PHYSICS 7011 - Nuclear and Radiation Physics

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2015

This course is divided into two components; Nuclear Physics and Radiation Physics. Students first receive an introduction to the concepts of nuclear physics including; nuclear systematics, nuclear models, radioactivity, nuclear models, nuclear reactions and applications of nuclear physics. The course then deals with theoretical and applied radiation physics including; interactions of charged particles, interactions of photons, generation of X-rays, attenuation and energy transfer, dosimetric quantities, radiation measurement, and applications in medical physics astrophysics and atmospheric physics.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PHYSICS 7011
    Course Nuclear and Radiation Physics
    Coordinating Unit School of Physical Sciences
    Term Semester 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 2 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Assessment Workshop preparation, presentation, assignments, final exam
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Scott Penfold

    Course Timetable

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

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes

    On completion of this course, students should be able to:

    1. demonstrate a knowledge of fundamental aspects of the structure of the nucleus, radioactive decay, nuclear reactions and the interaction of radiation and matter;
    2. discuss nuclear and radiation physics connection with other physics disciplines – solid state, elementary particle physics, radiochemistry, astronomy;
    3. discuss nuclear and radiation physics applications in medical diagnostics and therapy, energetics, geology, archaeology;
    4. describe experimental techniques used (or developed) for nuclear physics purposes (logic circuits, gamma cameras, semiconductor detectors) and discuss their influence on development of new technologies
    5. explore an application of nuclear and/or radiation physics and communicate their understanding to a group of their peers in a short presentation.


    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)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1 – 4
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 2 – 5
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 2 – 5
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 5
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 3
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 2 – 5
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 5
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    • Williams, W.S.C., Nuclear and Particle Physics, Oxford University Press, 1991
    • Johns, H. E. and J. R. Cunningham, The Physics of Radiology, 4th Edition, CC Thomas: Springfield, 1983
    Recommended Resources
    • Lederer CM and V. S. Shirley, Table of Isotopes, 7th Edition, Wiley, 1978
    • Burcham WE, and M. Jobes, Nuclear and Particle Physics”, Longman, 1995
    • Leo W. R., Techniques for Nuclear and Particle Physics Experiments”, Springer-Verlag, 1994
    • Khan F. M. and A. R. Potish., The Physics of Radiation Therapy, 3rd Edition, Williams and Wilkins, 2003
    Online Learning

    MyUni: Teaching materials and course documentation will be posted on the MyUni website (

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes

    This course is delivered by the following means:

    • Workshops 12 x 2-hour sessions with one session 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
    The course content will include the following:
    Coursework Content

    • Nuclear Physics (50%)
      • General properties of nuclei
      • Stability, systematics, trans-uranic elements
      • Nuclear models, magic numbers
      • Decay processes and half lives: fission,  and  decay, electron capture
      • Radioactive growth and decay, Bateman equations, laboratory generators
      • Radioactive series
      • Natural and artificial radioactivity, environmental problems, eg, radon, mining and waste disposal,
      • Radioisotope production
      • Carbon dating, Accelerator Mass Spectrometry
      • Theory of  and  decay, selection rules
      • Theory of nuclear reactions
      • Interactions of neutrons with matter, neutron activation
      • Applications of nuclear techniques (medical and solid state physics)
    • Radiation Physics (50%)
      • General Properties of X-rays
      • Generation of high energy Photons: X-ray apparatus, accelerators
      • Tubes for imaging and therapy
      • Fluorescent radiation, PIXE, monitoring bone lead levels
      • Radiation measurements and units
      • Interaction of Photons with Matter: photoelectric effect, Compton effect and pair production, Auger effect, Coherent (Rayleigh) scattering
      • Energy transfer and deposition (absorption), build-up and KERMA
      • Charged Particle Energy Losses
      • Linear energy transfer (LET), stopping cross section, Bethe-Bloch formula
      • Electron collision and radiation losses
      • High-energy electron-photon showers, cosmic rays
  • 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 taskType of assessmentPercentage of total assessment for grading purposesHurdle (Yes/No)Outcome being assessed
    Workshop preparation Formative/Summative 0 to 5% No 1
    Presentation Formative/Summative 5 to 10% No 5
    Assignments Formative/Summative 30% No 1-4
    Final exam Summative 55 to 65% No 1-4
    Assessment Detail


    The end-of-semester examination will be based primarily on lecture/tutorial material.

    If there are no more regular practical sessions available which correspond to your missed practical, you will need to attend the end of semester catch-up practical sessions. There is a single catch-up session held at the end of the semester where you will have an opportunity to catch up just one missed practical session.


    Students are expected to attend at least one of the presentation sessions.


    Tutorials will be held weekly.

    Absence from Classes due to illness (or other valid reason)

    If you miss a laboratory session or are unable to attend a tutorial due to illness (or any other valid reason) you will need to fill out a form within 3 working days of your missed session. All forms are available from the School Office or on MyUNI.


    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.

    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
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.