Histological Dissection

Demonstrate expert professional skills and advanced knowledge in histological dissection

The IBMS Diploma of Expert Practice in Histological Dissection provides evidence of the scientific and clinical knowledge that underpins the practice of dissection of specimens from categories B & C and the practical competence required to accurately dissect specimens from these categories within the modules studied. Candidates who achieve an IBMS Diploma of Expert Practice in Histological Dissection will be able to:

  • undertake a role that involves the description, dissection and block sampling of specimens from categories B & C
  • offer expert professional advice on the dissection of specimens from categories B & C
  • participate in the training of biomedical scientists and specialist trainee medical staff in the dissection of specimens from categories B & C
Further information

Who can apply for Histological Dissection

To apply you must be a Member or Fellow of the IBMS, HCPC registered with three years post-registration experience in the dissection of histological specimens. You must also:

  • have a single named consultant level supervisor who has overall responsibility for mentoring and guiding you and monitoring your progress
  • be working in a laboratory that has UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) registered laboratory and that has IBMS laboratory post-registration training approval

If you are unsure whether your laboratory has IBMS laboratory approval for please check with your laboratory manager or training officer. 

Histological Dissection qualification structure

The IBMS Diploma of Expert Practice in Histological Dissection is a professional vocational qualification assessed by completion of a portfolio of evidence and a written examination. The training logbook and portfolio of evidence provide 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 level supervisor. 

Once your named consultant level supervisor is satisfied that your training is complete you can submit your training logbook and portfolio and if this is marked as a pass go on to a written examination. 


Histological Dissection assessment

The examination of an IBMS Diploma of Expert Practice in Histological Dissection involves two assessments:

  • a portfolio assessment 
  • a written examination
Portfolio assessment

You must meet portfolio assessment standards stated in the Guidance to Candidates and Trainers in order to pass your portfolio assessment and progress to the written examination.

Written examination

The written examination consists of two papers:

Paper 1 (Mandatory Modules) 
You must answer one question on each of the five mandatory modules in 120 minutes. 

Paper 2 (Optional Modules)
Covers all of the 11 optional modules (1 question per module). You will be expected to answer six questions from a choice of eleven in 120 minutes.

In both papers, questions may vary in their format from short, multi-part or structured answer, or may be based on a diagram or sketch.

Full details of the qualification, learning outcomes and assessment are available in our Histological Dissection Guidance to Candidates and Trainers

Additional competencies for Histological Dissection

Subsequent to obtaining the diploma, if an individual wishes to evidence competence in additional optional modules, the conditions outlined in the guidance to candidates and trainers must be fulfilled and appropriate evidence must be verified by the conjoint examination board. Candidates who want to submit evidence for additional competencies may now do so at any point in the year. A fee applies for submitting additional competencies (modules). 

To submit any additional competencies for assessment please send payment of £60 to the IBMS Examinations Team

Histological Dissection key dates

2024 Exam Series - Key Dates

Qualification Application Deadline: Friday 31 May 2024

Deadline for candidates who wish to re-sit in 2024: Friday 28 June 2024.

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

Exams: Monday 25 November 2024 - These exams will be undertaken at the candidates' place of work.

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.

Fees and how to apply for the Histological Dissection course

It costs £30 to order an IBMS Diploma of Expert Practice in Histological 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 £50 administrative fee will be applied to any refund. Membership of the IBMS must be maintained throughout the period that you are undertaking training for the qualification.

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.

Histological Dissection resources

Guidance to Candidates and Trainers: Histological Dissection - Guidance to Candidates and Trainers

Past Papers: You can find past papers, pre-seen questions, and more on the IBMS qualifications resources page.

Portfolio Marking Form: The marking form used by the examiners when marking the portfolio can be found here. (This will be used from 2024 onwards)

Reflection: This plays an in important of the requirements for the DEP portfolio. The following provides guidance on how to write reflective pieces including useful phrases and key words that can be used in such work: How to Guide - On Reflection

Books and Websites: You can find details on recommended books, websites and online resources to support you in completing an IBMS Diploma of Expert Practice in Histological Dissection here

Training Courses: As part of the requirements of the portfolio you need to demonstrate evidence of attendance at training sessions and courses. Examples of organisations offering courses that would be of interest to those undertaking the DEP in Histological Dissection include:

North of England Pathology Screening and Education Centre (NEPSEC) - Details can be found here.

Nottingham Trent University - Details can be found here

Direct Observation of Practical Skills (DOPS): A blank DOPS form that can be used when compiling evidence for the Dissection Qualifications can be found here.

Clinical Audit Template:  A template that can be used for the clinical audit(s) that need to be submitted for the portfolio can be found here.

Progress Report: The following template can be used by candidates in meetings with their supervisor to discuss progress in completion of the portfolio. The template  can be found here

Note: Local variations of the DOPS, Audits and Progress Reports templates above can be used by candidates. 

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 has developed a learning programme to support the implementation of new and revised clinical guidelines. 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

Histological Dissection Training Logbook Reference Copy

The DEP in Histological Dissection Guidance to Candidates and Trainers and the related Training Logbook was updated in August 2023 following discussion and review by the IBMS/RCPath Histological Dissection Conjoint Board. The second document here indicates the differences between the previous versions of the documents and the new versions.

IBMS Diploma of Expert Practice in Histological Dissection Training Logbook (August 2023)

Differences between old version of Training Logbook and Guidance document and August 2023 Version.

Deferrals, withdrawals and mitigating circumstances

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


For further information about the IBMS Diploma of Expert Practice please contact