Doctor of Dental Surgery

Course MC-DDENSUR (2014)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2014.

Year and Campus: 2014 - Parkville
CRICOS Code: 071303G
Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Level: Graduate/Postgraduate
Duration & Credit Points: 400 credit points taken over 48 months full time.


Associate Professor Menaka Abuzar


Melbourne Dental School

4th floor, 720 Swanston Street

Telephone: + 61 3 9341 1500


Course Overview:

The Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) is a professional postgraduate degree of 4-years' duration. It is a fixed, full-time program and will lead to registration as a general dental practitioner with the Dental Practice Boards throughout Australia and New Zealand. Students will be expected to take on leadership roles within the profession and with the different specialties of the profession. The DDS will use current scientific evidence in oral health to impart the philosophies, skills and knowledge related to all areas of clinical dental practice. This will create a graduate well versed in advanced treatment options such as dental implants, all-ceramic restorations and other advanced materials. It will be taught in association with the underpinning ethos of prevention of dental disease for which the Melbourne Dental School has a world-renowned reputation. The curriculum will be delivered using lectures, pre-clinical practical classes, clinical patient treatments in all specialties of dentistry, case-based and on-line learning, as well as reflective practice of patient treatment cases. Students will spend a significant time of their experience in provision of patient care using advanced materials and clinical methods. Part of the final year curriculum will incorporate the model of working in a private practice like setting, which will be supported by learning how to run a small business equivalent to a private dental practice. The Melbourne Dental School is an international leader in oral health research and this experience will become part of the DDS experience where students will learn how to plan, seek and attain ethics approval, complete and analyse and finally prepare a research project for publication and oral presentation at the School research day. Students will graduate with advanced clinical skills and advanced knowledge in all aspects of oral health provision and will be ready to work having attained skills in managing a small business.

Learning Outcomes:

At the completion of the DDS, graduates are expected to:

  1. relate the scientific evidence to the technical and vocational aspects of dental practice;
  2. acquire essential factual knowledge to become a general dentist and leader of the oral health team;
  3. identify the oral health needs of a community in order of priority;
  4. induce oral health changes in individual patients and their families and behavioural changes in the community generally;
  5. apply experience, scientific knowledge and methods to the management of problems of oral health care;
  6. practice integrated general dentistry and provide oral health care to all sectors of the community;
  7. design and conduct scientific investigations into clinical, basic science and community health problems;
  8. practise effectively in oral health promotion and education;
  9. communicate effectively with patients and their relatives;
  10. communicate effectively with professional colleagues and members of other health professions;
  11. exhibit professional responsibility in relation to both individuals and the community;
  12. understand the various aspects of dental practice, including general dental practice, specialist dental practice, academic teaching and research, armed services, community health, government oral health provision;
  13. integrate knowledge from a range of scientific disciplines which relate to health and oral disease;
  14. achieve the competencies identified by the Dental Practice Boards of Australia necessary for practice as a registered general dentist;
  15. manage and maintain a safe working environment, working with other members of the dental team with regard to health and safety and clinical risk management.


  1. principles relating to oral health
  2. disease processes and mechanisms in structural and functional terms together with their aetiology, clinical manifestations, prevention and treatment;
  3. the influence culture has on perception of health and disease;


  1. professional skills and attitudes expected of a dental practitioner;
  2. a well developed understanding of oral health from global, population, community, family and individual perspectives;
  3. the ability to critically appraise research evidence relevant to common oral problems and translate this evidence into development and implementation of appropriate treatment plans to improve patient outcomes;
  4. an understanding of the Australian oral health care system in terms of policy and the organisational context of health service delivery.


  1. the capacity to audit and observe clinical governance.
Course Structure & Available Subjects:

The DDS incorporates all aspects related to the provision of advanced general dental care to patients as well as teaches students to prepare, develop, execute and write for publication a small research project. It is a fixed, full-tiime course of 4 years' duration.

