UCC Dentsoc | 2nd year
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2nd year


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Be prepared!

Second year is a big step-up from first year workload wise. There are a lot more modules (nine) to contend with and there definitely is more study to do. The timetable itself is quite heavy and you will need to manage your time well in order to keep up. The year is more dentally orientated and you will have classes in the Operative Techniques Lab in the hospital where you will learn about instrumentation, seating positions and dental scaling.

Helpful tips

– Remember the book sale in CUH towards the beginning of the year (you will be emailed about this) and also the book shop on main campus sells second hand books.
– To get access to CUH library, just go the library reception and ask them to give you a pin code. They will stick this on the back of your student card.

Modules & Exams


RD2007 (Full year)

This module was a continuation from DS taken in 1st year. Again, in second year it was a very broad module, divided into Material Science, Behavioural Science, Law and Ethics, Perio and then a few random lectures on charting and smoking cessation. The way the marks were split was quite good as there were 4 components: the written exam, oral exam, perio exam and learning logs & presentation (each section worth 25%). The perio aspect was really cool as it was the first time you feel like a proper dentist. In this class, we learned certain skills like how to position your patient in a dental chair, how to hold scaling instruments, and learning which instruments to use in different areas of the mouth. The perio component of RD took place during second term and the class was split into two groups, with one group going for the first six weeks and the other group going for the second six weeks. Each group was examined on their clinical skills in their final week of perio sessions. For the perio component, there was also a written exam based on the information you learned in the perio sessions as well as a lecture on probing instruments. The perio component of RD was the only component that you had to pass on its own order to pass the course.

In second year, Dr. Curtin is the course coordinator so there was a large emphasis on Behavioural Science. Dr. Curtin did a number of lectures, and then we also had some tutorial sessions. There were three main topics covered by Dr. Curtin in the behavioural science tutorials and at the end of each session we had to write a learning log (personal response to the tutorial). It was very helpful to jot down points in the tutorial so you would remember what to write for the learning logs, especially if you didn’t write the logs straight away. In December, once all of the tutorials were done and we had completed our logs, everyone in the class had to give a 5 minute PowerPoint presentation to the class on one (or more than one) of the topics covered. The presentation was worth 10%.

For Dr. Ray’s portion, the chapters he had on BB were really useful (probably too much detail for second year but explained everything well). The best thing to do to study for Dental Materials was to go through previous exams because there was a lot of repetition of exam questions. We had way fewer Dental Materials lectures compared to first year.

This module was very interesting, but it was frustrating how spread out it was. We had very little class first term and a number of our lectures were cancelled. The perio sessions in second term were excellent but it would have been much better to get them out of the way in first term, as second term was a much heavier course load. They have been saying for the last couple of years that the perio component of RD may be moved into first term.

AN2006 – Neuroanatomy and Embryology for Dental Students (1st Term)

This module was broken up into two parts: Neuroanatomy and Embryology, taught by two different lecturers. This module was finished by Christmas, and was a big relief to have out of the way before second term.

Neuroanatomy was worth 40% of the module and a lot of people found this part okay, as there was a big overlap with other modules. There was only one exam for neuroanatomy and it was a continuous assessment that took place in November (30 MCQ). The neuroanatomy material wasn’t on the Christmas exam, so once you wrote the continuous assessment, you were done with the neuroanatomy component of the module.  There wasn’t that much course material for the neuroanatomy component and people did well in this portion of the course.

Embryology was taught by Dr. Toulouse and it was a subject people either loved or hated. Huge detail was required for this part and it was all new material. People found that the recommended book helped, but all the material was in the lecture notes and extra diagrams given in class. This portion was definitely more difficult than the neuroanatomy component but in general people did well in this module. The embryology component of the course only took place during the first 5 weeks of the term so there weren’t that many lectures to review. The only assessment for the embryology component of the course was the Christmas final and it consisted of 40 MCQ’s worth 60%. The format was best of 5 MCQ with no negative marking. Overall, this module required a lot of memorization but most students did quite well.

 AN2007 – Mammalian Cell and Tissue Structure (1st Term)

This was a histology module and often it was difficult to see the relevant parts of the module for dental students. The main thing for this course was to try and keep on top of the online tests as they can build up and they are all due on the same date. It was important to do well in the online tests because they were worth 30% of the module, easing the pressure for the Christmas exam. This module took place during first term, and had the format of T/F with +1 for correct and -0.25 for incorrect. People did very well in this module and there were no images in the final exam, which was important to know when studying for it.

PL2033 – The Nervous System (1st Term)

This was an extremely interesting module that covered the brain in detail. The course had a continuous assessment and a final Christmas exam, which both consisted of an MCQ and SAQ component.  The questions asked were very repetitive of previous years so it was definitely worth it to go through past papers and check out Google Drive. There were 23 sample SAQs and if you knew these in detail you would do well. The format of the exam said SAQ and MCQ but it was important to write as much as possible, as they expected more of an essay than short answer.

