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Home>Biology>Biology tours>Biology lab tour

This tour of one or our modern, dedicated laboratories shows a typical range of lab equipment and facilities that you'll use on your Biology course.

You can also access an interactive version of the tour. Please note that the interactive tour is not suitable for use with assistive technologies.

Interactive Biology lab tour


Our lab technicians have set out some typical equipment you might expect to use in a first year lab.

Agarose gel tank (Agarose gel electrophoresis)

Gel electrophoresis is widely used in biochemistry, molecular biology and genetics to separate DNA on a matrix of agarose. The DNA is separated by size using an electric field to move the charged molecules through an agarose matrix.

Agarose gel tank (Agarose gel electrophoresis)

Automatic pipettes (or air displacement pipettes)

Adjustable micropipettes that deliver a measured volume of liquid. These vary in size (usually between 1 µl to 1000 µl). The pipettes have disposable tips that are change on each use. These pipettes are capable of being very precise and accurate.

Automatic pipettes (or air displacement pipettes)

AV screen

Screens on which the person running the class can project information or show the class how to do something.

Audio visual screen and workstation

Compound microscope

High power light microscopes used to magnify images of samples using transmitted light. Capable of between 40 and 1000 times magnification. These microscopes are also fitted with phase contrast which improves contrast in difficult to see samples.

Compound microscope at lab bench

Dissecting microscope (or stereo microscope)

A dissecting microscope is microscope used for low magnification observation of a samples using reflected light. The microscope is used to look at the surfaces of specimens or to carry out manipulation of small samples.

Dissecting microscope (or stereo microscope)


A ducted fume hood that draws air in from the front side of the cabinet, and vents to outside the building. It is used to protect the user from inhaling toxic materials.

Three fumehoods with glass screens

Gel imaging system (or gel doc)

Gel docs are used in molecular biology for the imaging nucleic acids or proteins within gels. Gels are stained with chemical that bind to the nucleic acids or proteins. The gel doc includes an ultraviolet (UV) light. Gels are placed inside and the door closed to stop light getting in / protect the user from the UV light. There is a camera for image capture and this image can either be printed or transferred electronically.

Gel imaging system (or gel doc) on side bench

Ice machine

Commercial ice making machine used to generate large quantities of ice used for keeping samples cold during experiments.

Freestanding ice machine in corner of laboratory

Laboratory centrifuge

Used to spin samples in order to separate materials based on their density. The denser particles settle out at the bottom of the tube.

Freestanding laboratory centrifuge

Light box (transilluminator)

Used to illuminate samples (usually gels) by transmission of light through the sample. Compounds within the sample can be seen (usually bands on a gel).

Light box (transilluminator) on lab bench

Microfuge (bench top centrifuge)

Used to spin samples in order to separate materials based on their density. The denser particles settle out at the bottom of the tube.

Microfuge (bench top centrifuge)

Oven (hot box oven)

An oven that can be set to a range of temperatures (ambient to about 90°C). Used to incubate living cells at an appropriate temperature or to keep reagents warm prior to use.

Hotbox oven

Rocker plate

Used to gently rock vessels containing liquids allowing contact between the liquid and something that is in them. Used for staining agarose gels.

Rocker plate on lab bench

Water bath

Used to incubate samples in water at a constant temperature Can be set to a range of temperatures and can also agitate samples if required.

Water bath at end of lab bench