Course Overview

The visualisation and interpretation of a sample under the microscope is a fundamental skill required for research today. This new exciting programme will provide graduates with a highly marketable and transferable combination of skills required for academic, industrial, public and private sectors. Based in the Centre for Microscopy and Imaging, a multidisciplinary collaborative team which are involved in many aspects of basic science and medical research will deliver the course. This MSc programme aims to up-skill participants with practical hands-on microscopy and imaging techniques, associated sample preparations skills and analysis. Currently, it is the only programme of its kind being offered by an Irish University.

In this multidisciplinary field where biology, physics, medicine, engineering and communication skills are brought together and are valued in many areas of employment and research including basic science, biomedical engineering and industry. This course aims to provide training for applied roles such as laboratory managers, technical staff positions, sales or product development, service laboratories of universities, or health-related institutes. It will also serve to assist with the progression of students to further education. Microscopy, related sample preparation skills, and analysis are now an essential component of the majority of biological science research projects and a necessity for high impact publications.

Most modules will have associated laboratory or practical components which will develop the students’ knowledge of cutting edge microscopy practises and techniques. Students will also learn translational skills which may be applied in the work force.

Allied NUI Galway course

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Applications and Selections

All applications are made through PAC (Postgraduate Applications Centre) and a copy of a birth certificate/passport, along with the English language competency certificate and above documentation must be submitted. 

Who Teaches this Course

This programme will be primarily based within the Centre for Microscopy and Imaging in the Discipline of Anatomy, School of Medicine. Due to the multidisciplinary focus of the programme, leading Scientists and Academics within the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, the College of Science, and the College of Engineering and Informatics all contribute to the teaching. 

Requirements and Assessment

Modules are assessed by examinations at the end of Semester One and Semester Two and/or by continuous assessment. A variety of different assessment strategies are used, including written examinations, laboratory practicals and mini-project reports, assignments, data-handling exercises, experimental reasoning, essays, posters, oral presentations and a research project thesis must also be submitted.

Key Facts

Entry Requirements

Candidates must hold at least an upper second class honours primary degree (NFQ Level 8 or international equivalent qualification) in relevant biological or biomedical sciences, physical sciences or engineering field. Graduates with a Level 7 degree and who can demonstrate that they have at least 2–3 years relevant experience in research or industry may also be considered. Applicants whose first language is not English must also demonstrate English language proficiency as per university guidelines. A personal statement of approximately 500 words and a curriculum vitae (CV) must be supplied on application, along with academic transcripts. Candidates will be selected based on examination records, previous relevant experience, and personal statement. Candidates may be requested to deliver a short presentation on a topic provided by the selection committee and course coordinators. Short listed candidates may be invited for interview. 

Additional Requirements

Modules are assessed by examinations at the end of Semester One and Semester Two and/or by continuous assessment. A variety of different assessment strategies are used, including written examinations, laboratory practicals and mini-project reports, assignments, data-handling exercises, experimental reasoning, essays, posters, oral presentations and a research project thesis must also be submitted.
Duration

1 year full-time

Next start date

September 2018

A Level Grades ()

Average intake

15–20

Closing Date

Please refer to the review/closing date webpage.

Next start date

September 2018

NFQ level

Mode of study

ECTS weighting

Award

CAO

PAC code

GYM81

Course Outline

This is a one year full time course consisting of 90ECTs.

Semester 1—30ECTsCore Modules (An Introduction to Imaging, Microscopy and Analysis, Current Topics in Imaging, Cells and Tissues) plus one of the following Optional Modules (Materials Science & Biomaterials, Radiation and Medical Physics, Biophotonics, Introduction to Biostatistics.)

Semester 230 ECTs—Core Modules (BioImaging and Microscopy, Image Analysis and Processing, Imaging in Translational Cancer Research) plus two of the following Optional Modules (Systems Histology, Advanced Cell Biology and Development, Stereology).

Semester 3—30 ECTs—Research Project 

Modules for 2017-18

Curriculum information relates to the current academic year (in most cases).
Course and module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Glossary of Terms

Credits
You must earn a defined number of credits (aka ECTS) to complete each year of your course. You do this by taking all of its required modules as well as the correct number of optional modules to obtain that year's total number of credits.
Optional
A module you may choose to study.
Required
A module that you must study if you choose this course (or subject).
Semester
Most courses have 2 semesters (aka terms) per year.

