Module code: PHY3041

Module provider


Module Leader

PODOLYAK Z Prof (Physics)

Number of Credits


ECT Credits



FHEQ Level 6

JACs code


Module cap (Maximum number of students)


Module Availability

Semester 1

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 117

Lecture Hours: 33

Tutorial Hours: 4

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
School-timetabled exam/test CLASS TEST (1 HOUR) 30%

Alternative Assessment


Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module overview

The first part of the module explores different aspects of the structure of atomic nuclei, starting from basic principles and leading to current research themes. There is an emphasis on the physical limits to nuclear binding and nuclear reactions.

The second part of the module explains how nuclei are synthesised in the Universe. Different processes, such as the burning phase, r, s, p are discussed. The relevance of nuclear structure and reaction physics is discussed.

Module aims

provide a basic understanding of the complex structure of atomic nuclei and the limits of their stability. Also how these can be studied via nuclear reactions.  To ensure that the student has a clear understanding of the processes in start, and also the information needed from nuclear physics in order to quantify these processes.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
Describe the main features of nuclear forces, nuclear shells, collective excitation modes and nuclear stability. They will recognise types of nuclear reactions according to incident energy, impact parameters and outcomes. This knowledge will be applied to nuclear astrophysics. The student will be able to assess the fusion burning in starts, as well as the production of element heavier than iron mainly via neutron induced processes. They will be able to formulate and quantify the reaction rates and the effect of quantum tunnelling and temperature in stars.

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Module content

Indicative content includes:

Nuclear structure: nucleon-nucleon force, the shell model, spin-orbit force, Pauli principle, evidence for shells, single-particle structure, collective (vibrational and rotational) structures. Limits of stability, super-heavy nuclei, proton and neutron drip lines.

Nuclear reactions: Types of nuclear reactions. Coulomb barrier, cross sections. Elastic and inelastic scattering, fusion, deep inelastic, fragmentation reactions. Conservation laws.

Nuclear Astrophysics processes: abundances, nuclear fusion in starts, hydrogen burning, He burning and other burning processes.  Heavy element production via s, r and p processes and astrophysical sites.

Stellar reaction rates: general characteristics of thermo-nuclear reactions, reaction rate calculations, cosmo-chronometry, and the role of experiments.

Methods of Teaching / Learning

33 hours of lectures/tutorials.



Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide the students with the opportunit to demonstrate their knowledge of concepts behind Nuclear Astrophysics.  

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

A 1.5 duration examination paper that consists of 3 questions on Nuclear Astrophysics. Students will be asked to answer 2 from the 3. Full marks in the examination will be equivalent to 70% of the total marks available in assessment of this module.

A one hour class test during week 8. Full marks in the class test will be equivalent of 30% of the total marks available in the assessment on this module.

Formative assessment and feedback:

There will be about 8-9 hour tutorials. The students will receive verbal feedback on their performance during the tutorials.


Reading list


Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2017/8 academic year.