Non-gynaecological Cytology

Demonstrate expert professional skills and advanced knowledge in non-gynaecological cytology

IBMS Diploma of Expert Practice in Non-gynaecological Cytology provides evidence of the scientific and clinical knowledge that underpins the practice of non-gynaecological cytology and the practical competence required to prepare and report a defined range of non-gynaecological cytology specimens. 

Candidates who achieve an IBMS Diploma of Expert Practice in Non-gynaecological Cytology will be able to:

  • undertake a role that involves the preparation, evaluation and reporting of the previously defined range of non-gynaecological cytology specimens
  • offer expert professional advice on the sampling and interpretation of the previously defined range of non-gynaecological cytology specimens
  • participate in the training of biomedical scientists and specialist trainee medical staff in the sampling, preparation, evaluation and reporting of the previously defined range of non-gynaecological specimens


Further information

Who can apply for Non-gynaecological Cytology

To apply you must be a Member or Fellow of the IBMS, HCPC registered with five years post-registration experience in cytology, with at least two years current practical experience in the preparation and evaluation of non-gynaecological cytology 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 is CPA (Clinical Pathology Accreditation (UK) Ltd) or 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.

Non-gynaecological Cytology qualification structure

The IBMS Diploma of Expert Practice in Non-gynaecological Cytology is a professional vocational qualification assessed by completion of portfolio of evidence and a written and practical 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. 

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. 

Non-gynaecological Cytology guidance to candidates and trainers 

December 2016
This document was updated to provide greater clarity on the audit requirements of the portfolio and the submission of the portfolio. Information on the structure of the microscopy examination has also been amended to reflect that this may vary depending on the number of candidates entering the exam.

DEP Non-gynaecological Cytology Portfolio Assessment Indicators

Non-gynaecological Cytology assessment

The examination of an IBMS Diploma of Expert Practice in Non-gynaecological Cytology involves three assessments:

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

You must meet 28 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

This paper lasts 75 minutes with candidates being expected to answer five questions from a choice of six. 

Practical assessment 

Urinary Tracy and Effusion Cytology Practical Microscopy

You will be expected to examine 14 cases (6 urines and 8 serous effusions) consisting of slides with summary clinical information, preparing full reports and discussion on all 14 cases in 112 minutes. 

Respiratory Cytology Practical Microscopy 

You will be expected to examine 8 cases consisting of slides with summary clinical information, preparing reports and discussion on all 8 cases in 64 minutes. 

Full details of the qualification, learning outcomes and assessment are available in our Non-gynaecological Cytology Guidance to Candidates and Trainers


Non-gynaecological Cytology key dates

Updated 21/12/2020

Examination Dates for Candidates Who Had Intended to Sit in 2020

Following a detailed discussion by the Conjoint Board which considered the restrictions that are likely to remain in place for some time due to the COVID outbreak it was agreed that the exams will be rescheduled and will take place as follows:

Written Examination: Monday 22 March - This will exam be sat at your own local hospital under exam conditions. If you pass this element of the exam you will be invited to the microscopy exams.

Microscopy Examinations: These will take place on 30 June / 1st and 2nd July at the North of England Pathology and Screening Education Centre (NEPSEC), Wakefield. You will only be required to attend on one of these dates. The date for your exam will depend on the number of candidates who pass the written and the social distancing arrangements that need to be in place at the time.

Candidates Wishing to Submit in 2021

Portfolio Submission Deadline: 25 June

Written Examination: 20 September

Microscopy Examination: 3, 4 or 5 November

Portfolio submission 2021 Candidates  should submit an electronic version of the portfolio of experiential learning to the Head of Examinations at the Institute offices via email to: It is recognised that this may not always be possible and therefore a hard copy version of the portfolio will also be acceptable. Candidates submitting a hard copy of their portfolio should send this to the Head of Examinations, IBMS, 12 Coldbath Square, London, EC1R 5HL.

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:

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. 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

Non-gynaecological Cytology resources

DEP Non-gynaecological Cytology Portfolio assessment indicators 

Guidance on Recognising and Avoiding Plagiarism

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

British Association for Cytopathology website

Non-gynaecological cytology training courses run by the North of England Pathology Screening and Education Centre (NEPSEC).  

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.