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The University of Southampton

PHYS3008 Atomic Physics

Module Overview

The aim of this course is to apply quantum physics to the study of atoms.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Understand the concepts of a good quantum number and simultaneous observability.
  • Understand the origin of line widths and shapes in atomic spectra.
  • Understand the quantum numbers, including their physical significance, and quantum mechanical states of the hydrogen atom.
  • Understand time independent perturbation theory including its derivation and be able to apply it to simple systems, including the Stark-Effect and Zeeman Effect.
  • Know about the origins of fine structure in atomic spectra.
  • Understand the exchange degeneracy and how this affects the excited states of helium.
  • Understand the Periodic table from the viewpoint of the electronic structure.
  • Understand and be able to apply to simple cases time dependent perturbation theory.
  • Understand the derivation of and be able to apply the selection rules for the interaction of electric dipole radiation and atoms.
  • Know about Einstein A and B coefficients and the relationship between them.


- Quantum Mechanics in Atomic Physics - Introduction, Quantum mechanical description of the hydrogen atom Angular Momentum Atomic Spectra Time - Independent Perturbation Theory Fine Structure - Spin Orbit Coupling, Relativistic Effects, Hyperfine Structure, Time-Dependent Perturbation Theory Interaction of Atoms with E. M. Radiation - Absorption and Emission of Radiation, Physical Model, Allowed and Forbidden Transitions, Spontaneous Emission Many Electron Atoms - Periodic table Helium - Independent Electron Model, Electron-Electron Interactions, Term Symbols Structure of Many Electron Atoms - Alkali Metal Atoms, Helium-like Atoms, Hund's Rules, Atomic Orbitals, Slater Orbitals, Self consistent field calculations, Coupling Schemes, Spin Orbit Interactions, LS-coupling approximation, jj-coupling approximation, Selection Rules Atoms in Electric or Magnetic Fields - Atoms in Magnetic Field, Zeeman Effect, Weak-Field Zeeman Effect, Strong field Zeeman effect, Atoms in Electric Fields, Stark effect.

Learning and Teaching

Preparation for scheduled sessions13.5
Follow-up work13.5
Wider reading or practice77
Completion of assessment task9
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

D G C Jones (1997). Atomic Physics. 

G K Woodgate (1983). Elementary Atomic Structure. 


Assessment Strategy

Late hand-ins of problem sheets are not allowed.


MethodPercentage contribution
Continuous Assessment 10%
Final Assessment  90%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: PHYS2001 AND PHYS2003 AND PHYS2024

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