School of Dental Sciences

News Digest - Spring 2018

School of Dental Sciences News Digest - Spring 2018

Spring has sprung

We said goodbye to our old format of the Christmas newsletter with the 2017 edition and so it is time to say hello to our first new format ‘Spring News Digest’.  We are developing a more regular communication with the ‘Global Newcastle Family’ which together with our Social media pages, both Twitter and Facebook, are intended to keep you in touch with life in the School. 

Spring has come late to Newcastle this year but there are many things to celebrate:

Success in the World QS Rankings

For the fourth year in a row the School has been ranked in the Top 40 Dental Schools in the world in the QS Rankings.  This marks our sustained ambition for the School to be recognised as a world leader in Oral Health and Oral Health Care and is a great achievement for such a compact School and has contributed to the University’s overall improvement in the QS rankings this year.  The School still remains the only unit in the University to be ranked by the QS in the World’s top 50.  In the Complete University Guide we retain our overall 4th position, for the 3rd year in a row.  The School had the 4th highest score for research quality, the 3rd highest for graduate prospects and the highest score for student satisfaction of any UK Dental School.  This, together with being one of only four schools whose Universities were rated with a TEF Gold for Teaching Excellence, places us in a rather special position.

We are currently in that period of the year when the final year students are coming to the end of their clinical attachment as they prepare for their Finals Assessments and we wish them all well in that preparation.  This will mean our fourth year students will in effect become our most senior year with the additional responsibilities that this brings.  This is all happening at a time when students are being polled in the National Students Survey (NSS) regarding their satisfaction with their time in Newcastle and the educational opportunities and experiences they have been offered.  Newcastle has always been well regarded for its teaching and this has been recognized by the award of the “TEF Gold” to the University last year.  It was great to see therefore that the NSS results for our School last year were the highest ever and indeed the highest in the University, a level mirrored in our Post Graduate Taught programmes as well

None of this happens without an enormous amount of work and commitment not just by the academic and clinical staff but also by the Professional Service Staff whose work underpins all that the School does.

I hope you enjoy this News Digest – do take the opportunity to follow things happening in the School by following us on Facebook and Twitter via the links at the bottom of the page.

Best wishes,



Head of School, Prof J Mark Thomason

Global Subject Ranking Excellence

Newcastle University subjects are among the world’s best, according to global higher education rankings. Our performance in the latest QS World University Rankings by subject is a testament to the quality and impact of our research.

The QS World University Rankings by subject places Newcastle University as one of the top institutions globally, featuring 28 of its subjects across all three faculties – the highest-ever number of courses for Newcastle. The global survey of over 1,100 universities shows that Newcastle University is among the best for many of its popular subjects, ranking five of them in the top 100: Architecture, Linguistics, Anatomy & Physiology, Dentistry and Geography.

Other disciplines highlighted by the guide include: Economics, Engineering & Technology, Medicine, Sociology, Archaeology, Civil Engineering, Biology, Arts & Humanities, Pharmacy and Psychology.

Impact and reputation of research and teaching

Professor Richard Davies, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Engagement and Internationalisation, Newcastle University, said: “Our performance in the latest QS World University Rankings by subject is a testament to the quality and impact of our research. The ranking is one of several measures that can be used to assess the quality, impact and reputation of our research and teaching.”

Phoebe Hornsby, a MEng Civil Engineering student, said: "My degree has included a lot of international context. We've learned about global challenges such as climate change and resource scarcity, studied engineering design for developing countries, and earlier this year I was part of an engineering expedition to Borneo."

Ray Panesar, a Dental Surgery student, said: “One thing that has stood out to me from day one was the staff’s commitment to excellent teaching. It really does make a difference when the people teaching you are not only passionate about their subject, but passionate about ensuring you get the most out of the sessions.”

George Snape, Urban Planning undergraduate, added: “The whole experience is just fantastic. You have excellent teaching and support from a world-class university whilst at the same time having an excellent social aspect which complements your learning and enhances your experience. Newcastle attracts a large range of people from all over the UK and the world, who I perhaps wouldn’t have come in contact with or been friends with if I did not come to Newcastle.” 

Strong performance in league tables

To produce the rankings, QS employs a mix of academic reputation, employer reputation, citations per paper and an H-index, which is a measure both the productivity and impact of the work published by the institutions' academics.

