Module code: PHYM048

Module Overview

This course starts with an overview of human biology, followed by a discussion of the nature of the interaction of ionising and non-ionising radiation with biological systems. The course emphasises the effects at the cellular level and the impact that this has on the individual and across the population. The behaviour and effects of ingested and inhaled radionuclides are also covered.

Module provider

Mathematics & Physics

Module Leader

GUIDO Isabella (Maths & Phys)

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: 73

Lecture Hours: 33

Tutorial Hours: 1

Guided Learning: 10

Captured Content: 33

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

Human Biology: the cell, cardiovascular system, respiratory system, digestive system, urinary system, endocrine system, skeletal system, nervous system and sensory systems.

Introduction to radiobiology: 5Rs of radiobiology, Biological Effective Dose.

Primary events in the cell; deposition of energy from low and high LET radiations; molecular events; DNA damage and repair; cellular radiosensitivity; dose-rate and LET dependence; molecular genetics of radiation cancer, human variation in radiation sensitivity.

Acute (non-stochastic) effects after whole and partial body irradiation; damage to red bone marrow, gut epithelium, gonads, optic lens and developing brain of the foetus, genetic effects of radiation; biological dosimetry.

Radionuclides in man; the behaviour of radionuclides in the body including isotopes of tritium, caesium, strontium, iodine, radium and plutonium; ICRP biokinetic and dosimetric models; dose calculations; doses to the embryo and foetus.

Concepts of epidemiological studies.

Dosimetry, practical measurements and theoretical modelling, instrumentation, antennas.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Coursework Assignment 30
Examination Examination 2 Hours 70

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of the human anatomy and physiology and of the way radiation interacts with biological systems. It will also allow them to demonstrate their capability to research on a new topic and to independently build on knowledge acquired from lectures.


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • An essay on a topic related to the interaction of radiation with biological systems.

  • A 2 hour, closed book examination.

Formative Assessment:

The formative assessment will consist of problems and exam-like questions. Feedback will be given verbally during classes.


Students receive written feedback on their coursework and have the opportunity for informal feedback during classes.


Module aims

  • To provide an understanding of the human body and the effect on it of ionising radiation.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Module Specific Skills: Perform a critical analysis of basic molecular cell and tissue structures and function and a description of the principles of anatomy KC
002 Discipline Specific Skills: Describe the control systems of the human body and critically relate them to the way radiation affects them KC
003 Apply their knowledge of radiation physics to understand basic radiobiology and genetics KCP
004 Interpret case studies on radiation biology at the light of the mechanisms of interaction for ingested and inhaled radionuclides. KPT
005 Personal and Key Skills: Appreciate science underpinning radiological protection standards PT

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 students with the theoretical foundations necessary to understand the effect of different types of radiation on the human body.

  • Allow them to apply this knowledge to specific radiation protection problems.


The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Lectures, including both theoretical aspects and their application. Teaching is given via handouts, projection and white board presentations.

  • One large group tutorial/question session.


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: PHYM048

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:

Employability: the module will introduce students to the effects of ionising and non-ionising radiation on humans and to related risk assessment and safety protocols. These skills will be essential in their practice as medical physicists or health physicists. 

Global and Cultural Capabilities: through lectures by experts working at the forefront of the discipline in different areas, the students will appreciate a different perspective from a purely academic one, thus gaining an understanding of the broader context in which they will operate as medical physicists or health physicists.

Sustainability: the module will introduce students to the concepts of standards in dosimetry, ALARA, etc, thus giving them an understanding of risk assessment and safe and sustainable practice.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Nuclear Science and Applications MSc 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Medical Physics MSc 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Nuclear Science and Radiation Protection MSc 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Physics MSc 1 Optional 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 2025/6 academic year.