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Unit information: Fundamentals of Nuclear Science in 2020/21

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Fundamentals of Nuclear Science
Unit code PHYSM0028
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1B (weeks 7 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Springell
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Physics
Faculty Faculty of Science


This course will give students a solid grounding in nuclear radiation, from the fundamentals of radiative decay to nuclear fission and fusion, with particular focus on those processes used in commercial nuclear reactors.

Students will gain an understanding of the most important types of radiation, why they occur and how they may be detected, with particular focus on the decay chains that are most prominent in the nuclear industry. The mathematical description of radiative flux, intensity and brilliance will be covered in detail.

Intended learning outcomes

Students will be able to:

  1. Calculate the flux and brilliance of radiative sources
  2. Describe how to detect the various sources of radiation and how to calculate detection efficiencies,
  3. Explain the principles of dose, does limits, dosimetry and commercial uses for radiation
  4. Describe the fission and fusion processes and the energies involves in these processes,
  5. Demonstrate the role of neutrons and neutronics in the fission process.

Teaching details

The unit will be taught through a combination of

  • asynchronous online materials, including narrated presentations and worked examples
  • synchronous group problems classes, workshops, tutorials and/or office hours
  • asynchronous directed individual formative exercises and other exercises
  • guided, structured reading

Assessment Details

Formative feedback will be provided through problems classes.

Summative feedback:

Written, timed, open-book examination (80%) Online test (20%)

Reading and References

K. J. Krane, Introductory Nuclear Physics, (Wiley),

W. E. Burcham, Elements of Nuclear Physics, (Longman)