Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

PHYS2007 Medical Physics

Module Overview

Applications of physics to medicine will be of particular interest to those contemplating a career in this field. The course is taught primarily by staff from the School of Physics and Astronomy, but brings in staff from Southampton General Hospital who are experts in the specific fields covered to provide more 'hands-on' experience of the techniques. The course includes several visits to the General Hospital to see something of medical physics and radiotherapy in practice.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Define medical imaging techniques specified in the syllabus below and know where they are applied in clinical practice
  • Describe how ionising radiation interacts with matter, how it affects living organisms and how it is used as a therapeutic technique
  • Express the units and terms used in radiological protection and the sources of and approximate level of exposure of the UK population
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Illustrate how non-ionising radiation can be used to image the body
Disciplinary Specific Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Solve simple mathematical problems based on any part of the syllabus


The course content is organised into 3 main sections, within which theoretical background will be introduced, and the applications discussed. These main sections will be supplemented by introductory and summary/revision materials. Section 0 - Introduction and Course Overview Section 1 - Effects and Applications of Ionising Radiation - Generation of radiation - Interaction of charged particles with matter - Interaction of high energy photons with matter - Radiation depth of interaction, range, attenuation curves - Dose, Radiation safety, shielding, - Application - health physics and radiation protection - Dose from common risk factors - Biological effects and cell damage models - Application - Radiotherapy methods - Application - Radiotherapy planning Section 2 - Imaging with Ionising Radiation - Imaging concepts (pixels, voxels) and quality metrics (resolution, contrast) - Image processing (spatial frequency information, filtering, edge detection) - Concepts for detection of radiation (semiconductor detectors, scintillators) - Gamma cameras and PET detectors - Tomographic reconstructions (basic concept, maths, and reconstruction techniques) - Application - Radiology - Planar imaging and CT - Application - Nuclear medicine - Planar imaging, SPECT and PET Section 3 - Imaging with Non-ionising Radiation - Theory of ultrasound, sound wave propagation, reflection - Ultrasound transducers - Doppler ultrasound - Application - Ultrasound applications and practical issues - Magnetic Resonance Imaging - Application - MRI image formation Section 4 - Conclusions and revision lecture(s)

Learning and Teaching

Completion of assessment task2
Preparation for scheduled sessions10.5
Follow-up work10.5
Wider reading or practice92
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

John Lilley (2001). Nuclear Physics: Principles and Applications. 

S.A.Kane. Introduction to Physics in Modern Medicine. 


Assessment Strategy

Formal assessment is 100% by exam. Both problem sheets and quizzes are optional, and provided to allow students to assess their progress through the course modules. Visits to SGH are in the evening (to allow full access to busy clinical areas), appropriate dates will be discussed with the class.


MethodPercentage contribution
Final Assessment  100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: PHYS1013 and PHYS1011 and PHYS1015 AND PHYS1022

Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings