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Unit information: Quantum Light and Matter in 2021/22

Unit name Quantum Light and Matter
Unit code PHYSM0042
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Dara McCutcheon
Open unit status Not open



Quantum Information Theory

School/department School of Physics
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

Quantum optics aims to describe the behaviour of light, including its interaction with matter, in a quantum mechanical way. It is one of the best-tested and most accurate physical theories available to us. As a core Quantum Engineering unit, this course will also lean heavily towards modelling concepts, as well as finding applications, that arise in quantum information theory.

The following topics will be covered: review of classical electromagnetism; quantisation of the electromagnetic field; quantum coherence; quantum statistics; light-matter interactions; production, detection and characterisation of quantum states of light; photonics.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the course students should:

  • Be able to distinguish between classical and quantum descriptions of optical phenomena.
  • Be able to explain key experiments and the use of key theoretical tools in the field.
  • Be able to explain how the physics of photons plays out in the quantum information context.
  • Be able to give quantum optical models for various concepts from quantum information science.

Transferrable skills include:

  • The ability to solve demanding technical problems.
  • The ability to connect abstract concepts with physical systems.

Teaching Information

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 Information

Formative assessment can include in-class questions and quizzes.

Summative assessment will be a written, timed, open-book examination.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. PHYSM0042).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.