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Specimen Dissection

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

IBMS Advanced Specialist Diploma in Specimen Dissection is available in: 

  • Breast Pathology
  • Lower GI Pathology
  • Urological Pathology

The IBMS Advanced Specialist Diploma in Specimen Dissection enables biomedical scientists to demonstrate the scientific and clinical knowledge underpinning the practice of either Breast, Lower GI or Urological pathology specimen dissection and the practical competence required to accurately dissect all Lower GI or Breast specimens whether benign or malignant.

Candidates who achieve an IBMS Advanced Specialist Diploma (ASD) in Specimen Dissection will be able to:

  • undertake a role that involves the description, dissection and block sampling of all Breast, Lower GI or Urological pathology specimens
  • to offer expert professional advice on Breast, Lower GI or Urological pathology dissection
  • to participate in the training of biomedical scientists and junior medical staff in Breast, Lower GI or Urological pathology specimen dissection
Further information

Who can apply for Specimen Dissection

Applicants must be a Member or Fellow of the IBMS, HCPC registered and hold an IBMS Diploma in Expert Practice in Histological Dissection which must have included evidence for the module that you wish to do the ASD in (Breast, Gastrointestinal or Genito-Urinary). You must also have at least seven years whole time equivalent post-registration experience in histology as well as:

  • 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

Specimen Dissection qualification structure

IBMS Advanced Specialist Diploma (ASD) in Specimen Dissection is a professional vocational qualification assessed by completion of a training logbook and a written and oral examination.

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

Specimen Dissection fees and how to apply

It costs £27 to order an IBMS Advanced Specialist Diploma in Specimen Dissection training logbook. To order this, please submit to the IBMS Examinations Team:

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 1 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 also submit a copy of your application and payment by post to Examinations, IBMS, 12 Coldbath Square, London, EC1R 5HL. 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

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

January 2021: We are now pleased to inform a training grant is also available who work in England who sit the DEP in Histological Dissection or the ASD in Specimen Dissection 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.

An FAQ document has also been issued to answer questions relating to this grant. This can be found here.

Specimen Dissection key dates

2020  Exam Series (Updated 2 December 2020) 

Results Released - Friday 5 February 2021 - The exam results will be issued by email with the qualification certificate being sent in the following week.

2021 Exam Series - Key Dates

Qualification Application Deadline: Friday 2 July

Portfolio Submission Deadline: Friday 30 July

Exams: Monday 22 November

Results Released: Friday 4 February 2022

Candidates are strongly encouraged, if possible, to submit their portfolio electronically. You can scan your portfolio and training logbook and send this via email to examinations@ibms.org

Due to the size of the portfolio (and the number of emails that may require) this may be difficult so alternatively you could put your portfolio into a shared folder such as OneDrive or Google Docs and then send the relevant link to this to examinations@ibms.org so that the Head of Examinations can pick up your portfolio from there. More guidance on how the portfolio on how to submit the portfolio electronically will be issued in early 2021.

If you are unable to submit your portfolio electronically the hard copy version of your portfolio should be sent, marked for the attention of the Head of Examinations, to IBMS, 12 Coldbath Square, London, EC1R 5HL by the date stated above. Candidates are advised to submit their case log on a memory stick and provide a summary of the cases within the portfolio



Specimen Dissection assessment

The examination of an IBMS Advanced Specialist Diploma (ASD) in Specimen Dissection involves three assessments:

  • a portfolio assessment 
  • a written examination
  • an oral examination 
Portfolio assessment

You must meet 29 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 

In the 90 minute examination, you will cover scenarios encountered in the dissection of Breast, Lower GI or Urological pathology specimen dissection from any specimen categories.

The examination may also include questions on clinical governance, pathological processes or relevant topical matters.

Oral examination 

The oral examination will cover the case studies and other evidence from your training logbook and will last 45-60 minutes.

For further information please read:

Breast pathology guidance to candidates and trainers 

Lower GI pathology guidance to candidates and trainers 

Urological pathology guidance to candidates and trainers

Specimen Dissection resources

Guidance on Recognising and Avoiding Plagiarism

Portfolio assessment indicators

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

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

Deferrals, withdrawals and mitigating circumstances

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