Specialist Diploma

Advance your career with an IBMS Specialist Diploma

The IBMS Specialist Diploma is a specialised professional qualification for early career biomedical scientists.

It is assessed through a portfolio of experiential learning and presentation, as well as a laboratory tour and oral examination. This will enable you to demonstrate evidence of your training, practical skills, specialist knowledge and competency gained in a chosen discipline against a benchmark standard for a specialist practitioner. 

On achieving an IBMS Specialist Diploma you will be eligible to upgrade to a Member of the IBMS.  

Note: To ensure a timely response to your documentation we would encourage you to submit everything electronically to us via email.

Digital Specialist Diploma

The revised digital specialist portfolios are being launched from 4th March 2024 until the 30th June 2024.

Visit our digital specialist diploma page for more information and to download the application form, specialist portfolio modules and associated documentation.

Expiry Date for Version 4 Specialist Portfolios (including the Specialist Diploma in Blood Sciences)

Please note that, following the introduction of version 5, all version 4 Specialist Portfolios (including the Specialist Diploma in Blood Sciences) will now have an expiration date of 31st July 2027.


Further information

Specialist Diploma who can apply

To apply for an IBMS Specialist Diploma you must:

  • be a Licentiate of the IBMS (IBMS Members and Fellows may also apply)
  • be Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) registered as a biomedical scientist

The laboratory where you plan to undertake the Specialist Diploma must have IBMS 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.

Please note that current, paid membership at Licentiate, Member or Fellow grade must be maintained for the duration of this qualification.

About the Specialist Diploma

The IBMS Specialist Diploma is available in the following disciplines:

  • Blood Transfusion Practice (previously called Transfusion Science)
  • Cellular Pathology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Clinical Immunology
  • Cytopathology (not available for new applications, it has been replaced by the separate Cervical Cytology and Diagnostic Cytopathology portfolios)
  • Cervical Cytology
  • Diagnostic Cytopathology
  • Haematology with Hospital Transfusion Practice
  • Histocompatibility & Immunogenetics 
  • Medical Microbiology
  • Virology

It is also available as a modular, multidiscipline Specialist Diploma in Blood Sciences


Assessment is by IBMS Examiners.

Once you have: 

  • completed your portfolio
  • prepared a presentation covering; your scope of practice and how specialist knowledge has developed, current developments in the laboratory or recent trends and your special interests or professional activities

Your laboratory manager or training officer should complete and submit an Application for examination of Specialist Diploma to our Specialist Team

Please note
The time limit for completing the Specialist Diploma has been removed. However, there will be an expiry limit of 3 years on any outdated version of a portfolio from the date a new version is introduced. There is still a requirement for evidence to be current i.e. within 3 years of the examination. Evidence older than this will be discounted by the examiner.

IBMS Specialist Diploma Guidance Notes (candidates and training officers)

Specialist Diploma examination

When sitting an exam:

  • The IBMS will allocate the available examiner who will arrange  a mutually convenient date with the training officer to carry out the assessment
  • You will be asked to give a presentation describing your scope of practice and showing an understanding of your role in the laboratory, with the examiner asking questions on your presentation
  • The examiner will review your portfolio and ask questions on your evidence
  • You will undertake a laboratory tour and oral assessment with the examiner where you will be asked questions and be expected to provide answers to show your working knowledge at a specialist level  
  • The examiner will then meet with your training officer to review the examination and then will provide feedback to you and your training officer
  • The examiner will submit a Specialist Diploma examination report to the IBMS Specialist Team. Your training officer will also need to complete and send a Laboratory Feedback form
  • The candidate is required to maintain their corporate membership of the IBMS for the duration of the qualification in order for their specialist portfolio to be examined.

If you have been successful and once the IBMS Education Team has received both:

  • the Specialist Diploma examination report and
  • Laboratory Feedback form

you will be issued with an IBMS Specialist Diploma.    

This qualification can be used as evidence for biomedical scientists to demonstrate specialist knowledge and skills required for career progression.


Fees and how to apply for the Specialist Diploma

Please refer to the IBMS Specialist Diploma application form for the fee and methods of payment for the portfolio.  

Please submit to the IBMS Specialist Team your:

You can also post application forms and payment to Specialist Portfolio, IBMS, 12 Coldbath Square, London, EC1R 5HL

Laboratory approval for Specialist Diploma

Your laboratory must have IBMS Post Registration Training Approval to be issued with an IBMS Specialist Diploma portfolio. For more information please visit our training laboratory page.


Who can train the Specialist Diploma candidate?

As long as the trainer is competent to train and assess you, the grade of the trainer should not be an issue.  

The person in the laboratory who has assessed the candidate's competence should provide the signature for the portfolio. 

However, the training officer (or someone senior) must take responsibility for assessing the evidence is appropriate for each section and sign the section underneath the Evidence of Achievement section (assessor’s box).


Completing the Specialist Diploma portfolio

Candidates must complete all sections of the portfolio. However, not all sections require evidence of practical competence (‘be able to, describe...').

Where a particular analysis is not performed in the candidate's laboratory, they must demonstrate knowledge of the principles and practice and an understanding of the key skills required to perform the test.

All of the evidence of achievement sections in the portfolio have questions set by the training officer/trainer. 

All work in the portfolio needs to be signed and dated by the laboratory training officer (or a suitable trainer) and the candidate.


Preparing the Specialist Diploma portfolio for examination

After reviewing the portfolio the training officer must complete the assessor's box and ensure all the evidence has been collected is of a specialist standard.

The candidate must complete the Reflective Log. 

The candidates' evidence should not exceed one lever-arch file.

A signed statement must be provided by the laboratory manager, which indicates the laboratory's repertoire and analyses that a specialist practitioner working in that laboratory would be expected to perform without supervision.

Arranging a Specialist Diploma portfolio examination

The candidate is required to maintain their corporate membership of the IBMS for the duration of the qualification in order for their specialist portfolio to be examined.

To request an examination the laboratory manager or training officer should complete and submit an Application for Examination of Specialist Portfolio to

We will endeavour to allocate an examiner within two months from receiving your examination application form.

The candidate will be allocated an IBMS examiner who will contact the laboratory training officer to arrange a date for the portfolio examination.  


Specialist Diploma Portfolio Examination and award of IBMS Specialist Diploma

On the examination day the candidate will be asked to:

  • give a presentation describing their scope of practice and showing an understanding of their role in the laboratory
  • the examiner will ask questions on the candidate's presentation
  • the examiner will review the candidate's portfolio and
  • the examiner will ask the candidate questions on their evidence
  • The candidate will undertake a laboratory tour and oral assessment with the examiner where the candidate will be asked questions to show their working knowledge is at specialist level

The laboratory training officer will then: 

  • meet with the examiner to review the examination
  • receive feedback from the examiner with the candidate

Following the examination visit: 

Once both the: 

  • Specialist Diploma examination report, and 
  • Specialist Portfolio Examination Laboratory Feedback Form 

have been received the candidate will be issued with an IBMS Specialist Diploma the following week.   



Specialist Diploma reference copies


Frequently asked questions