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Advanced Nuclear Physics - PHY00032M

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  • Department: Physics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Alison Laird
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2018-19

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2018-19 to Spring Term 2018-19

Module aims

  • In this module we will consider some of the key advanced topics in nuclear physics, and begin to examine how these topics are addressed in contemporary nuclear physics research. We will examine the key models that underpin nuclear structure – associated with both “single-particle” and “collective” modes of excitation. The module then aims to develop understanding of the quantum mechanical mechanisms underlying nuclear decays and, hence, to examine what nuclear structure information can be extracted from such measurements. In all of the above, published data will be used regularly to illustrate and test the ideas presented.
  • We will also consider the synthesis of nuclei in astrophysical environments with the aim of developing an understanding of how the elements which we and our surroundings are made ofwere created. We will discuss nucleosynthesis in various astrophysical environments, ranging from steady state solar interiors to the more energetic conditions found in novae, supernovae and X-ray bursts.

Module learning outcomes

Subject content

  • Describe the significance of nuclear charge and current distributions in regard to nuclear structure and decays
  • Discuss the variety of mechanisms that result in the generation of excited states in nuclei.
  • Predict angular momentum and parity quantum numbers of excited states in nuclei, based on nucleonic single-particle configurations.
  • Interpret aspects of published level schemes in terms of both single-particle and collective models, demonstrating how information on the different types of excitation are extracted from the data.
  • Discuss the quantum-mechanical basis for the three modes of nuclear decay.
  • Describe the key models and methods used to predict nuclear decay rates.
  • Perform sample calculations of alpha, beta and gamma-decay rates, based on the models presented
  • Interpret nuclear decay data, through an understanding of these models, in terms of nuclear structure phenomena.
  • Describe how the abundance pattern of the elements we see around us reflects nucleosynthesis in different astrophysical environments
  • Describe these astrophysical sites and the specific reaction processes which occur in each site
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the underlying nuclear physics, via calculation or discussion, as appropriate
  • Describe and compare the experimental techniques used to measure reactions rates
  • Discuss the limits of our understanding and areas of current research activity


Task Length % of module mark
Assignment 1
N/A 5
Assignment 2
N/A 5
University - closed examination
Nuclear Astrophysics
1.5 hours 40
University - closed examination
Nuclear Physics II
1.5 hours 50

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
University - closed examination
Advanced Nuclear Physics
N/A 50
University - closed examination
Advanced Nuclear Physics
N/A 50

Module feedback

Marks for the individual exams received from supervisor. Detailed model answers provided on the intranet. Feedback on assignment when returned.

Indicative reading

Krane K S: Introductory nuclear physics (Wiley) ****

C. Iliadis: Nuclear Physics of Stars (Wiley VCH) ***

C.E. Rolfs and W.S. Rodney: Cauldrons in the Cosmos (University of Chicago)

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.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.

Course changes for new students