Toxicology

The aim of the training programme in toxicology is to define the knowledge and skills required to achieve success in the College Membership examination. Attainment of this goal will provide evidence that the candidate is competent to provide expert opinions in the chosen subspecialty of toxicology and has developed the appropriate level of professional knowledge that would be required of a consultant toxicologist leading a group or department. College membership is a mark of professional as opposed to academic distinction. 

Many candidates will have experience in pharmaceutical, agrochemical or other types of product development, in academic or contract research environments, or in the National Health Service. Other areas that provide a suitable breadth of expertise include those working in analytical or forensic toxicology, the safety assessment of pesticides, agrochemicals, household or personal-care products, or in the more recently emerging areas of biotechnology and genomics.

Candidates must achieve general awareness of all areas of toxicology with an understanding of the underlying scientific principles. This can be achieved through supervised and documented training and personal study, supplemented by attendance at tutorials, seminars and formal academic and professional meetings, and at practical training courses. Training visits to different laboratories may be desirable achieve the necessary breadth of knowledge, particularly for certain techniques. For at least the first year or so of supervised training, candidates should aim to acquire background knowledge in as many areas of the core programme as practicable. Thereafter there should be opportunity to obtain detailed theoretical and practical expertise in the chosen subspecialty.

Candidates will be expected to show a critical attitude to experimental work, and will be encouraged to participate in, and give presentations at, appropriate scientific meetings. Whilst support for training must be forthcoming from senior staff, those who hope for a successful career in any branch of toxicology must exercise their own initiative in obtaining and making full use of training and development material.

Part 1 Examination

The Part 1 examination is offered in the 4 different subspecialty areas of:

1.   Analytical and Forensic Toxicology

2.    Toxicological Pathology

3.    Safety Evaluation Toxicology

4.    Biochemical and Molecular Toxicology

Trainees are expected to be familiar with recent advances in the laboratory, regulatory and clinical (human and veterinary) aspects of their subject, as published in the scientific literature, and to maintain an appropriate knowledge of related disciplines. Based on the experience of trainees from academia and industry and in the absence of specific full-time training posts in toxicology, candidates are advised that, although no minimum period of study is specified in the college regulations, they are unlikely to satisfy the training requirements for the Toxicology Part 1 examination with less than 3 years postgraduate study.

The Part 1 examination consists of two 3-hour papers, a general first paper and a second paper devoted to the chosen subspecialty.

Paper 1: three-hour paper consisting of twenty compulsory short answer questions (each worth twenty marks) covering general toxicology knowledge.

  1. The questions will be marked against a previously set model answer.
  2. Marks will only be awarded for the information required by the question and no additional marks will be available for additional information.
  3. Answers requiring more than a single word or phrase response will be answerable in a single sentence or a small number of sentences. Candidates should practice writing short, concise answers, which include only the information requested. 
  4. Good use of English and avoidance of abbreviations is important. 

Paper 2: three-hour paper consisting of four extended essay-type answers from a choice of six questions based on chosen subspecialty.  

Part 2 Examination

The Part 2 examination will usually be taken a minimum of two years after achieving success in the Part 1.  Application to sit the Part 2 examination should follow agreement between the candidate and their sponsor that the candidate has progressed to the appropriate standard.

The Part 2 examination is a modular examination with three independent examinations that can be taken in any order. Candidates who passed the practical at Part 1 under the old format will not be expected to resit this at Part 2. 

Written: A written project in one of the following format. It is recommended but not required that candidates have project approval before taking the practical and oral exams. 

  1. A thesis resulting from study for a higher degree such as MSc, MPhil, MD or PhD.
  2. A dissertation on a subject to be agreed beforehand with the College examiners. 
  3. A detailed case book. 
  4. A series of peer-reviewed published papers on an experimental theme with a critical commentary.

Prior to embarking on the chosen option, the candidate should seek the College’s approval of their choice by submitting a project proposal. More information can be found in the Written Options Guidelines

Practical: sub-specialty specific, laboratory-based examination that involves interpretation of data (and necropsy/histopathological slide review for toxicological pathology candidates)

Oral: structured questions and presentation