What does the HSST programme involve?

The Higher Specialist Scientist Training Programme (HSST) is a five-year workplace-based training programme supported by an underpinning doctoral-level academic programme and, where appropriate, Royal College qualifications. Further information about the Royal College qualifications exam regulations, guidelines and policies is available via the Royal College of Pathologists website. The Royal College can be emailed via info@rcpath.org

Applying to the HSST programme

Applicants to the HSST programme need to be registered as a clinical scientist with the Health and Care Professions Council.  Recruitment to the HSST programme is conducted by the National School of Healthcare Science.  Details of the application process and frequently asked questions are available via the National School of Healthcare Science website.

The NSHCS YouTube channel has a playlist of several HSST trainees sharing their experiences of the programme:

Work Based Training Component

The work based training component  of HSST is overseen by the National School of Healthcare Science. The  National School of Healthcare Science HSST handbook gives a background to the HSST programme and the doctoral award.  For enquiries about the work based training component of HSST please contact the National School.

Academic Component

The academic component of HSST is known as the Doctor of Clinical Science (DClinSci).   If you have any enquiries about the DClinSci, please email admin@mahse.co.uk. A list of university contacts for each section of the programme can be found here. Typically, trainees attend 1-2 days of face-to-face teaching per 10 credit taught academic module for Sections A and B, this is usually full days (09:00 – 17:00) of face-to-face teaching at the universities.

Clinical Scientists within HSST are grouped under four main themes.  Details of the specialisms within each theme and the respective Higher Education Provider are given below:

Life Sciences

There are currently twelve different subject specialisms offered for HSST within the Life Sciences theme. Details of the specialisms and the University which accredits the different specialism for are listed below.

Specialism Higher Education Provider
Haematology Manchester Metropolitan University
Transfusion Science Manchester Metropolitan University
Molecular Pathology of Acquired Disease Manchester Metropolitan University
Reproductive Science Manchester Metropolitan University
Analytical Toxicology University of Manchester
Clinical Biochemistry University of Manchester
Clinical Immunology University of Manchester
Genetics University of Manchester
Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics University of Manchester
Microbiology TBC
Molecular Pathology of Infection University of Manchester
Virology University of Manchester

Physiological Sciences

There are currently seven different subject specalisms offered for HSST within the Physiological Sciences theme. Details of the specialisms and the University which accredits the different specialism are listed below.

Specialism Higher Education Provider
Ophthalmic and Vision Sciences Aston University
Cardiac Science Manchester Metropolitan University
Neurophysiology Manchester Metropolitan University
Respiratory and Sleep Physiology Manchester Metropolitan University
Vascular Science Manchester Metropolitan University
Audiological Science University of Manchester
Gastrointestinal and Urological Sciences University of Manchester

Physical Sciences

There are currently two different subject specalisms offered for HSST within the Physical Sciences theme. Details of the specialisms and the University which accredits the different specialism are listed below.

Specialism Higher Education Provider
Clinical Biomedical Engineering University of Manchester
Medical Physics University of Manchester

Clinical Bioinformatics

There are currently three different subject specialisms offered for HSST within the Clinical Bioinformatics theme. Details of the specialisms are listed below.

Specialism Higher Education Provider
Genomics University of Manchester
Physical Sciences University of Manchester
Health Informatics University of Manchester

Programme Overview

A programme overview for each theme is available below which includes a five year programme structure and a list of all the academic modules:

DClinSci Life Sciences Programme Overview.  Life Scientists should also refer to details of how the FRCPath and DClinSci programmes integrate.
DClinSci Physiological Sciences (UoM) Programme Overview
DClinSci Physiological Sciences (ManMet) Programme Overview
DClinSci Physical Sciences Programme Overview
DClinSci Informatics Programme Overview

The academic component is divided into three sections:

Section A: Leadership and Professional Development

All Clinical Scientists in HSST complete Leadership and Professional Development units delivered and assessed by Alliance Manchester Business School at The University of Manchester. Section A is included in all HSST specialisms. Clinical Scientists in HSST will be registered at The University of Manchester for Section A. For students who will receive their DClinSci award from  Manchester Metropolitan University or Aston University, the credits and record for Section A will be transferred to your host University on completion.