The QS team analysed over 22 million papers, producing close to 200 million citations. It has ranked 1,130 institutions from 151 countries, across 48 subjects in 5 subject areas, creating 14,000 published entries.

This latest data builds on the University’s strong performance in UK and international league tables, which saw Newcastle placed in the Top 30 in the Guardian University Guide 2018, 105th in the world in the 2017 Leiden Ranking, 161st in the QS World University Rankings 2018 and 175th in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018.


The Arches, Newcastle University

Teaching Excellence Awards

The Newcastle University Student Union Teaching Excellence Awards (TEAs) is a student-led scheme aimed at recognising Newcastle University’s staff for their commitment to learning, on-going student support and contribution to the students University experience. This year there have been eight categories, ranging from pastoral support to outstanding feedback, designed to encompass all aspects of university life and how our members of staff can make a real difference to students’ time at Newcastle.

This year there was over 400 nominations throughout the University with a phenomenal eight members of dental school staff being recognised; these included Michelle Smith from our professional services support team, Bev English, Richard Holmes and Claire McGee from our BSc in Oral & Dental Health programme, Ralf Kist, Luisa Wakeling, and Ruth Valentine from Stage 1 & 2 of the BDS programme, Steve McHanwell of Medical Education and Helen Stancliffe from the discipline of Oral Surgery.

The nominations this year have been outstanding and of truly high quality, and so it is particularly heartening that Richard Holmes and Steve McHanwell have progressed through to the final three shortlisted for the award of Excellence in Teaching.

The results were announced at the beginning of May and we would like to congratulate Professor Steve McHanwell, winner of the Outstanding Contribution to Teaching Award 2018!


Founders and Benefactors

School of Dental Sciences Public Lecture and celebration of 40 years at Richardson Road. Friday afternoon, 15th June 2018 - Save the date!

We’re busy making plans to celebrate 40 years on the Richardson Road site, with an open afternoon to showcase the work of the School and Hospital. Visitors will be welcomed by staff and student representatives and guided through a range of exhibits that will capture elements of the world-class research, education and clinical service that takes place in a QS world top 40 ranking Dental School and CQC outstandingly rated Dental Hospital!.

The event will be rounded off by a public lecture given by Professor Jan Clarkson, Director of the Dundee Effective Dental Practice Programme and veteran of the Edinburgh Fringe ‘Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas’. It proves to be a great day… save the date; we’ll be in touch with more information before long!


RCS Edinburgh Competition

The dental skills competition to discover the UK's best undergraduate dentist reached its climax at the Grand Final in Edinburgh earlier this year in March.

Run by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and Dentsply Sirona, the competition was won by Newcastle University student Joe Reid after a punishing series of tests designed to push the finalist's skills to the maximum.

Mr Reid said: "I’m quite surprised to have won today, there are a lot of talented people here and it’s not something I was expecting.

It was quite a novel experience competing in the Dental Skills Competition. You don’t really compete with each other normally at dental school and you don’t see the quality of other people’s work. There were a lot of different challenges today that we don’t normally come across too. I think the best part of the competition was spending time with people from other dental schools, as they’re people you wouldn’t normally meet."

Each of the finalists from the first round of 18 UK and Irish dental schools, where over 400 final year students took part, were tasked to complete a series of challenges devised to test a wide range of clinical skills in dentistry. 

Joe Reid in action

Mr Brian Nattress, Convener of the Dental Skills Competition and member of the College's Dental Council said: "This year’s dental skills contest was expanded to include more dental schools from the UK and Ireland. The added competition captured every students' enthusiasm and drive by placing them in a competitive situation against more of the best final year students.

The final was extremely exciting but also very challenging as not only did the students’ have to show strong skills but they had to work in a high pressure contest. I felt honoured to see the students in action and witness again the great sense of camaraderie as they competed alongside colleagues from other dental schools in the Grand Final."

Second place was awarded to Rowan Glossop, from the University of Central Lancashire, with third place going to Ammar Zaki from the University of Liverpool.

"Following last year’s successful Dental Skills Competition, we are honoured and delighted to continue our partnership with the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh to celebrate the talented dental clinicians of tomorrow," said Gerry Campbell, VP & General Manager UK, Dentsply Sirona.

"This competition continues to bring the best out of students and this year we added key elements of the latest techniques in digital dentistry to the competition. Through our continued commitment to providing innovative solutions for better, faster, safer dentistry and our expansive education programme, it is our desire and privilege to support dental professionals throughout their career.”

