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 and two years current practical experience in the dissection of histological specimens. 

you must also:

  • have a single named consultant pathologist trainer 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 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 a written examination. 

January 2019 Update: The Guidance to Candidates and Trainers document has been updated to amend the number of years post-registration experience required from five to three years, to remove the diagram that shows how the DEP fits into the structure of other Institute qualifications (as that diagram needs to be updated) and to update the indicative reading, resources and useful websites listed for the qualification.

Histological Dissection guidance to candidates and trainers 

DEP Histological Dissection Portfolio Assessment Indicators


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 29 standards in order to pass your portfolio assessment and progress to the written examination.

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

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.

This evidence will be assessed when the Conjoint Board meets in February, June and October.

A fee applies for submitting additional competencies. 

To submit any additional competencies for assessment please send payment of £50 to the IBMS Examinations Team

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


Histological Dissection key dates

2021 Exam Series - Key Dates

Qualification Application Deadline: Friday 2 July

Portfolio Submission Deadline: Friday 30 July (See Below)

Exams: Monday 22 November

Results Released: Friday 4 February 2022

Portfolio Submission (Updated 5 February 2021)

Following a decision taking by the IBMS Education and Professional Standards Committee candidates must submit their portfolio electronically in 2021. 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.

Hard copy versions of the portfolio will not be accepted in 2021.

Fees and how to apply for the Histological Dissection course

It costs £27 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

  • payment of £375 (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 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.

Histological Dissection resources

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

DEP Histological Dissection Portfolio assessment indicators 

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

You can find discipline specific reading lists to support you in completing an IBMS Diploma of Expert Practice on our Science Reading page. You can find articles and online resources to support you in completing an IBMS Diploma of Expert Practice in our Resources section

Specimen dissection training courses run by the North of England Pathology Screening and Education Centre (NEPSEC). 

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.


Histological Dissection Training Logbook Reference Copy

The DEP in Histological Dissection Logbook was updated in March 2017 following discussion and review by the IBMS/RCPath Histological Dissection Conjoint Board. The second document indicates the differences between the previous (June 2012) and the new version of the logbook. It also explains how those who were issued with a logbook prior to March 2017 should evidence the new requirements.

IBMS Diploma of Expert Practice in Histological Dissection Training Logbook 

Differences between June 2012 and March 2017 version of training logbook 

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