Non-Gynaecological Cytology

Demonstrate the highest levels of knowledge and skill and advance your career with an IBMS Advanced Specialist Diploma

The IBMS Advanced Specialist Diploma (ASD) in Non-Gynaecological Cytology enables you to demonstrate the scientific and clinical knowledge that underpins the assessment of non-gynaecological cytology specimens.

Candidates who achieve an IBMS Advanced Specialist Diploma (ASD) in Non-Gynaecological Cytology will be able to:

  • undertake a role that involves the acquisition, preparation, assessment and reporting of selected non-gynaecological cytology specimens, including those where a clinically significant diagnosis is made
  • offer expert professional advice on non-gynaecological cytology specimen reporting 
  • participate in the training of biomedical scientists and specialist trainee medical staff in the reporting of normal and abnormal non-gynaecological cytology.
Further information

Who can apply for the ASD in Non-Gynaecological Cytology

Applicants must be a Member or Fellow of the IBMS, HCPC registered and hold an IBMS Diploma in Expert Practice in Non-Gynaecological Cytology and /or the Diploma of Interpretative and Diagnostic Cytology. You must also have seven years post registration experience in non-gynaecological cytology with substantial experience (at least 4 years) in pre-reporting for consultant pathologists  and reporting negative sample as well as have more than three years at a senior level involvement with preparation, quality management, EQA and IQC of the relevant categories of non-gynaecological specimens

you must also:

  • have a single named consultant pathologist trainer who has overall responsibility for mentoring and guiding you and monitoring your progress
  • undertake your training in a laboratory with UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) registration
  • undertake your training in a laboratory with IBMS post-registration training approval

Please note 
In the guidance document, the eligibility criteria state that you need to be a Fellow of the Institute to undertake either qualification. This is no longer the case. Applicants will be accepted from those who have Member (MIBMS) status of the Institute and who successfully completed the DEP in Non-Gynaecological Cytology as long as they meet the other stated criteria. 


ASD in Non-Gynaecological Cytology qualification structure

IBMS Advanced Specialist Diploma (ASD) in Non-Gynaecological Cytology is a professional vocational qualification assessed by a portfolio of evidence and examination.

The portfolio of evidence provides a record of your training and should contain evidence of regular assessments of your competence in reporting the specimen types covered by this qualification by your named consultant pathologist supervisor. 

The portfolio of evidence must include:

  • a prospectively constructed shadow reporting log of at least 500 cases
  • ten different case studies/reports reflecting the case-mix within non-cervical cytology you encounter during your training period

Once your named consultant pathologist supervisor is satisfied that your training is complete you can submit your portfolio and go on to the written and practical examinations. 

Guidance to candidates and trainers

ASD in Non-Gynaecological Cytology assessment

The examination of an  IBMS Advanced Specialist Diploma (ASD) in Non-Gynaecological Cytology involves three assessments:

  • a portfolio assessment 
  • a written examination
  • a practical microscopy examination 
Portfolio assessment

You must meet 28 standards in order to pass your portfolio assessment and progress to the written and practical examinations.

Your portfolio will be independently assessed by two members of the Conjoint Examination Board. 

Written examination 

You will be expected to answer four out of six short-answer questions in 90 minutes, which will include including case-based scenarios.

Practical microscopy examination

Short Cases

You will be expected to review 12 cases in 72 minutes and provide their diagnosis along with any confirmatory ancillary tests that should be undertaken where appropriate.

Long Cases

Candidates will be expected to review five cases in 100 minutes. 


ASD in Non-Gynaecological Cytology key dates

ASD in Non-Gynaecological Cytology - 2022 Exam Series (Updated 30/11/2021)

  • Closing date for applications - Friday 4 March
  • Portfolio submission deadline - Friday 25 March
  • Shadow Reporting Logs (ASD Only) - Friday 8 April
  • Written Examination - Monday 9 May (to be sat in own local hospital)
  • Microscopy Examination date -  Wednesday 22 to  Friday 24 June (date will depend on number of candidates and social distancing arrangements that need to be in place at the time

Candidates intending to submit their portfolio in 2022 should note that the Institute will not be accepting hard copies versions of portfolio. Candidates must  submit an electronic version of the portfolio of experiential learning to the Head of Examinations at the Institute offices via email to:

ASD in Non-Gynaecological Cytology fees and how to apply

To apply for the qualification in the year in which you plan to submit your portfolio for assessment you will need to submit to the IBMS Examinations Team

  • payment of £428 (from January 2021), along with
  • a completed application form 

Fees can be paid by: 

  • credit or debit card payment by phone on +44 (0)207 731 0214 ext 142 or 
  • purchase order from your hospital Trust

You can apply to undertake an IBMS Advanced Specialist Diploma (ASD) in Non-Gynaecological Cytology:

  • before you begin your training or
  • while you undertake your training and complete your portfolio of evidence

Once your application has been accepted you will be sent confirmation of your candidacy and a reminder of the submission deadline for your portfolio.  Please note that if you withdraw from the qualification at any point a £30 administrative fee will be applied to any refund.

Training Grant Available (Updated August 2021)

In November 2020 the IBMS announced new funding for Institute members undertaking IBMS/RCPath Histopathology qualifications. The full statement can be found here.

We are pleased to inform a training grant is also available who work in England who sit the DEP in Histological Dissection, DEP in Non-Gynaecological Cytology, ASD in Histological Dissection, ASD in Cervical Cytology or ASD in Non-Gynaecological exam in 2021 or 2022. More information on the grant that is available and how and when it can be claimed can be found here.

ASD in Non-Gynaecological Cytology resources

Guidance to candidates and trainers includes an indicative reading list

Guidance on Recognising and Avoiding Plagiarism

You can find discipline-specific reading lists to support you in completing an  IBMS Advanced Specialist Diploma in Cervical Cytology on our Science reading page.

You can find articles and online resources to support you in completing an  IBMS Advanced Specialist Diploma in Cervical Cytology in our Resources section

Position Statement on Role Requirements and Banding for Scientists undertaking Reporting within Cellular Pathology Departments

As an aid to departments wishing to utilise the opportunities offered by the scientist reporter the Institute has described in outline the expected job content, the qualifications required for each role and the appropriate Agenda for Change (or equivalent) pay grade. The position statement can be found here.

Deferrals, withdrawals and mitigating circumstances

If you wish to defer, withdraw or highlight any mitigating circumstances please contact as soon as possible.