Training in forensic pathology

To train as a consultant forensic pathologist, you’ll need a medical background. Since the practice of forensic pathology is rooted in the science of human tissue, forensic pathologists train in histopathology before specialising later on.

What are the entry requirements?

To enter training as a consultant forensic pathologist, you’ll need to:

  • qualify as a doctor
  • register with the General Medical Council (GMC)
  • complete the UK Foundation Training Programme or equivalent.

You’ll then need to complete basic histopathology training, which covers surgical pathology, autopsy and cytopathology. Once you’ve passed Stage B of histopathology training, you’ll be eligible to specialise further.

How long will it take?

If you’re training full-time, training to be a forensic pathologist takes around five-and-a-half years. The first two to two-and-a-half years are spent doing histopathology, and the last three are spent studying forensic pathology.

There might be opportunities to extend your training, by undertaking research or out-of-programme training. 

What will my training cover?

There are four stages of training for forensic pathology: A, B, C and D

In stages A and B you’ll be following the standard histopathology curriculum, gaining experience cutting up specimens, writing reports (including on autopsies) and conducting basic screening. You’ll also benefit from short, practical introductions to all the sub-specialties. 

At stage C, the curriculum focuses more on your ability to practice forensic pathology at consultant level. You’ll undertake more complex post-mortem investigations and will need to demonstrate working knowledge of key health and safety regulations, the Coroner’s Rules and the Coroner’s Court and proceedings around death investigation and Fatal Accident Inquiries.

In stage D, you’ll work even more independently. This will include developing your experience providing impartial and medically-supported evidence within the judicial system, showing proficiency in autopsy techniques and recording and retrieving evidence at a death scene.

Find out more about specialty training in forensic pathology.

What exams will I need to take?

To complete your training, you’ll be required to pass the following.

  • Histopathology Stage A examination – this will test your competency and aptitude for further training in the specialty and is normally taken in the first year of Histopathology training.
  • FRCPath Part 1 in Histopathology – this aims to determine whether you have successfully acquired a core body of knowledge that will underpin your ability to practise in Histopathology.
  • FRCPath Part 2 in Forensic Pathology – this exam is designed to test your practical skills and understanding, and show that you can apply your expertise appropriately and safely.

For further information about the format of exams, visit our exams pages.