Imaging Science

Curriculum Focus

As humans we are constantly interpreting images that are formed by light detected by our eyes. Knowledge of how light interacts with matter has allowed us to improve upon the images obtained by our naked eyes through the use of glasses, optical microscopes and telescopes. Images can also be created using non-visible sources of energy, such as X-rays and ultrasonic waves. In addition the advent of the computer age has meant that images can now be interpreted and manipulated digitally. Critical decisions are made both by humans and machines on the basis of visual information in areas as diverse as medicine, remote sensing and national security.

Imaging science encompasses the creation of the image, the information carried by the image and the interpretation of the image. In this unit, students investigate fundamental questions such as “can we believe what we see?” and “why we need light to see” experimentally. They build upon that knowledge to investigate medical imaging techniques such as ultrasound, X-ray and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Students also learn principles of digital imaging and explore the extraction of information from digital images as well as digital image manipulation.  The unit also touches upon the closely related field of machine vision and automated response to visual images.

In addition to many practical activities, the unit includes excursions to imaging facilities and visits from speakers who are practising experts in their fields.

Learning Outcomes

Students are introduced to fundamental concepts in image perception including illuminance, luminance, reflectance, brightness, and lightness. They become familiar with and can identify the role of basic properties of mechanical and electromagnetic waves including ultrasonic, light, X-rays and gamma rays and how those properties contribute to image formation. Students learn how a medical imaging technique of their choice works and can explain the physical processes underlying the contrast sensitivity, blurring, visual noise and artefacts in images obtained using the technique. Students learn basic digital imaging concepts and can explain common digital manipulation and processing techniques.


Laboratory work                                   

Digital Image Processing written report

Medical Imaging investigation presentation