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Fusion - Magnetic Confinement - PHY00017M

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  • Department: Physics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Istvan Cziegler
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Related modules

Pre-requisite modules

  • None

Co-requisite modules

  • None

Prohibited combinations

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2022-23

Module aims

The course will provide an overview of the key plasma physics issues associated with magnetic fusion research. It will enable students to make an informed decision on an appropriate research degree project, while at the same time providing the essential foundations necessary to pursue a research degree in the field. It will provide the necessary background for students to appreciate seminars in this research field. With magnetically confined fusion, a magnetic field confines the plasma at much lower density, but for much longer times. We will focus on tokamak physics, while other toroidal confinement devices such as stellarators, will be introduced. Plasma waves, additional heating, particle transport, instabilities, turbulence and plasma edge physics will be treated. The motivation and physics of the next generation tokamak ITER currently under construction will be presented.

Module learning outcomes

At the end of this module successful students will be able to:

  • Describe and contrast different toroidal confinement devices, including tokamaks, spherical tokamaks, stellarators and reverse field pinches.
  • Describe the physics of waves in magnetically confined plasmas, including Alfv ©n waves and the electron drift wave. Provide a mathematical derivation of some of the basic plasma waves.
  • Describe the physics of the various heating and current drive schemes employed in magnetic confinement fusion experiments including neutral beam injection and radio-frequency waves. Demonstrate an understanding of wave resonances and cut-offs.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of neoclassical transport processes, including the role of trapped particles and the origin of different particle collision frequency regimes. This will include a qualitative understanding of the physical origin of neoclassical diffusion coefficients, as well as neoclassical currents, such as the bootstrap current and Pfirsch-Schl ¼ter current
  • Describe the physics processes responsible for the various plasma instabilities in magnetic confinement devices, including the kink mode, the ballooning mode, tearing mode and fast particle instabilities.
  • Demonstrate a knowledge of the various performance-limiting phenomena observed in tokamaks, and the link with plasma instabilities. This will include disruptions, operational limits, edge-localised modes (or ELMs), sawteeth and fishbones.
  • Describe the basic principles of turbulent transport in tokamaks, including a qualitative understanding of the role of flow shear in transport barrier formation (for example, the L-H transition). Demonstrate a basic understanding of the importance and limitations of gyro-kinetic theory.
  • Describe the various operational scenarios for ITER and how they are motivated.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 14
Online Exam
Fusion ¿ Magnetic Confinement
N/A 86

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Online Exam
Fusion ¿ Magnetic Confinement
N/A 86

Module feedback

Our policy on how you receive feedback for formative and summative purposes is contained in our Department Handbook.

Indicative reading

  • Chen F F, Introduction to plasma physics and controlled fusion (Plenum)***
  • Wesson, Tokamaks, Oxford Science Publications ***
  • Goldston & Rutherford; Introduction to plasma physics (IoP)**
  • JP Freidberg; Ideal Magneto-hydrodynamics
  • J Kruer, The physics of laser plasma interactions (Perseus)

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.