Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)


Department: Physics


Type Open Level 4 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Theoretical Physics 3 (PHYS3661).


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • Advanced Quantum Theory IV (MATH4061)


  • This module is designed primarily for students studying Department of Physics or Natural Sciences degree programmes.
  • It builds on the Level 3 modules Foundations of Physics 3A (PHYS3621) and Theoretical Physics 3 (PHYS3661) and provide a working knowledge of relativistic quantum mechanics, quantum field theory and gauge theory at a level appropriate to Level 4 physics students.


  • The syllabus contains:
  • Klein–Gordon equation. Dirac equation. Spin. Free particle and antiparticle solutions of the Dirac equation. Massless fermions. Lagrangian form of classical electromagnetism. Lagrangian form of the Dirac equation. Global gauge invariance. Noether's theorem and conserved current for the Dirac equation. Second quantisation of classical Klein–Gordon field. Local gauge invariance. Lagrangian of Quantum Electrodynamics (QED).
  • Amplitudes, kinematics, phase space, cross sections and decay widths. Simple processes in quantum electrodynamics. Abelian and non-abelian gauge theories. Spontaneous symmetry breaking. Goldstone phenomenon and Higgs mechanism.
  • Standard Model of particle physics. Phenomenology of the weak and strong interactions: electron-positron annihilation, Z resonance, parity violation, muon decay, electroweak precision tests, properties of the Higgs boson, deep inelastic scattering, proton–proton scattering. The Large Hadron Collider. Beyond the Standard Model. Supersymmetry.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Having studied this module students will be familiar with some of the key results of relativistic quantum mechanics and its application to simple systems including particle physics.
  • They will be familiar with the principles of quantum field theory and the role of symmetry in modern particle physics.
  • They will be familiar with the standard model of particle physics and its experimental foundations.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • In addition to the acqusition of subject knowledge, students will be able to apply knowledge of specialist topics in physics to the solution of advanced problems.
  • They will know how to produce a well-structured solution, with clearly-explained reasoning and appropriate presentation.
Key Skills:

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

    • Teaching will be by lectures and workshops.
    • The lectures provide the means to give a concise, focused presentation of the subject matter of the module.
    • The lecture material will be explicitly linked to the contents of recommended textbooks for the module, thus making clear where students can begin private study.
    • When appropriate, lectures will also be supported by the distribution of written material, or by information and relevant links online.
    • Regular problem exercises and workshops will give students the chance to develop their theoretical understanding and problem solving skills.
    • Students will be able to obtain further help in their studies by approaching their lecturers, either after lectures or at mutually convenient times.
    • Student performance will be summatively assessed through an open-book examination and formatively assessed through problem exercises.
    • The open-book examination will provide the means for students to demonstrate the acqusition of subject knowledge and the development of their problem- solving skills.
    • The problem exercises provide opportunities for feedback, for students to gauge their progress and for staff to monitor progress throughout the duration of the module.

    Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

    Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
    Lectures 39 2 per week 1 hour 39
    Workshops 12 weekly 1 hour 12
    Preparation and Reading 149
    Total 200

    Summative Assessment

    Component: Open-book examination Component Weighting: 100%
    Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
    Open-book examination 100%

    Formative Assessment:

    Problem exercises and self-assessment, workshops and problems solved therein.

    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