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Nuclear & Particle - PHY00071H

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  • Department: Physics
  • Module co-ordinator: Information currently unavailable
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

The module is a natural extension of the Y2 Particle and Nuclear Physics module, but goes into a more detailed discussion of underlying physics phenomena, with a much more advanced usage of quantum mechanics.

In the Nuclear Physics part,. the properties of ground and excited states of nuclei, especially of odd-mass and odd-odd are covered within the concepts of spherical and deformed shell models. Particular importance is paid to the application of Schrodinger Equation for a central potential and angular momenta coupling phenomena. The alpha/beta/gamma/fission decays and their probabilities are extensively discussed based on quantum-mechanical basis. Some examples of modern experimental techniques and measurements in real research environment (e.g. at CERN) are given. The basics of fission and fusion research and applications will also be covered.

The course will give an overview of the physics, methods and equipment employed in modern particle physics. The basic interaction processes of various particles with each other are outlined, including the interaction of strongly, electro-magnetically, weakly and gravitationally interacting particles. All Standard Model (SM) particles and interactions will be reviewed, including possible extension of SM and physics beyond the SM.

Related modules

Pre-requisites:  Stage 2 Mathematics and Stage 2 Quantum, Atomic, Nuclear and Particle Physics or equivalent

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Semester 2 2023-24

Module aims

In terms of nuclear physics, this module will focus on advanced topics of nuclear structure and decays, and begin to examine how these topics are addressed in contemporary nuclear physics research. We will examine the key nuclear models that underpin nuclear structure, in particular spherical and deformed shell models, and show their links to both “single-particle” and “collective” modes of excitation. The module then continues 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. The physics of nuclear fission and fusion will be discussed as well as the principles of operation of fission and fusion reactors. In all of the above, published data will be used regularly to illustrate and test the ideas presented.

In terms of particle physics, this course will outline the latest developments and methods used in detector construction and data analysis. The effects of particle oscillations will be reviewed based on Kaon and neutrino oscillations experiments. Large part of the course will be devoted to the use of Feynman graphs reaction dynamics with strong electromagnetic weak and even gravitational interactions. Some practical skills based on symmetries and in particular isospin gymnastics will be discussed in detail in lectures and seminars. The module will review modern and planned PP experiments (LHC, EIC, JLab, BELLE2, PANDA, supercollider, JPARC), describing experiments with primary and secondary beams (collider and fixed target mode). Several problematic areas, like Dark matter particles problem, incorporation of gravity into the SM will be also uncovered.

Module learning outcomes

Nuclear physics:

  • Understand the mechanisms to produce the ground and excited states within the spherical and deformed shell models, predict their angular momentum and parity quantum numbers

  • Interpret and utilise 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: alpha, beta, gamma, and calculate alpha, beta and gamma-decay rates,

  • Discuss and analyse the physics of the nuclear fission and fusion processes, and operation of respective types of power reactors

Particle physics:

  • Understand the detailed interactions of particles

  • Elucidate the formation of composite systems from elementary particles

  • Constrain the reaction dynamics by symmetries and type of forces involved in the process

  • Analyse the detectors and methods used to detect particles in modern PP experiments

Module content

Nuclear Physics

  • Spherical Shell Model, ground and excited states
  • Deformed (Nilsson) Shell Model, ground and excited states
  • Vibrational and Rotational models/nuclei
  • Alpha decay, fine structure, tunnelling, selection rules
  • Beta-decay, logft, Fermi/Gamow-Teller decays, selection rules
  • Double beta decay, neutrinoless beta decay
  • Gamma decay, selection rules, reduced strength
  • Fission, prompt/delayed neutrons, mass distributions
  • Nuclear reactors
  • Basics of nuclear fusion

Particle Physics:

  • Introduction. Course structure.
  • The Standard model of particle physics.
  • Reaction kinematics (four vectors, phase space).
  • Electro-Magnetic interactions
  • Strong interactions-I.
  • Strong interactions-II.
  • Weak interactions-I.
  • Weak interactions-II.
  • Composite particles and particle decay
  • Symmetries in particle interactions.
  • Modern detector systems
  • LHC, Higgs discovery, LHCb
  • BELLE2, PANDA, particle factories
  • Secondary beams (photons, pions, kaons, neutrions)
  • Particle oscillations (kaons, neutrions); Majorana/Dirac particles
  • The Big Bang & physics beyond the Standard Model.
  • Upcoming facilities
  • Wrap-up & preparation for the assessment


Task Length % of module mark
Closed/in-person Exam (Centrally scheduled)
Nuclear & Particle
3 hours 80
Physics Practice Questions
N/A 20

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Closed/in-person Exam (Centrally scheduled)
Nuclear & Particle
3 hours 80

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.

Indicative reading

Nuclear Physics:

Krane K S: Introductory nuclear physics (Wiley)

Loveland W, Morrissey D, Seaborg G, Modern Nuclear Chemistry (Wiley)

Particle Physics:

D. Griffiths “Introduction to elementary particles”

D.H. Perkins “Introduction to High Energy Physics”

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.