Module code: PHYM041

Module Overview

The module will combine taught sessions, released online recordings, computational work and group work which may including experiment-based research. The module consists of three parts:

Part 1: Critical Review Essay (Summative, Essay 40%)

Students complete a scientific review of 1 of 4 pre-selected published articles, writing an assessed critical review essay.

Part 2: TOPAS (Formative)

Introduction to LINUX system. Monte Carlo simulation of radiation interactions in matter and an introduction to the use of TOPAS simulation software. 

Part 2: An Extended Group Project (Summative, Group Report 40%, Presentaion 20%)

Ø Radiation & Environmental Protection (REP) and Nuclear Science & Application (NSA) Students registered on the REP or NSA MSc physics degree will undertake a radiation based experimental group project.

Ø Medical Physics (MP) Students registered on the MP MSc physics degree will undertake a critical literature review group project on a medical topic

Ø Physics MSc Students registered on the MSc physics degree will undertake a critical literature review group project on a physics based topic.

Students are allocated working groups of approximately 4 students. The laboratory-based group project typically involves the design and implementation of a radiation physics based investigation, for example setting up detection system based on either a scintillator or semiconductor detector in conjunction with digital and/or analog pulse processing, or designing and implementing and experimental schedule based on radiation physics based methods to carry out an investigation. Students that undertake a library based group critical review literature survey project will investigate a challenging topic at the forefront of physics research and are expected to evaluate the most promising routes to overcome these challenges. Students are required to submit an assessed group report and an assessed presentation. 


Module provider

Mathematics & Physics

Module Leader

SHENTON-TAYLOR Caroline (Physics)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 90

Lecture Hours: 2

Seminar Hours: 6

Tutorial Hours: 10

Laboratory Hours: 12

Practical/Performance Hours: 3

Guided Learning: 20

Captured Content: 7

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

This module is taught in three parts:

Part 1 (Dr Shenton-Taylor):

Understanding how to write a scientific critical review essay.

Part 2 (Professor G. Schettino)

Introduction to TOPAS Monte Carlo programming

  • Introduction to LINUX based operating system.

  • Introduction to Monte Carlo techniques in radiation physics

  • Use of TOPAS to carry out a simple detector modelling problem


 Part 3 (Dr Caroline Shenton-Taylor, Prof Paul Sellin, Prof Zsolt Podolyak, Prof Giuseppe Schettino)

Design Project

  • Students will work together in small groups to design a radiation detection based experimental investigation or undertake a library-based literature survey project.


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Oral exam or presentation ORAL PRESENTATION 20

Alternative Assessment

Alternative Assessment: If a student is unable to complete the Critical Review Essay UoA they are required to complete as essay assessment during the late summer assessment period. If a student is unable to participate in the Group Project Report or the Group Presentation the following Alternative Assessments are required:

  • Group Project Report: Students who are unable to complete the Group Project Report UoA, will have to carry out a shorter adjusted project during the late summer assessment period by producing a written report.
  • Group Project Oral Presentation: Students unable to complete the Oral Presentation UoA, will be required to deliver a new presentation during the late summer assessment period.  If the Group Project Report UoA was completed the Oral Presentation can report on that, if not the Oral Presentation will report on the Group Project Report also submitted in the late summer assessment period.

Assessment Strategy

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

  • Their understanding of the needed components for a critical scientific review essay.

  • For students undertaking a literature review project, their capability to carry out a bibliographic research, identifying and comparing relevant and recent sources.

  • For students undertaking an experimental project, their capability to define an experimental problem, carry out the relevant background research, design an experiment, and interpret the results.

  • For all students, their capability to work in a team, and to present their results in writing and orally.


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Critical Review Essay weighted at 40%. The essay is completed individually by each student; studnets can chose 1 of 4 papers to review and are guided by an associated question. This is typically submitted in week 6. 

  • Group Project Report weighted at 40%. The group report is typically submitted in week 12 and includes an appendix documenting the group meeting records (agendas and minutes).

  • Group Presentation (assessed individually) weighted at 20%.The group presentation typically takes place in week 11. Please note that within both the group project report and the oral presentation the assessed criteria includes provision to ensure a student has made a fair contribution to the project.

Formative assessment and feedback

Continuous verbal feedback will be given during the Monte Carlo classes and the group project work.


Module aims

  • Through laboratory-based lectures and hands-on computing laboratories, sessions, students will learn the basic use and implementation of the TOPAS Monte Carlo simulation software.
  • The module culminates in a group-based project where students develop a complete project within the limitations of available equipment and technical support.
  • Students will explore the key elements of a critical scientific review essay.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Understand the basis of Monte Carlo simulation, and understand the key operations of the TOPAS simulation programme. KCP
002 Explore the key elements needed for a scientific critical review of others work. KCPT
003 Perform a Design Project in a group, and present this work orally. KCP
004 Gain experience in group work through the design project KCPT
005 Development of oral and communication skills in the presentation of project work PT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

Hybrid learning including: lectures, computational tutorials, online resources, and group work (which may include laboratory experiments). 

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: PHYM041

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Physics MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Medical Physics MSc 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Radiation and Environmental Protection MSc 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Nuclear Science and Applications MSc 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% 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 2021/2 academic year.