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Unit information: Nuclear and Particle Physics in 2021/22

Unit name Nuclear and Particle Physics
Unit code PHYS22040
Credit points 10
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Jaap Velthuis
Open unit status Not open

PHYS10005, PHYS10006, or equivalent.



School/department School of Physics
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims


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 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

Coursework (20%)

Examination (80%)


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. PHYS22040).

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.