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 five 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

Fees can be paid by: 

  • credit or debit card payment by phone on +44 (0)207 713 0214 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 (Updated 11 December 2023)

We are now pleased to inform a training grant of £1,000 per candidate continues to be available to employers of candidates in England who are undertaking the DEP or ASD in Histological Dissection. More information on the grant that is available and how and when it can be claimed can be found here.

Specimen Dissection key dates

2024 Exam Series - Key Dates

Qualification Application Deadline: Friday 31 May 2024

Portfolio Submission Deadline: Friday 26 July 2024 - Portfolios will be accepted from week commencing 3 June 2024 (See Below)

Re-Sit Application Deadline; Friday 26 July 2024

Exams: Monday 25 November 2024 - These exams will be undertaken at the candidates' place of work. The viva voce examination will take place in early 2025 on date that is yet to be arranged. Candidates will only be invited to this part of the assessment process if they achieve more than 50% in the written examination

Portfolio Submission

Candidates must submit their portfolio electronically.  Hard copy versions of the portfolio will not be accepted. You can scan your portfolio and training logbook and send this via email to

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 so that the Head of Examinations can pick up your portfolio from there. The portfolio can also submitted on a USB stick. Guidance on how the portfolio on how to submit the portfolio electronically can be found here. (This document is specifically about the DEP but the same principles apply for ASD submissions)

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

These are the portfolio assessments indicators (standards) that the ASD portfolio is assessed against: Portfolio assessment indicators

Useful Resources: You can find details on recommended books, websites and online resources to support you in completing an IBMS Advanced Specialist Diploma (ASD) in Histological Dissection here.

Position Statement on Role Requirements and Banding for Scientists Undertaking Histopathological Dissection

This position statement provides information on the role requirements and banding for Scientists undertaking Histopathological Dissection.  The statement can be found here.

Online Learning Programme to Support Implementation of New and Revised Cancer Datasets and Tissue Pathways

The College is introducing a learning programme to support pathologists with the implementation of new and revised clinical guidelines which they think the IBMS membership may also be interested in. These free webinars will be presented by the guideline authors and will focus on the aspects of the guidelines that have changed, with practical tips on how to collect data, clinical scenarios for data items and ample time for questions. For more information please visit the RCPath website here

Deferrals, withdrawals and mitigating circumstances

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