Year 1 (90 Credits)

Required AN1500: Introduction to Imaging, Microscopy and Analysis


Semester 1 | Credits: 10

Lectures on tissue preparation for biological microscopy, staining and immunostaining, various modes of microscopy, imaging and image analysis. Lectures are supplemented with some structured practical exercises, workshops and assignments.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Understand the differences between various forms of microscopy, imaging techniques and analysis.
  2. Understand the steps involved in the preparation of a biological tissue for light or electron microscopy, including sample selection, fixation, embedding, sectioning and staining, including immunostaining.
  3. Write concise accurate and complete descriptions of the methods used to prepare biological tissues for microscopy, the principles and instrumentation underlying microscopy and imaging techniques, and basic methods of image analysis.
  4. Conceive, plan and outline (either as a simulation or in practice) a microscopic study of a biological tissue or process, including choosing the most appropriate mode of microscopy, staining technique, sampling strategy, and image analysis.
  5. Demonstrate the ability to process and stain a biological tissue(s) by a number of different methods, analyse tissue images including writing accurate and appropriate description(s) of the tissues and identifying unknown tissues, and to make measurements on these samples.
  6. Feel confident in selecting a microscopy or imaging tool to investigate a research area and be able to demonstrate this ability using appropriate evidence.
Assessments
  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module AN1500: "Introduction to Imaging, Microscopy and Analysis" and is valid from 2017 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Required AN2101: Cells and Tissues


Semester 1 | Credits: 10

This module describes the basic organisation and function of a eukaryotic cell and its major organelles. Communication and signalling between cells will be covered, as well as the cell cytoskeleton, cell cycle, cell differentiation and cell death. The module will also explore the histological structure and functional relationships of the fundamental tissues, including the microvascular system. There is a strong emphasis on the common principles of tissue architecture that underly the structure of the fundamental tissues. How these common principles are modified to provide unique tissue specific structures and functions is also emphasized. Tissue turnover and dynamics are also considered, especially in the context of the response to injury and cancer development. The role of stem cells in tissue maintenance and the potential for tissue engineering in vitro are also addressed. The lectures are complemented by practicals using virtual microscopy in which the student will learn to recognize and classify all of the fundamental tissues and their cellular and non-cellular components.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Synthesize, integrate and critically assess the factual content of the module.
  2. Describe the basic organisation of a eukaryotic cell including the organelles and cytoskeleton. Describe the cell cycle and cell death and appreciate how changes in normal cellular activities can lead to cancer development and progression.
  3. Describe the ways in which cells interact with one another to form tissues and organs and how they interact with their surrounding environment.
  4. For each of the fundamental tissues you will: a. Describe the types of cells and extracellular matrix that make up the tissue b. Explain how different types of the tissue are classified and the basis of this classification c. List and describe any special features of the cells which make up the tissue and relate this to overall tissue function d. Where relevant, describe the tissue dynamics of growth and repair
  5. Explain turnover and tissue dynamics in respect of each of the fundamental tissues a. Compare and contrast these factors between different tissues b. Explain the role of stem cells in each of the above processes c. Relate these concepts to tissue healing and the development of cancer
Assessments
  • Written Assessment (40%)
  • Continuous Assessment (30%)
  • Oral, Audio Visual or Practical Assessment (30%)
Teachers
Reading List
  1. "Junqueira's Basic Histology Text and Atlas" by Anthony Mescher
    Publisher: McGraw Hill
    Chapters: all
The above information outlines module AN2101: "Cells and Tissues" and is valid from 2015 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Required AN1501: Current Topics in Imaging


