MSc Orthodontics: The lowdown

The three-year MSc (Clin) Orthodontics course at Manchester combines the taught elements and research of an MSc degree with mandatory clinical training. This enables students on the programme to develop the practical skills and knowledge they need to carry out contemporary orthodontic treatment techniques. But don’t just take our word for it; below, Saskia Schwabe, a current student on the course, reveals all about her experiences on the course so far…

Why an MSc in Orthodontics at Manchester?

It had been four years since completing my undergraduate degree that I decided to pursue a master’s degree in Orthodontics. Returning to an academic environment after four years was quite a daunting prospect and I did find the adjustment period quite challenging but as time went on I began to find my feet and feel more at ease with everything.

The reason why I decided to do a master’s was because orthodontics is a great speciality and amalgamates dentistry with the principles of physics and biomechanics. It allows for analytical thinking and problem solving. Every single case is different and there are so many different ways to go about the treatment which always keeps things interesting.

The decision to do my master’s at Manchester was an easy one. The Orthodontics programme here has a great reputation and the class sizes are small. On top of that, Manchester is a great city with loads going on and lots to do, without it ever feeling overwhelming or too busy.

How I’m finding the course

The course has definitely lived up to expectations so far. There is plenty of clinical exposure, as well as educational support and teaching. Clinical supervisors are always exceptionally helpful and the small classes allow for loads of one-on-one discussion.

The clinical side of things is my favourite aspect of the course. We get to manage a large variety of cases on regular basis and get experience in treating different malocclusions. We also get to work in conjunction with different Supervising Consultants which is really beneficial as it gives us a a good idea of how to use different methods to achieve the same results.

It hasn’t been all plain sailing, though. Being an international postgraduate student, I have found it exceptionally difficult being away from family and friends at home. All the different organisational protocols and procedures was a lot to take in at the beginning, but it does get easier. Getting back into studying has also been a challenge, especially research and statistics, which I hadn’t really had any exposure to before.

Teaching and learning

The teaching has been great. There is a very low student-to-lecturer ratio, which makes interaction and involvement in lectures easy. There is the expectation of a lot of self-learning and you get out of the course, what you put in, but lecturers are always willing to help and answer any questions you have.

The learning style is quite different to what I experienced at undergraduate level. Learning needs to be self-motivated and -driven. Clinical application surrounds a more evidence-based approach and this forms a large part of the learning. As with undergrad clinical degrees, there is a lot of clinical experience and patient contact time, which allows for the best clinical experience.

Luckily, the MSc Orthodontics degree was less affected by COVID than other clinical dentistry master’s programmes, mainly because Orthodontics does not involve many aerosol generating procedures. During the break away from clinics, online learning continued and additional educational support was provided. We have been lucky enough to get back to clinics fairly swiftly and are almost back to running at full capacity.

Looking ahead

I am not 100% sure on what the future looks like for me, but I am considering further studies within orthodontics which can hopefully be combined with some clinical work as well. For those of you who may be considering this MSc, I would absolutely recommend it. Manchester has been fantastic for me and I believe that the teaching I have received has been world class.

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