NFYB13008U Introduction to Nuclear and Particle Physics

Volume 2018/2019

BSc Programme in Physics


The purpose of this course is to give an introduction to the modern description of nature's smallest units, the subatomic systems at the femtoscale: atomic nuclei and elementary particles.

The course will cover the theoretical and experimental advances which have lead to the current understanding of physics at the subatomic scale, as well as outline the currently open questions in subatomic physics.

More specifically, the course will cover the following topics:

  • Symmetries and conservations laws in nuclear and particle physics.
  • Relativistic kinematics and applications in high energy reactions.
  • The Standard Model theory: fundamental particles (quarks and leptons), and their interactions.
  • The Higgs and the origin of mass. Neutrino oscillations and masses.
  • Ultra-relativistic nucleus collisions, quark-gluon plasma in the early universe and in the laboratory.
  • Nuclear models (liquid drop, shell and collective model).
  • The nucleon-nucleon interaction.
  • Models of alpha, beta and gamma decay, fission.
  • Nuclear astrophysics, primordial and stellar nucleosynthesis.
Learning Outcome

When the course is finished it is expected that the student is able to:


  • Use conservations laws in nuclear and particle physics, to determine which nuclear processes and particle processes are allowed and why.
  • Give an account of nuclear and particle phenomenology in terms of the subatomic particles and interactions and demonstrate understanding of relevant energy scales, and quantum numbers.
  • Use relativistic kinematics to calculate the outcome of high energy collisions.

  • Describe atomic nuclei as a quantum mechanical many-body systems bound by an effective strong interaction. Be able to explain nuclear phenomena and excitations in terms of nuclear models.

  • Describe properties of nuclear reactions and radioactivity in terms of effective models (alpha, beta and gamma decays) and estimate decay rates and characteristics of fusion and fission reactions.

  • Explain the important properties of elementary particles, and their interactions, in the Standard Model of particle physics. Describe essential experimental results which have lead to the formulation of the Standard Model.

  • Formulate the basic elements of calculations of cross sections and decay rates in particle physics.

  • Use the concept of Feynman diagrams to estimate the rate of particle physics processes, for instance in neutrino scattering,  and beta decay.




At the end of the course, students will be familiar with the basic concepts of particle physics and nuclear physics (subatomic physics) . The students will understand the basics of the Standard Model theory for particle physics and basic models describing atomic nuclei and radioactive decays.

The students will be able to explain how nuclear and particle physics phenomena play a role in the description of the evolution of the universe from the Big Bang to present day processes in stars.


The student learns to apply basic knowledge of e.g. quantum mechanics and special relativity, gained in previous courses, to describe physics phenomena at the subatomic level. The course forms the basis for future studies or projects in particle physics or nuclear physics.

For final course literature see Absalon. The following is an example of suggested course literature:

B.R. Martin. Nuclear and particle physics. Wiley, 2nd ed. 

Good level of Classical mechanics, Electromagnetism, Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity (corresponding to the mandatory courses of the physics B.Sc.).
Lectures and exercises
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exam
  • 64
  • Exercises
  • 48
  • Lectures
  • 40
  • Preparation
  • 54
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Continuous assessment
Oral examination, about 25 minutes
The exam consists of two parts:
1) 2 take-home exercises during the course
2) oral exam of about 25 minutes, based on a list of topics communicated to the students several weeks before the exam. No preparation time.
The final grade combines the grade from oral exam (80%) and the grade from take-home exercises (20%).

Each part of the exam has to be passed separately in order to pass the course.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners

Same as ordinary exam. Only the part(s) of the exam that were not passed should be re-taken.

Oral examination, 25 minutes, no preparation time (80% of the grade).

If the continuous part of the evaluation (20% of the grade) was not passed, new homework sets can be submitted no later than two weeks before the oral re-exam.

Criteria for exam assesment

See "Learning Outcome".