Module Code Module Title and Brief Description Credit Rating
A1 Professionalism and Professional Development in the Healthcare Environment: This module will familiarise you with the academic body of knowledge about professionalism and allow you to identify and practise using your own model of professionalism within the context of leadership in the healthcare setting. 30 credits
A2 Theoretical Foundations of Leadership: This unit will familiarise you with the academic body of knowledge about leadership – in particular theory and evidence and its application to practice. Both generic leadership and more specific forms most relevant to, and promoted by, the NHS will be covered. 20 credits
A3 Personal & Professional Development to Enhance Performance in Practice: This module will lead you to apply what you are learning about leadership and professionalism to your workplace and your own personal development. 20 credits
A4 Leadership and Quality Improvement in the Clinical and Scientific Environment: This module will encourage you to see your work environment as a nested series of systems, and look at them through the series of lenses provided by theories of operation management, design and organisational change, to understand drivers and barriers and opportunities and mechanisms for improvement and innovation. 30 credits
A5 Research and Innovation in Health and Social Care: This module will broaden your appreciation of research and innovation processes in the healthcare system, and will introduce you to social science research paradigms and methods which help us to understand complex social systems and organisations. It will deepen your knowledge of the the healthcare research and innovation environment in the UK and internationally, and the use of research to support decision making in healthcare systems and organisations. 20 credits

For further information on Section A, current HSST trainees should refer to the PGDip Leadership and Management in the Healthcare Sciences Programme Handbook under the Helpdesk section of the Blackboard site.

Section B: Specialist Scientist Clinical Programme

During Section B Clinical Scientists complete study which is appropriate to their specialist area.

  • Clinical Scientists in the Life Science theme undertake Royal College of Pathologists Fellowship Examination (FRCPath) set by The Royal College of Pathologists.
  • Clincal Scientists from the Physiological Science, Physical Sciences and Clinical Bioinformatics (Genomics)themes study specialist scientific modules as outlined in the individual programme structures.
  • For Clinical Scientists on the Physiological Science and Physical Science theme, Section B contains some shared modules (outlined below) which are delivered by one or more of the Universities involved in the MAHSE Partnership (University of Manchester,  Manchester Metropolitan University,  University of Liverpool and Aston University.
Module Code Module Title Credit Rating Shared
B1 Advanced History Taking, Clinical and Communication Skills 15 credits  Physiological Sciences
B3 Therapeutics 20 credits Physiological Sciences
B5 Contemporary issues in Healthcare Science (including Bioinformatics, Genomics and Personalised Medicine and Patient and Public Involvement) 20 credits Physical Sciences & Physiological Sciences
B7 Teaching Learning & Assessment 20 credits Clinical Bioinformatics, Physical Sciences & Physiological Sciences

For further information on Section B, current HSST trainees should refer to your university programme handbooks.

Section C: Research, Development and Innovation

HSST Clinical Scientists undertake a research project.  The research project is carried out at the Clinical Scientist’s base hospital with academic supervision by an appropriate expert in the field.  The aim of the project is to improve health and health outcomes and may include scientific, clinical, service transformation, innovation, leadership, policy, education or educational research.

Section C Research Training Workshops

MAHSE organises annual research training workshops during each of the five years of the DClinSci programme, information and resources from previous Section C workshops are available below:

Further information about Section C is included in the HSST Section C Information Pack which gives a general overview as well as milestones and key contacts and via a set of frequently asked questions.

HSST Organisational Strategy Team

The HSST Organisational Strategy Team (HOST) is a committee which meets to oversee the delivery of DClinSci doctoral programmes at MAHSE partner universities. Trainee representatives are asked to collate feedback from their peers to be discussed at HOST. If you are unsure of who your trainee representative is or for further information regarding the committee please email admin@mahse.co.uk