Semester 1 | Credits: 5

This module involves a series of lectures and interactive workshops where students will be taught the basics of: abstract writing; critical analysis; creating a title for research papers; deciphering the aims/objectives of published research, and hypothesis determination. Students will be required to formally present a research paper in the form of a journal club meeting. Continuous assessment will be carried out in the form of journal clubs and abstract writing/critical analysis of scientific papers. Journal author guidelines, research ethics and how to write and critique an article will be discussed.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Recognise and explain scientific writing
  2. Write an abstract for a research paper based on paper content
  3. Define the aims and hypothesis of a research paper based on the paper content
  4. Write a critical analysis of a research paper
  5. Feel confident in presenting a research paper as part of a journal club meeting
  6. Understand, and be confident in participating in, the peer review process and know about journal impact factors
  7. Summarise the different steps in the publication process
  8. Use basic biostatistical methods and summarise data numerically and graphically. Comment on the use of statistics in research papers
  9. Understand the ideas underlying hypothesis testing, including p-values
  10. Produce a well-written mini-review on a specialist topic
Assessments
  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module AN1501: "Current Topics in Imaging" and is valid from 2017 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Required AN1504: Imaging in Translational Cancer Research


Semester 2 | Credits: 5

A variety of imaging modalities play a critical role in cancer detection, and monitoring of response to therapy. The type of imaging modality employed is dependent on the tissue type and disease characteristics. This module will highlight the core imaging methods used, clinically and experimentally, to detect cancer including SPECT, PET, PAI, IVIS. Modalities that provide information on the primary tumour microenvironment compared to those focused on systemic disease will be discussed. The tumour cell characteristics that form the basis for each imaging method will also be highlighted.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Define and describe the imaging modalities used for detection and monitoring of solid tumours, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each approach
  2. Recognise the relationship between tumour cell characteristics and the choice of imaging method employed
  3. Choose the appropriate imaging modality to investigate characteristics of the primary tumour microenvironment, or systemic metastatic disease
  4. Outline the critical role of imaging in the translational research paradigm
  5. Describe the characteristics of an ideal imaging modality for detection and monitoring of disease
Assessments
  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module AN1504: "Imaging in Translational Cancer Research " and is valid from 2017 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Required AN1502: Bioimaging and Microscopy


Semester 2 | Credits: 10

Over the course of this module students will learn about the practical applications of the fundamental concepts of microscopy and imaging covered in the first semester in the Introduction to Microscopy, Imaging and Analysis. It will introduce students to current research applications which employ microscopy and imaging techniques. Students will participate in some structured practical elements and workshops as part of the module.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Categorize, understand and discuss the practical applications of microscopy and imaging with regard to modern science.
  2. Demonstrate awareness of state of the art microscopy and imaging techniques
  3. Identify, interpret and evaluate and the effectiveness of various modes of microscopy and imaging techniques
  4. Present and apply practical knowledge through engaging and participating in workshops and hands on components
  5. Critically assess current knowledge in the field and present findings accordingly
Assessments
  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module AN1502: "Bioimaging and Microscopy" and is valid from 2017 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Required AN1503: Image Analysis and Processing


Semester 2 | Credits: 5

Students will study various techniques, software packages and applications in processing, analysing and quantifying predominantly biological images. The value of properly acquired images for scientific publication will also be highlighted.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Understand the fundamental concepts of image composition - both digital and analogue
  2. Students must be able to distinguish between Image Processing and Image Analysis
  3. Compare and contrast images of varying quality
  4. Recognise the necessity for properly acquired and corrected images.
  5. Discuss and practically implement the use of various image analysis software packages and technologies
  6. Demonstrate competence at critically analysing an image
  7. Apply practical knowledge to production of an image/plate for current scientific journal
Assessments
  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module AN1503: "Image Analysis and Processing" and is valid from 2017 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Required AN1505: Research Project


Trimester 3 | Credits: 30

The aim of this module is to provide the students with experience of conducting hands on scientific research as well as communicating their research via oral presentation and written dissertation.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Design scientific experiments to address a specific research question using microscopy and imaging technologies.
  2. Discuss the design of their experiments, including their experimental hypothesis, the use of controls, experimental protocols and the analysis methodologies used.
  3. Demonstrate technical skill and competency in relevant scientific procedures.
  4. Demonstrate the capability of working independently and safely in the laboratory.
  5. Generate, analyse, depict and critically interpret scientific data.
  6. Communicate scientific findings through appropriate verbal, written and visual means. The student will present the aims, methods and findings of their research as a written research thesis, as a poster and as an oral presentation.
Assessments
  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module AN1505: "Research Project " and is valid from 2017 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional BES513: Materials, Science & Biomaterials


