MPhys Physics

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Nuclear Structure and Exotic Nuclei

Course unit fact file
Unit code PHYS40421
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 4
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Department of Physics & Astronomy
Available as a free choice unit? No


Nuclear Structure and Exotic Nuclei


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Nuclear Physics PHYS40322 Pre-Requisite Recommended

Follow - Up Units

PHYS40622 - Nuclear Forces and Reactions


• To introduce major components of modern research in nuclear physics.
• To provide a suitable introduction to students who will undertake research in the subject.

Learning outcomes

On completion successful students will be able to:

1.  demonstrate a knowledge of physics themes characterising recent advances in nuclear physics.

2.  demonstrate knowledge andbe able to explain in detail the significance of results from recent and current experiments.

3.  demonstrate knowledge of and explain the physics behind the facilities and techniques used by nuclear physicists.

4. demonstrate knowledge of and apply the basic models used to describe nuclear structure.


1. Review of nuclear models                         (1 lecture)
Liquid drop model and independent particle shell model

2. The nuclear shell model         (5 lectures)
Fermi gas ; Residual force ; Hartree Fock ; Effective interactions ; two-particle states ; full CI ; spectra near closed shell ; pairing

3. Collective Phenomena in nuclei        (5 lectures)
Liquid drop model. Fermi gas. Mean field. Deformation. Vibrational and rotational motion. Super and hyper deformation.

4. Weakly-bound quantum systems and exotic nuclei      (8 lectures)
physics at the proton and neutron drip line; new decays modes – proton decay, beta-delayed proton and neutron emission; fission limit and super-heavy elements, production, detection and properties.

5. Radioactive ion beams (RIBs)         (2 lectures)
production by in-flight and ISOL techniques; FAIR, SPIRAL-2 and HIE-ISOLDE.

6. Experimental techniques and recent results       (2 lectures)
Coulomb excitation of RIBs; transfer reactions in inverse kinematics; fragmentation experiments.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 100%

Feedback methods

Feedback will be available on students’ individual written solutions to examples sheets, which will be marked, and model answers will be issued.


Recommended reading


K. Heyde, Basic Ideas and Concepts in Nuclear Physics (IOP 2nd Edition)

Part C+D: Nuclear Structure: Recent Developments


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1.5
Lectures 24
Independent study hours
Independent study 74.5

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Kieran Flanagan Unit coordinator

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