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The University of Southampton

NATS6008 Biomedical Spectroscopy and Imaging

Module Overview

Biomedical research, applications and many clinical tools are underpinned by modern spectroscopic and imaging techniques. These serve as valuable analytical tools for routine monitoring, diagnosis and prognosis as well as aids to therapeutic intervention such as surgery, transplants, and regular treatments. This module will introduce the key physical principles of different techniques used for spectroscopic and imaging measurements. Based on these principles, the emphasis will be on the applications of relevant techniques to biomedical research and clinical practice, which interrogate various properties of materials and provide information ranging from the molecular to the structural level. Thus they also provide information at different length scales from nano (nm) to macro (m). In this context state-of-the-art developments and applications in spectroscopy, microscopy, super-resolution and large-scale (whole body) imaging will be discussed, including biomedical imaging modalities applied in daily clinical practice. The sessions (lectures, discussion groups and workshops) as well as the lab visits within this module will be offered at the University of Southampton and the Southampton General Hospital by basic and clinical researchers across different disciplines, within the Faculties of Natural and Environmental Sciences, Engineering and the Environment, Physical Sciences and Engineering, and Medicine.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Have a good understanding of spectroscopic and imaging terminology and concepts
  • Describe how different spectroscopic and imaging techniques which can be used to measure different properties of biomaterials
  • Analyse and interpret selected experimental or clinical spectroscopic and imaging data within their biomedical context
  • Identify the appropriate technique(s) for a given biomedical measurement or imaging application.


Physical principles and examples (1 tutorial+8 sessions) Pre-lecture resources on basic physical concepts and terminology, supported by a tutorial will be available to support those without appropriate background. 1. Introduction to light-matter interactions – the basis of spectroscopy and imaging and fundamentals of instrumentation (2 sessions – SM) 2. Principles of absorption based spectroscopy techniques and their biomedical applications. (2 sessions– SM) 3. Principles and overview of emission and scattering based techniques and their biomedical applications. These will include fluorescence and Raman based techniques and their use in biology and medicine (4 sessions - SM) Microscopy and biomedical applications (8 sessions) 4. Introduction to microscopy link to spectroscopic techniques in microscopy (1 session – SM) 5. Principles and applications of idefield and confocal microscopy including fluorescence based microscopy for biological samples (3 sessions – ETR) 6. Introduction to non-linear microscopy techniques and their applications in medicine (2 sessions – SM) 7. Deconvolution and image analysis (2 session – ETR) Super-resolution imaging and high-resolution 3D imaging (7 sessions) 8. Nanoscopy or super-resolution optical imaging methods: Single molecule localisation imaging, structured illumination imaging, stimulated emission depletion (3 sessions – ETR) 9. High-resolution 3D imaging: micro-computed tomography, synchrotron radiation-based imaging, 3D electron microscopy, examples in biomedical research (4 sessions– PS) Biomedical imaging (7 sessions) 10. Principles and use of clinically relevant biomedical imaging modalities, including X-ray imaging, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or nuclear imaging (PET and SPECT) (4 sessions – Medical Physics at Southampton General Hospital) 11. Applications of biomedical imaging modalities in clinical research and practice, such as for musculoskeletal or respiratory diseases (3 sessions – Clinical partners at Southampton General Hospital) This module will enable you to develop the following intellectual and conceptual skills: • Formulate and test hypotheses by planning, conducting and reporting a significant programme of • Independently locate and retrieve scientific data and information; • Independently integrate and evaluate data and information from a wide range of sources, including primary source materials in peer-reviewed journals, on line resources and experimental data; • Analyse critically and solve complex scientific problems set in real-world contexts; • Independently integrate knowledge and skills from across the various scientific disciplines; • Integrate societal, ethical and legal issues in the planning and conduct of scientific research.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The philosophy underlying this course is to empower students to take charge of their own learning in the natural sciences. As a consequence the module will make extensive use of the directed and peer-assisted self-learning methods that will be employed in all other NATS modules. The module will consist of a small number of ‘traditional' lectures, which will be used to deliver some of the key background knowledge in areas such as basic spectroscopy, biomedical contexts for imaging and high resolution spectroscopy. These lectures will provide a framework of concepts that will enable students to deepen their knowledge of technical aspects through directed reading as well as independent reading. A series of workshop problems, using case studies as appropriate, will be used to ensure that students have acquired the core knowledge required. These problems will entail independent study as well as group work, and will use peer-assisted feedback. Teaching & Learning methods: Lectures Seminars by visiting speakers Lab-visits/demonstrations Workshops & Peer-assisted discussion groups Presentations by students.

Follow-up work15
Preparation for scheduled sessions30
Practical classes and workshops20
Wider reading or practice15
Completion of assessment task40
Total study time150


Assessment Strategy

The performance of the students will be assessed through: • individual and group presentations • written assignments Students will be assessed for: • overall understanding of the application of key concepts • critical analysis of research reports • critical appreciation of policy impacts • ability to identify risks and ethical issues • innovative thinking


Workshop activities


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 60%
Coursework 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Travel Costs for placements

Travel costs (bus fares) associated with visits to Southampton General Hospital.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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