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MPAGS Modules Currently Being Offered

An introduction to Scientific Computing with Python

Convenor: Steven Bamford

Academic Year: 2017-18

Start Date: 23/10/2017

Module Code: AS1

Module Name: An introduction to Scientific Computing with Python

Duration (Hours): 1.5-2 hours

Duration (Weeks): 5 weeks, 1 session/week

Module Details: This course will give a general introduction to Python programming, useful for all physics postgrads, but with an emphasis on astronomy. It is primarily aimed at graduate students requiring credits as part of the MPAGS training scheme, but other interested students and staff are welcome to join on request.


A reasonable level of undergraduate programming experience is assumed.


The sessions will be timetabled soon. In previous years these have been distributed as one 1.5-2 hour session per week for five weeks in the Autumn semester. There are held in room A6 in the main Nottingham Physics building, and via Access Node broadcasts to various MPAGS and other institutions (Warwick, Birmingham, Bristol, Keele, Leicester, Loughborough, Southampton, ...)


The course will be formatively assessed by the development of a working Python program related to your studies.


Further details are here:

Astronomy Background Reading

Convenor: Simon Dye, Omar Almaini (Nottingham), Andrew Levan (Warwick), Alberto Sesana (Birmingham)

Academic Year: 2017-2018

Start Date: 10/10/2017

Module Code: AS0

Module Name: Astronomy Background Reading

Duration (Hours): 2 hours per week

Duration (Weeks): October-June

Module Details: The aim of this module is to broaden general knowledge in astronomy & astrophysics, and is designed to complement the more focussed background reading that students will naturally undertake in their own specialist area of research. This is a student-centred module, based around a list of reading topics that are tailored to each research group. Please contact your local convenor for further details.


Students must summarize the material that they have learned in a log book, that must be reviewed and signed monthly by their supervisor. Students may maintain this log book as they see fit, but it should be sufficient to demonstrate that the required amount of time per week has been set aside to learn this material. It must be a hardback, bound volume; loose-leaf format will not be acceptable.


Assessment will be via an oral exam in the summer of the first year.

Bose-Einstein Condensation in Ultra Cold Gases

Convenor: Dr Dimitri Gangardt

Academic Year: 2017-2018

Start Date: 10/17/2017

Module Code: AT1

Module Name: Bose-Einstein Condensation in Ultra Cold Gases

Duration (Hours): 10

Duration (Weeks): 5

Lecture Notes1

Lecture Notes 2

Lecture Notes 3

Lecture Notes 4

Lecture Notes 5

Module Details: After its theoretical prediction by Sateyndra N. Bose and Albert Einstein in 1925 the phenomenon of Bose -Einstein condensation (BEC) and related phenomenon of Superfluidity was crucial for understanding behaviour of various physical systems, from liquid helium to neutron stars. Its direct experimental observation with ultra cold alkali gases in 1995 leads to impressive growth of experimental and theoretical studies due to unprecedental level of tunability and control achieved with these systems. In this lecture course I will discuss theoretical concepts of BEC and long range order, elementary excitations, quantised vortices and their relation to phenomenon of superfluidity and macroscopic phase coherence of condensates. Where possible I will discuss experimental observation of these effects. I will also present recent developments of the field and discuss effects of strong correlations between ultra cold atoms arising in low dimensional systems and optical lattices. My presentation will be based on the standard theoretical tools of many body physics, such as first and second quantisation as well as path integrals.

Learning objectives:


To understand and use in their own research the concepts outlined in the Syllabus (below). Completion of derivation presented in lectures will serve as exercises. A short individual interview with each student during Mid-term MPAGS Workshop will be used to assess students' progress.





0. Short historical introduction. Review of recent experiments with ultracold atoms.


1. Bose and Fermi quantum statistics. One body density matrix, momentum distribution and physical observables. Off Diagonal Long Range order. Thermodynamics of ideal Bose gas. Bose-Einstein condensation and off-diagonal long range order. Influence of harmonic trapping potential on BEC of ideal gas, effect of density of states.


2. Interatomic interactions. Low energy collisions and scattering length. Mean field description of interactions. Order parameter and Gross-Pitaevskii equation. Role of the phase and irrotational hydrodynamics. Nonuniform condensates: Thomas Fermi regime and small amplitude oscillations. Persistent currents and Quantised vortices.


3. Bogoliubov theory of weakly interacting bosons: excitation spectrum and quantum fluctuations. Quantum hydrodynamics and Beliaev decay of phonons.


