Specialist diplomas

For early career biomedical scientists, the IBMS Specialist Diploma is a specialised professional qualification that can help advance your career

The qualification is assessed through a portfolio of experiential learning and presentation, a laboratory tour and oral examination and will enable you to demonstrate evidence of your training, practical skills, specialist knowledge and competency gained in a chosen discipline.

Holding an IBMS Specialist Diploma is part of the criteria for upgrading your class of IBMS membership from Licentiate to Member.

The diploma is available in the following disciplines:

  • Cellular Pathology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Clinical Immunology
  • Cytopathology
  • Cervical Cytology
  • Diagnostic Cytopathology
  • Haematology with Hospital Transfusion Practice
  • Histocompatibility & Immunogenetics 
  • Medical Microbiology
  • Transfusion Science
  • Virology
  • As a modular, multidiscipline Diploma of Biomedical Science in Blood Sciences
Taking the diploma

To apply for an IBMS Specialist Diploma you must be an IBMS member at Licentiate, Member or Fellow grade and be HCPC registered as a biomedical scientist. 

The laboratory where you plan to undertake the qualification must have IBMS post-registration training approval. Please check with your laboratory manager or training officer if you are unsure about your laboratory's IBMS approval status.

Your IBMS membership must be maintained for the duration of this qualification.


Assessment is by an IBMS Examiner and will take place once you have completed your portfolio and prepared a presentation. The presentation will cover: 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.

Next, your laboratory manager or training officer should complete and submit an examination request form to [email protected]

Please note

The time limit for completing this qualification 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 However, there will be an expiry limit of 3 years on any outdated version of a portfolio from the date a new version is introduced.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 verification. Evidence older than this will be discounted by the verifier.

Laboratory approval

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

Applying for the diploma

To apply, please submit your completed specialist diploma application form and payment or purchase order to [email protected]

Postal application forms and payment can also be posted to:

Specialist Portfolio
12 Coldbath Square

Fees and method of payment

Please refer to the IBMS Specialist Diploma application form.  

Completing the diploma

You 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 your laboratory, you must demonstrate knowledge of the principles and practice and an understanding of the key skills required to perform the test.

All evidence of achievement sections in the portfolio have questions set by the training officer/trainer and all work in the portfolio needs to be signed and dated by you and your laboratory training officer (or a suitable trainer).

Who can train you

Your trainer must be competent to train and assess you. Following your competence assessment, your trainer should sign your portfolio. 

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

Preparing you for the exam

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

You must complete the reflective log and your evidence should not exceed one lever-arch file.

A signed statement must be provided by your 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.


Taking the exam
Arranging an examination

To be able to sit the specialist portfolio exam, you must maintain your IBMS membership or the duration of the qualification.

To request an exam, the laboratory manager or training officer should complete and submit a specialist diploma exam request form to [email protected]. Once received, the IBMS will aim to allocate an examiner within two months.

You will be allocated an IBMS examiner, who will contact your laboratory training officer to arrange a date for the diploma examination.  

At the exam

You will be asked to give a presentation describing your scope of practice and to show you have an understanding of your role in the laboratory, with the examiner asking questions on your presentation.

The examiner will also review your portfolio and ask questions on your evidence.

You will then 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. 

To review the examination and provide feedback, the examiner will then meet with your training officer.

The examiner will submit their examination report and your training officer will also need to complete and send their Laboratory Feedback form to the IBMS Specialist Team. 

Once the IBMS has received both the examination report and the laboratory feedback, and you have been successful, you will be issued with your IBMS Specialist Diploma.

This qualification can then be used as evidence for you to demonstrate your specialist knowledge and skills required for career progression. If you are an IBMS Licentiate you will be eligible to upgrade to an IBMS Member.