Diploma in Child Health (DCH) - about

The DCH recognises competence in the care of children in specialties allied to paediatrics. Clinicians, including GPs and paediatricians, use DCH to upskill and gain an internationally recognised postgraduate medical diploma.

Each year over 300 candidates apply to sit DCH Clinical. Since we began delivering the DCH Clinical exam online in 2020 we have seen applicants from all over the globe apply.


The Diploma in Child Health was established in 1935 to enable a range of medical professionals to provide evidence of their experience in child health. DCH is:

  • mapped to a syllabus developed by a diverse range of medical professionals including paediatricians and GPs
  • informed by the latest research and evidence based
  • responsive to changes in UK training.

The exams

DCH comprises two exams. These are non-sequential and so can be taken in any order.

Foundation of Practice (FOP) theory exam

FOP is taken on a computer, normally at a test centre, though some applicants may apply for online invigilation. There are usually three sittings a year in the UK, and it's is also part of the MRCPCH, or membership, exam. See our theory exams hub

With effect from the 2024.3 exam diet, we are making some changes to our theory exams, including FOP. These have been made in consultation with senior faculty and trainee representatives, and approved by the General Medical Council. See our news page for more on these changes

DCH Clinical

The clinical exam follows a 'circuit' of eight stations. Our examiners, who have extensive experience working in paediatrics, assess candidates' performance. Some scenarios include role-players acting the part of parents or adolescents. There are usually two exam periods each year. Find out more about how DCH Clinical works with our candidate guide 

Our standards

The College is committed to maintaining the highest possible standards for its exams. The DCH is modelled to assess key competencies expected of medical trainees with some experience of providing paediatric clinical care (ideally 4-6 months or more). We strive to ensure that exams are valid and reliable.

To ensure the pre-eminence of the DCH, the College rigorously quality assures all processes and actively engages in research and ongoing development work.


The DCH is not linked to any recognised training programme.

We periodically offer DCH Clinical exam preparation courses - check our course listing.


The DCH has a separate syllabus to the MRCPCH. However, the theoretical elements of the Foundation of Practice theory exam is shared across both the DCH and the MRCPCH (membership exam).

The DCH syllabus outlines the competencies required in both knowledge and skills. It takes into account the short period of paediatric training necessary before candidates are eligible to enter the exam. It provides a summary list of topics to be covered, and specifies the depth of knowledge and skills required and guidance for trainees and teachers on what they must be taught and learn.

You can download the DCH syllabus below.


You must have a primary medical qualification or be registered with the General Medical Council (GMC).

Candidates do not need to pass English language tests in order to be eligible to sit DCH Clinical or FOP, however, we strongly recommend that your English language proficiency be equivalent to IELTS Level 7 as candidates will be required to communicate in English to an acceptable level throughout the exam and across all stations. Candidates who do not meet this level of English language proficiency will struggle to meet the standards required to pass both examinations (DCH Clinical and FOP).

We recommend that candidates hold at least four to six months' experience in paediatrics, though this is not required. If you are taking the exam overseas, we recommend you have six months' paediatrics experience.

Your diploma

When you pass both DCH Clinical and Foundation of Practice exams, you will receive a Diploma certificate. This certifies you are a holder of the Diploma in Child Health (RCPCH). Candidates have the option to receive their DCH Diploma certificate electronically as well as a physical copy.

If you need a replacement diploma

The replacement certificate fee is £25.

If you sat DCH Clinical after 1 January 2000 with the RCPCH, please contact us on clinicalexams@rcpch.ac.uk with details of when you passed the exam, your RCPCH number and your contact details.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) were responsible for the delivery of the DCH clinical exam before 1 January 2000. If you sat before that date, we can provide a replacement certificate once we have confirmed that you passed the exam with the RCP, please contact us with details of when you passed the exam, your RCPCH number, full name, date of birth and your contact details. These details will help us verify with the RCP.

Next steps

Get your exam account

Apply and prepare for theory exam (FOP)

Apply and prepare for DCH Clinical