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Unit information: Nuclear and Particle Physics in 2016/17

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Unit name Nuclear and Particle Physics
Unit code PHYS22040
Credit points 10
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Goldstein
Open unit status Not open

PHYS10005, PHYS10006, or equivalent.



School/department School of Physics
Faculty Faculty of Science



The quantum world is non-intuitive but it correctly provides an explanation for many phenomena at the small scale. The quantitative study of sub-atomic processes involves measurements of rates and cross-sections. Some aspects of the physics of atomic nuclei can be understood using the semi-empirical mass formula, together with quantum ideas embodied in the shell model. These ideas are applied to nuclear stability, fusion and fission, and the processes of nucleosynthesis in stars and supernovae.


1. To introduce elements of quantum calculations using Feynman diagrams, focussing on electromagnetic processes.

2. To continue the study of nuclear decay processes and the conditions for nuclear stability.

3. To provide an understanding of the processes of nucleosynthesis.

Intended learning outcomes

Discuss observable quantities that can be used to extract information on sub-atomic physics.

Construct Feynman diagrams for electromagnetic interactions and use these to compare rates for different processes

Construct Feynman diagrams for weak and strong processes based on conservation rules

Discuss the understanding of sub-atomic structure that can be obtained from measurements of scattering and the formation of excited states.

Link nuclear stability to the physical properties of particular nuclei.

State and explain the processes involved in nucleosynthesis

Teaching details

Lectures, problems classes.

Assessment Details

Formative feedback through problem sheets and problems classes 2 hour, Written examination 100%

Reading and References

  • Burcham & Jobes Nuclear and Particle Physics
  • Cottingham & Greenwood Introduction to nuclear Physics