Medical Physics - PHYS5130

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


The aim of the module in Medical Physics is to provide a primer into this important physics specialisation. The range of subjects covered is intended to give a balanced introduction to Medical Physics, with emphasis on the core principles of medical imaging, radiation therapy and radiation safety. A small number of lectures is also allocated to the growing field of optical techniques. The module involves a major contribution from the professional medical physicist.

Radiation protection (radiology, generic); Radiation hazards and dosimetry, radiation protection science and standards, doses and risks in radiology; Radiology; (Fundamental radiological science, general radiology, fluoroscopy and special procedures); Mammography (Imaging techniques and applications to health screening); Computed Tomography (Principles, system design and physical assessment); Diagnostic ultrasound (Pulse echo principles, ultrasound imaging, Doppler techniques); Tissue optics (Absorption, scattering of light in the tissue); The eye (The eye as an optical instrument); Confocal Microscopy (Principles and resolutions); Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) and applications; Nuclear Medicine (Radionuclide production, radiochemistry, imaging techniques, radiation detectors); In vitro techniques (Radiation counting techniques and applications); Positron Emission Tomography (Principles, imaging and clinical applications); Radiation therapies (Fundamentals of beam therapy, brachytherapy, and 131I thyroid therapy); Radiation Protection (unsealed sources); Dose from in-vivo radionuclides, contamination, safety considerations.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 36
Private study hours: 114
Total study hours: 150


This is not available as a wild module.

Method of assessment

Assignment 1 (25%) on non optics techniques in two stages: a Moodle quiz of 20 minutes (10%), and a Moodle quiz of 30 minutes (15%), with access to the lecture notes;
Assignment 2 on optics techniques (5%), Moodle quiz, 10 minutes, access to the lecture notes
Examination (70%), 2 hours
Academic year 2022/23 examined: In-Person Exam (Standard Exam)

Indicative reading

Physics for Medical Imaging, R.F. Farr and P.J. Allisy-Roberts; with contributions from J. Weir, London: Saunders, 1998 (repr. 2006), ID: 705044; R 895
Hendee, William R., Medical Imaging Physics, William R. Hendee, E. Russell Ritenour, 4th ed., New York: Wiley-Liss, 2002, ID: 633023, q RC 78.7.D53
Physics in Nuclear Medicine, Simon R. Cherry, James A. Sorenson, Michael E. Phelps., 3rd ed, Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders, c2003, ID 690435, R 895
A Practical Approach to Medical Image Processing [with cd-rom] / Elizabeth Berry, New York; London: Taylor & Francis, 2008, Series in medical physics and biomedical engineering, ID 723882, R 857.O6
Confocal Microscopy, edited by T. Wilson, London: Academic Press, 1990. ID 8092, QH 224
Handbook of Biological Confocal Microscopy/edited by James B. Pawley, New York; London: Plenum Press, 1990, Based on papers given at the Confocal Microscopy Workshop held at the Electron Microscopy Society of America Meeting, August 8-9, 1989, in San Antonio, Texas, ID 308784, qQH 224
Handbook of Optical Coherence Tomography, edited by Brett E. Bouma, Guillermo J. Tearney, New York: Marcel Dekker, 2002, ID 649237, R 857.O6
Optical Coherence Tomography, Technology and Applications, Wolfgang Drexler, James G. Fujimoto, (eds.), Berlin; London: Springer, c2008, Biological and medical physics, biomedical engineering, ID 737786, E-Book

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
Knowledge and understanding of physical laws and principles, and their applications in medical physics.
Knowledge and understanding of ionising radiations, with special reference to adverse health effects, to principles relating to radiation dose, and to measures necessary to protect people from the effects of ionising radiations.
Knowledge of medical imaging principles, techniques and applications using X-rays, radionuclides, ultrasound and optical radiation.
Knowledge of therapeutic principles using unsealed sources of radiation in vivo and external radiation sources.
An ability to identify relevant principles and laws when dealing with problems involving measurements or tasks medical physics, with the ability to make assumptions or approximations in order to obtain solutions.
An ability to solve problems in medical physics using appropriate mathematical tools.
An ability to use mathematical techniques and analysis to model physical behaviour.
An ability to present and interpret information graphically within a medical physics context.
An ability to make use of appropriate texts, research-based materials or other learning resources as part of managing their own learning.

The intended generic learning outcomes.On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
Have a knowledge and understanding of:
Problem-solving skills, in the context of both problems with well-defined solutions and open-ended problems of applications of physics laws to health sciences, an ability to formulate problems in precise terms and to identify key issues, and the confidence to try different approaches in order to make progress on challenging problems. Numeracy is subsumed within this area.
Analytical skills - associated with the need to pay attention to detail, to construct logical arguments and to use technical language correctly and to develop an ability to manipulate precise and intricate ideas, to construct logical arguments and to use technical language correctly.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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