In the first 3 years, the course is structured around 8 week teaching blocks. Teaching Blocks 1 and 2 are in the first half of the year (and include one week's vacation at Easter) and are followed by 1 week of revision and examination preparation, 2 weeks of assessment and 2 weeks of vacation/supplementary assessment. Teaching Blocks 3 and 4 are in the second half of the year with 1 week's vacation scheduled between the end of Teaching Block 3 and the commencement of Teaching Block 4. Teaching Block 4 is followed by 1 week of revision, 2 weeks of assessment then a period of vacation/supplementary assessment.

The course commences with the introduction of specialised oral health subjects to allow students to enter the clinic as quickly as possible to maximise the experience in all aspects and phases of clinical treatment.

The final year of the course is structured around 9 week teaching blocks. It is comprised of one subject in Teaching Blocks 1 and 2 and one subject in Teaching Blocks 3 and 4. Teaching Blocks 1 and 2 (which include one week's vacation at Easter) are followed by 1 week of revision and examination preparation, 1 week of assessment and 1 week of vacation/supplementary assessment. There is one week's vacation scheduled between the end of Teaching Block 3 and the commencement of Teaching Block 4. Teaching Block 4 is followed by 1 week of revision, 2 weeks of assessment then a period of vacation/supplementary assessment. In the final year subjects, students will spend 36 weeks in clinical settings including the planned University of Melbourne private dental clinic, community health centres and rural community clinics which will include provision of oral health care to the aboriginal community. In addition, students will learn how to run a private practice based on a small business model. The subjects are outlined below.


Teaching Blocks 1 and 2 subjects:

  • Oral Structure and Function 1
  • Plaque Related Diseases 1
  • Introduction to Professional Dental Practice
  • Pre-Clinical Dental Practice 1.

Teaching Blocks 3 and 4 subjects:

  • Oral Structure and Function 2
  • Plaque Related Diseases 2
  • Clinical Dental Practice 1
  • Pre-Clinical Dental Practice 2
  • Dental Research Project 1.


Teaching Blocks 1 and 2 subjects:

  • Dental Medicine and Surgery 1
  • Pre-Clinical Dental Practice 3
  • Clinical Dental Practice 2

Teaching Blocks 3 and 4 subjects:

  • Dental Medicine and Surgery 2
  • Pre-Clinical Dental Practice 3
  • Clinical Dental Practice 3
  • Child and Adolescent Oral Health 1

All year:

  • Dental Research Project 2.


Teaching Blocks 1 and 2 subjects:

  • Child and Adolescent Oral Health 2
  • Clinical Dental Practice 4
  • Specialist Dental Practice 1
  • Oral Medicine and Special Needs Dentistry
  • Dental Research Project 3.

Teaching Blocks 3 and 4 subjects:

  • Child and Adolescent Oral Health 3
  • Clinical Dental Practice 5
  • Specialist Dental Practice 2
  • Oral Surgery and Special Needs Dentistry.


Teaching Blocks 1 and 2 subject:

  • Comprehensive Dental Practice 1

Teaching Blocks 3 and 4 subject:

  • Comprehensive Dental Practice 2.


Subject Options:

The DDS course is a fixed course.

First Year Subjects

The subjects listed below are the only subjects which can be undertaken in the first year of the DDS.

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Entry Requirements:
  1. Successful completion of an undergraduate degree in any discipline at any Australian or recognised international university, with studies to have been completed within the last 10 years;
  2. Successful completion of pre-requisite studies in anatomy, physiology and biochemistry at second year level;
  3. Performance in the Graduate Australian Medical Schools Admission Test (GAMSAT) or, for international students revising overseas, the North American MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) or the United States DAT (Dental Admissions Test) or the Canadian DAT (Dental Aptitude Test) or the UK GAMSAT (the Graduate Medical School Admissions Test) or the UK BMAT (Biomedical Admissions Test).

