Atomic Physics - PH503

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
(version 2)
Spring 5 15 (7.5) DR S Carr checkmark-circle


Atomic Physics
Review of previous stages in the development of quantum theory with application to atomic physics; Atomic processes and the excitation of atoms; Electric dipole selection rules; atom in magnetic field; normal Zeeman effect; Stern Gerlach experiment; Spin hypothesis; Addition of orbital and spin angular moments; Lande factor; Anomalous Zeeman effect; Complex atoms; Periodic table; General Pauli principle and electron antisymmetry; Alkali atoms; ls and jj coupling; X-rays. Lamb-shift and hyperfinestructure (if time).

Nuclear Physics
Properties of nuclei: Rutherford scattering. Size, mass and binding energy, stability, spin and parity.
Nuclear Forces: properties of the deuteron, magnetic dipole moment, spin-dependent forces.
Nuclear Models: Semi-empirical mass formula M(A, Z), stability, binding energy B(A, Z)/A. Shell model, magic numbers, spin-orbit interaction, shell closure effects.
Alpha and Beta decay: Energetics and stability, the positron, neutrino and anti-neutrino.
Nuclear Reactions: Q-value. Fission and fusion reactions, chain reactions and nuclear reactors, nuclear weapons, solar energy and the helium cycle.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

32 lectures and 2 revision classes and 2 class tests. Total study hours 150, including the above.


This is not available as a wild module.

Method of assessment

Examination 70%; Coursework 30% (including class tests).

Indicative reading

Recommended Texts:
J. Lilley, Nuclear Physics Principles and Applications, Wiley 2001

  • Brehm, John J, (1989) Introduction to the structure of matter: a course in modern physics, Wiley.
  • Kenneth S. Krane, Introductory nuclear physics, New York, 1988,
  • Brehm and Mullin, Introduction to the Structure of Matter. Wiley, 1989

    See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

    Learning outcomes

    Knowledge and understanding of physical laws and principles in Atomic and Nuclear Physics, and their application to diverse areas of physics.

  • An ability to identify relevant principles and laws when dealing with problems in Atomic and Nuclear Physics, and to make approximations necessary to obtain solutions.
  • An ability to solve problems in Atomic and Nuclear Physics using appropriate mathematical tools.
  • An ability to use mathematical techniques and analysis to model physical behaviour in Atomic and Nuclear Physics.
  • An ability to present and interpret information graphically.
  • An ability to make use of appropriate texts, research-based materials or other learning resources as part of managing their own learning.
  • Problem-solving skills, in the context of both problems with well-defined solutions and open-ended problems. Numeracy is subsumed within this area.
  • Analytical skills – associated with the need to pay attention to detail and to develop an ability to manipulate precise and intricate ideas, to construct logical arguments and to use technical language correctly.


    1. Credit level 5. Intermediate level module usually taken in Stage 2 of an undergraduate degree.
    2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
    3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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