Neuropathology is the study of disease of nervous system tissue, usually in the form of either small surgical biopsies or whole-body autopsies.


Neuropathologists usually work in a department of anatomic pathology, but work closely with the clinical disciplines of neurology, and neurosurgery, which often depend on neuropathology for a diagnosis. Neuropathology also relates to forensic pathology because brain disease or brain injury can be related to cause of death.

Neuropathology should not be confused with neuropathy, which refers to disorders of the nerves themselves (usually in the peripheral nervous system). Neuropathology plays a key role in characterising the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases including forms of neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation. The HST Neuropathology curriculum was developed in 2015 with the neuropathologists in Ireland: Dr Francesca Brett, Dr Niamh Bermingham and Dr Jane Cryan. Trainees in Higher Specialist Training can approach a career as a neuropathologist in one of two ways:

- Part I and Part II FRCPath in Histopathology, followed by an additional period of specialist training in Neuropathology (so that the total minimum training in Neuropathology is two years)
- Part I FRCPath with Part II slanted towards Neuropathology

In circumstances where a trainee has, following a successful aptitude assessment, spent two years in histopathology at BST level, the second of these two years may be assessed for equivalence to a Year 1 programme of Higher Specialist Training. This evaluation will be made at annual assessments.

Higher Specialist Training (HST)


Entry requirements for Higher Specialist Training are programme-specific. To see the entry requirements for your preferred programme, please check the relevant HST curriculum.

General entry requirements for HST:

  • You must have completed Basic Specialist Training in the relevant
    specialty (or an equivalent programme) by the start date for HST. Please note that not all BST programmes offer consideration of equivalence.
  • You must have achieved a relevant postgraduate qualification such as MRCPI in General Medicine, General Paediatrics or Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Please note: we have reverted to the previous regulations regarding the examination which were in place before COVID-19. That is, all HST candidates must have successfully passed their MRCPI Clinical Examination relevant to their speciality before their HST interview date. There are no exceptions to this requirement.
  • You must be currently or previously registered on one of the divisions of the Irish Medical Council, or provide proof of eligibility for registration
  • You must have proof of competency in the English language in line with HSE specifications
  • You must have demonstrated an aptitude for, and an interest in, that specialty.
  • Places in HST are allocated in the first instance to applicants who, at the time of application, are citizens of Ireland or nationals of another Member State of the European Union, Stamp 4 Visa Holders and UK nationals.


  • You can apply to Higher Specialist Training in 28 programmes. You can apply to more than one programme, although we advise against applying to more than two programmes.
  • You must submit a separate application for each programme. The application process is fully online – you don’t need to submit a paper application.
  • Make sure you read the entry requirements for your chosen programme carefully. The entry requirements are listed in the HST for each programme.
  • Shortlisting for interviews (where necessary) will take place in December/January. Interviews for shortlisted candidates take place in February.
  • As there are a limited number of places in HST, entry to each programme is competitive.


  • Certificate of completion of Basic Specialist Training (BST)
  • Evidence of postgraduate qualification such as MRCPI
  • Proof of Irish Medical Council registration / eligibility for registration
  • Proof of English language competency
  • Two Appraisal Forms
  • Passport identity page
  • Stamp 4 Residency Permit (if applicable to you – other types of Residency Permits do not need to be submitted)

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There are three ways to confirm your eligibility for Irish Medical Council (IMC) registration:

  • Submit your certificate of current or previous registration on one of the divisions of the IMC.
  • If you are not currently and have never been registered on one of the divisions of the IMC, you may be considered automatically eligible for registration if you completed your medical degree in one of a list of EU countries. A list of eligible countries is available in our Entry Guidance and Advice section. If your country is listed, your academic transcript which you are required to submit will confirm your medical degree was completed in that country.
  • If you do not fall into either category 1 or 2 above, please contact the IMC and ask them to provide a letter confirming your eligibility for registration and submit this with your application.

If you completed BST in July 2021 or earlier but do not yet have your BST Certificate, please apply now by contacting Please note, you must have your BST Certificate before your HST interview and by 31 January 2023 at the latest.

The online application form will ask you for the following information:
employment and training history

  • clinical practice
  • experience to date
  • academic achievements
  • teaching experience
  • audit experience
  • research experience
  • presentations to date
  • publications to date
  • management and leadership experience
  • career objectives
  • contact details of two references, one of whom must be your most recent supervising consultant (must be same two references who have completed your Appraisal Forms)

Please note you are not required to submit additional documents related to the above. Please be brief in describing only relevant experience under each of the headings on the application form.

Please note that formatting (paragraphs, special characters, bullet points, spacing etc.) will not copy over to your final application. All free text boxes are limited to 500 characters (letters/spaces etc).

Interview details will be posted in the Current Applications section on
the RCPI website.

Please visit our Entry Guidance and Advice section for information on how scores are allocated for your application and interview.

Click here to access the RCPI Help Centre for more Frequently Asked Questions on applying to HST. Alternatively, we have a dedicated team to help you through your Higher Specialist Training, available to deal with any questions you may have. Contact us on