MSc Medical Imaging Science / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Radioisotope Imaging

Course unit fact file
Unit code IIDS67401
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course-unit provides an overview of imaging methods that use radioactive tracers.  It covers the chemistry of production of tracer molecules, instrumentation and imaging techniques, such as PET and SPECT.  There is also discussion of clinical application, including visits to clinical imaging facilities.  The course-unit is delivered between weeks four and twelve of the semester.

Lectures will cover the following:

  • An introduction to the field, including the necessary basic pharmacokinetics.
  • Isotope physics, including the generation of radioactive isotopes in cyclotrons and nuclear reactors, understanding of the relevant decay processes.
  • Radiation detection.
  • Radiochemistry, including the chemistry of radiohalogens, carbon-11 and radio-metals and their automation.
  • Quality control of radioisotope production and the requirements of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP).
  • Radiation health and safety issues including the quantification of dose.
  • The design and operation of gamma cameras, SPECT and PET scanners and hybrid instrumentation, including quality control.
  • An introduction to image reconstruction.
  • An introduction to kinetic modelling and preclinical imaging.
  • Clinical applications of radioisotope imaging in oncology, cardiology and neurology.
  • Applications of radioisotope imaging in neuroscience and oncology research

The various aspects of the unit will be drawn together through a number of common themes in case study examples.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Mathematical Foundations Of Imaging IIDS67451 Co-Requisite Compulsory


  • To introduce students to the fundamental components of radioisotopically labelled tracer development and production
  • To introduce the subsequent application to isotopic imaging modalities including PET, SPECT, gamma scintigraphy and autoradiography
  • Students should, thereby, become familiar with the fundamental aspects of all stages of isotopic imaging measurements.

Learning outcomes

Category of outcome


Knowledge and understanding

Students will gain a basic understanding of the following in the context of isotopic imaging:

  • The different imaging modalities using radioisotopes
  • Basic pharmacokinetics relevant to isotopic imaging
  • Isotope production
  • Principles of radiation detection
  • Radiation dosimetry
  • Tracer design, radiochemistry and radio-analytical chemistry
  • Scanner design and operation
  • Quality control of isotope production and image acquisition
  • Basic concepts of image reconstruction and kinetic modelling
  • Overview of clinical applications and research capabilities

Intellectual skills

Based on an understanding of the fundamentals of isotopic imaging, students will learn to evaluate the most appropriate combination of isotope, tracer and experimental study design to address a particular problem. 

They will learn to critically assess the approaches used in published isotopic imaging research.

Practical skills

Students will develop a degree of technical expertise appropriate to understanding the capabilities and limitations of isotopic imaging modalities

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Students will practice their oral and written communication skills in the context of their case study work.


Teaching and learning methods

The course will be delivered through a series of lectures augmented by group discussions in weeks 4-12 of semester 1.  Sessions will take place at the Wolfson Molecular Imaging Centre (WMIC) and in Central Manchester University Hospital Trust (CMHT) There will be opportunities to visit the clinical nuclear medicine facilities at CMHT and the Radiochemistry and scanning facilities at WMIC.  Some contact time will be devoted to student presentations of literature-based assignments and case studies.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 60%
Oral assessment/presentation 40%

Feedback methods

  • Formal summative assessments 
  • Real time educative formative assessments during practical classes

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Adam McMahon Unit coordinator

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