Kursussøgning, efter- og videreuddannelse – Københavns Universitet

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Kursussøgning, efter- og videreuddannelse

Introduction to Nuclear and Particle Physics

Practical information
Study year 2016/2017
Block 2
Programme level Bachelor
Course responsibles
  • Jens Jørgen Gaardhøje (8-6d67786a6e75706b4674686f34717b346a71)
  • Stefania Xella (5-7b686f6f644371656c316e7831676e)
Jens Jørgen Gaardhøje, Phone: 353-25309, Office: Qb-18b
Stefania Xella, phone:353-25329, Office: M, 13-1-Mb4
  • The Niels Bohr Institute
Course number: NFYB13008U

Course content

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.

Recommended prerequisites

Good level of Classical mechanics (corresponding to the courses Mek2 and Mek2), Electromagnetism (corresponding to the courses EM1 and EM2), Quantum Mechanics (corresponding to the course KM1), Special Relativity (corresponding to the course Mek1).

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BSc Programme in Physics


Study Board of Physics, Chemistry and Nanoscience

Course type

Single subject courses (day)


1 block


---- SKEMA LINK ----

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures and exercises


Restriction to number of participants: Max 60




to be defined


Category Hours
Lectures 40
Exercises 48
Preparation 54
Exam 64
English 206


Type of assessment

Continuous assessment
Oral examination, about 20 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.
The final grade combines the grade from oral exam (75%) and the grade from take-home exercises (25%).


All aids allowed

Marking scale

7-point grading scale

Criteria for exam assessment

See "Learning Outcome".

Censorship form

No external censorship
More internal examiners


Same as ordinary exam.

Points from take-home exercises submitted during the course count for 25% of the grade. The homework sets cannot be resubmitted.

For the third exam attempt, the student may choose to follow the course again and take the regular exam, or take the re-exam.

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