UCC Undergraduate courses

Dental Hygiene

Course Fact File
Duration2 Years
Teaching ModeFull-time
NFQ LevelLevel 7
FeesSee Fees and Costs for full details.
CAO PointsNA
Closing Date29 February 2024

Course Outline

Dental hygienists form an important complementary branch of the dental profession. Working under the supervision of a dentist, the dental hygienist helps patients maintain their oral health by preventing and treating gum disease and promoting good oral health behaviour.  Dental Hygienists are permitted to carry out the following procedures:

  • Give advice in relation to oral health, including dietary advice
  • Scaling, polishing and debridement of teeth
  • Taking and processing radiographs
  • Administer local infiltration and inferior block anaesthesia
  • Apply fissure sealants
  • Apply desensitising agents

A career in dental hygiene will appeal to students who have empathy for people, who are interested in their welfare, and who like carrying out precision work with their hands and have a professional approach.

Year 1 is spent between the university campus and the Cork University Dental School and Hospital studying basic medical sciences and introductory elements of dental hygiene. Year 2 is spent in the Cork University Dental School & Hospital and at other local clinical placements.

Students benefit from small class numbers and from intense patient contact during the latter stages of training. This is a Full-time programme with clinics, teaching and assessments scheduled throughout the week.


The Dental Hygiene programme is an undergraduate programme delivered over two years as follows:

Year 1

  • AN1004 The Anatomical Basis of Dental Hygiene (15 credits)
  • PL1011 Basic Science for Dental Hygiene (15 credits)
  • RD1004 Clinical Dental Hygiene I (5 credits)
  • RD1005 Clinical Dental Hygiene II (10 credits)
  • RD1006 Theoretical Dental Hygiene I (5 credits)
  • RD1007 Theoretical Dental Hygiene II (10 credits)

Year 2 

  • OH2001 Preventive Dentistry and Dental Public Health (10 credits)
  • RD2001 Periodontology (15 credits)
  • RD2003 Clinical Dental Hygiene (20 credits)
  • RD2008 Clinical Prevention (10 credits)
  • RD2009 Dental Hygiene Project (5 credits)


Written exams typically take place before Christmas and in May. Not all our modules will have formal examinations and many modules use other types of assessment. See here for more information on our assessments.

See the College Calendar for more detailed information on the programme and the Book of Modules for a more detailed description of programme modules.


Dental Hygiene students wear scrubs in the clinic and these are purchased in Year 1.


Why Choose This Course

I learned great practical skills and gained confidence in my abilities...

Sonya Cronin, Graduate, Dental Hygiene, University College Cork

Our Diploma in Dental Hygiene is designed to meet the needs of the dental community. It leads to a highly rewarding career that provides a valuable health service and establishes relationships with patients. Training at Cork University Dental School and Hospital (CUDSH) is provided by highly experienced staff in an environment with access to a wide range of patients. On successful completion of the programme you can apply for registration as a Dental Hygienist with the Dental Council of Ireland.

Skills and Careers Information

The dental hygienist may work under the supervision of a dentist in general practice, in the Health Service Executive, or in a dental hospital, or may consider undertaking further study to work as an instructor. Graduates may undertake additional training that falls within the Dental Council of Ireland's scope of practice for Dental Hygienists. See the Dental Council of Ireland website for more information.


Please note: We only accept applications from students who have completed secondary school leaving exams i.e. the Leaving Certificate must be complete prior to application.

Applicants must be at least 18 years of age by October 15th in the year of proposed entry to the programme, and must hold a Leaving Certificate or equivalent at the time of application or be applying on the basis of mature years. 

Leaving Certificate requirements

Minimum grade H5 in two subjects and minimum grade O6/H7 in four other subjects. Subjects must include Irish (unless exempt), English, another language, Mathematics and Biology.

Mature Students

Mature applicants should be 23 years old on or before 1st January of the year of application and provide evidence of Leaving Certificate Biology (or equivalent).

Fitness to Practise

This programme is subject to UCC's Fitness to Practise Policy – see our Fitness to Practise page for more information.

Student Garda Vetting

All students on this programme will come into contact with the public and assume positions of trust through educational and training opportunities. To ensure the protection of the public, and to justify public trust and confidence, UCC is committed to ensuring that only suitable candidates are allowed to undertake this programme.

Student Garda vetting is carried out by the Admissions Office in UCC once a student has accepted their place on the programme. It involves a police check to establish whether the individual being vetted has had criminal convictions in the past or whether any criminal proceedings are pending. The Garda Siochána provide this information for students who have resided in Ireland for a period of six months or more (including permanent residence).

All students who have resided outside Ireland for a period of six months or more must furnish a Police Clearance Certificate from their country or countries of residence. This certificate should state that the student has had no convictions recorded against them while residing there.


Fees and Costs

For course fees please refer to the 2024/2025 EU Undergraduate Fees Schedule for this programme : EU Undergraduate Fees 2024/25 | University College Cork (ucc.ie)

The HEA will pay the Tuition Fees for those who are eligible under the Free Fees Initiative. If you already hold a Level 7 Qualification, the HEA will not fund a second Level 7 Programme irrespective of whether the initial Programme was funded/self-fund, full-time/part-time. The total fee is payable each year.

If you qualify for the Free Fees Initiative, the fees due will be the Student Contribution Fee of €3,000.00 and the Capitation Fee of €147 in 2024/25. Please contact the Fees Office at fees@ucc.ie for confirmation of your fees.


How To Apply

Please note that this programme is currently open to EU applicants only.

Application for 2024 entry is now open and the closing date is 29th February 2024

Non-EU candidates and applicants competing on the basis of a QQI FET qualification only are not eligible to apply for this programme.

Scanned copies of supporting documents have to be uploaded with your UCCApply Application so please have the following documents ready for upload: 

  • 2 References (i.e. 2 recent references that support your application, each on headed business paper. References should be signed and dated within the last 6 months. One reference should be from a recent or present employer (or equivalent). 
  • School-Leaving Certificate Results 
  • Passport Photo 
  • Proof of Identity - if not previously registered in UCC 
  • Transcripts - if applicable
  • English Proficiency Qualification - if applicable.  

    For English language requirements, please see the English Language Requirements for EU Applicants.


All Applicants: Please note that the modules listed are indicative of the current set of modules for this course and are subject to change from year to year. Please check the College Calendar for the full academic content of any given course for the current year. 

  • In UCC, we use the terms programme and course interchangeably to describe what a person has registered to study in UCC and its constituent colleges, schools, and departments.


For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact