Postgraduate taught 

Medical Devices Engineering MSc

Microscopy and Optics M ENG5289

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Engineering
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

The course will give students a fundamental understanding of a variety of microscopic and spectroscopic methodologies used to study biological systems. After completing the course students will understand the principles of operation for these methods and be able to identify the most suitable for studying a given sample. This understanding will be achieved through a combination of lectures and practical laboratory sessions.


2 lectures per week

Excluded Courses

ENG 3038 Micoroscopy and Optics 3




60% Written Examination

30% Reports

10% Written Assignment

Main Assessment In: December

Course Aims

The aims of this course are to:

■ provide a fundamental understanding of the principles underlying optical detection using modern microscopic and spectroscopic technologies;

■ provide students with in depth knowledge and skills allowing them to identify and evaluate suitable techniques for a given biological sample and application and the ability to use these techniques to capture the images desired.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ describe the theory and practical use of a microscope and how to optimize its use for studying different samples with different illumination techniques e.g. bright field (Kohler illumination), dark field, DIC;

■ describe fluorescence processes, fluorescence probes, and the factors influencing the qualitative and quantitative detection of fluorescence;

■ evaluate the suitability of a number of modern, advanced fluorescence techniques including confocal fluorescence microscopy, fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS), Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence Microscopy (TIRF), Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy (FLIM);

■ identify an appropriate fluorescence technique for a given sample and application;

■ describe the principles of Raman spectroscopy including surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy, and compare Raman and Fluorescence techniques for characterizing biological samples;

■ describe evanescence wave theory and surface Plasmon resonance and their use, alone and in combination with microscopy, for biological samples analysis;

■ describe how scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscope work; and list the main information that can be obtained by them for a given type of sample;

■ choose the appropriate optical components for both an optical microscope and a fluorescence microscope for a given sample;

■ set up and operate a microscope and optimize acquisition conditions (for example, align its illumination);

■ design an experiment to understand the factors that influence qualitative and quantitative fluorescence measurements;

■ record, analyse and present experimental results in a report format.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must attend the degree examination and submit at least 75% by weight of the other components of the course's summative assessment.


Students must attend the timetabled laboratory classes.


Students should attend at least 75% of the timetabled classes of the course.


Note that these are minimum requirements: good students will achieve far higher participation/submission rates. Any student who misses an assessment or a significant number of classes because of illness or other good cause should report this by completing a MyCampus absence report.