MPhys Physics with Astrophysics

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Nuclear Forces and Reactions

Course unit fact file
Unit code PHYS40622
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 4
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Department of Physics & Astronomy
Available as a free choice unit? No


Nuclear Forces and Reactions


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


To introduce the main features of the forces between nucleons and reactions between
nuclei, and to link nuclear physics to other areas of physics.

Learning outcomes

On completion successful students will be able to:
1. describe the mean features of the forces between protons and neutrons, and their relation to the underlying forces between quarks.
2. use cross sections and phase shifts to describe quantum mechanical scattering processes.
3. show how simple models can explain the main features of nuclear reactions.
4. explain how specific nuclear reactions are responsible for the formation of the elements.


1. Nuclear forces                        (8 lectures)
Symmetries in nuclear physics
From quarks to pions and nucleons
The deuteron
Scattering in quantum mechanical systems
Partial waves
Effective-range expansion
Pion-exchange force
Phases of nuclear matter

2.  Nuclear reactions                        (8 lectures)
Reaction cross sections
Optical potential
Compound nucleus
Direct reactions
Nuclear fission

3.  Nuclear astrophysics          (6 lectures)
The Big Bang
H and He burning in stars
Formation of heavier elements
Supernovae and neutron stars

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

Bertulani, C. A. Nuclear Physics in a Nutshell (Princeton)
Krane, K. S. Introductory Nuclear Physics (Wiley)
Wong, S. S. M. Introductory Nuclear Physics (Wiley)

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Alastair Smith Unit coordinator

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