Dates for the 15th Course will be 4th-14th April 2018

Practical Course Location:

The Marine Biological Association
The Laboratory
Citadel Hill
PL1 2PB U.K.

Tel: +44 (0)1752-426493


Click to download the 

The course takes place in the Laboratory of the Marine Biological Association from Wednesday 4 – Saturday 14 April 2018. Fee comprises teaching and full board; single room accommodation, cooked breakfast and lunch.  Evening meals can be taken in local restaurants.


There will be 2–3 lectures each day throughout. Lectures will cover topics from basic optics, detectors and light sources through to photochemistry involved in the development of novel fluorescent probes and the application of advanced super-resolution optical microscopy techniques.  The first 3 days will be spent setting up microscopes for brightfield and epifluorescence microscopy, including polarisation and interference contrast methods. The final 6 days will be organised in rotations around the 9 experiments listed below. The experiments will be in the large classroom at the MBA and in rooms nearby. Use will be made of marine specimens where possible and students may have an opportunity to trawl for benthos and plankton, depending on weather and availability of the MBA research vessel.

For an idea of the teaching schedule, please see the Preliminary 2018 Timetable.

Developmental Biology

Experiments with confocal imaging.  CCD imaging and deconvolution, microinjection, genetically encoded probes.

Cell Physiology

Confocal imaging with electrophysiology
CCD imaging with electrophysiology
Photolysis and photometry
Total internal reflection fluorescence imaging
Laser traps
Marine bioluminescence

Special demonstrations and hands-on exercises

  • Multi-photon and confocal imaging
  • Quantitative interference microscopy
  • Use of an optical bench for basic experiments on scanning and apertures
  • Spectroscopy and filters
  • Abbe’s experiments on the role of diffraction in microscope image formation with absorption and phase objects.


      Preparations used will include: invertebrate preparations (tunicates, molluscan neurones), zebra fish, mammalian brain slices, Fucus, Arabidopsis, and cell lines.

      Poster Session

      Students at the course will be invited to display a small (maximum A3-size) poster of their current research and time will be allocated for presentation and discussion. There will be a prize for Best Poster.



      There is usually a 3:1 ratio of applications to places, and there will be up to 20 places on the course.

      Please submit the Application Form by email, attaching your Curriculum Vitae and Research Project (giving a concise description of your research, your reasons for wishing to attend and your experience of techniques taught on the course) and PDF copy of a signed Letter of Recommendation on organisation letterheaded notepaper from an academic referee, preferably PhD supervisor or Head of Laboratory.   This letter should indicate how your research, the laboratory in which you work and the area of research that you intend to pursue will benefit from your participation on the course.

      Please make the subject of the email ‘Application Optical Course 2018′ followed by your surname.

      Please send these three parts to arrive no later than close of office, 17:00 on 19 January

      All email submissions will be acknowledged. Applicants who are visa dependent will need to apply for tourist visas.  Letters will be provided to those in need of supporting visa documentation.


      There will be a registration fee of €500 Euro for students accepted on the course.  Accommodation, breakfast and lunches are included.  Students who wish to request help towards fees should clearly indicate this in their application, and in their covering letter.  Candidates from industry who are accepted as students will be required to pay €1000 Euro.

      Travel Costs

      EMBO travel grants are available to attend this Practical Course, at the discretion of the Organizers. These grants should be used to reimburse the participant for their economy travel, accommodation, visa costs and/or registration fees. Two types of grants are available

      a) For events in EMBC Member States, EMBC Associate Member States and co-operation partner countries, EMBO provides €1,500 in travel grants. The EMBO travel grants shall be allocated on the basis of the quality of the abstract submitted, with priority given to scientists from the countries listed below. Travel grants may be awarded to participants from anywhere only after qualified applicants from priority countries have been considered. All applicants have to justify the reasons for applying for a travel grant. A maximum of €500 per travel grant can be awarded. At the organizer's discretion, the amount of the travel grant can be lowered to include more participants.

      Priority should be given to participants of any nationality working in laboratories in:

      Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey.

      b) An additional €2,000 is allocated to travel grants exclusively for participants of any nationality working in laboratories in India, Singapore and Taiwan (only participants working in these countries are eligible to receive this grant; there are no exceptions). A maximum of €1,000 per travel grant can be awarded. At the organizer's discretion, the amount of the travel grant can be lowered to include more participants.  

      Please note that there are Royal Microscopical Society Bursaries available for RMS Members, which can be applied for on the RMS website.


      Each day, there will be two lectures in the morning (probably 9.00 and 11.00), then practical work, and a lecture in the early evening, probably 6 pm.

      Enquiries can be directed to

      Pre-course reading

      Dr Brad Amos’ lecture at the Royal Society (45 mins) on revolutionary microscopy:  (click ‘Watch the video’)

      Basic opinions paper (Nature methods)