PL2034 – Dental Physiology (2nd Term)

This module had a lot of overlap with other modules but at the same time required you to learn a lot of new material. It was taught once a week in a three-hour block. There was another aspect (oral biology), which was taught by Dr. Harding in CUH which had an exam at the end of it worth 20% that people generally did quite well in. You needed to pass the oral biology component on its own, so anyone who failed the oral biology exam had to repeat it before summer exams. Topics like fluoride, pH demineralisation / remineralisation were all covered, and there was not much new material in Dr. Harding’s part. Many students were stressed before the summer exam for this module because they had skipped a number of the 3-hour lectures and were busy studying for other summer examinations before this one. Most found that it was best to go through previous years exams, as there was a lot of repetition on the final. There was quite a good choice in the end of year exam, and it was all essay style questions, so quite a bit of detail was required.

AN2008 – Dental Morphology, Histology and Embryology (2nd Term)

This module was taught to us by Dr. Lone and was split mainly into two parts: Oral Histology and Tooth Morphology. The first was the histology part, which had a huge overlap with Dr. Deane’s material from biochem in 1st year. A huge amount of material was covered in each lecture since there was only one hour a week for lectures. There were also labs in which you were split into groups by the lecturer and had to make a PowerPoint presentation in front of the class (worth 5% of your final grade). There was a spot exam for the Oral Histology component of the course in February that was worth 15%. The exam consisted on 20 pictures, where you had a minute to a) identify the image/feature that was being pointed at and b) answer a question regarding the image.  Most people had not experienced this sort of pressure before in an exam but most managed to do well.

The second part of the module was the tooth morphology part, which people generally liked as we learned how to tell different teeth apart. However, the spot exam was challenging as there were 20 stations and you had to identify the tooth at the station and answer a question about it in a minute. You would definitely want to be quick at identifying features for the continuous assessment. The labs were really important for the tooth morphology part of the course so it was important to make the most of them. The Leeds University website was a huge help for this module, especially for the tooth morphology spot exam.

The final exam was worth 50% and I highly recommend you look through any previous exams on Google Drive. At least 20 questions (out of the 60) were repeated. At the same time, we were surprised to find some images that were to be labeled on our exam, as this hadn’t been seen in previous years exams.

Overall, the course breakdown was: 5% for oral histology presentation, 15% for oral histology spot exam, 30% for tooth morphology spot exam and 50% for the summer exam.

BC2103 – Molecular Biology (2nd Term)

This module was taught by Dr. Kerins, who was quite intimidating initially as she picked people out in class and asked them questions. It was probably a good thing, as it kept you on your toes with this module. The format was similar to biochem in first year as 10% goes for labs. It was probably the easiest 10% you will get so make sure you turn up to them. The lab demonstrators were really unforgiving if you didn’t and since your lab mark was quite subjective, it was definitely better to stay on their good side.

The continuous assessment was worth 30% and quite a big portion failed this exam. Equally people did well in it, but this exam was not about learning material off by heart, it was about understanding it. It was hard to learn the material from a book so it’s really important to attend the lectures, and if you do miss them, catch up on the extra notes she gives. Dr. Kerins gives loads of sample MCQs, but these are not enough if you do not understand the material. Dr. Kerins also does a lot of review in her lectures before the continuous assessment and the final so make sure you attend those lectures especially.

The summer exam was essay style questions that in general were quite repetitive of other years. As long as you make sure you go back far enough in previous years exams, you should be fully covered.

PT2201 – Principles of Dental Pharmacology (2nd Term)

Pharmacology was a really interesting module. The marks were divided into 3: online tests worth 10% together (which I would advise doing in small groups as it makes it a lot easier), one continuous assessment (20%) that was best of 5 format, and the end of year summer exam. There were only about 16 lectures in pharmacology but each lecture was quite dense.

The course was split into 3 sections, taught by 3 different lecturers. The first section was pharmacodynamics and it mainly focused on understanding basic concepts on how drugs act on the body. The second section – pharmacokinetics, had a bit more detail and was about what the body does to the drug. The final section was cardiovascular pharmacology.

They recommend the book Rang and Dale but it is not necessary. Wait until you start the course and take it out of the library to see if you like it. It is huge, and too detailed for second year, but does explain some concepts really well.

