Transfusion Science

Part 1 Examination

The Part 1 examination will cover the Stage 1 curriculum for the Transfusion Medicine HSST curriculum for Clinical Scientists. The examination is not suitable for medically qualified candidates wishing to practice as a consultant in the UK. Overseas candidates wishing to sit the examination should be aware that the examination is based on UK standards of practice and guidelines, and that experience in a routine hospital transfusion laboratory and/or a general laboratory Masters degree are unlikely to provide sufficient depth of knowledge to pass the examination.  

It is a test of knowledge and clinical skills as indicated in the curriculum and their application to the following subjects:

  • The Immunological basis of Transfusion
  • Basic Haematology
  • Blood Group Systems
  • The Principles of Blood Group Serology
  • Transfusion Laboratory Practice
  • Transfusion Therapy
  • Donor Recruitment, Selection and the Donation Process
  • Preparation, Testing, Labelling and Storage of Blood Components
  • Information Technology and Laboratory Automation
  • Quality Systems and the Management of Clinical Incidents in Transfusion Practice

The examination will comprise of an extended answer paper and short answer questions and will be run on an annual basis. 

Please note that from 2022, the Part 1 will be held in Autumn only, and the Part 2 in Spring only. 

Examination Format

Paper 1 - Extended Answer Paper

3 hours are allotted for the extended answer paper. Candidates are expected to answer 2 compulsory questions and then 2 further questions from a choice of 3. Questions may cover several areas of the syllabus and may cover basic scientific principles, laboratory practice or clinical scenarios. Questions will not necessarily be 'essays'. Candidates may be asked to perform 'real world' tasks such as writing a report or designing an implementation plan.

Paper 2 - Short Answer Questions

Paper 2 consists of 20 compulsory Short Answer Questions (SAQs), to be answered in three hours. SAQs are designed to test factual knowledge and understanding across the range of the Curriculum. Each question will usually cover a specific area of the curriculum and will have several sub-questions, requesting a brief answer (list or 1-2 sentences of text). Extended matching questions, 'fill in the blanks' questions, and tasks such as completing a table or drawing a diagram may also be asked.

Part 2 Examination

The Part 2 FRCPath Examination in Transfusion Science is the final summative assessment of clinical, scientific and laboratory skills, and may be taken once a candidate has successfully completed the Part 1 examination and acquired additional significant experience of practice as a clinical scientist.  The examination is not appropriate for medically qualified candidates wishing to practice as a consultant in the UK.

The content of the examination follows Stage 2 of the FRCPath curriculum in Transfusion Science for Higher Specialist Scientific Training.  However, the knowledge and skills covered in Stage 1 is assumed and may be examined.

The standard required to pass this examination is that which would be expected of a Consultant Clinical Scientist in Transfusion Science, capable of safe independent practice.

All written papers in the Part 2 Examination are marked by members of the Transfusion Clinical Science Examiners Panel. The final marks awarded by the examiners must be approved by the College Examinations Committee before a final pass/fail decision is made.

Feedback on areas where a candidate failed to demonstrate an adequate standard is sent to candidates who fail the examination. 

The Part 2 consists of a written project and a practical/oral examination. 

Written Project

Submission of either a dissertation, a PhD or Professional Doctorate thesis, or a portfolio of papers subject to the College regulations for Part 2 written submissions.

The written submission must be related to transfusion science and should be up to date. A wide range of topics are acceptable including clinical or laboratory based projects but the submission must be scientific in nature and involve original work.  The topic studied and the standard of the submission should be appropriate for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Candidates will not be permitted to sit the oral and practical examination until the proposal for the written option has been submitted and approved by the examiners. The final project may be submitted either before or after taking the practical and oral examination.

Practical and Oral Examination Format

The practical and oral examination has 2 components:

Interpretation Paper

The interpretation paper consists of 10 questions to be answered in 3 hours.

The paper contains a mixture of case histories, laboratory results and practical laboratory scenarios. Questions may involve interpreting data, devising and communicating a patient management plan or responding to quality or regulatory issues.

Candidates may be asked to perform practical tasks such as writing reports, corresponding with clinicians and completing quality documentation. 

Oral examination

Each candidate has an oral examination with a pair of examiners. Four topic areas to be examined in 60 minutes.

Questions are structured to evaluate both basic knowledge of the topic examined and the candidate’s ability to apply his/her knowledge of the topic in making a judgement in a clinical scientific problem.

The Oral Examination is used to explore a candidate’s ability to evaluate problems and demonstrate good clinical scientific judgement. It is also an assessment of a candidate’s ability to communicate clearly and effectively. It provides a further assessment of a candidate’s knowledge in areas of the specialty to complement their score in that area in the written examination.

Candidates are marked using a predetermined set of marking descriptors. 

An egregious error in the oral examination will result in a candidate’s performance in the entire examination being reviewed as a borderline candidate. If this error is deemed sufficiently serious by the Examination Board it may cause the candidate to fail the examination overall.