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Advanced Plasma Physics for Fusion and Applications - PHY00051M

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  • Department: Physics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Istvan Cziegler
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

This module will provide an introduction to the details of plasma physics as they pertain to up-to-date research. Advanced topics include the mathematical treatment of collisional relaxation and transport, and magnetic geometry, waves in MHD and cold plasmas, the role of magnetic fields for stability and confinement, and different regimes of particle energy. The spread of applications covers low temperature plasmas, laser–plasma interactions, and a heavy weight on magnetic confinement fusion (MCF). The module is thus intended to enable students to make an informed decision on a research project in plasma physics and fusion.

Related modules

Pre-requisites:  Plasma Physics and Fusion or equivalent


Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Semester 2 2023-24

Module aims

The module aims to provide an introduction to the basic mathematical details of plasma physics pertaining to up-to-date research. The applications include low-temperature plasmas, laser–plasma interactions, and a strong emphasis on magnetic confinement fusion (MCF). It is thus intended to enable students to make an informed decision on an appropriate research project by providing the foundations essential for pursuing a research degree in plasma physics. The standard of the module is for students to be able to appreciate professional research seminars in the field.

In discussing general concepts of advanced plasma physics we introduce collisional transport and relaxation processes, develop a formalism of scale ordering and plasma waves and their dynamics. In MCF we focus on tokamak physics, contrasting it with other magnetic confinement geometries. Plasma waves, heating methods, toroidicity effects on transport, instabilities and turbulence, and plasma edge physics are all motivated with specific decisions that need to be made for fusion reactors.

Further, the module seeks to extend student knowledge in low-temperature plasmas by providing foundations on the distinction between these and fusion plasmas, control strategies for charged and neutral particle dynamics, and technological applications.

A series of lectures within the module will focus on the broad array of physical regimes that laser–plasma interactions give access to. We will describe the central role played by the intensity of the laser, and give an overview of the physical regimes attainable in the laboratory. Then we will dive into the fundamental physics at the heart of current research in the domain.

Module learning outcomes

  • Distinguish sources of transport in plasmas and determine their importance in specific scenarios (such as in different magnetisation or geometry)

  • Describe the physics of waves in magnetised plasmas and analyse their relevance for technical use (such as heating, accessibility, etc)

  • Describe the physics of instabilities in magnetised plasmas and relate them to operational limits in applications

  • Describe and contrast different magnetic confinement schemes

  • Discuss low-temperature plasmas in relation to electron and ion dynamics, chemical kinetics, their distinguishing features compared to fusion plasmas, and their technological applications.

  • Explain why laser-plasma interactions give access to an extremely broad range of different physical regimes and derive the fundamental equations at the heart of the research in laser-plasma interaction

Module content

Advanced Plasma Physics and Magnetic Confinement Fusion

  • Power balance and geometry

  • Collisional processes in magnetised plasmas

  • Neoclassical currents, toroidicity

  • Magneto-hydrodynamic equilibrium

  • Stellarators vs tokamaks

  • Plasma Waves, cutoff, resonance, drive, damping

  • Plasma Instabilities

  • Turbulence and Confinement

  • The boundary of magnetically confined plasmas

Low-Temperature Plasmas

  • Low-temperature plasma sources

  • Strategies for the control of charged and neutral particle dynamics

  • Technological applications

Laser-interactions and high-energy-density plasmas

  • The intensity ladder

  • High-energy-density physics

  • Free-expansion of a plasma

  • Magnetic field generation

  • Laboratory Astrophysics

  • Wakefield acceleration


Task Length % of module mark
Closed/in-person Exam (Centrally scheduled)
Advanced Plasma Physics for Fusion and Applications
3 hours 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Closed/in-person Exam (Centrally scheduled)
Advanced Plasma Physics for Fusion and Applications
3 hours 100

Module feedback

'Feedback’ at a university level can be understood as any part of the learning process which is designed to guide your progress through your degree programme. We aim to help you reflect on your own learning and help you feel more clear about your progress through clarifying what is expected of you in both formative and summative assessments.

A comprehensive guide to feedback and to forms of feedback is available in the Guide to Assessment Standards, Marking and Feedback. This can be found at:

The School of Physics, Engineering & Technology aims to provide some form of feedback on all formative and summative assessments that are carried out during the degree programme. In general, feedback on any written work/assignments undertaken will be sufficient so as to indicate the nature of the changes needed in order to improve the work. Students are provided with their examination results within 25 working days of the end of any given examination period. The School will also endeavour to return all coursework feedback within 25 working days of the submission deadline. The School would normally expect to adhere to the times given, however, it is possible that exceptional circumstances may delay feedback. The School will endeavour to keep such delays to a minimum. Please note that any marks released are subject to ratification by the Board of Examiners and Senate. Meetings at the start/end of each semester provide you with an opportunity to discuss and reflect with your supervisor on your overall performance to date.

Our policy on how you receive feedback for formative and summative purposes is contained in our Physics at York Taught Student Handbook a supplement to the MSc Fusion Energy Handbook.

Indicative reading

Advanced Plasma Physics +Magnetic Confinement Fusion

J. Freidberg “Ideal MHD” Cambridge University Press (2014) *

R. Fitzpatrick “Plasma Physics: an Introduction” CRC (2014)

R. Goldston & P. Rutherford “Introduction to plasma physics” IoP (1995)**

T. H. Stix “Waves in Plasmas” AIP Press, Springer-Verlag (1992) ***

J. Freidberg “Plasma Physics and Fusion Energy” Cambridge University Press (2007)

High Energy density physics, Drake R P, Springer (2006)

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.