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Qualifications » Advanced specialist diplomas

Advanced specialist diplomas

Advanced Specialist Diplomas consolidate the highest levels of knowledge and expertise and demonstrate evidence of expertise within a discipline, build upon the IBMS Higher Specialist Diploma (HSD) and link to professional doctorates.

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Advanced specialist diplomas consist of two parts:

  • Part one consists of the construction, submission and assessment of a portfolio.  This must be successfully passed before entry into part two.
  • Part two consists of a multi component assessment that is detailed in the discipline specific guidance to candidates.

Diplomas are available in cervical cytology, ophthalmic pathology and specimen dissection. Their aim is to enable successful candidates to demonstrate that they have the necessary professional knowledge, skills and competences which contribute to the provision of services and the care of patients at the highest level. Advanced Specialist Diplomas are available only to Institute members currently in the class of Fellow (FIBMS).

As a minimum eligible candidate will have:

  • current Institute membership in the class of Fellow
  • HCPC registration
  • an Institute’s Higher Specialist Diploma or equivalent (e.g. Diploma of Higher Specialist Practice)

The full discipline specific eligibility criteria are listed in the relevant guidance to candidates.

General information


Application form

Training Logbook Order Form (For the ASD in Specimen Dissection Only)

2015 Timetable for IBMS Qualifications

Examination fees

Generic guidance to candidates: Minimum requirements for portfolio compilation

Record of CPD activities and reflective practice

IBMS Rules for Conducting Examinations

Guidance on plagiarism


The Advanced Specialist Diplomas are currently available in:

Cervical cytology

September 2014 - The guidance to candidates and trainers below has been updated to reflect the changes in the requirements of the portfolio element of this qualification. These changes have arisen as a result of the removal of the requirement for candidates to have undertaken the NHS Cervical Screening Programme (NHS CSP) in Advanced Practice which previously formed part of the eligibility criteria for this qualification.

Guidance to candidates and trainers
Portfolio assessment indicators

My experience: A candidate’s view of undertaking the qualification and how it helped develop their career
Case studies: 1, 2, 3, 4
Written exam: Sample question & answer
AL(PTB) 2/2000: Professional and technical staffs B (PTB) Whitley Council: Advanced biomedical scientist practitioner in cervical cytology
Guidance for members not practicing in the UK

BAC Website
Exam Practice for the Advanced Practice Diploma

An advanced specialist diploma is not a guarantee of progression to an appropriate post, as this remains a local employment matter, although to report abnormal cervical cytology results individuals must hold the Institute Advanced Specialist Diploma in Cervical Cytology, as required by UK cervical screening programmes and the UK Departments of Health.

Non-Gynaecological Cytology

May 2015 Update: Following a meeting of the Cytology Conjoint Board the majority of the guidance to candidates and trainers for this qualification has now been agreed and can be found below.  The document is described as a draft because the arrangements for the examination are subject to change. The examination will be running for the first time in June 2015 after which this guidance will be updated.

ASD in Non-Gynaecological Cytology - Guidance to candidates and trainers

Ophthalmic pathology

Guidance for candidates and trainers
Training logbook (Reference Copy)

Portfolio assessment indicators

Specimen Dissection

The ASD in Specimen Dissection follows on from the Diploma of Expert Practice (DEP) in Histological Dissection. Candidates who wish to undertake one of these qualifications must first successfully complete the DEP in Histological Dissection which must have included evidence for the module that they wish to do the ASD in.

Breast Pathology Training Logbook (Reference Copy)
Lower GI Pathology Training Logbook (Reference Copy)

Breast Pathology - Guidance to Candidates and Trainers

Lower GI Pathology - Guidance to Candidates and Trainers

Advanced Specialist Diploma in Histological Dissection Portfolio Assessment Indicators

Deferrals and withdrawals

Candidates who wish to defer entry to an examination must contact the Institute a minimum of six weeks prior to the date of the examination will be entitled to a full transfer of their fees. Any deferrals made after this deadline will only be entitled to a 50% fee transfer unless proven mitigating circumstances exist. A maximum of two deferrals is permitted. Candidates wishing to withdraw from an examination at any time will not be entitled to any reimbursement of the examination fee unless proven mitigating circumstances exist. Candidates who are required to submit a portfolio for reassessment following a referral would be required to pay a reassessment fee.

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