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MPhys Physics with Astrophysics / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Introduction to Nuclear and Particle Physics

Unit code PHYS30121
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Department of Physics & Astronomy
Available as a free choice unit? No


Introduction to Nuclear and Particle Physics


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Quantum Physics and Relativity PHYS10121 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Introduction to Quantum Mechanics PHYS20101 Pre-Requisite Compulsory


To introduce the fundamental constituents of matter and the forces between them, and to explore how these lead to the main features of the structure and interactions of subatomic systems (particles and nuclei).

Learning outcomes

This course unit detail provides the framework for delivery in 20/21 and may be subject to change due to any additional Covid-19 impact.  Please see Blackboard / course unit related emails for any further updates

On completion successful students will be able to:

1. Outline the basic constituents of matter and the fundamental forces between them.
2. Represent elementary processes by simple Feynman diagrams.
3. Use symmetries and conservation laws to identify the forces responsible for particular
reactions and decays.
4. Use the quark model to explain the patterns of light hadrons.
5. Use simple models to explain the patterns of nuclear masses, sizes and decays.
6. Apply the independent-particle model to simple ground-state properties of nuclei.



 1. Basic concepts
Quarks, hadrons and leptons
Strong, electromagnetic and weak forces
Symmetries and conservation laws
Parity and charge conjugation
Feynman diagrams and exchange forces
Decay rates and scattering cross sections
Quark model for light hadrons
Parity violation in the weak interaction


2. Nuclei
Nuclear forces
Nuclear sizes
Semi-empirical mass formula
Nuclear stability
Alpha decay
Shell model


3. Particles
Three generations
Flavours and flavour mixing
Quark model with three flavours
Heavy-quark hadrons
CP violation
The origin (s) of mass


Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 33%
Written exam 67%

Feedback methods

Feedback will be offered by tutors in example classes. These classes will be based on weekly example sheets; solutions will be issued.

Recommended reading


Recommended texts:
B. R. Martin, Nuclear and Particle Physics: An Introduction, 2nd ed. (Wiley)


Supplementary reading:
S. S. M. Wong, Introductory Nuclear Physics (Wiley)
K. S. Krane, Introductory Nuclear Physics (Wiley)
B. R. Martin and G. Shaw, Particle Physics (Wiley)
D. H. Perkins, Introduction to High Energy Physics (CUP)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1.5
Lectures 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 76.5

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Lloyd Cawthorne Unit coordinator
Yvonne Peters Unit coordinator

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