Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2011-2012 (archived)

Module PHYS51160: Elementary Particle Theory I

Department: Physics

PHYS51160: Elementary Particle Theory I

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2011/12 Module Cap
Tied to F3K109


  • A First Class or Upper Second Class Honours degree in Mathematics or Physics.


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To impart an understanding of the ideas, the mathematical methods and the experimental underpinnings of modern theoretical particle physics through several topics taught at MSc level. In respect of the particular areas, to acquire ability in applying the theory and practice of this knowledge to standard and novel problems or in explaining fundamental aspects of the theory.
  • To provide students with an overview of all aspects of Particle Theory, its Standard Model, supersymmetric extensions, string and brane models and its interplay with Cosmology.
  • To equip students for the more advanced topics to be studied in MATH51260.


  • Overview of Particle Physics;
  • Introductory Field Theory;
  • Group Theory;
  • Quantum Electrodynamics;
  • The Standard Model;
  • General Relativity;
  • Quantum Field Theory;
  • Conformal FIeld Theory.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will master a body of knowledge from the following topics: Overview of Particle Physics, Introductory Field Theory, General Relativity, Group Theory, Standard Model, Quantum Electrodynamics, Quantum Field Theory and Conformal Field Theory.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will develop highly specialised and advanced mathematical skills in the areas studied.
  • They will be able to solve complex, novel and specialised problems, draw conclusions and deploy physical intuition, with minimal guidance.
  • They will develop their mathematical self-sufficiency and be able to read and understand advanced theoretical physics independently.
Key Skills:
  • (1) Problem solving, written presentation of an argument.
  • (2) The ability to learn actively and reflectively and to develop intuition, the ability to tackle material which is given both unfamiliar and complex.
  • (3) Self-organisation, self-discipline and self-knowledge.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures indicate what is required to be learned and the application of the theory to examples.
  • Formatively assessed assignments provide practice in the application of high level of rigour and sophisticated techniques of mathematical physics as well as feedback for the students and the lecturer on students' progress.
  • The examinations assess the knowledge acquired and the ability to solve both standard and novel problems.
  • The ability to solve problems will show that the key skills have been developed. (Group (1) is tested directly in the problem solving and group (2) either directly or indirectly by the testing of the knowledge acquired. For group (3), a student who has acquired the knowledge and skills to succeed in this module will necessarily have had to develop the ability to organise and execute a programme of work and will discover aspects of and limits to his/her ability.)

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 128 14 per week 1 hour 128
Preparation and Reading 472
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Examination 1 2 hours 50%
Examination 2 2 hours 50%

Formative Assessment:

Problems set by lecturers, a report at the end of the module, an interview with two staff members.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University