learning.

Internet technology is used to support learning using the University's virtual learning environment (Moodle). The students will be encouraged to increase their use of web-based learning materials, email and on-line discussion boards. Directed and independent study can be done at any time and anywhere that the student has access to the internet, and they can communicate easily with tutors and fellow students.

The programme team will draw on the available expertise, such as nurses from within the faculty and dieticians, to support the dental nursing teaching team where appropriate. The clinical expertise of dentists, managers, service users and carers will also make a valuable contribution to programme delivery.

The programme team will ensure that where material from a different module to the one being taught is directly relevant, the students' attention will be drawn to this connection.

The curriculum is designed to provide a developmental approach to the student learning experience. The programme structure rationale outlines the way in which students are able to build on previous learning.

The use of reflection, which is actively encouraged in both academic and practice learning, is an important aspect of both the taught programme and practical element. Reflection is defined as ‘serious thought' about a topic, an incident, behaviour or situation, and can be used to facilitate the application of theory to practice. As a learning tool reflection has the following characteristics. Reflection:

  • Is focused on action.
  • Is meditative.
  • Facilitates learning.
  • Is personal.
  • Is organised.

The value of reflection in education and practice is that it provides a structured process for exploring the evidence upon which practice is based and, for the student, ensures that practice experience becomes a vehicle for learning.

Assessment strategy

Students will be exposed to a variety of assessment methods designed to ensure that the content, outcomes and level of the modules are measured in a fair and transparent manner. Assessment methods include portfolios, patchwork text, presentations, short answer exams, case studies, reflective essays and reviews.

The assessment strategies employed throughout the programme are designed to ensure that students are exposed to a mix of assessment methods measuring both academic and clinical competence. Every module incorporates the assessment of Work Based Competencies reflecting the vocational nature of this programme.

The assessment of practical learning will appear in the Work Based Competency Record (WBCR). This record will demonstrate the student's progression and development throughout the programme on a clinical level. The record comprises information on the following elements:

  • Competency statements.
  • Portfolio building.
  • Learning log.
  • Personal development documentation.
  • Reflective accounts.

An identified supervising registrant will carry out assessment in practice with support from the lecturing staff of the Faculty and designated Academic Link in Practice. The student has the responsibility of completing learning plans with the supervising registrant, taking an active role in setting up progress meetings and working alongside the programme team to ensure that assessment of their practice is possible.

Throughout this programme the students will be in employed within a dental setting and as such it is highly likely that, upon graduation, their employers will be keen to utilise their skills to the benefit of the patients and the organisation. Those students who are without permanent employment will be given access to University careers and employability services as well as support from the programme team, and it is anticipated that this will appeal to potential employers. Alumni of this programme will be amongst the very small minority of dental nurses educated at level 4, which will serve them well in their future careers and allow them to access professional development programmes at level 5.

This programme is designed to ensure inclusivity and ensure the diverse needs of all our students are well provided for. No student will be disadvantaged on the basis of age; disability; gender reassignment; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; or sexual orientation.

The programme team aim to put the needs of each individual learner at the heart of the provision, and to establish a culture where learners are encouraged to disclose their disabilities and differences, and where equality and diversity are routinely celebrated. All marketing is designed to be free from any form of discrimination, and to encourage students from all backgrounds to contact us.

The programme team aims to ensure that disabled people and those with special needs do not suffer discrimination, and that they are enabled to achieve their full potential as students. The University aims to ensure all aspects of delivery are open to all sections of society, and all students can participate in all activities to the best of their ability. The programme is designed to ensure inclusivity and to ensure that the diverse needs of our students are provided for. Within this programme:

  • Admissions requirements are clearly set out in promotional materials and due consideration is given to a policy of widening access, participation, diversity and equality.
  • Each module has been developed in line with University policy to both promote equality and diversity and encourage all students in the development of their learning.
  • The Faculty works closely with Learning Support in delivering support through learning support plans where appropriate. Student needs (if disclosed) are identified during interview, induction and enrolment.
  • In order to ensure that the needs of all students are met, any barriers to access (physical, environmental and curricular) are identified and removed or reasonable adjustments will be made to accommodate student needs.

All learning materials and teaching and learning sessions are designed to be free from racist, sexist and other discriminatory assumptions and practices.

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