4. Landau theory of superfluidity. Elementary excitations and Landau criterion of superfuid flow. Two-fluid hydrodynamics: normal and superfluid components. First and second sound. Rotation of superfluids.


5. Phase coherence of condensates. Absence of phase coherence in low dimensions (Mermin-Wagner theorem). Interference between two condensates. Josephson effect and its quantisation. Bose-Hubbard Hamiltonianof bosons in optical lattices.




The course will be based on the book "Bose Einstein Condensation" by Lev Pitaevskii and Sandro Stringari. Although the material in lectures is intended to be self contained, a basic knowledge of Quantum Mechanics and Statistical Physics will be required. The students are encouraged to use the corresponding Landau&Lifshits volumes (III,V and IX). Additional sources (such as articles and reviews) will be provided during the course.

Dates and times:

17.10.2017 2pm-4pm

24.10.2017 2pm-4pm

31.10.2017 2pm -4pm

07.11.2017 2pm-4pm

14.11.2017 2pm-4pm

Classical and quantum phase transitions

Convenor: Stephen Powell (Nottingham)

Academic Year: 2017/18

Start Date: 11/7/2017

Module Code: SM2

Module Name: Classical and quantum phase transitions

Duration (Hours): 2 hours per week

Duration (Weeks): 5

Course Materials

Module Details: A phase transition is a sudden qualitative change in the properties of a physical system when a parameter, such as temperature, is tuned through a critical value. In the vicinity of such transitions, remarkable behaviour can be observed, such as universality and (approximate) scale invariance. These critical phenomena can be understood using the "renormalization group", which relates a set of effective descriptions on a range of length scales, and also provides a framework for the calculation of physical observables.


This module will give an introduction to phase transitions, critical phenomena, and the renormalization group, mainly in the context of classical and quantum spin models. It is intended mainly for students in condensed matter theory, but much of the material is relevant for other areas of theoretical physics.



Tuesdays and Wednesdays 10:00‒11:00 from 7 November to 6 December (inclusive)



Classical spin models; phase structures and critical properties

Landau theory of phase transitions; Ginzburg criterion

Euclidean field theory; diagrammatic expansion

Renormalization group; momentum-shell RG

Quantum phase transitions; quantum Ising chain



There will be two problem sets covering the material in the module.


Recommended references:

Scaling and Renormalization in Statistical Physics, J. Cardy (Cambridge, 1996)

Lectures on Phase Transitions and the Renormalization Group, N. Goldenfeld (Addison-Wesley, 1992)

Quantum Phase Transitions, S. Sachdev (Cambridge, 2011)

M. E. Fisher, Rev. Mod. Phys. 46, 597 (1974)

K. G. Wilson, Rev. Mod. Phys. 47, 773 (1975)

Epitaxy fundamentals

Convenor: Dr Maksym Myronov

Academic Year: 2017-2018

Start Date: 15/01/2018

Module Code: 

Module Name: Epitaxy fundamentals

Duration (Hours): 12, 1 hour per session

Duration (Weeks): 6 weeks, 2 hours per week

Module Details: Most of modern electronic, optoelectronic, spintronic, thermoelectric, photovoltaic and sensor devices are fabricated of thin film semiconductor materials, which are epitaxially grown on a substrate. Due to precise control over chemical composition, doping, and dimensions of a thin film made possible by modern epitaxial techniques, one can obtain a material with entirely novel physical properties which are often based on quantum phenomena arising from the confinement of charge carriers in very tiny volumes, comparable with their De Broglie wavelengths. In order to understand epitaxial growth, relevant thermodynamic and kinetic processes and phenomena which make the transition from a disordered phase, i.e. gas or liquid, to an ordered crystalline phase possible have to be known.

The proposed lecture course offers an introduction to the epitaxy fundamentals. Application examples of epilayers used in various existing and potentially new devices will accompany discussion and review on each topic. The course consists of 12 lectures provisional titles of which are outlined below.


