Study programme

Micro-credential: Optical microscopy for heritage materials

Micro-credential: Optical Microscopy for Heritage Materials

3 ECTS-credits

This programme consists of 1 module

Optical Microscopy for Heritage Materials
Course code:
Contact hours:
3 ECTS-credits
Study load (hours):
Contract restrictions:
No contract restriction
Language of instruction:
Exam Period:
exam in the 1st semester
Study domain:
Conservation and Restoration

The optical microscope (OM) is a daily tool for every heritage caretaker, who employs this for researching, monitoring as well as documenting conservation treatments. During this course, we will therefore extensively discuss all theoretical and operational aspects and put these into practice. The course is divided into four parts:

Part 1: Introduction to OM:

  • Components of the OM;
  • Functioning of the OM;
  • Types of OM used in heritage care;
  • Place of the OM in the material-technical research methodology.

Part 2: Sample extraction

  • When to sample: methodological and deontological considerations;
  • How to sample: an overview of common methods and tools by object type;
  • Where to sample: principles for a thoughtful sample location;
  • Protocols and reporting: the sample form.

Part 3: Sample preparation

  • Overview of methods and materials for preparation.

Part 4: Prepared samples and cross-sections under the OM

  • Best practices for safe and ergonomic use of an OM;
  • Best practices for micrography of both sample and sample location;
  • Contrast methods for specific materials.

All the theoretical aspects mentioned above, are also practiced during on-campus tutorials, for which attendance is compulsory.

The course consists of lectures and practical sessions, organized weekly on campus. The lectures are recorded if proper recording infrastructure is available in the designated classrooms.
Attendance is compulsory for the practical sessions. The practicals incrementally build on each other: students take a sample and then prepare them step by step to finally include the obtained results in the sample form. By consequence, a student who is absent during a practical cannot proceed to the next practical and cannot submit a final product for the practicum. For that reason, attendance is mandatory, only in case of legitimate absence (student have to submit proof timely to the student secretariat) a catch-up moment will be organized. Students should pose all questions during or immediately after the lecture or practical. If needed, a personal appointment can be made via