Foundations of Microscopy and Probes

Course Type
Postgraduate, Module

Module Overview

The aim of this module is to ensure that all students on the programme have a firm understanding of the fundamental principles of light microscopy and their application in commonly used microscopy techniques. Along with the “Foundations and Open Questions in Biomedicine” module, these principles form the knowledge and understanding that underpin subsequent modules in the programme, and provide the requisite background for choosing lab based research projects.

The module will consist of a series of lectures and tutorials on the fundamental principles of microscopy, including brightfield, fluorescence and electron microscopy, and will also include sessions on sample preparation, choice of labels and fixation. In the second half of the module, the implementation of these principles in commonly used techniques such as epifluorescence and confocal microscopy will be explored via lectures and practical sessions to gain hands-on experience in these techniques. The students will also discover how these techniques can be applied to common biological samples and questions. The module will finish with an exploration of some advanced imaging techniques that provide a stepping stone to the advanced microscopy techniques that are covered in subsequent modules.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Explain the principles of microscopy and optics
  2. Review the key factors that affect fluorescence in biological samples
  3. Explain the application of fluorescence and optics principles in fluorescence microscopy
  4. Analyse and interpret experimental data to demonstrate understanding of the basic principles of fluorescence microscopy
  5. Be able to critically appraise the literature on the application of fluorescence microscopy to biological questions

Module Attendance

The module will be delivered in the teaching areas of the Medical School and via online formats.

Module Dates

Semester 1 - October


  • 50% 2 hr unseen examination (to assess outcomes 1, 2 ,3 & 4)
  • 50% 1500 word essay (to assess outcomes 3 & 5)

Academics involved in the delivery of this module

Module lead: Dr Steve Thomas
Deputy Leads: Dr Deirdre Kavanagh