Relativistic Waves and Quantum Fields
SEM1
7
15
Overlap: None
Prerequisite: SPA5304; SPA6325 & SPA5218
Corequisite: SPA7027U/P Prerequisite of: SPA7001U/P; SPA7032U/P
Description: This module provides a first introduction into the unification of last century's groundshaking revolutions in physics: Special Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. Relativistic wave equations for particles of various spins are derived and studied, and the physical interpretations of their solutions are analyzed. Students will learn about the fundamental concepts of quantum field theory, starting with classical field theory, quantisation of the free KleinGordon and Dirac field and the derivation of the Feynman propagator. Then interactions are introduced and a systematic procedure to calculate scattering amplitudes using Feynman diagrams is derived. Finally, the quantisation of the electromagnetic field is discussed and the relativistic cross sections for various physically relevant examples are calculated.
Assessment: 90% Examination and 10% Coursework Level: 7

Relativity and Gravitation
SEM1
7
15
Overlap: None
Prerequisite: None
Corequisite: None
Description: This module offers an explanation of the fundamental principles of General Relativity. This involves the analysis of particles in a given gravitational field and the propagation of electromagnetic waves in a gravitational field. The derivation of Einstein's field equations from basic principles is included. The derivation of the Schwarzchild solution and the analysis of the Kerr solution inform discussion of physical aspects of strong gravitational fields around black holes. The generation, propagation and detection of gravitational waves is mathematically analysed and a discussion of weak general relativistic effects in the Solar System and binary pulsars is included as a discussion of the experimental tests of General Relativity.
Assessment: 90% Examination and 10% Coursework Level: 7

Research Methods for Astrophysics
SEM1
7
15
Overlap: None
Prerequisite: None
Corequisite: None
Description: Research in astrophysics builds on a vast body of literature and archived data. This module is an introduction to research methods which exploit existing information sources in astrophysics. The module serves as preparation for the research project which forms a major part of the MSc programme. In this module students will learn how to review and evaluate with critical insight, the current state of research of a chosen area in astrophysics. They will receive training in writing academic reports in an appropriate style, and will learn how to convey research material in a presentation. Additional topics will be included so that students are prepared for project work at an advanced level. These can include specific exercises in using astronomical data archives, scientific word processing, mathematical skills, using mathematical and data analysis packages, project planning, etc.
Assessment: 90% Examination and 30% Practical Level: 7

Solar System
SEM1
7
15
Overlap: None
Prerequisite: None
Corequisite: None
Description: As the planetary system most familiar to us, the Solar System presents the best opportunity to study questions about the origin of life and how enormous complexity arise from simple physical systems in general. This module surveys the physical and dynamical properties of the Solar System. It focuses on the formation, evolution, structure, and interaction of the Sun, planets, satellites, rings, asteroids, and comets. The module applies basic physical and mathematical principles needed for the study, such as fluid dynamics, electrodynamics, orbital dynamics, solid mechanics, and elementary differential equations. However, prior knowledge in these topics is not needed, as they will be introduced as required. The module will also include discussions of very recent, exciting developments in the formation of planetary and satellite systems and extrasolar planets (planetary migration, giant impacts, and exoplanetary atmospheres).
Assessment: 90% Examination and 10% Coursework Level: 7

Stellar Structure and Evolution
SEM1
7
15
Overlap: None
Prerequisite: None
Corequisite: None
Description: Stars are important constituents of the universe. This module starts from well known physical phenomena such as gravity, mass conservation, pressure balance, radiative transfer of energy and energy generation from the conversion of hydrogen to helium. From these, it deduces stellar properties that can be observed (that is, luminosity and effective temperature or their equivalents such as magnitude and colour) and compares the theoretical with the actual. In general good agreement is obtained but with a few discrepancies so that for a few classes of stars, other physical effects such as convection, gravitational energy generation and degeneracy pressure have to be included. This allows an understanding of premain sequence and dwarf stages of evolution of stars, as well as the helium flash and supernova stages.
Assessment: 90% Examination and 10% Coursework Level: 7

Functional Methods in Quantum Field Theory
SEM1
7
15
Overlap: None
Prerequisite: SPA5304 and SPA7018U/P or equivalent
Corequisite: None
Description: The module will introduce Feynman's path integral formulation of Quantum Mechanics and apply it to study of Quantum Field Theory (QFT). Emphasis will be given to the role of symmetries (Ward identities), the renormalisation group and the idea of effective action. The concept of Wilson's effective action and the different nature of (ir)relevant/marginal terms will be discussed. Simple scalar theories will provide the example where to apply the concepts and the techniques introduced. The course will also touch on some more advanced topics, such as quantum anomalies and conformal field theories.
Assessment: 90% Examination and 10% Coursework Level: 7

Differential Geometry in Theoretical Physics
SEM1
7
15
Overlap: None
Prerequisite: SSPA6324; SPA6308 or equivalent
Corequisite: SPA7018U/P
Description: The aim of this course is to complement the core Relativistic Waves and Quantum Fields (RWQF) module by providing the student with some advanced tools essential for research in modern Theoretical Physics. Using the same starting point as RWQF, Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism, we will focus on the Lagrangian formulation of the two most prominent theories of our time: YangMills (gauge) theory and gravity. The alternative notation of differential forms will be explored and the geometric aspects of gauge theory emphasised. Building on this, and introducing elements from group theory and fibre bundles we will introduce classical solitons as localised, finite energy solutions to the classical field equations in various dimensions (kinks in 2d, vortices in 3d, monopoles in 4d, instantons in Euclidean 4d) and discuss their properties, including the existence of zeromodes, associated collective coordinates and moduli spaces.
Assessment: 90% Examination and 10% Coursework Level: 7

Radiation Sensors
SEM1
7
15
Overlap: None Prerequisite: SPA4401; SPA4210; SPA4402; SPA4121; SPA4122; SPA6306 Corequisite: None
Description: This module introduces the principles underlying the detection of ionising radiation and the techniques used in modern particle physics experiments and other radiation environments (nuclear, environmental). The fundamental processes involved in the interaction of charged and neutral particles with matter are described and the implications for sensor design are discussed.
A range of modern radiation sensor technologies, including Gaseous sensors, Semiconductor sensors and Scintillators are described and their performance analysed. A number of examples of complete sensor systems used in particle and nuclear physics for example Calorimeters, Tracking detectors and Neutrino detectors are critically evaluated.
Assessment: 90% Examination and 10% Coursework Level: 7
