Module code: PHY3056

Module Overview

This module is designed to provide a broad overview of quantum magnetism and superconductivity and their applications in modern science and technology. Both superconductivity and magnetism are manifestations of electronic charge and spin, and constitute prime examples of phase transitions in metals.  A range of phenomena that is resulting from these phase transitions is surveyed. A significant part of the module is devoted to technological applications in magnetometry and spintronics.

Module provider


Module Leader

CLOWES Steven (Physics)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

JACs code: F300

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

Overall student workload

Lecture Hours: 22

Tutorial Hours: 11

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

The module will assume prior knowledge equivalent to the following modules. If you have not taken these modules you should consult the module descriptors - Quantum Physics (PHY2069). Solid State Physics (PHY2068) & From atoms to Lasers (PHY2062).

Module content


  1. Historical overview of superconductivity

  2. Electrodynamics of superconductors

  3. Introduction to BCS Theory

  4. Quantum circuits: the dc SQUID and superconducting quantum bits



  5. Diamagnetism, Quantum mechanical (Brillouin) theory of paramagnetism

  6. Magnetic order: Exchange interactions, Ferromagnetism & Currie temperature, anti-ferromagnetism, magnetism in metal (Pauli paramagnetism and itinerant ferromagnetism), domains.

  7. Spintronics: Giant magnetoresistance (GMR), tunnel magnetoresistance (TMR), semiconductor spintronics (spin transistor, spin injection, spin dynamics)

  8. Magnetic Random Access memory (MRAM), spin torque, magnetic racetrack memory, magneto-optic Kerr effect, and magnetic domain wall logic.

    Special Topics

    Examples: High-Tc superconductivity, topological insulators/superconductors. [3h]

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Examination EXAMINATION 70

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

  • analytical ability by solution of unseen problems in both coursework and exam

  • subject knowledge by recall of both “textbook” theory and important research articles in the exam

  • ability to generalize text-book theory by open-ended research component in the coursework


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • a 2 hour exam with 2 sections: Section A - Superconductivity (10 mark questions, answer 2 out of 3 ) & Section B: Magnetism (10 mark questions, answer 2 out of 3), weighted at 70%

  • 2 assignments on specials topics, which will take a total of 40 hours of effort, each weighted at 15% - total of 30%


Formative assessment and feedback

  • Students will receive verbal feedback on progress with problems in tutorials and model solutions to the tutorial questions.


Module aims

  • This module aims to: To provide an introduction to the important role that electronic interaction plays in solid-state physics leading to phase transitions in electronic systems. To provide an introduction to microscopic theory and phenomenology of both quantum magnetic phenomena and superconductivity. Introduction to applications of solid state physics to micro-electronics and metrology.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Describe the electromagnetic behaviour of Type I superconductors in electromagnetic fields, and the London equations . KC
2 Exhibit an understanding of how the microscopic theory (BCS) is derived and how its predictions relate to experimental observations KCT
3 Explain how applications are related to the theory of superconductivity  (e.g. Josephson effect and SQUIDs) and  KPT
4 Apply the principles of exchange interactions to determine magnetic ordering in materials. KC
5 Evaluate spin diffusion and injection efficiencies in multi-layer systems KC
6 Discuss the potential of future spintronic technologies and the associated technological challenges.   KCP

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 provide:

  • a comprehensive theoretical treatment for the subject knowledge

  • practice in problem solving for the cognitive skills


The learning and teaching methods include:

  • “chalk and talk” lectures backed up with guided study to stimulate uptake of subject knowledge (2 hour per week x 11)

  • tutorial demonstration of solutions to key problems after students have attempted them for formative feedback (1 hour per week x 11)


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: PHY3056

Programmes this module appears in

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