Higher Specialist Diploma
Progress your career and upgrade your IBMS membership grade
The IBMS Higher Specialist Diploma (HSD) will enable you to demonstrate high levels of knowledge, skill and competence within your chosen discipline.
Assessed through a portfolio of experiential learning and four written examinations, it is a professional vocational qualification.
Achieving an IBMS Higher Specialist Diploma (HSD) will make you eligible to upgrade to become an IBMS Fellow.
The HSD is available in the following disciplines:
- Cellular pathology
- Clinical chemistry
- Leadership & management
- Medical microbiology
- Transfusion science
£360 for the course fees which includes a space at our annual HSD candidate preparation day.
You can apply for the qualification before you begin your training or while you undertake your training and complete your portfolio of evidence.
You must also have developed skills and theoretical knowledge to a very high standard, be performing an in-depth highly complex role and continuously developing clinical, scientific or technical practice within a defined field.
You may also have management responsibilities for a section/small department or be largely involved in research and development.
Payment can be made via:
- Cheque/Postal Order - which must be attached to your application
- Card payment - by phone on +44 (0)207 713 0214
- Purchase order - you must include the purchase order number, order details and an address to send the invoice.
Please note that a £50 administrative fee will be applied to any refund if you withdraw from the qualification at any time.
Deferrals, withdrawals and mitigating circumstances
If you wish to defer, withdraw or highlight any mitigating circumstances, please contact [email protected].
The IBMS Higher Specialist Diploma portfolio provides a focus for your training. The portfolio's evidence requirements enable you to structure your preparation and demonstrate your experiential learning for the exam.
You must first achieve a pass for the portfolio before you can progress to a written examination.
Your portfolio must include:
- personal professional profile of 500 words (±10%)
- two essays each of 3000 words (±10%)
- one clinical case study and a managerial report Each must be 1,500 words (±10%)
- evidence of an oral presentation - slides presented and all accompanying notes. There must also be evidence of feedback from your line manager and another senior colleague, along with your reflection on the presentation given.
- a reflective learning statement of 2,000 words (±10%). It should be informed by any CPD activities undertaken, preparation/research for completing your essays and any other relevant work. Case studies and oral presentation can be referenced but should not form a significant part of this refection as they will have already been included in your portfolio.
For further information about the requirements for the portfolio, please refer to the HSD fact sheet.
Information for submitting the portfolio to the IBMS via email can be found on the HSD portfolio submission.
For information on portfolio marking, please refer to the HSD indicators form used by examiners.
The IBMS Higher Specialist Diploma written examination consists of four papers:
- Discipline Specific Short-Answer Question Paper
You must answer all four short answer questions in one hour.
- Generic Paper
This is the paper which is common to all HSD candidates, no matter their discipline.
You will be expected to answer three questions in two hours. One of the questions is mandatory and pre-seen. This will be available on the IBMS website three weeks before the first examination date.
- Discipline Specific Essay Paper
You must answer two out of five discipline-specific questions in two hours.
- Discipline Specific Case Study Paper
You will be expected to answer questions about three discipline-specific case studies, one pre-seen and two unseen, in two hours. The pre-seen case study questions will be available on the IBMS website three weeks before the first examination.
Find past papers, pre-seen questions and more in the IBMS Knowledge Hub.
29 April 2022
Qualification Application Deadline
20 May 2022
Portfolio Submission Deadline
5 - 6 September 2022
Candidate preparation days
HSD candidate preparation days include:
- what makes a good portfolio
- the examination structure
- a presentation from a successful HSD candidate and
- workshops on the generic and discipline-specific examinations with IBMS examiners.
Submitting your portfolio
You must submit your portfolio electronically, hard copies will not be accepted. Please scan your portfolio and training logbook and send via email to [email protected] to download the files.
Due to the large file size of the portfolio we recommend that you send your documents using a file sharing system such as Microsoft OneDrive, Google Docs or WeTransfer, then send the link to [email protected].