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

Mathematics & Physics

Module Leader

CLOWES Steven (Maths & Phys)

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: 78

Lecture Hours: 22

Tutorial Hours: 11

Laboratory Hours: 17

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

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

Chapter 2: Orbitals and spin - The 3D Schrodinger equation, orbital and spin quantum numbers and angular momentum, multiplicity, screening, spin and orbital magnetic moments.

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 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.

Chapter 9: Selection rules - Matrix elements and consideration of symmetry.

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

Chapter 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 and resolving poer, Optical pumping of Rb, Precession, Semiconductor Lasers.


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
School-timetabled exam/test In-Semester Test 1 (Closed Book) (40 minutes) 10
School-timetabled exam/test In-Semester Test 2 (Closed Book) (40 minutes) 10
Coursework Laboratory Coursework 30
Examination Online Online (Open Book) Exam within 4hr Window 50

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,

  • their understanding of fundamental concepts and theory relating to atomic and laser physics.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Two mid-semester closed-book tests.

  • Laboratory diaries*, interviews* and experimental summaries.

  • Laboratory presentation* or experimental report

  • 4-hour end-of-semester open-book examination. 

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:

  • Weekly formative quizzes provide automatic feedback once completed.

  • Weekly tutorial questions are discussed in tutorial class with verbal feedback given in response to polling of questions.

  • Weekly discussion boards on SurreyLearn to provide feedback on posted questions

  • Students can ask questions and receive feedback during/after lectures.

  • Formative feedback is provided on mid-semester tests. 

  • Students are interviewed by an academic after some of the laboratory experiments 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 and then describe the angular momentum of atoms and how it relates to their optical and magnetic properties. K
004 Determine the effects on atoms due to application of magnetic fields for hyperfine coupled, LS coupled and Paschen-Back regimes. KC
003 Determine the ground state of multi-electron atoms and explain the interactions governing this. KC
006 Describe the basic operation a laser and the conditions for lasing and compare the the properties of various laser types and then apply appropriate rate equations to determine properties of lasers KC
005 Demonstrate the ability to relate atomic measurement data with optical transition lifetimes, oscillator strengths and selection rules and apply knowledge of diatomic molecules to perform simple analysis of spectroscopic data. KC
007 Demonstrate ability at related experimental techniques, including development of report writing and presentation skills PT
002 Calculation of g-factors and magnetic moments of multi-electron atoms 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.

  • development of experimental practical skills.

  • development of scientific report-writing skills. 


The learning and teaching methods adopt a guided hybrid approach in which each week typically includes: 

  • short video lectures which are broken up into the week's topics.

  • formative quizzes linked to video lectures to allow students to self-assess their learning.

  • a weekly tutorial worksheet to provide practice in longer-form problems.

  • a weekly checklist to aid students to monitor their progression.

  • a face-to-face lecture reviewing material covered in video lectures and incorporating class exercises.

  • a face-to-face tutorial class that reviews worksheet questions.

Lectures and Tutorial classes.

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

Other information

The School of Mathematics and Physics is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability, and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills, and capabilities in the following areas: 

Resourcefulness and Resilience: Students are introduced to problem solving both individually in the assessed coursework and as small groups in both the experimental laboratories and small-group tutorial sessions. A key aim of the module is to show how the techniques developed here can be applied to a wide range of physics phenomena and real-world examples.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Physics 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 with Nuclear Astrophysics BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Physics with Nuclear Astrophysics 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 MPhys 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Physics with Quantum Computing MPhys 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 2025/6 academic year.