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From Subatomic Physics to Astrophysics - PHY00032M

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  • Department: Physics
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. David Jenkins
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Module summary

Students wishing to take this module should have taken Quantum Physics III (PHY00050H) or an appropriate equivalent.

Related modules

Pre-requisite modules

Co-requisite modules

  • None

Prohibited combinations

  • None

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21 to Spring Term 2020-21

Module aims

  • In this module we will consider some of the advanced subjects in nuclear physics and begin to examine how they are addressed in contemporary research. The module aims to give the student an idea of current topics of interest within the field and how they are explored in experimental laboratories. We will look at how the physics that dictates the behaviour of sub-atomic particles can also be used to gain insight into the internal structure of astrophysical objects, such as neutron stars.
  • 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

  • Discuss current topics of research in fundamental nuclear physics (for example, exotic nuclear shapes, shape coexistence, neutron-rich nuclei, neutron skins, etc.)
  • Describe current techniques employed at beamline facilities for the production and/or study of nuclei of interest
  • Interpret nuclear level schemes and relate them to some of the key models used in nuclear physics
  • Describe how such level schemes are constructed from data taken during experiments
  • Explain how different modes of nuclear decay are measured in laboratories and how the results are used to study the underlying structure of nuclei
  • Discuss how the nuclear charge radius and electromagnetic moments can be measured and their importance for describing phenomena such as exotic deformations and shape coexistence
  • Describe the importance of fundamental measurements of hadrons, such as the radius of the proton
  • Explain the structure of exotic hadrons and how they influenced the evolution of the early Universe
  • Link nuclear structure to the study of exotic nuclei such as hypernuclei and pionic atoms
  • 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
24 hour open exam
From Subatomic Physics to Astrophysics - Spring
N/A 40
24 hour open exam
From Subatomic Physics to Astrophysics - Summer
N/A 50
Assignment 1
N/A 5
Assignment 2
N/A 5

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
24 hour open exam
Advanced Nuclear Physics
N/A 50
24 hour open exam
Advanced Nuclear Physics
N/A 50

Module feedback

Marks for the individual exams received from supervisor. Detailed model answers provided on the internet. 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