NHS Careers > Explore by career > Healthcare science > Training > NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP) > NHS STP FAQs about application and eligibility for 2014 entry

NHS STP FAQs about application and eligibility for 2014 entry

IMPORTANT: These FAQs are as up to date as possible for the period of issue (version 5, 16 July 2014). They will be subject to further updates over time. Candidates are advised to regularly check the FAQs to ensure that they have the most up to date information on the process.

How do I apply?

All applicants should view the information available on the NHS Careers website before submitting an application.

Applicants should click here to access the online application tool.

Please note that upon accessing the link the applicant will be directed to the online application portal’s organisation page for the National School of Healthcare Science. This page will provide some background information on the School.

Please complete an initial registration by clicking on "register here" from the left hand menu of this screen. Once this process is complete there is no need to complete any further registration details.

To "Apply" search on "Scientist Training Programme" from the vacancies menu and then click on the appropriate vacancy. For direct entry applicants click on the appropriate vacancy and click on "Apply".

In service applicants will have a separate vacancy specific to them which will also appear from the search on Scientist Training Programme vacancies. Applicants can also access these vacancies through the organisation home page as per the above link. In Service applicants will be sent a code from their employers. In service applicants will need this code in order to complete the in-service application form.

No code is required for the completion of the application form for direct entry applicants.

Please note applications are not open until 9:00am on Monday 6 January 2014.

What are the timescales for recruitment?

For direct entry applicants we are open for new applications between Monday 6 January and Friday 31 January 2014.

You must submit your completed application form by 17:00 on 31 January 2014 and you have until 17:00 on 3 February 2014 to complete your online tests.

Applications for in service applicants open from Monday 6 January to Friday 28 February 2014. In Service applicants will have until 3 March 2014 to complete their online tests.

However, we strongly encourage you to complete your application and online tests as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

No late applications will be accepted.

National shortlisting for direct entry applicants will take place in February 2014. Applicants who are successfully shortlisted for interview will be informed in March 2014 and interviews will commence from 24 March onwards. Interview dates will vary depending on which specialism you have applied and been short listed for.

For in service applicants, employers will be advised directly of the dates and links to apply. Applicants should refer to their employer where this applies to them. All in service applicants will be invited to attend interviews at the same time as the direct entry applicants.

All applicants will be notified of the outcome after all interviews have been completed. It is anticipated that all applicants will have been informed by the end of May 2014.

What do I need to be eligible for the STP?

You must hold an honours degree (1st or 2.1) in a pure or applied science area which is relevant to the specialism for which you are applying (see next question).

Applicants with a relevant 2.2 degree will also be considered if they have an MSc or PhD in the healthcare science specialism for which they are applying.

For all applicants, evidence of research experience, e.g. in the form of a higher degree or equivalent evidence of scientific and academic capability, is considered desirable.

Applicants for STP places in reconstructive sciences (maxillofacial prosthetics) must hold current registration as a dental technician with the General Dental Council.

What is a relevant degree?

Successful candidates might have a variety of relevant qualifications and experience. As a minimum, you should have a degree relevant to the specialism you are applying for.

Due to the extensive variation in degrees available it is not possible to provide a definitive list of relevant degrees for entry to the STP.

You must ensure you review the job description and person specification for the training, and the information about your preferred healthcare science specialism on the NHS Careers website.

You then need to ensure that you match the skills and knowledge required to the content of your degree and the specialism you wish to apply for.

Entry to STP is highly competitive, and you are more likely to succeed if you apply for a specialism which is relevant to your degree course.

The most commonly accepted degrees will be:

Life Sciences: biomedical sciences, biology, microbiology, genetics or biochemistry.

Physical Sciences and Biomedical Engineering: pure or applied physics, engineering, applied mathematics.

Physiological Sciences: physiology, pure or applied physics, engineering, biology or human biology.

Informatics: genetics, computer science, health informatics, physics, engineering (degree courses with significant IT content or equivalent)

For Clinical Pharmaceutical Science acceptable degrees are: chemistry or the life/biological sciences which are chemistry related (for example, biochemistry, pharmacology), or pharmaceutical sciences or pharmacy.

Science degrees related to medicine may be considered suitable if relevant to the specialty or theme for which you are applying. 

How many posts can applicants apply for?

Applicants will have a maximum of two choices of specialism and up to three preferences for location. Please note that the selection process will identify the best applicants irrespective of their location preferences. You cannot enhance or diminish your chances by expressing a preference for locations which are perceived to be more, or less, popular.

In service applicants will only be able to apply for a place on the training programme with their current employer.

Are applicants who will be in this academic year eligible to apply for the training posts?

Applicants are required to have obtained their degree by the time the training programme commences in September 2014. Therefore any candidate who is currently studying and whose predicted grades indicate that they are likely to achieve a 2.1 or higher BSc or MSc degree or equivalent are eligible to apply. 

Are we looking to recruit new or more experienced graduates?

