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Medical Physics - PHY00064H

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  • Department: Physics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Mikhail Bashkanov
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Related modules

Having taken Nuclear Physics as part of Quantum Physics II in stage 2 is advantageous; Independent study material will be available (15 pages from University Physics)

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21

Module aims

The course will give an overview of the physics, methods and equipment employed in modern medical physics. The basic interaction processes of particles with matter are outlined, including the interaction of ionising and non-ionising radiation with biological systems. Radiotherapy methods including brachytherapy, molecular therapy, external beam therapy (neutron, photon, proton, ion, anti-proton) and the effects of radiation at the cellular level are presented. The course will outline latest development in intensity-modulated mixed-beam radiotherapy. Methods to measure and monitor radiation are discussed. Methods and signal processing employed for high-field/squid MR imaging, PET imaging, SPECT imaging, and ultrasound will be presented. Methods of production (reactor based, cyclotron based, isotope generators) and use of various radiopharmaceuticals will be discussed. Practical use of various detection techniques and methods will be demonstrated in a laboratory sessions. The course will include a significant component based on computer simulation. Links to industry will also be explored.

Module learning outcomes

At the completion of the course students will have acquired the skills to:

  1. Understand the detailed interactions of radiation with matter and biological tissue. Apply this knowledge to compare and contrast a range of radiotherapy techniques
  2. Describe the detectors and methods used to monitor radiation dose and biological damage from radiation
  3. Explain MRI and PET imaging, how the compare and how they are realised in practical devices
  4. Demonstrate the use of computer simulations to investigate aspects of medical physics, detector design, and treatment design
  5. Synthesize, present, and discuss the applications of physics techniques in a specific medical example case

Students will work individually and in groups in both workshop and laboratory environments, with input and support from postgrads and RAs.

Module content

Lecture 1: Introduction. Course structure.

Lecture 2: Tomography, basic principles and mathematical methods. The overview of modern tomography techniques. Imaging.

Lecture 3: The basic interaction processes of particles with matter. Interaction of ionising and non-ionising radiation with biological systems.

Lecture 4: Detectors. Scintillating detectors (plastic, crystals), Solid state, Trackers, Compton cameras.

Lecture 5: Positron Emission Tomography (PET). Basic principles. Detectors. Imaging software. Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT). Computed tomography (CT).

Lecture 6: Applied PET

Lecture 7: Radiotherapy. Brachytherapy, molecular therapy, external beam therapy (neutron, photon). Intensity modulated radiotherapy. Effects of radiation at cellular level.

Lecture 8: External hadron beam therapy (proton, ion, anti-proton). Accelerators for hadron beam therapy. Beam properties. Mixed beam therapy.

Lecture 9: Project meeting. GEANT4 computer simulation software.

Project 1: Simulation of radiation interaction with matter. GEANT4. Detector design.

Project 2: Simulation of external beam therapy with GEANT4.

Lecture 10: Nuclear radio-isotopes used in medicine. Methods of production (nuclear reactors, cyclotrons, isotope generators). Radiopharmaceuticals.

Lecture 11: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI/MRT). Physics of MRI. Signal processing. High-field MRI. Squid-MRI. MRI equipment.

Lecture 12: Applied MRI.

Lecture 13: Exotic tomography (muon, ultrasound, electric resistivity, seismic)

Lecture 14: Modern development in medical physics. Cutting-edge technologies, detectors, techniques. The medical physics of tomorrow.

Lecture 15: Radiation safety and security. Radiation protection standards. Dosimetry. Radiation sources. Radiation protection in case of nuclear accidents.

Lecture 16: Visit to the MRI/PET or medical facility.

Lecture 17: Dosimetry and natural radioactivity.

Seminar: Students' presentations of their project results.

Lecture 18: Questions.

Tutorials: 6 Sheets, 5 question each.


Task Length % of module mark
Medical Physics Assignment 1
N/A 32
Medical Physics Assignment 2
N/A 32
Medical Physics Assignment 3
N/A 36

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information


Project 1: Simulation of external beam therapy with GEANT4. (reference example – standard tissue and 10MeV photon beam.)

  1. Various types of beams including photons, electrons, pions, and heavy ions
  2. Energies 1, 10, 20, 100 MeV for photons 20-200 for charged particles
  3. Dose – depth
  4. Dose – radial extension
  5. Beam spread, divergence
  6. Magnetic field (0,1,3,5T; solenoidal, dipole)
  7. Tissue modifications (e.g. Gd admixture for n-therapy)
  8. Given tumor size/depth – find best beam conditions.



Task Length % of module mark
Medical Physics Assignment 1
N/A 32
Medical Physics Assignment 2
N/A 32
Medical Physics Assignment 3
N/A 36

Module feedback

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

Indicative reading

The course book is

Applications of Modern Physics in Medicine, Mark Strikman, Kevork Spartalian & Milton W. Cole

Other books students might find useful:

  1. Radiation Physics for Medical PhysicistsPodgorsak, Ervin B
  2. 2017 RAPHEX EXAMS 
  3. Radiation Therapy Physics, (2nd edition) William R. Hendee, Geoffrey S. Ibbot, Mosby 1996.
  4. Introduction to Health Physics, (4th edition) Herman Cember, Thomas E. Johnson, McGraw-Hill 2009
  5. Medical Imaging Physics, (4th edition) William R. Hendee, E. Russell Ritenour, Wiley-Liss 2002.
  6. Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology, Russel K. Hobbie and Bradley J. Roth, Springer-Verlag, 2007.

General Nuclear Medicine

  • Ziessman’s Nuclear Medicine : The Requisites, 4e
  • Mettler’s Essentials of Nuclear Medicine Imaging, 6e
  • Ziessman’s Nuclear Medicine: Case Review Series, 2e
  • Appelbaum’s Nuclear Medicine (Radcases), 
  • Fogelman’s An Atlas of Clinical Nuclear Medicine, 3e
  • Treves’ Pediatric Nuclear Medicine/PET, 3e

Nuclear Cardiology:

  • Jaber’s Nuclear Cardiology Review
  • Dilsizian’s Atlas of Nuclear Cardiology, 4e
  • Dubin’s Rapid Interpretation of EKG’s, 6e


  • Lin’s PET and PET/CT: A Clinical Guide
  • Peller’s PET-CT and PET-MRI in Oncology: A Practical Guide
  • Wahl’s Principles and Practice of PET and PET/CT, 2e
  • Subramaniam’s Head and Neck Imaging in Oncology: PET-CT and PET-MRI
  • Bernier’s Head and Neck Cancer: Multimodality Management.
  • Delbeke's Hybrid PET/CT and SPECT/CT Imaging: A Teaching File


  • Cherry’s Physics in Nuclear Medicine, 4e
  • Huda’s Review of Radiologic Physics, 3e

Board Review:

  • Goldfarb’s Nuclear Medicine Board Review
  • Kim’s Nuclear Medicine Exam Questions

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