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Module titleBioimaging
Module codeNSCM009
Academic year2022/3
Module staff

Dr Mike Deeks (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module aims to give a comprehensive overview of the wide range of approaches used in the imaging of biological systems, their advantages and disadvantages and look at current examples of how these techniques are being used in cutting-edge research.

The module will cover both practical and theoretical aspects of bioimaging and will involve a range of lectures, seminars and practical workshops where students can use some of the most modern imaging equipment available.

You will study live cell imaging using confocal and fluorescence microscopy, imaging for molecular dynamics, and also electron- and cryo-microscopy techniques. You will also learn how to use  analysis tools such as FIJI/ImageJ to quantify image data.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module aims to:

  • teach the use of bioimaging technologies to answer biological questions;
  • provide contemporary, ‘front-line’ examples of research case-studies using the latest techniques in light and electron microscopy;
  • maximise your opportunities to be taught by world-leading specialists in each respective area;
  • give hands-on experience of optical transmission microscopy, laser scanning confocal microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy (the exact selection of microscopes available could depend upon equipment availability and maintenance).
  • highlight the importance of image analysis and quantitative imaging;
  • allow you to lead research discussions and plan your own research programmes.

The skills you gain from lectures and other teaching formats will develop or enhance your employability. Transferable skills to other sectors include:

  • problem solving (linking theory to practice, responding to novel and unfamiliar problems, data handling);
  • time-management (managing time effectively individually and within a group);
  • self and peer review (taking responsibility for own learning, using feedback from multiple sources).

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Choose an appropriate ‘front-line’ imaging modalities to investigate a biological problem
  • 2. Make ‘hands-on’ use of optical transmission microscopy, laser scanning confocal microscopy and electron microscopy to take publication-standard images for analysis and presentation
  • 3. Use the FIJI image analysis package of ImageJ to quantify image data.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. With reference to primary literature, evaluate how technological developments in bioimaging drive the field forward and how new imaging techniques transition from publications showcasing their development to commercialisation and mainstream usage
  • 5. Identify a biological question that can be addressed using bioimaging (combined with other techniques where appropriate) and produce a project proposal to describe and promote your research plan
  • 6. Analyse and evaluate independently a range of research-informed literature in bioimaging and synthesise research-informed examples from the literature into written work

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Communicate effectively arguments, evidence and conclusions using written means in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 8. Devise and sustain, with little guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with sound, convincing conclusions
  • 9. Analyse and evaluate appropriate data with very limited guidance

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Live cell imaging techniques
    • History, context and challenges
    • Theory and applications of fluorescence microscopy
    • Theory and applications of confocal microscopy
    • Image resolution and optimisation of optical performance
    • Imaging for molecular dynamics and super-resolution
    • Image analysis in FIJI/ImageJ
  • Cryo- and electron-microscopy techniques
    • History, context and challenges
    • Theory and applications of SEM and TEM
    • Theory and applications of cryo-EM
  • Atomic Force Microscopy
    • Theory and practice

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching12Live seminars (12 x 1 hour)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching21Workshops (7 x 3 hours)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching1One-to-one tutorials (2 x 30 minutes)
Guided Independent Study2.5Instrument inductions using online tools and material.
Guided Independent Study113.5Independent study structured around seminar topics and extended reading.


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Non-assessed problem and summary materials provided for self-checking purposesOngoingAllOral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Short answer theoretical and data analysis challenges252000 words AllWritten
Bioimaging research proposal 652000 words AllWritten
Drafting of bioimaging research proposal and tutorial engagement102000 words AllWritten


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Short answer theoretical and data analysis challengesShort answer theoretical and data analysis challenges lAllAugust Ref/Def
Bioimaging research proposalBioimaging research proposalAllAugust Ref/Def
Drafting of bioimaging research proposal and tutorial engagementDrafting of bioimaging research proposal and tutorial engagementAllJuly prior to August Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to sit a further examination. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • An indicative reading list will be specified with the introduction of each technology.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Bioimaging, research-led

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

NSC1003 Foundations in Natural Science or BIO1339 Cells

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date