The national short listing panels will be judging which candidates most closely match the person specification. This focuses on whether an applicant has the required skills, knowledge and experience that could have been gained in a number of different settings. Successful applicants might have a variety of relevant qualifications, experience and potential, and in the past the cohort of successful applicants has included both new graduates and those with more experience. 

Will applicants who have already obtained an MSc in a healthcare science specialism be exempt from the MSc component of the STP?

Applicants wishing to apply for the STP in 2014 should be prepared to undertake the full academic and work based components of the scheme. However, where a candidate wishes their existing qualifications to be considered as credit against parts of the academic STP master's degree, this process of accreditation of prior learning (APL) is achieved on a case by case basis within universities.

General information about this process is available from any university website.  

Could applicants who have significant relevant work experience be exempt from elements of the work based learning?

All candidates wishing to apply for the STP in 2014 should be prepared to undertake the full academic and work based components of the scheme.  

Are current healthcare employees eligible for the programme?

Yes. We are keen to attract people already working in healthcare science and/or NHS employees on to the programme. In service applicants must meet the same quality assurance criteria applied to the appointment (or admission) of direct entry applicants (including interviews at the national interviews and on-line testing), but are not in competition for their substantive post.  

Will it help my application if I have some work experience in a healthcare setting?

Yes but it is not an essential requirement. However during the interviews prior knowledge of healthcare services may be an advantage. It is advisable to demonstrate you have researched the role e.g. by attending open days and doing work experience relevant to the job description, person specification and specialism. 

Can I attend open days to find out more about the training?

Some employers and departments will hold open days which give a good opportunity to find out more about the scientist roles you are interested in. Look out for open days in your area and/or specialism at:



You must book your attendance at these events by contacting the organisation directly.

Is there an age limit?

There is no age limit for applying to the STP.  

How can I find out more about the progress of my application?

If you are invited to the next stage, you will receive your invitation by email and/or text.

Applicants can log into the system at any point of the application process to view the status of their application.

How should I complete the online aptitude tests?

The online aptitude tests are a numerical and logical test.

You should practice the online tests in advance to prepare and familiarise yourself with what's involved and ultimately, to give yourself the greatest chance of success when it comes to the real online tests.

Please visit the link below for more information and to practice the tests.


The tests that you complete provide us with accurate and valid data to help us make a decision whilst at the same time ensuring fairness.

For direct entry applicants you must submit your completed application form by 17:00 on 31 January 2014 and you have until 17:00 on 3 February 2014 to complete all your online tests.

IMPORTANT - Please note that there is a minimum pass mark for each online test. If you do not meet this benchmark you will not be permitted to continue with your application regardless of where you are in the process. Meeting this minimum pass mark does not guarantee that you will be shortlisted for the interview stage it means you are kept in the selection process until we have reviewed all remaining applications which will take place after the closing date. Applicants will have one chance to complete the online tests. If you fail you will not be permitted to take the test again.

For in service applicants you must submit your completed application form by 17:00 on 28 February 2014 and you have until 17:00 on 3 March 2014 to complete all your online tests. However, we strongly encourage all applicants to complete your online tests as early as possible.

Once you have completed and submitted your application, on screen instructions will appear directing you to complete the online aptitude tests. You do not need to begin these tests soon after submission of application unless you choose to do. Should you choose to complete the online aptitude tests at a later date but before the closing date, then please make a note of all the on screen instructions. and you can use these instructions to start the test when you are ready (The online aptitude tests need to be completed by 3rd February 2014 at 17:00 for direct entry applicants and by 17:00 on 3rd March 2014 for in service applicants).

Any applicant who requires extra time to complete the online tests and as per one of the questions per the application form will need to send evidence to hcsapplicants@wm.hee.nhs.uk by no later than the application closing date and the applicant will then be advised that the extra time has been allocated to them.

Please note once you begin a test you will need to complete it in one sitting.

Do you have the right to work in the UK?

Where possible, applicants must establish their right to work in the UK before applying.

If you require a tier 2 visa to work and train in the UK as a healthcare scientist we strongly advise you visit http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/ for the latest information.

What level of English language competency is required?

It is essential that all candidates have the required level of communication skills to enable them to undertake the role effectively and to assure the delivery of safe services to patients.

Applicants must be able to demonstrate they are able to achieve the standards of proficiency outlined for clinical scientists by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). For more information you should visit the website:


There are a number of ways you could meet and evidence the English language requirement, for instance:

  • be a national of a majority English speaking country or have worked in an organisation/institution where English was the primary language used for communication
  • pursued as part of your education in the UK
  • hold a degree or relevant educational qualification that was taught in English by a recognised institution abroad
  • pass an English language competency test.

Applicants whose first language is not English will also be required to satisfy the Higher Education Institution (HEI) that they have the necessary knowledge of English to meet the entry requirements to enroll on the MSc course associated with the Scientist Training Programme.

Individuals from outside the EEA who make an application under Tier 2 of the points-based immigration system will be required to demonstrate their English language ability as part of the visa application process. You will therefore need to provide evidence that you have passed an appropriate test listed by the Home Office.


More FAQs

See our FAQs about the selection process and our general FAQs about the STP in 2014.