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 a 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 Tract 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

DEP in Non-Gynaecological Cytology - 2023 Exam Series

Friday 17 March 2023: Portfolio Submission Deadline (Portfolios can be submitted from Wednesday 1 March)

Tuesday 2 May 2023: Written examination (sat in your local hospital)

Wednesday 21 to Friday 23 June 2023:  Microscopy Examination (The date will be dependent on number of candidates across the DEP and ASD Cytology qualifications). These will take place at NEPSEC in Wakefield. You will only be invited to the microscopy exams if you pass the written exam paper.

Portfolio Submission Information: Candidates intending to submit their portfolio in 2023 should note that the Institute will not be accepting hard copies versions of portfolio. It could be submitted either via email(s) or by providing a link to a shared folder such as, but not limited to, One Drive, We Transfer or Google Docs. The shared folder should not require the Head of Examinations to set up an account to access the information but could require a password which should be sent with the link to the shared folder. The portfolio can also be submitted by placing it on a USB stick and sending that to the IBMS marked for my attention as the Head of Examinations.

If the portfolio is being submitted via email(s) or a link to a shared folder the email address to use is

Training Events

The North of England Pathology Screening and Education Centre (NEPSEC) are running events to support those undertaking this qualification. It is not mandatory to attend these events but they will be useful for those undertaking this qualification. Details on these training events will be published on the NEPSEC website which can be found here.


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 or 
  • purchase order from your hospital Trust

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 £50 administrative fee will be applied to any refund.

Training Grant Available (New Process from August 2022)

We are pleased to inform a training grant is available to employers of candidates who work in England who are undertaking the DEP in Non-Gynaecological Cytology, ASD in Cervical Cytology or ASD in Non-Gynaecological exam. From August 2022 the process has changed to a prospective one where employers can claim £1,000 per candidate once their colleagues commences the qualification. More information on the grant that is available and how and when it can be claimed can be found here.

Non-gynaecological Cytology resources

DEP Non-gynaecological Cytology Portfolio assessment indicators 

Guidance on Recognising and Avoiding Plagiarism

Please see the key dates section above for information on training events in support of this qualificatio

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

North of England Pathology Screening and Education Centre (NEPSEC) Training Events

The NEPSEC were schedule to be running two training events in February 2023 to help those undertaking this qualification. The first event was due to be held on 7 February 2023 via Teams covering the written paper. More details about this event can be found here, The second event was due to be held on 10 February 2023 at the NEPSEC in Wakefield covering the microscopy exam. More details about this event can be held here. These events are not mandatory. Unfortunately these events have been postponed to due to the illness of the examiners. As and when alternative dates are arranged they will be posted on this page.

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.