1) Introduction

2) Thin films deposition

3) Epilayers characterization techniques

4) Substrates for epitaxy

5) Epitaxial growth modes

6) Planar and selective epitaxy

7) Chemical Vapour Deposition

8) Liquid Phase Epitaxy

9) Solid Source Molecular Beam Epitaxy

10) Gas Source Molecular Beam Epitaxy

11) Pulsed Laser Deposition

12) Atomic Layer Deposition

Formation of planetary systems

Convenor: Richard Alexander

Academic Year: 2017/18

Start Date: 02/11/2017

Module Code: AS8

Module Name: Formation of planetary systems

Duration (Hours): 2

Duration (Weeks): 5 weeks, 1 session per week

Module Details: This module aims to give students a broad overview of how planets form. We will primarily consider planet formation from an astrophysical perspective (rather than a planetary science or cosmochemistry approach), and the course will cover both observational and theoretical research into planets and their origins. We will review observations of both the Solar System and exoplanets, and discuss observations and models of the structure and evolution of protoplanetary discs (which are the sites of planet formation). We will then consider the dynamics of solid bodies, and discuss how sub-micron-sized dust grains grow to form larger bodies. From this point our theory of planet formation remains incomplete, but we will discuss and critique the leading models for both terrestrial and giant planet formation. Finally we will discuss planet migration and the dynamics of young planetary systems, and how these processes shape the architectures of planetary systems.




Existing course web-pages are here:

Group Theory for Particle Physics

Convenor: Dr O. Villalobos Baillie (Birmingham)

Academic Year: 2017-18

Start Date: 30/10/17

Module Code: PP5

Module Name: Group Theory for Particle Physics

Duration (Hours): 10 1 hour sessions

Duration (Weeks): 4

Module Details: Learning objectives:


Review properties of groups and how they can be applied in particle physics

Get overview of relevant concepts in Lie groups and Lie algebra;

Get introduction to the application of these groups to the static Quark Model;

Study structure of SU(3) multiplets and their coupling.


Lecture notes are available at

Introduction to Particle Physics

Convenor: Steven Worm (Birmingham)

Academic Year: 2017-2018

Start Date: 04/10/2017

Module Code: PP1

Module Name: Introduction to Particle Physics

Duration (Hours): 10

Duration (Weeks): 4

Module Details: These lectures give a brief introduction to modern particle physics. Lectures will cover the properties and classification of forces and particles (e.g. leptons, bosons, hadrons, baryons, mesons). They will introduce the relativistic kinematics governing the particle production, decay and lifetime, which touch upon the concepts of reference frames, cross-sections, invariant masses, and Feynman diagrams. A brief introduction to the Standard Model will cover concepts such as weak interactions, QCD and QED. Final lectures revisit conservation laws and symmetries as applied to particle physics, presenting the concepts of angular momentum, spin, isospin and CPT.

Nano Surface Physics

Convenor: Gavin Bell

Academic Year: 2017-18 Spring Term (actual dates TBD)

Start Date: 01/01/18

Module Code: NS1

Module Name: Nano / Surface Physics I

Duration (Hours): 2

Duration (Weeks): 5 weeks, 1 session per week

Module Details: The aim is to introduce students to aspects of surface and thin-film physics. The course will be based around 5 sessions, 3 comprising core material and 2 focused on case studies. It will not involve much "advanced" condensed matter physics, building on undergraduate CMP understanding. The course will be assessed by lecture attendance and problem sheets associated with each lecture, for which a reasonable attempt must be made.


Lecture 1: Introduction and surface and thin-film structure

Motivation, ultra-high vacuum, electron and X-ray interactions. with surfaces.

Crystallography: from bulk to surface.

Surface relaxation and reconstruction.


Lecture 2: Surface and thin-film diffraction

Low energy electron diffraction (LEED).

Surface and thin-film X-ray diffraction (SXRD).


Lecture 3: Thin-film growth and XPS

Surface growth: examples and underlying theory.

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy: theory and practice.


Lecture 4: Case Study

Example - epitaxy by pulsed laser deposition (PLD)

Example - MBE growth of epilayers and their analysis by RHEED and synchrotron XRD


Lecture 5: Short Case Study and Revision / Problems

Example - "not just nearly clean, but really clean"... how to get an atomically clean surface

Particle Detection and Data Analysis

Convenor: Dr Kostas Nikolopoulos

Academic Year: 2017-2018

Start Date: 04/10/2017

Module Code: PP6

Module Name: Particle Detection and Data Analysis

Duration (Hours): 10

Duration (Weeks): 4

Module Details: Module aims and learning objectives:

To provide an introduction to particle detectors and particle physics techniques.


Specialized and intended for high energy physics students.