Semester 1 | Credits: 5

The understanding of biomaterials encompasses fundamental knowledge of medicine, biology, chemistry, and material science. The biomaterials field rests on a foundation of engineering principles. There is also a compelling human side to the therapeutic and diagnostic application of biomaterials. This course addresses the fundamental properties and applications of biomaterials (synthetic and natural) that are used in contact with biological systems.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Summarise the issues surrounding biocompatibility and ethics in the use of biomaterials.
  2. Communicate the molecular and physiological features of biomaterials, including biomechanical properties, particularly in relation to orthopaedic applications.
  3. Describe the fundamentals of biopolymers – their structure, synthesis and characterisation.
  4. List biomaterial applications in orthopaedics and cardiovascular medicine.
Assessments
  • Written Assessment (50%)
  • Continuous Assessment (50%)
Teachers
Reading List
  1. "Materials Science and Engineering," by Callister WD Jr.
  2. "An Introduction to Materials in Medicine," by Ratner B et al
    Publisher: Academic Press
The above information outlines module BES513: "Materials, Science & Biomaterials" and is valid from 2017 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional PH339: Radiation and Medical Physics


Semester 1 | Credits: 5

This module provides an introduction to the medical imaging and instrumentation aspects of real imaging environments, ranging from obsolete modalities to the modern tomographic imaging modalities (such as PET and SPECT). This module also covers the fundamental processes involved in forming images using ionising radiation, safety issues associated with ionising radiation and methods of radiation detection.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. define terms and explain concepts relating to the physical principles covered by this module’s syllabus.
  2. describe the physical laws that connect terms and concepts covered by this module’s syllabus and, where appropriate, derive the mathematical relationships between those terms and concepts.
  3. outline applications to real-world situations of the physical principles covered by this module’s syllabus.
  4. analyze physical situations using concepts, laws and techniques learned in this module.
  5. identify and apply pertinent physics concepts, and appropriate mathematical techniques, to solve physics problems related to the content of this module’s syllabus.
  6. analyze data, interpret results and draw appropriate conclusions.
  7. prepare scientific reports.
Assessments
  • Written Assessment (80%)
  • Continuous Assessment (20%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module PH339: "Radiation and Medical Physics" and is valid from 2015 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional PH430: Biophotonics


Semester 1 | Credits: 5

The module provides a broad introduction to light interaction with biological materials (including human tissue, both in vivo and ex-vivo) and how it can be harnessed for sensing, imaging and therapy.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. define terms and explain concepts relating to the physical principles covered by this module’s syllabus.
  2. describe the physical laws that connect terms and concepts covered by this module’s syllabus and, where appropriate, derive the mathematical relationships between those terms and concepts.
  3. outline applications to real-world situations of the physical principles covered by this module’s syllabus.
  4. analyze physical situations using concepts, laws and techniques learned in this module.
  5. identify and apply pertinent physics concepts, and appropriate mathematical techniques, to solve physics problems related to the content of this module’s syllabus.
  6. discuss state-of-the-art applications of physical principles covered by this module’s syllabus to contemporary themes in biomedical physics and medical physics.
Assessments
  • Written Assessment (100%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module PH430: "Biophotonics" and is valid from 2016 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional ST314: Introduction to Biostatistics


Semester 1 | Credits: 5

This course will introduce students to statistical concepts and thinking by providing a practical introduction to data analysis. The importance and practical usefulness of statistics in biomedical and clinical environments will be demonstrated through a large array of case studies. Students attending this course will be encouraged and equipped to apply simple statistical techniques to design, analyse and interpret studies in a wide range of disciplines.

Learning Outcomes
  1. understand the key concept of variability;
  2. understand the ideas of population, sample, parameter, statistic and probability;
  3. understand simple ideas of point estimation;
  4. recognise the additional benefits of calculating interval estimates for unknown parameters and be able to interpret interval estimates correctly;
  5. carry out a variety of commonly used hypothesis tests
  6. understand the difference between paired and independent data and be able to recognise both in practice;
  7. understand the aims and desirable features of a designed experiment;
  8. calculate the sample size needed for one and two sample problems.
Assessments
  • Written Assessment (70%)
  • Continuous Assessment (30%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module ST314: "Introduction to Biostatistics" and is valid from 2015 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional AN1506: Independent Study Module