FM2004 – Foundations of Medicine – Mechanisms of Disease (2nd Term)

Pathology is probably the broadest module you will have in second year. You have about four hours of lectures a week and on top of this you have tutorials and labs every week. It will certainly take up a huge bulk of your time in the second term. There were two continuous assessments each worth 12.5% . People generally did a lot better in the first continuous assessment (Cellular pathology and Genetics) that they did on the second CA (Immunology and Microbiology). The format was best of 5 MCQ, which was the same as the end of year (worth 75%). There were 4 sections, cellular pathology, genetics, immunology and microbiology. The main problem people had with this module was how material dense the course was. The information itself wasn’t the most complicated, but the course required lots of studying time and memorization. Most students did okay on the first CA because we didn’t have too much else going on in our other courses. However, many students failed the second CA because there were two other CA’s that week in other courses, and people did not prioritize pathology as it was worth the least. Our summer exam schedule was very challenging, with pathology and our oral for RD being on the same day and with biochem the following day. Due to the limited study time as well as the challenge of the course, a large proportion of the class had Pathology repeats in August. Best advice for this course would be to stay on top of it week by week and to make sure to read the red pathology handbook that you will get during the first couple weeks of classes. There were a number of questions on the CA’s as well as the final that were based on information in the pathology red book that was not covered in the lecture notes.

Learning Logs

These are your personal reflections on what you learned regarding the topics discussed in the CST sessions and in total there are three of them; Cultural Awareness, Communicating with Challenging Patients, Delivering Oral Health Information and the Periodontal Skill sessions. It’s best to do each log after the CST session, when the information is fresh in your head. Each log is approx 500 words and it is a nice way to pick up 25% of the marks so they are worth doing well. The presentation component requires you to make a presentation based on either, one of your learning logs or all of them together, to your group and to members of the Dental Hospital Staff. Admittedly, we were nervous about these but honestly don’t be. Each presentation is five minutes long and six powerpoint slides. There is also a trophy given to the person/people who make the best presentation so it is worth putting effort into these.

Periodontal Competency Test

This part examines the clinical skills you would have acquired over the six sessions in the Operative Techniques Lab. The format of this exam is quite different from normal; basically, a group of six students enters the OTL in exam conditions and takes a seat at a phantom head. Each person has a piece of paper on their desk containing the content of the exam. Once instructed, you can read the paper and begin scaling. The question might be ‘Subgingivally scale the mesiobuccal aspect of the upper right second molar’. While you scale, the examiner will stand over you and examine your technique. At the end of the exam you will be deemed competent or incompetent. Do not underestimate this exam, it can be quite intense so it is best to approach this exam in a methodical manner: read the question, go through each step in your head (instrument, seating position etc.) before you commence.

Ordering scrubs

You will need to order your scrubs in May, to have them for your June attachments. For 3rd year you only need 2 pairs of scrubs (for 4th and 5th year you will need 5 pairs). It is expected that you have a clean ironed pair for each clinical session.

You can order your scrubs online from AWB Textiles online store

  • The scrub type is 1ST Choice, a V-neck scrub suit and is 50% Cotton 50% Polyester
  • The colour chosen is NAVY
  • Please request that your name is embroidered on the scrub
  • Write your name on the LEFT
  • The colour of the thread is RED
  • Embroider your First name and Surname
  • The font is SWISS

You should not travel to and from school in uniform, you can change into uniforms upon arrival at school. Uniforms should be laundered in a domestic washing machine, at 50ºC or above, in water as hot as the fabric will tolerate, then ironed or tumbled-dried. Uniforms should be transported home in a sealed plastic bag, washed separately from other linen. Iron uniform when dry and store/transport in an unused sealed plastic bag. Scrubs to be worn with black shoes.

Collecting teeth

Over the summer of 2nd year, start looking into collecting extracted teeth for 3rd year. You will be working on real teeth in OTL, practicing caries removal, fillings, and performing root canals. Fun fun fun! You will also have to pick out your exam teeth from your collection.

You will need:

  • A wide selection of caries affected teeth (the more decayed the better!)
  • For Endodontics, you will need 1 Upper Central Incisor, 1 Premolar, 1 Upper Molar, 1 Lower Molar (It is advisable to have more than one of each as some teeth might not be suitable)

It really is just a matter of going to the Golden Pages and looking up dentists in your area and ringing them all up one after the other. They are used to be asked to collect teeth for students, just ask them to store any extracted teeth in milton (diluted household bleach) with water and that you’ll come by in a month and collect them. Don’t keep them stored in dry packets, as they will dry out and crack once you start working on them. The more teeth you have the better, we all helped each other out this year when people were stuck for certain teeth, so take everything you can get, and your Instructor will help you in picking out suitable teeth to work on when the time comes.

International Students, you will need to get a letter from the dentist that supplies the teeth to you, and the dental school regarding transport of the teeth. It may be better to look into contacting a few dentists on this side of the pond before you leave for the Summer!


Thanks to Jamie O’Braonain and Rachel Sinclair for their helpful input!