PHY304  Particle Physics    Dr. C.N. Booth

The following information is available for this Level Three course:
    General description   Recommended books   Syllabus & Handouts   Exam paper, answers and feedback  Material displayed in lectures

General Description

Value: 10 credits
Taught: Autumn Semester
Duration: 21 lectures
Timetable: 16:00 - 16:50 on Mondays in Hicks Lecture Theatre 7 and 10:00 - 10:50 on Tuesdays in Diamond Lecture Theatre 2

Course Aims: To provide an introduction to the field of modern particle physics, incorporating a description of the fundamental particles and their interactions, with the tools to perform kinematic calculations in simple situations.

Objectives: On successful completion of this course, you should:

Handouts: A course handbook is provided, consisting of a summary of key points and definitions, diagrams and other information.

Assessment: This has two components, homeworks and the end-of-semester examination.

The purpose of the weekly exercises is to help with revision of the lecture material and to give practice in problem solving.  Five homeworks, on alternate weeks, will be marked and returned, with comments. The total homework mark counts 15% towards the module. (Although the other exercises will not be assessed, they still form an important part of the course and should be attempted seriously. Solutions to these exercises will be handed out no later than two weeks after they are set.)

The two-hour examination has one compulsory short-answer question, and a choice of 2 other questions from a selection of 4. The compulsory question is marked out of 20 and the others out of 15; together they count 85% towards the module.

Context: PHY304 is part of the core of all BSc and MPhys single honours and dual degrees, including Chemical Physics.

Recommended Books:

Text Book: Introduction to Elementary Particles - David Griffiths
Highly recommended for background reading:
Ideas of Particle Physics - G.D. Coughlan, J.E. Dodd & B.M. Gripaios
(Sections of Ideas of Particle Physics will be recommended throughout the course.)
Further Reading: Introduction to High Energy Physics - Donald H. Perkins

PHY304 - Particle Physics - Syllabus

(20 Lectures)

Click on the link to see the handout and supplementary material for that unit on the screen.  For PDF versions of handouts (more suitable for printing), use the list below the syllabus.

  1. Introduction

  2. Units - energy, momentum and mass.

  3. Cross-Sections

  4. Total and partial cross-sections.  Differential cross-sections  Elastic scatteringForm factor F(q).  Born approximation.  Fourier relationship between ρ(r) and F(q).

  5. Kinematics

  6. Energy-momentum relationship.  4-vectors P = (p, iE).  4-momentum transfer, q.

  7. Classification of Particles

  8. Fermions and bosons; constituents of matter and fields. Introduction to the Standard Model. Leptons and quarks.

  9. Interactions and Fields

  10. Exchange bosons.  The 4 fundamental forces; their ranges and relative strengths.  Feynman diagrams.  Virtual particles.  Yukawa potential.

  11. Invariance Principles and Conservation Laws

  12. Origin of conservation laws, properties of space-time.  Conservation of p, E and L.  Global phase or gauge transformations; multiplicative conservation laws; charge conjugation (C), parity (P) and time-reversal (T) symmetries;  CPT theorem.

  13. Fundamental Interactions
    1. Electromagnetic - QED, electron self-energy, vacuum polarisation, renormalisation.  Magnetic moments, g−2 experiment and theory.
    2. Weak -  Low energies, beta decay, W+,W.  High energy divergences and electroweak unification, Z0e+e annihilation experiments; number of fermion generations.
    3. Strong -  QCD, quarks and gluons, colour, αs (running).  Allowed hadrons, hadronisation and jets.

  14. Properties of Quarks

  15. Isospin & strangeness, charm, beauty (bottom), top.  Quark content of hadrons.  Symmetries and allowed combinations of quarksCKM matrix and weak eigenstatesStrangeness regeneration.

  16. Evidence in support of quark model

  17. e+e scattering and annihilation; time-like and space-like virtual photons, R and colour factor.  Deep inelastic scattering, scaling.  Jets and gluon bremsstrahlung.

  18. Summary

PDF versions of handouts:  Introductory Notes   Scattering & Form Factors   Fermions & Bosons   Interactions & Fields   Yukawa Potential & Invariance Principles   Quantum ElectroDynamics   Weak Interaction   Strong Interaction   Properties of Quarks   Evidence for Quarks  

2016-17 Exam paper

Last year's exam paper is available in pdf format.

It is not departmental policy to provide complete specimen answers to past examination papers. However, to help you in revision, numerical values and similar information are given below for recent papers so that you can check your attempts. If you have attempted past questions and wish to discuss the descriptive questions or the details of your calculations, please see me!

Feedback on recent examination performance is also available.

Numerical AnswersExamination Feedback
January 2017
Numerical Answers
January 2016
Numerical Answers
January 2015
Numerical Answers

If you have any queries about this course, please e-mail me at

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