• The Open University

Histology: Using Microscopy to Study Anatomy and Identify Disease

Get an introduction to histology – the study of anatomy at a microscopic level – and use histopathology to identify disease.

23,717 enrolled on this course

A microscopic view of tissue, as used in histology and histopathology
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Examine tissues and identify disease with histology and histopathology

Histology is a key part of modern medicine – it helps us study cells and tissues at a microscopic level, and accurately diagnose diseases such as cancer.

This online course introduces the field. It starts with the basic principles of light microscopy, before focussing on the structure and function of human tissues, and the relationships between them.

You’ll use a virtual microscope to compare normal tissues with pathological (or diseased) ones, and use histopathology to identify and diagnose each disease.

The course was produced with the kind support of Dangoor Education.

Skip to 0 minutes and 14 seconds PROFESSOR: A career in histology and histopathology is rewarding, complex, and important. It’s used in biomedical research laboratories such as this one. It’s also used in hospital laboratories for the diagnosis of disease. But some of you may be wondering what histology and histopathology actually is. Well, it’s the study of tissues and diseases underneath the microscope.

Skip to 0 minutes and 41 seconds NARRATOR: This course will explain how to use a microscope, identify different tissues and some distinct pathological changes. The structure of a tissue is related to its function. Diseases produce characteristic changes in the appearance of a tissue. Much of the teaching is done through a virtual microscope, which gives you the feel and functions of the real thing. It draws on a large collection of sections collected from school, university, and hospital laboratories, so it’s your gateway to a huge collection of quality slides, making this course a unique introduction to histology.

Skip to 1 minute and 26 seconds PROFESSOR: Histology is taught in schools, both at GCSE and A-level. It’s also taught in biological science departments at universities, and it’s used in diagnostic laboratories in hospitals by people ranging from research technician right up to consultant histopathologist. This course will engage anyone who is interested in biomedical research or the diagnosis of disease. It will give you some insight into what it’s like to work in a research laboratory such as this one, or a hospital diagnostic laboratory.

What topics will you cover?

  • An introduction to histology and the role or histopathology in diagnosis of disease
  • Development of skills in using a light microscope and understanding the potentials and limits of the instrument
  • Description of how histological slides are produced, stained and interpreted
  • Development of the ability to identify a number of cell types and tissues from their histological appearance
  • Description of the structures of a number of tissues with relationship to their functions
  • Description of some major pathological changes and their histological appearance
  • Development of the ability to identify histopathological changes and their relationship to the underlying disease processes

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Apply and understand the basic principles of microscopy
  • Identify a number of the more common tissues from their histological appearance
  • Assess and understand the relationship between the structure of some tissues seen under the microscope and their function
  • Identify gross histological abnormalities, such as neurodegeneration, inflammation and cancer

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for medical laboratory scientists, and students who are studying human biology at university or school.

What software or tools do you need?

You’ll use a virtual microscope that will work on all modern browsers on both desktops and tablets. But we recommend completing the course on a desktop, so that you can see the tissues more clearly, and have course articles, images and videos open in different windows.

Who will you learn with?

I have been Professor of Biology at the OU since 1999, with a particular interest in the use of multimedia for teaching biomedical sciences. We research on nanocarriers for drug delivery to the brain.

Who developed the course?

The Open University

As the UK’s largest university, The Open University (OU) supports thousands of students to achieve their goals and ambitions via supported distance learning, helping to fit learning around professional and personal life commitments.

  • Established

  • Location

    Milton Keynes, UK
  • World ranking

    Top 510Source: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020

Endorsers and supporters

supported by

Dangoor Education logo

Learning on FutureLearn

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