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The Faculty of Public Health Diplomate Examination (DFPH) Development

DFPH – Important Notice

Following a General Medical Council (GMC) review of the Membership of the Faculty of Public Health DFPH examination in August 2015, the GMC requested an external review of the standard-setting method. The GMC required the piloting of standard setting with a view, subject to GMC approval, to full implementation from the January 2017 examination diet.

The Faculty of Public Health (FPH) has now received approval for the changes to the DFPH.

PLEASE NOTE: The changes do not constitute any change to the content or structure of the examination, nor the approved public health specialty training curriculum. Candidates should prepare for and apply to sit the examination in exactly the same way as previously.

The changes are summarised as follows:

1. The DFPH will move to an Angoff method for standard setting, applying to all questions on all papers, with effect from the January 2017 sitting of the DFPH

2. Banking results - the requirement to score a minimum of 100 across both DFPH papers in order to bank a paper will be permanently removed.

Other requirements specified by the GMC following the review of the examination in 2015 had already been met, as agreed by the GMC in March 2016 specifically:

3. All examiners will receive full training in standard setting and marking.

4. All examiners will receive training or refresher training at least once per year. This incorporates calibration before each exam diet and ongoing examiner monitoring.

5. The bad fail requirement has been removed and implemented.

6. The interim revised scoring marking system was made available for prospective candidates in March 2016. This is now the permanent marking system and is attached.

7. The GMC agreed that FPH does not need to revise its assessment blueprint (GMC requirement 7) given that FPH is not changing the actual content of the assessment or what it is assessing. The assessment blueprint is embedded within the public health training curriculum approved by the GMC in 2015. FPH will evaluate the syllabus mapping process internally at both the Exam Board, with individual examiners and candidates’ responses to the question on their feedback forms on question clarity (which is already in place), and the DFPH Implementation Group, where there is specialty-registrar representation. This process will complement the detailed syllabus mapping already done during the question-setting process and allow a thorough check of how questions are interpreted by candidates.


These changes to the DFPH are a direct result of a review of the DFPH by the GMC in August 2015. FPH has been in regular contact with the GMC since then to ensure the GMC requirements are met robustly and appropriately, and has also engaged an external educationalist to review the standard-setting methodology of the examination and advise FPH accordingly.

In November 2015, FPH agreed an implementation plan with the GMC which agreed that the examination should run in its existing form for the duration of 2016 whilst FPH developed and tested its plans and secured approval for permanent changes from the GMC.

The work on the examination is overseen by the DFPH Development Committee (PADC), which for the duration of 2016 has been re-named the DFPH Implementation Group. The group is chaired by the immediate past chair of the DFPH Examiners, and includes the current DFPH chair and other senior examiners. For the duration of this work it also includes representation from the FPH Specialty Registrars’ Committee.

The GMC have confirmed at various points during the past six months that it is satisfied with progress. It was also agreed that the key requirements around standard-setting and the ‘banking’ of results should go through the formal curriculum approval (CAG) process to provide assurance of their robustness to FPH, the GMC, training programmes and the candidates taking the examination.

FPH is now communicating all changes to training programmes and public health specialty registrars and over the coming months will create a frequently-asked-questions (FAQs) page on the FPH website. If you have any questions that might feed into these FAQs please email

FPH also acknowledges that there is a potential effect on candidates on their final or penultimate attempt of the examination. FPH will communicate clearly all the changes associated with the examination and allow any candidates who have sat the DFPH as a final attempt during the transitional period (2016) an additional attempt at the examination at either the January 2017 or June 2017 sitting.

October 2016.


Standard setting from January 2017 (please note that the marking algorithm below supersedes the algorithm in this document) 

Diplomate examination (DFPH) Marking Algorithm 

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