Introduction Harmonising education to support workforce mobility has been a policy objective for the European Union. However, alignment across varied national contexts presents challenges in dental education. Methods A systematic literature review with narrative synthesis. Searches of the electronic databases Embase [Ovid]; MEDLINE [Ovid]; Scopus; CINAHL; AMED and PsycINFO were conducted for relevant material published between 2000 and 2019 on undergraduate curricula, quality standards and learning outcomes in dentistry. Results Seventy-six papers met the inclusion criteria. Fifty-three papers were commentaries or editorials, twenty-one were research studies, and two were literature reviews on specific dental subfields. Eighteen of the research studies reported surveys. The literature contains extensive proposals for undergraduate curricula or learning outcomes, either broadly or for subfields of dentistry. Included papers demonstrated the importance of EU policy and educator-led initiatives as drivers for harmonisation. There is limited evidence on the extent to which proposed pan-European curricula or learning outcomes have been implemented. The nature and extent of dental students’ clinical experience with patients is an area of variance across European Union member states. Arrangements for the quality assurance of dental education differ between countries. Discussion Harmonisation of European dental education has engaged educators, as seen in the publication of proposed curricula and learning outcomes. However, differences remain in key areas such as clinical experience with patients, which has serious implications if graduate dentists migrate to countries where different expectations exist. Mutual recognition of professional qualifications between countries relies on education which meets certain standards, but institutional autonomy makes drawing national comparisons problematic.



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European Journal of Dental Education



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Peninsula Medical School