Particle Physics Detector Technology (880F3)

15 credits, Level 7 (Masters)

Spring teaching

The module explores the technical manner in which some of the scientific questions in the fields of experimental particle physics, including high energy physics, neutrino physics etc., are being addressed. The student is introduced to many of the experimental techniques that are used to study the particle phenomena. The focus is on the demands those scientific requirements place on the detector technology and current state-of-the-art technologies.

This module will provide you with:

  • an introduction to some of the basic concepts of particle physics
  • an overview of some of the topical cutting edge questions in the field
  • an understanding of some key types of experiments
  • a detailed understanding of the underlying detector technologies.

Topics covered include:

  1. Intro to particle structure
    1. particles and forces, masses and lifetimes
    2. coupling strengths and interactions
    3. cross sections and decays
  2. Accelerators
    1. principles of acceleration
    2. kinematics, center of mass
    3. fixed target experiments, colliders
  3. Reactors
    1. nuclear fission reactors, fission reactions, types of reactors
    2. neutron sources, absorption and moderation, neutron reactions
    3. nuclear fusion, solar and fusion reactors
  4. Detectors
    1. gaseous
    2. liquid (scintillator, cerenkov, bubble chamber)
    3. solid-state
    4. scintillation
    5. calorimeters, tracking detectors
    6. particle identification
  5. Monte Carlo modelling
    1. physics


69%: Lecture
31%: Practical (Workshop)


40%: Coursework (Problem Set)
60%: Examination (Computer-based examination)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 32 hours of contact time and about 118 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

This module is running in the academic year 2021/22. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. However, we are constantly looking to improve and enhance our courses. There may be changes to modules in response to student demand or feedback, changes to staff expertise or updates to our curriculum. We may also need to make changes in response to COVID-19. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.