Students will also be required to:

  1. obtain a currently valid first aid certificate within the first 4 weeks of the course;
  2. establish their infectious or immune status regarding certain viruses, including Hepatitis B and C, and human immunodeficiency (HIV) either prior to entry to the DDS, or within 2 weeks of enrolment; Dentists are required to perform invasive procedures which may be incompatible with certain infectious or immune statuses. Acceptance of a place in the DDS indicates acknowledgement of this requirement.
  3. obtain, and pay for, a Police Check from their home country prior to commencing the DDS course; in subsequent years, students will be required to provide new police checks issued by the Victoria Police before the start of each year of the course;
  4. obtain a Working with Children check at the commencement of the DDS.
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives and Assessment Requirements of this entry.

The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:

Further Study:

Information about postgraduate programs at the Melbourne Dental School is available at:

Graduate Attributes:

The competencies and qualities of the new graduate have been grouped in the 5 domains of professionalism, scientific knowledge, patient care, dental profession, systems if health care and the society. The different dimensions of patient-centred care are incorporated into the attributes mentioned below.


On graduation DDS graduates will have developed:

  • the ability to apply reflective practice skills and a recognition of their importance in health care;
  • empathy, compassion, honesty, integrity, resilience and lifelong curiosity, the ability to demonstrate them and a recognition of their importance in health care;
  • employ a critically reflective approach to practise dentistry based on current evidence;
  • self-awareness, the ability to recognise when clinical problems exceed their knowledge and skill, and a willingness to seek help and/or to refer;
  • the ability to negotiate, give and receive constructively to criticism, appraisal, performance review or assessment;
  • the ability to manage uncertainty;
  • the ability to identify and address their own learning needs ;
  • the ability to apply effective time management and organisational skills;
  • the ability to maintain their own physical, emotional, social and spiritual health and a recognition of the importance of professional support in this process;
  • a recognition of their own personal, spiritual, cultural or religious beliefs and an awareness that these beliefs must not prevent the provision of adequate and appropriate care to the patient;
  • the ability to apply strategies of stress management to oneself, to patients and to the dental team as appropriate;
  • a thorough understanding of the ethical principles and legal responsibilities involved in the provision of dental care to individual patients;
  • skills to use contemporary information technology for documentation including patient records, communication, management of information and applications related to health care.

Scientific Knowledge

On graduation DDS graduates will have developed:

  • knowledge of the basic biological, medical, technical and clinical sciences in order to recognise the difference between normal and pathological conditions relevant to clinical dental practice;
  • skills to analyse oral health as it relates to symptoms, signs and pathology;
  • skills required to prevent, diagnose and treat anomalies and illnesses of the teeth, mouth, jaws and associated structures;
  • knowledge of the management and interaction (pharmacological, physical, nutritional, behavioural and psychological) of important oral and medically-related conditions;
  • skills to provide treatment options based on the best available information;
  • Understand pharmacology and therapeutics relevant to clinical dental practice and be familiar with pharmacology in general medicine;
  • scientific principles of sterilisation, disinfection and antisepsis and infection control;
  • knowledge of the hazards of ionising radiations and their effects on biological tissues, together with the regulations relating to their use, including radiation protection and dose reduction;
  • knowledge of research methods and their applications
  • the ability to access new knowledge from all sources, to analyse and interpret it in a critical manner, and to apply it appropriately in the provision of oral health care
  • skills required to contribute towards new knowledge
  • ability to evaluate the validity of claims related to the risks-benefits ratio of products and techniques
  • knowledge of the moral and ethical responsibilities involved in the provision of care to individual patients, to populations and communities;
  • Understand basic principles of practice administration, financial and personnel management to a dental practice.

