Examinations Update – International Modules

From 1 January 2012 BOHS is introducing a major change to its examination system. The current occupational hygiene modules will be replaced by the International Modules developed by the Occupational Hygiene Training Organisation (OHTA)

As with the current system, candidates intending to obtain the BOHS Certificate via the modular route must complete six modules (four compulsory and two optional) and then pass an oral examination. An additional requirement is being introduced – the completion of a personal learning portfolio (PLP)

New Modules

The compulsory modules are:

W501 Measurement of Hazardous Substances
W503 Assessment and Control of Noise
W505 Control of Hazardous Substances
W507 Health Effects of Hazardous Substances

and the optional modules are:

W502 Assessment and Control of the Thermal Environment
W504 Assessment and Control of Asbestos
W506 Ergonomics

They can be taken in any order and can also be taken as stand alone courses by candidates who don’t intend to obtain the BOHS Certificate.

Candidates who have already passed any of the existing BOHS  modules will be given full credit for them and will not be required to complete a PLP in those areas. For example, someone who has taken M102 (measurement of hazardous substances) will not need to pass the new W501 course. Also, anyone who has taken and passed any of the International Modules before the 1 January 2012 will be able to count them towards the UK Certificate. However, they will have to complete a PLP for those topics.

Full details on the transitional arrangements are available on the BOHS website here.

The OHTA manuals will form the basis of the courses. These do not cover any British legislation and in some cases some important information needed by occupational hygienists working in the U.K. is not included. However, it is important to note that candidates taking the BOHS Certificate oral examination will be expected to know British legislation and occupational hygiene practice and will be asked questions on these topics even though they are not covered in the OHTA materials.

We will be providing supplementary information on legislation and other aspects of British specific practice in our course materials as we want to ensure that the course is relevant to the day to day work of our course delegates. It should also be helpful when taking the oral examination.

Course assessment

There are two major changes to the method of assessment during the course. Currently at the end of the course candidates sit a 3 hour written examination consisting of 40 short answer questions (SAQs) and 8 “micro essays” (of which 5 must be attempted). For the International modules the exam will be of two hours duration and will consist of 40 SAQs – there will be no “micro essays”. The new examination will be open book. The SAQs will only cover the content of the OHTA manual for the module. This means that there will be no questions on British legislation and standards or any other materials we provide during the course.

In addition, during the course, candidates will have to carry out basic practical assessments under the supervision of the course tutors.
BOHS state that this is primarily aimed at giving candidates hands-on experience in the use of simple measurement equipment but is not meant to test the their ability to use such equipment in real world situations.

Personal learning portfolio

The personal learning portfolio (PLP) is intended to demonstrate that candidates have continue to develop their skills through practice in the work environment. BOHS advise that the PLP should be started as soon as possible after completion of the first module.

The PLP is intended to be a structured record of the candidate’s workplace learning, practical experience and skills development. The portfolio should contain:

  1. A diary of relevant experience of practical application in all of the relevant subject areas.
  2. Evidence of any relevant additional learning such as meetings and training courses attended, further reading in subject areas etc.
  3. Copies of three relevant reports produced by the candidate.

Candidates have to register with BOHS after taking their first module and then complete and submit their portfolio within three years of completing their last module.  It will be assessed to ensure that it shows the depth and breadth of practical experience required. If the portfolio is deemed to be satisfactory the assessor will notify BOHS that the candidate can proceed to the Certificate Oral Examination.

The BOHS guide on the PLP can be downloaded from their website here.


Update on BOHS Modules


I hope everyone had a good Christmas break and are looking forward to 2011. It’s year that is going to see some significant changes to the BOHS examination system.

Module Examination Timings

As mentioned in a previous post, this month sees an increase in the time allowed for BOHS Module examinations. For the SAQ section of the papers, candidates will be allowed an average of three minutes per question, i.e. 120 minutes for Part A. For Part B, the time allowed will be extended to 60 minutes (12 minutes per question). This means that the exam duration will be increased to 3 hours.

The increase in the length of the examination means that if we continue with our current policy of starting at 11 a.m. it wouldn’t finish until 2 p.m., so candidates wouldn’t be able to have lunch until mid-afternoon. We were, therefore, faced with the choice of starting the examination earlier in the morning or after lunch.  After consulting with candidates attending the last few courses during 2010, the overwhelming response was that it would be better to start earlier, so that is what we’ve decided to do.  From now on we’ll be starting the final revision session an hour earlier at 08:30, allowing us to run the examination between10.00 and 13:00.

International Modules

Another development on the horizon is that BOHS intends to align their Modules with the International versions, developed by the Occupational Hygiene Training Association, at the end of the year.

The International modules were based on the BOHS system, so the overall structure will be very similar. There will be some modifications to the content as the syllabi have been reviewed, but they will largely cover the same ground. The main change are that there will be a compulsory assessed practical element to all the courses. Also, the International version of the exams are “open book” consisting of 40 short answer questions (with no “micro-essays”). This would be a major change to the current way courses are examined in the UK if it is implemented here.

The changeover will inevitably have some implications for how we run our courses and, having reviewed the OHTA syllabi and course contents, we have highlighted some issues to the Faculty that we feel need to be addressed. We’ll keep you posted on developments, so watch this space!