Syllabus (preliminary):

Interaction of charged particles with matter;

Interaction of photons and electrons with matter;

Example of a gaseous detector (drift/diffusion/avalanche creation, signal formation and processing);

Statistics in Particle Physics;

The Monte-Carlo method


The lecture notes and the homework assignments can be found here: h

Photonics residential laboratory

Convenor: Vincent Boyer

Academic Year: 2017-18

Start Date: 12/12/2017

Module Code: AT8

Module Name: Photonics residential laboratory

Duration (Hours): 8 hours per day

Duration (Weeks): 3 full consecutive days

Module Details: The Photonics residential lab aims to introduce the students with a variety of optical techniques used in quantum technologies and many other fields of experimental physics. The focus is both on the fundamental aspects of these techniques as well as tips to avoid common pitfalls. The lab is designed to be modular, such that a reasonable amount of tailoring can be achieved, depending on the students interests. Each module will run for half a day (or sometimes less), and may be comprise a short introductory lecture. The whole lab will run for 3 consecutive days at the University of Birmingham.


For the first year (December 2017), there may be more limited choice, as we are setting up the lab, and we may be limited to 8-10 students, assuming they are working in pairs.


Other short lectures may include basic beam manipulation (mirrors, etc), how to handle and clean optics, etc.


As places are limited, please contact the module convenor early on, indicating your field(s) of interest.


The planned main modules are:


Optical fibre (2 set-ups)

 • Gaussian optics (propagation, lens transformation, etc)

 • fibre injection (coupling + polarisation control)

 • Aberrations and breakdown of Gaussian approximation


Acousto-optic modulator + photodiode (1-2 set-ups)

 • AOM optimisation, including double pass

 • Thermal effects in AOMs

 • photodiode bandwith

 • Optional: observation of beats between 2 beams


Camera (2 set-ups)

 • Imaging with camera and laser beam

 • (de-)Magnification, detection optimisation (types of camera noises, etc)


Saturated absorption (2 set-ups)

 • Absorption, Doppler effect, saturation

 • Doppler-free set-up, optimisation, pumping effects


Cavity (2 set-ups)

 • Resonance

 • Modes of a cavity, mode matching

 • Phase modulation

 • PDH locking


Polarisation (2 set-ups)

 • Basic components and polarisation manipulation

 • Polarisation analysis

 • Pitfalls: thermal effects in waveplates, effect of dielectric mirrors, etc.


QED and the Standard Model

Convenor: Konstantinos A. Petridis

Academic Year: 2017/2018

Start Date: 30/10/2017

Module Code: PP3

Module Name: QED and the Standard Model

Duration (Hours): 10

Duration (Weeks): 4 weeks

Course Material

Module Details: These lectures are designed to give an introduction to the gauge theories of the standard model of particle physics. No formal quantum field theory is assumed so there are times when rigour will be lacking. In the limited time available, the goal will be to understand the underlying physics of fermions and their interactions via strong, electromagnetic and weak interactions. Lectures will cover topics including:


- Link between symmetries and conservation laws

- Fields and symmetry transformations, Noether's Theorem

- Abelian Local Gauge invariance and the QED Lagrangian

- Non-Abelian Local Gauge invariance and QCD Lagrangian

- Chiral Fermions

- Weak interactions and Electroweak theory

- Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking and the Higgs Boson

- Quark couplings and the CKM matrix

- Neutrinos and their mass

Quantum Field Theory

Convenor: Dr Tasos Avgoustidis (Nottingham)

Academic Year: 2017-2018

Start Date: 30/10/2017

Module Code: QFT

Module Name: Quantum Field Theory

Duration (Hours): 1 hr ( 2 hrs for 1st )

Duration (Weeks): 4 weeks (10 hrs total; 2-3hrs per week)


Lecture 1: 

Lecture 2: 

Lecture 3: 

Lecture 4: 

Lecture 5: 

Lecture 6: 

Lecture 7: 

Lecture 8: 

Lecture 9: 

Lecture 10: 

Module Details: Module Aims:


This module will provide an introduction to Quantum Field Theory, designed to follow-on from PP2: Relativistic Quantum Mechanics. We will construct Feynman rules from first principles and use them to study elementary processes involving scalars and fermions. Our approach will be through canonical quantisation. This is an introductory course, which will not cover renormalisation. For QED and non-abelian gauge theories, see module PP3.





