A microscope allows a scientist to observe objects that are so small that they are invisible to the naked eye.

The word Microscope comes from two Greek words:-

Micro - This means "Small"

Scope - This means "To look at"

The diagram below shows the main parts of a microscope:-

How to Use a Microscope

Microscopes are quite complicated tools, but when properly, they can show incredible details that could not be seen with the naked eye. In order to use a microscope correctly, the method below should be followed:-

  1. Turn the Objective Lenses until the smallest lens clicks into place.

2. Turn on the light source.

3. Use the coarse focus dial to move the stage downwards.

4. Place a microscope slide onto the middle of the stage.

5. Use the coarse focus dial to move the stage until it is very close to the objective lens, but make sure it does not touch the lens!

6. Look through the eyepiece and move the coarse focus dial to very slowly move the stage away from the objective lens. Stop when the Image is at its clearest.

7. Use the fine focus dial to make the image as clear as possible.

Images Through a Microscope

The following images show a variety of objects as seen through a microscope. Some of the objects will be common items, other will be objects that will be looked at later in the unit:-

Image result for microscope newspaper

The image above shows a microscopic view of newspaper. As can be seen, the letters printed on newspaper aren't as clean and solid as they appear to the naked eye.

The Image above shows a microscopic view of the surface of a leaf. The small "sections" in the leaf are called cells, and will be main focus of this unit.

Image result for microscope wing

The image above shows a microscopic view of a butterfly wing. The colour pattern on a butterfly depends on the pigments within the cells of the wing.

The Image above shows a microscopic view of snowflakes. Each one is unique, the shape of each snowflake never repeats.

These recently hatched lynx spiders were imaged by Walter Piorkowski of South Beloit, Illinois.

The image above shows a microscopic view of newly hatched Spiderlings. This photo was taken using a specialised microscope to show a 3D image.

Image result for tardigrade

The image above shows a microscopic view of a Tardigrade. This image was not taken with an optical microscope, but with an electron microscope. This high-tech microscope doesn't work using light, but uses electrons instead. This allows much smaller objects to be observed than can be with light. How an electron microscope works will be discussed in Higher Physics.


As a Microbiologist, you would study micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and algae. Your work could be used to prevent diseases, make new medicines or grow more food.

You could work in a variety of different areas.

If you work in healthcare as a clinical microbiologist you would identify pathogens – which produce diseases – and work out how to protect communities from the spread of infection.

You would also present the findings of your research, supervise the work of support staff and do administrative work.

If you work as a researcher and lecturer in a university or teaching hospital, you would tutor, mentor and supervise students.

Medical Microbiologist

Virology Microbiologist

A Career as a Microbiologist

Salary: from £30,000 to £104,000 per year

Microbiologist working hours: 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. For some jobs you may need to work an on-call rota.

Typical entry requirements: A degree in microbiology (SCQF level 9/10), or another degree with a microbiology focus. Employers may expect a postgraduate qualification and relevant work experience.

To enter a microbiology degree (SCQF level 9/10) usually requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of four Highers at BBBB or above. Some courses require qualifications in one sitting.

Entry to a postgraduate course (SCQF level 11) typically requires an honours degree in microbiology or biological sciences. Some universities offer an integrated master's which combines a degree and master's qualification over five years.

Skills required:

  • Taking initiative

  • Sorting

  • Attention to detail

  • Understanding

  • Analysing

  • Working with technology

  • Researching

  • Observation

  • Innovative

  • Problem solving