Semester 2 | Credits: 5


(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Student will be able to carry out independent self directed study
  2. Identify and critically engage with appropriate research resources.
  3. Engage with the concepts of critical thinking and practice these
Assessments
  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module AN1506: "Independent Study Module" and is valid from 2017 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional AN226: Systems Histology


Semester 2 | Credits: 5

Systems histology Students will sit a 2 hour exam at the end of semester 2 based on systems histology. Continuous assessment will be carried out in the form of practical exams.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Describe the histological structure of various body systems by light microscopy
  2. Know the structure and function of the skin, respiratory system, cardiovascular system, reproductive systems, endocrine system, lymphatic system, genitourinary system, gastrointestinal system and blood.
  3. Discuss the histological structures with correlation to function of various system of the body
Assessments
  • Written Assessment (60%)
  • Continuous Assessment (40%)
Teachers
Reading List
  1. "Junqueira’s basic histology: text and atlas." by Anthony L. Mescher
The above information outlines module AN226: " Systems Histology" and is valid from 2016 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional AN437: Advanced Cell Biology and Development


Semester 2 | Credits: 5

The module builds on prior learning of the student throughout the anatomy learning cycle, but particularly expands on material covered in year 2. Up to 4 cell biology and 4 developmental biology topics will be addressed in the module. The specific topics covered will vary from year to year. The topics will be chosen to illustrate how the experimental approach(es) developed a key theoretical point or paradigm. In all cases investigation of the topic will involve reading the associated primary scientific literature and any relevant review papers and understanding the experiments and experimental approaches contained therein. At the end of the module students will be expected to explain how key experiments and investigations led to our current views on the topics covered.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. For each of the topics covered a. Outline the initial theory, idea, or paradigm b. Offer a critical analysis of the above, especially in regard to any gaps, inconsistencies or inaccuracies c. Outline the experimental approach(es) to resolve the problems identified above d. Describe the key experiments, the questions they posed and the results they generated e. Offer a critical analysis of the above f. Explain how the results of these investigations changed the theory, idea, or paradigm g. Offer a critical analysis of the current theory, idea or paradigm h. Suggest additional investigations and experiemnts that could be performed to strengthen or refute the current theory, idea or paradigm
  2. More generally, understand and appreciate how an evidence based scientific approach modifies theories, ideas or paradigms over time a. Critically discuss the above using one specific example of your own choice (not from the list of topics covered)
Assessments
  • Department-based Assessment (100%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module AN437: "Advanced Cell Biology and Development" and is valid from 2017 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional AN507: Stereology


Semester 2 | Credits: 5

The word “Stereology” was invented to describe the set of methods that allow a 3 dimensional interpretation of structures based on observations made on 2 dimensional sections. It allows the researcher obtain information from two- dimensional images that is not available through any other means. A modern interpretation of stereology is that it is a spatial version of sampling theory. The Stereological approach is providing a spatial framework upon which to lay the new physiological and molecular

Learning Outcomes
  1. Improve your skill in : a.experimental design and b. critical analysis of quantitative morphometry.
  2. Explain and apply sampling theory.
  3. Describe the application of modern design-based (unbiased) stereological techniques to biological tissue. Note: These applications focus on the quantification of morphological parameters such as object number, feature length, surface area, volume and spatial distribution of features of biological interest on tissue
Assessments
  • Continuous Assessment (20%)
  • Department-based Assessment (80%)
Teachers
Reading List
  1. "Unbiased Stereology; Three-dimensional" by n/a
  2. ".Measurement in Microscopy (Advanced Methods)" by n/a
    Publisher: Howard & Reed School Press
The above information outlines module AN507: "Stereology" and is valid from 2017 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Further Education

Participants may choose to progress to further education or research and undertake a PhD

Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

Graduates of the programme may enter the workforce either in technical or research roles within hospitals, universities or industry in Ireland. In addition, participants may choose to progress to further education or research and undertake a PhD.

Who’s Suited to This Course

Learning Outcomes

 

Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€7,015 p.a. 2018/19

Fees: Tuition

€6,791 p.a. 2018/19

Fees: Student levy

€224 p.a. 2018/19

Fees: Non EU

€14,750 p.a 2018/19

Find out More

Dr Kerry Thompson
T: +353 91 495 704
E: kerry.thompson@nuigalway.ie