Module code: PHY2062

Module Overview

This module will build on the rudimentary knowledge of Atoms and Quanta taught in Level FHEQ 4 (PHY1039) and apply the ideas taught in the previous Quantum Physics module (PHY2069) to describe the properties of atoms, including the physics behind the full structure of atomic spectra. It will introduce the effects on atoms due to electric and magnetic fields. The physics of diatomic molecules will be discussed, including how spectroscopic techniques can be used to study more complex molecules. Finally by understanding how atoms interact with light, the module will introduce the principles of the laser, including basic explanations of common lasers, such as solid state and gas lasers.

The module includes a laboratory component in which ideas from the lectures will be explored experimentally.

Module provider


Module Leader

CLOWES Steven (Physics)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 84

Lecture Hours: 22

Tutorial Hours: 11

Laboratory Hours: 20

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Lecture 1: Introduction - The Bohr model, motion of nucleus, hydrogenic atoms.

Lecture 2: Orbitals and spin - Orbital and spin quantum numbers and angular momentum, multiplicity, screening, spin and orbital magnetic moments.

Lecture 3: Fine Structure of hydrogen atom: Magnetic torque and precession, the spin-orbit interaction, fine structure, Dirac treatment and Lamb shift.

Lecture 4: Electron interaction in multi-electron atoms - The exchange interaction, spin-spin coupling, orbit-orbit coupling, LS coupling and  j.j. coupling.

Lecture 5: Structure of the periodic table - Hund's rules, Exclusion principle and allowed terms.

Lecture 6: Hyperfine structure and magnetic resonance - Nuclear spin and magnetic moment, hyperfine interaction, electron spin resonance and magnetic resonance.

Lecture 7: The Zeeman effect - The Lande g-factor, energy splitting in magnetic field, Pachen-Back effect, optical observations of Zeeman effect.

Lecture 8: Einstein coefficients and optical transitions - Einstein's derivation of Planck's formula, oscillator strength, lifetimes and linewidth. natural (homogeneous) broadening and Doppler (inhomogeneous) broadening.

Lecture 9: Selection rules - matrix elements and consideration of symmetry.

Lecture 10: Brief overview of diatomic molecules - Born-Oppenheimer Approximation, vibrational and rotational molecular transitions, Raman scattering and IR spectroscopy.

Lecture 11: The laser - basic concepts, rate equations and lasing conditions, operation of types of lasers (ruby, He:Ne: molecular, dye, and semiconductor), laser linewidths, cavity modes and saturation spectroscopy.

Laboratory - The laboratory component of the course includes experiments from: Fine structure, Optical pumping of Rb, Precession, Semiconductor Lasers and resolving power.


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Examination EXAMINATION 60
School-timetabled exam/test IN SEMESTER TEST (MULTIPLE CHOICE) (40 MINS) 10

Alternative Assessment

The laboratory Diary and Report/Presentation Mark may be assessed by a condensed programme of laboratory work, with written laboratory report/presentation.

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate

their practical laboratory skills, their abilities to analyze data and draw conclusions from it, their skills in communicating scientific information, their problem-solving abilities, and their understanding of fundamental concepts and theory relating to all forms of matter.


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • 1.5 hour end of semester examination. Section A comprising of compulsory questions and Section B with 1 questions out of 2 to be answered

  • Two mid semester SurreyLearn based test, typically held in week 6 and week 9.

  • Laboratory diaries*, interviews* and experimental summaries.

  • Laboratory presentation* or experimental report

The Laboratory unit of assessment has a qualifying mark of 40%.

* It is not possible for these assessments to be anonymously marked.

  • Formative assessment and feedback

The module includes approx. Problems questions are provided each week and verbal feedback is provided by the discussion of these problems in tutorial sessions. Weekly SurreyLearn based test which provide feedback on completion, Formative feedback provided on mid-semester test. Students are interviewed by an academic after for some of the laboratory experiment providing both verbal and written feedback on their lab diaries. Demonstrators provide feedback during laboratory sessions.



Module aims

  • Develop an understanding of the limitations of the Bohr model and develop the concepts that relates the atom's angular momentum with its optical and magnetic properties. The interactions within the atom will be discussed, as well as the effect on it due to external influences. These concepts will be developed further to include inter-atomic interactions and molecular spectroscopy. Finally, the module will introduce the laser and discuss the fundamental principles of its operation and applications.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Identify the origin of the structure of atomic spectra and explain the associated interactions which give rise to this structure. K
002 Describe the angular momentum of atoms and how it relates to their optical and magnetic properties. K
005 Determine the effects on atoms due to application of magnetic fields for hyperfine coupled, LS coupled and Paschen-Back regimes. KC
004 Determine the ground state of multi-electron atoms and explain the interactions governing this. KC
007 Apply their knowledge of diatomic molecules to perform simple analysis of spectroscopic data. KC
008 Describe the basic operation a laser and the conditions for lasing and compare the the properties of various laser types. K
006 Demonstrate the ability to relate atomic measurement data with optical transition lifetimes, oscillator strengths and selection rules. KC
010 Demonstrate ability at related experimental techniques, including development of report writing and presentation skills PT
003 Calculation of g-factors and magnetic moments of multi-electron atoms KC
009 Ability to apply appropriate rate equations to determine properties of lasers KC

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

  • equip students with subject knowledge

  • develop skills in applying subject knowledge to physical situations

  • enable students to tackle unseen problems in atomic and laser physics

  • develop students' practical skills

  • develop students' report-writing skills


The learning and teaching methods include:

  • 22 hours of lectures and 22 hours of tutorials (shared sessions with PHY2067) over 11 weeks.

  • 20h of laboratory work distributed through the semester


Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: PHY2062

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Physics with Nuclear Astrophysics MPhys 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Physics with Nuclear Astrophysics BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Physics with Astronomy BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Physics BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Physics MPhys 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Physics with Astronomy MPhys 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Physics with Quantum Technologies MPhys 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Physics with Quantum Technologies BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2019/0 academic year.