Lecture 1: Preliminaries (Classical) - Classical mechanics, Classical Field Theory, Symmetries and Noether currents

Lecture 2: Preliminaries (Quantum) - Canonical Quantization, Schrödinger, Heisenberg & Interaction Pictures, Harmonic Oscillator

Lectures 3-4: Free Fields - Canonical Quantization, Vacuum State, Particle States, Causality, Feynman Propagator

Lectures 5-6: Interacting Fields - S-Matrix, Wick’s Theorem, Feynman Diagrams, examples

Lecture 7: Spinors - Lorentz Group, Spinor representation

Lecture 8: Dirac Equation

Lectures 9-10: Quantization of Dirac Equation - Fermions, Feynman Rules, examples



Lectures 1 and 2 will be given in a single 2-hr session on Mon 30 Oct. All other lectures will be in 1-hr sessions.

Relativistic Quantum Mechanics

Convenor: Dr Thomas Blake

Academic Year: 2017-2018

Start Date: 09/10/2017

Module Code: PP2

Module Name: Relativistic Quantum Mechanics

Duration (Hours): 1

Duration (Weeks):  3 with approx 3 lectures per week

Module Details: Module aims: To provide an introduction to the calculation of scattering amplitudes in High Energy Physics. A more detailed course syllabus is provided below. This course is intended for particle physics Ph. D. students. Course Syllabus: Lecture 1: Special Relativity and Lorentz Invariance Lecture 2: Examples of Lorentz Invariance: Maxwell and Klein Gordon Equations Lecture 3: Perturbation Theory for Particle Scattering Lecture 4: Coulomb Scattering of Charged Spin-0 Particles Lecture 5: Invariant Amplitudes, Feynman Diagrams and Cross-Sections Lecture 6: Calculating Cross-Sections for Spin-0 Scattering Lecture 7: The Dirac Equation Lecture 8: Dirac Equation: Spin, Antiparticles and Feynman Rules Lecture 9: Coulomb Scattering of Charged Spin-1/2 Particles Lecture 10: Spin Sums and Trace Techniques Assessment: The course assessment is based on returned solutions to problems sets. These will be set on a roughly weekly basis with a return deadline one week later. Recommended Texts: The course is largely based on: "Quarks and Leptons: An Introductory Course in Modern Particle Physics" by F. Halzen and A. Martin

To provide an introduction to the calculation of scattering amplitudes in High Energy Physics. A more detailed course syllabus is provided below. This course is intended for particle physics Ph. D. students.


Course Syllabus:


Lecture 1: Special Relativity and Lorentz Invariance

Lecture 2: Examples of Lorentz Invariance: Maxwell and Klein Gordon Equations

Lecture 3: Perturbation Theory for Particle Scattering

Lecture 4: Coulomb Scattering of Charged Spin-0 Particles

Lecture 5: Invariant Amplitudes, Feynman Diagrams and Cross-Sections

Lecture 6: Calculating Cross-Sections for Spin-0 Scattering

Lecture 7: The Dirac Equation

Lecture 8: Dirac Equation: Spin, Antiparticles and Feynman Rules

Lecture 9: Coulomb Scattering of Charged Spin-1/2 Particles

Lecture 10: Spin Sums and Trace Techniques




The course assessment is based on returned solutions to problems sets. These will be set on a roughly weekly basis with a return deadline one week later.


Recommended Texts:


The course is largely based on:

"Quarks and Leptons: An Introductory Course in Modern Particle Physics" by F. Halzen and A. Martin


Software development with C++

Convenor: Mark Slater, Thomas Latham

Academic Year: 2017-18

Start Date: 26/10/2017

Module Code: Cpp

Module Name: Software development with C++

Duration (Hours): 7

Duration (Weeks): 3 weeks, 2 days/week

Module Details: The C++ course is run over 6 days (3 sets of 2 days each) and covers the main aspects, not only of specific C++ coding including fundamental techniques, classes and STL, but also good code development practice including version control, testing and documentation. During the course, the development of a number of classical cypher methods is used as the framework to put these various techniques into practice. Reviews of your code will be done after each two day block as well as 'ideal' solutions being posted for reference.


Convenor: Jonas Rademacker

Academic Year: 2017/18

Start Date: 27/09/2017

Module Code: Plop

Module Name: Statistics

Duration (Hours): 2

Duration (Weeks): 1 week, 5 sessions

Module Details: Statistics for particle physicists, including basic stastics, probabilities, probability distributions and pdfs, fitting, Monte Carlo methods, Hypothesis testing.