Atomic and Nuclear Physics - PH503

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2017-18 2018-19
Canterbury Spring and Summer
View Timetable
5 15 (7.5) DR ST Carr







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:

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).

Preliminary 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)

    See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

  • 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.

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