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Medical Physics - PHY00075H

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  • Department: Physics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Mikhail Bashkanov
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

The module is aiming to expand physics students' erudition in less explored but more employability attractive interdisciplinary areas of physics - medical physics.

Related modules

Pre-requisites:  No pre-requisites; Nuclear Physics Y2 is highly desirable

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

Module 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 the 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 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. Synthesise, present, and discuss the applications of physics techniques in a specific medical example case

Module content

  • Introduction. Course structure.

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

  • Radioactivity. Radiation safety and security. Radiation protection standards. Dosimetry. Radiation sources. Radiation protection in case of nuclear accidents.

  • Brachytherapy, molecular therapy

  • External beam therapy (photon). Intensity modulated radiotherapy. Effects of radiation at cellular level.

  • External exotic hadron beam therapy (proton, ion). Accelerators for hadron beam therapy. Beam properties. Mixed beam therapy.

  • Fast neutron therapy. Thermal neutron therapy.

  • Exotic external hadron beam therapy (pion, anti-proton). Fast neutron. Thermal neutron therapy.

  • Radiology

  • Ultrasound

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

  • Project meeting. GEANT4 computer simulation software.Simulation of external beam therapy with GEANT4.

  • Employability

  • Tomography, basic principles and mathematical methods. The overview of modern tomography techniques. Imaging.

  • Detectors. Scintillating detectors (plastic, crystals), Solid state, Trackers, Compton cameras.

  • Computer tomography, CT


  • Positron Emission Tomography

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

  • Applied MRI.

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

  • Visit to the MRI/PET or medical facility.

  • Image processing an image analysis

  • Playing with Tabletop MRI

  • Real examples of Geant4 simulations

  • Everyday Medical Physics: temperature, blood pressure, electrocardiogram, heart rate, oxygen level

  • GP lecture

  • Brain activity, brain-computer interface, artificial intellect.

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

Tutorials: 6 Sheets, 5 question each.


Task Length % of module mark
Closed/in-person Exam (Centrally scheduled)
Medical Physics Exam
1.5 hours 40
Project Essay
N/A 55
Project Presentation
N/A 5

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Medical Physics Project:

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 tumour size/depth – find best beam conditions.


Task Length % of module mark
Closed/in-person Exam (Centrally scheduled)
Medical Physics Exam
1.5 hours 40
Project Essay
N/A 55
Project Presentation
N/A 5

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

The course book for the Medical physics part is Applications of Modern Physics in Medicine, Mark Strikman, Kevork Spartalian & Milton W. Cole

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.