PHYSICS 7013 - Quantum Field Theory

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2016

Photons and the electromagnetic field, Lagrangian field theory and Klein-Gordon field, the Dirac field and photons: co-variant theory, the S-matrix expansion, Feynman diagrams and rules in QED; QED processes in lowest order, radiative corrections.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PHYSICS 7013
    Course Quantum Field Theory
    Coordinating Unit School of Physical Sciences
    Term Semester 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Ross Young

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes

    1. demonstrate an understanding of field quantisation and the expansion of the scattering matrix;

    2. carry out practical calculations based on Feynman diagrams.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources

    - Peskin, M.E. and D.V. Schroeder, An Introduction to Quantum Field Theory, Addison-Wesley 1995, Ch. 1-5.
    Recommended Resources

    Mandl, F. and G. Shaw, Quantum Field Theory, Wiley 1984.
    Online Learning

    MyUni: Teaching materials and course documentation will be posted on the MyUni website (
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes

    - Lectures 24 x 1-hour sessions with 2 sessions per week

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    A student enrolled in a 3 unit course, such as this, should expect to spend, on average 12 hours per week on the studies required. This includes both the formal contact time required to the course (e.g., lectures and practicals), as well as non-contact time (e.g., reading and revision).
    Learning Activities Summary

    - Review of four-vector notation
    - Why quantise fields? (a) t ≠ operator, so neither is x; (b) causality; (c) photon field
    - Review point mechanics: Noether's theorem, Jacobi first integral, Hamiltonian

     Classical Field Theory
    - Lagrangian (density), action, field equations of motion, equivalent Lagrangian
    - Real and complex scalar fields, 4-potential and Maxwell's equations, Schrödinger field
    - Stress-energy-momentum tensor and four-momentum, Hamiltonian (density)

    Field Quantisation
    - Dirac's quantum electrodynamics (1927)
    - Free scalar field (real), 3-Fourier coefficients as ladder operators, particle number operators, Hamiltonian, zero-point energy and normal ordering, equal-time field commutators, complex scalar field
    - Heisenberg picture, space-time translations, ground state, invariantly normalized one-particle states, Fock space

    Invariant Functions
    - Lorentz invariance and causality, Pauli-Jordan function, unordered free two-point function, boundary value of complex function, time-ordered functions, contour integrals and i prescriptions in momentum space
    - Feynman propagator, Green's function property and relation to canonical commutators

     Fermion Fields
    - Replace commutators with anti-commutators; (Dirac equation, traces, polarization sums, etc., done concurrently in Relativistic Quantum Mechanics and Particle Physics); free fermion field and propagator, Lorentz properties

     Interacting Theories
    - Local interactions: Yukawa, electromagnetic, Mexican hat
    - Interaction picture, time-evolution operator, S-matrix, Green's functions
    - Contractions, Wick's theorem, Dyson-Wick expansion
    - Feynman diagrams and rules for theory, position and momentum space, Green's functions and S-matrix
    - Feynman rules for complex scalar and Yukawa theories

     Introductory Quantum Electrodynamics
    - Free photon field, gauge fixing (elementary), covariant gauges.
    - Feynman rules.
    - Polarisation sums.

    Cross Sections and Decay Rates
    - Wave packets for initial and final particles, mutual beam flux, sums over final states, identical particles, examples such as Compton scattering
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment task Type of assessment Percentage of total assessment
    Yes or No
    Objectives being assessed / achieved
    Assignments Formative & Summative 50% No 1-2
    Final exam Summative 50% No 1-2
    Assessment Detail

    The standard assessment consists of 3 assignments. This may be varied by negotiation with students at the start of the semester.

    Final exam
    One 3 hour exam is used to assess the understanding of and ability to use the material.

    Submission of Assigned Work
    Coversheets must be completed and attached to all submitted work. Coversheets can be obtained from the School Office (room G33 Physics) or from MyUNI. Work should be submitted via the assignment drop box at the School Office.

    Extensions for Assessment Tasks
    Extensions of deadlines for assessment tasks may be allowed for reasonable causes. Such situations would include compassionate and medical grounds of the severity that would justify the awarding of a supplementary examination. Evidence for the grounds must be provided when an extension is requested. Students are required to apply for an extension to the Course Coordinator before the assessment task is due. Extensions will not be provided on the grounds of poor prioritising of time. The assessment extension application form can be obtained from:

    Late submission of assessments
    If an extension is not applied for, or not granted then a penalty for late submission will apply. A penalty of 10% of the value of the assignment for each calendar day that is late (i.e. weekends count as 2 days), up to a maximum of 50% of the available marks will be applied. This means that an assignment that is 5 days or more late without an approved extension can only receive a maximum of 50% of the mark.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
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