PHYSICS 7551 - Radiotherapy Physics

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2020

Radiation therapy involves the therapeutic use of controlled doses of radiation for cancer treatment in hospitals. This reading-tutorial course consists of 24 modules covering various aspects of Radiotherapy Physics. The major topic areas include: Introduction and a Radiobiological Basis for Radiotherapy, Radiation Dosimetry, Dose Calibration Protocols, Equipment in Radiotherapy, Radiotherapy Prescription and Treatment Planning, Dose Calculation, Radiotherapy Treatment Techniques, Advanced Topics in Radiotherapy.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PHYSICS 7551
    Course Radiotherapy 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
    Assumed Knowledge PHYSICS 7011
    Biennial Course Course offered in even years
    Assessment Workshop preparation, assignments, exam
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Alexandre Santos

    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 Describe the radiobiological basis for radiotherapy;
    2 Explain the principles of radiotherapy equipment;
    3 Define the characteristics of clinical beams and their measurement;
    4 Describe how dose produced by radiation sources can be quantified by measurement if ionization charge;
    5 Understand the principles of dose calculation;
    6 Understand the need for and principles of quality control of equipment in radiotherapy;
    7 Describe the use of sealed and unsealed sources in radiotherapy;
    8 Discuss a range of radiotherapy treatment techniques;
    9 Discuss sources of uncertainties and their potential impact in radiotherapy.
    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
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    • H. E. Johns and J. R. Cunningham, The Physics of Radiology, 4th edition, Thomas, Illinois, USA, 1983.
    • F. Khan, Radiotherapy Physics, 4th edition, Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore, Maryland, USA 2010.
    • E. B. Podgorsak, (Editor), Radiation Oncology Physics: A Handbook for Teachers and Students, IAEA (2005).
    Recommended Resources
    • D. Greene and P.C. Williams, Linear Accelerators for Radiation Therapy, 2nd edition , IOP (1997).
    • P. Hoskin and C. Coyle (ed), Radiotherapy in Practice: Brachytherapy, Oxford University Press, (2005).
    • F.M. Khan and R.A. Potish, Treatment Planning in Radiation Oncology, Williams and Wilkins, (1998).
    • P. Metclafe, T. Kron and P. Hoban, The Physics of Radiotherapy X-Rays from Linear Accelerators, Medical Physics Publishing, Madison (1997).
    • J. van Dyk, The Modern Technology of Radiation Oncology – A Compendium for Medical Physicists and Radiation Oncologists, Medical Physics Publishing, (2005).
    • S. Webb, The Physics of Conformal Radiotherapy – Advances in Technology, IoP Publishing, (1997).
    • S Webb, The Physics of Three-Dimensional Radiation Therapy, IoP Publishing, (2001).
    • J. R. Williams & D. I. Thwaites Radiotherapy Physics in Practice 2nd edition, Oxford University Press, (2000)
    Online Learning
    • Students are required to access reading material from MyUni throughout the semester.
    • External students are required to attend workshops via audio-visual internet link.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    Students are provided with reading material prior to a weekly 2 hour workshop. Students are expected to have completed the reading material and answered questions related to the reading material before each workshop. Students are also encouraged to provide feedback on difficult or interesting material. External students are able to connect to the workshop via Blackboard Collaborate. Workshops are designed to be interactive, so that challenging concepts can be discussed in a group setting.

    Several practical exercises will be planned through the course. External students working in a radiotherapy department will be expected to perform the practicals under the supervision of an onsite supervisor. The practicals are not assessable, but are designed to give students practical experience in radiotherapy departments.

    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:

    1.    Introduction and Radiobiological Basis of Radiotherapy

    2.    Review of Radiation Physics for Radiotherapy

    3.    Dosimetric Quantities and Cavity Theory

    4.    Calculation of Absorbed Dose from Measurements of Charge Using Calibrated Ionization Chambers

    5.    Calibration Protocols

    6.    Radiotherapy Treatment Machines I: X-ray tubes and Co-60 units

    7.    Radiotherapy Treatment Machines II: Medical Electron Linear Accelerators

    8.    Linac Acceptance Testing, Commissioning and QA

    9.    Radiotherapy Treatment Simulation, Prescribing and Reporting

    10. Simple Photon Treatment Planning Techniques

    11. Computerised Photon Treatment Planning Systems and Commissioning

    12. Photon Dose Calculation in Treatment Planning Systems

    13. Treatment Plan Assessment and Biological Models in Radiotherapy Planning

    14. Conventional Photon Treatment Techniques

    15. Specialised Photon Treatment Techniques

    16. Electron Planning and Treatment Techniques

    17. Brachytherapy: Treatment Techniques and Devices

    18. Brachytherapy: Source Calibration and Dose Calculation

    19. Unsealed source therapy

    20. Hadrontherapy

    21. Image Guided Radiotherapy

    22. Uncertainties in Radiotherapy and Treatment Delivery Verification

    23. Clinical Trials in Radiotherapy

    24. Review of Novel Radiotherapy Techniques
  • 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
    Approx Timing of assessment
    Objectives being assesses/achieved
    Workshop preparation Formative and Summative 10% No Weeks 1-12 1 - 9 
    Assignments Formative and Summative 40% No Weeks 3,6,9,12 1 - 9 
    Final Examination Summative 50% No 1 - 9
    Assessment Detail
    Workshop preparation
    Workshops will be held weekly. Before each workshop, students work through the relevant course material, prepare answers to the embedded questions, and identify aspects which require further explanation. Grading of the short answer preparation work is based on the thought process demonstrated by the student, rather than the correctness of answers.

    The standard assessment consists of 4 assignments. Assignments consist of a combination of between 5 and 10 short answer and numerical questions. Each assignment is of equal weighting.

    Final exam
    One 3 hour exam is used to assess the understanding of and ability to use the material. The exam consists of a combination of short answer and numerical questions.
    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 replacement 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.

    Penalty for Late Submission of Assessment Tasks
    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 the assignment 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 late or more without an approved extension can only receive a maximum of 50% of the marks available for that assignment.
    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

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