The competition is designed to both showcase the great dental talent of the UK and Ireland's undergraduate dentists and also to develop the very best skills and support for our future dental surgeons.

"Hearty congratulations to our winner Joe Reid and everyone who took part in this year’s competition. One of the major aims of the Dental Faculty of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh is to set and quality assure the highest standards for the dental profession and recognise that with the award of Membership and Fellowship," said Professor Fraser McDonald, Dean of the Dental Faculty at the RCSEd.

"The dental skills competition has proved to be an exciting, rewarding and challenging way of ensuring that those standards are challenged and updated annually, with students benefitting from competing against each other and networking between themselves. As students it is hoped they will learn the value of networks if only to see problems are challenges are common to all. RCSEd is very keen to complement the basic dental skills delivered at the undergraduate level in the UK and Ireland, and to help develop self-improvement in post-graduation dentistry.”

Joe Reid, RCS Ed Clinical Skills Competition winner
Joe Reid, Winner of the RCS Ed Dentsply Sirona Clinical Skills competition

Student Photography Competition

For the first time ever, the Dental School ran a photography competition during the spring term. The brief was simple, anyone in the School could submit their best 'travel' photo for a chance to win a £30 gift voucher, and the winner would be decided by popular vote on the Dental Facebook page. We had a number of entries, from short weekend excursions skiing in Scotland, to exotic Philippean sunsets snapped during 4th year elective. However, there could only be one winner...  Georgina Gray, a 3rd year ODHS came out top with her picture of a moped rider in rural Vietnam. 

We have many more fun-filled competitions lined up like this, so make sure you like the 'Newcastle University Dental School' page for up to date information about life both inside and outside the Dental School and for your chance to win great prizes! 

Student Photography Competition 

Nathan Miller, DentSoc Communications Officer

Student photo competition
Competition winner Georgina Gray with Prof Thomason, Head of School

Brush Up Project

BrushUp is a community engagement project run by our students for the benefit of the local community.  During the year they have visited a number of groups, including primary schools, nurseries and uniformed organisations to deliver tailored oral health advice.  Each session is personalised for the needs of the group they are visiting, with a typical classroom session involving interactive education around tooth brushing, what to expect during a trip to the dentist and how much sugar is in foods.  Teams of BDS and ODHS students gain valuable experience in delivering oral health advice to children and young people, whilst having fun engaging with the local community. 

If you would like to get in touch or want to know more, you can e-mail us on:

Brush Up Team
Brush Up team out on a visit

BSc Oral and Dental Health Science: GDC Inspection

In September 2015 the School welcomed the first intake of students to our BSc in Oral & Dental Health Sciences. This new three year honours programme aims to prepare graduates to work as hygienists/therapists and was developed as a replacement for the previous Diploma in Dental Hygiene & Therapy.

The course development has been robustly lead and informed by the successful elements of the previous Diploma course and has a deeply embedded ethos of shared and interprofessional learning. Working alongside and with our BDS students we hope to foster true team working based on mutual respect for the skill set and expertise of each other.

Whilst it is always wonderful for a plan to come together, that also meant for us an accreditation inspection visit by the GDC.  As such we welcomed the GDC team of 4 inspectors into the School for two days at the beginning of March. The inspection itself went ahead in a very pleasant, open and professional manner with many examples of collegiate discussion initiated by a genuine sense of scholarly interest in what we are doing. Whilst we must await for the official report until after the June final examinations it was encouraging to receive initial feedback that indicated the inspection team had identified many strengths.

As a School we have watched the course develop and grow and have been delighted to see our ethos of team learning become a reality, and so it was particularly gratifying to hear the Inspection team highlight our strong learning community and the sense of privilege expressed by the students who study with us. 

We wish our final year BSC colleagues the very best of luck as they reach the culmination of their three years studying with us.

Prof Janice Ellis, Degree Programme Director, BSc ODHS

Other Staff News

Student News

Alumni News

Yes… you’ve noticed – there’s no news here… We rarely ever hear from you guys now that you’ve left!

As part of our global Newcastle family, we would like to include your news in our News Digest - let us know what you’re doing…

 Met up with a group of your BDS colleagues recently?  Send us a photo!

Completed the Three Peaks Challenge?  Tell us!  We’ll celebrate with you!

Do you blog?  Send us a link…

Send your news to and like proud parents, we will bask in your reflected glory.