Patient care

On graduation, DDS graduates will have developed:

  • the ability to communicate with patients from diverse backgrounds including the ability to listen to, respond to, and provide appropriate information to patients;
  • respect for patients’ values and their expressed needs;
  • the ability to identify patient expectations, desires and attitudes during treatment planning and provision of treatment;
  • skills to manage and the potential impact of chronic illness and disability on the patient’s oral health;
  • appropriate skills to obtain a thorough dental, medical and social history and perform an accurate oral examination;
  • the ability to integrate and interpret clinical findings and apply rigorous reasoning to arrive at an appropriate diagnosis or differential diagnosis;
  • the ability to formulate an evidence-based and cost effective treatment plan in collaboration with the patient;
  • the ability to perform appropriate dental procedures effectively and safely, with due regard for the patient’s comfort including during emergency procedures;
  • the ability to predict, prevent and correct deficiencies in patients' oral hygiene regimens and provide patients with strategies to control undesirable habits affecting the maintenance of oral and general health;
  • skills to alleviate pain and provide appropriate treatment outcomes (physical comfort).

Dental profession

On graduation, DDS graduates will have developed:

  • an understanding of the continuum of dental training and the various roles and expertise of different dental and oral health practitioners and their interaction
  • the ability to apply the principles of ethics in the provision of health care and research
  • the ability to be an active participant in professional organisations, and an appreciation of the benefits of this participation
  • the ability to provide effective peer review in order to assist colleagues to improve their performance
  • maturity and responsibility to maintain standards of dental practice at the highest level throughout a professional career;
  • ability to understand apply Commonwealth, State and Territory legislation relevant to practise as a dentist;
  • the philosophy of lifelong learning and accept that continuing professional development is required for professional growth.

Systems of health care

On graduation, DDS graduates will have developed:

  • knowledge of the roles, responsibilities and expertise of all health professionals, and how they work in teams to deliver health care;
  • a respect for the roles and expertise of other health care professionals and the ability to communicate effectively with them;
  • skills of team work and the ability to work effectively in an oral health care team, including as a leader;
  • knowledge of the principles of efficient and equitable allocation and use of finite resources in especially in the public oral health care systems;
  • the ability to work effectively as a dentist within a quality and safety framework including the ability to recognise, respond to and learn from adverse events;
  • skills of effective record keeping and the ability to maintain high quality records;
  • knowledge of the structure of the Australian oral health care system;
  • an understanding of the role of political systems in shaping health and oral health care systems locally, nationally and internationally;
  • skills of provision of continuity, coordination and integration of oral health care to the individual patient and to the community.

The society

On graduation, DDS graduates will have developed:

  • the ability to contribute to their communities wherever they choose to live and work;
  • knowledge of the determinants of a ‘healthy society’ and the economic, political, psychological, social and cultural factors that contribute to the development and persistence of oral health and illness;
  • skills of oral health promotion including primary and secondary prevention;
  • an understanding of the principles of oral health literacy and a willingness and ability to contribute to the oral health education of the community;
  • knowledge of the health of indigenous Australians including their history and cultural development and the ongoing oral health disparities of indigenous people;
  • knowledge of the burden of oral disease in differing populations and geographic locations in Australia;
  • skills to identify the requirements of health care systems in a culturally diverse society;
  • the ability to deliberate on local, regional and national ramifications of health care issues;
  • the ability to respect community values, including an appreciation of a diversity of backgrounds and cultural values;
  • a commitment to contribute to the resolution of oral health inequities;
  • knowledge of the relationship between environmental issues and the oral health and health of local communities and society.

Generic Skills:

On completion of the DDS, students will be able to:

  1. work effectively as a member of a team;
  2. have skills in interpersonal understanding, problem-solving, decision making, program design and implementation, evaluation and advocacy;
  3. demonstrate capacity and motivation for continuing independent learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiousity throughout life;
  4. demonstrate professional skills and attitudes;
  5. design and conduct scientific investigations;
  6. exhibit professional responsibility;
  7. critically appraise research evidence;
  8. demonstrate the ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner;
  9. apply effective, creative and innovation solutions, both independently and co-operatively, to current and future problems;
  10. be proficient in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies;
  11. have an awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of profesisonal skills and responsibilities;
  12. value diversity of opinion within health care;
  13. value diversity in health beliefs, lifestyles, ethnic and cultural background;
  14. demonstrate a non-judgemental approach to their interactions within the health system, with other health professionals;
  15. ensure safe and effective care for people of diverse backgrounds.

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