Particle Physics and Particle Astrophysics Teaching
Postgraduate teaching takes place in the framework of the University's Doctoral Development Programme, which is intended to be flexible and customisable so as to meet each student's individual needs. To help you to find out what those needs are, the University expects each new PhD/MPhil student to fill out a Training Needs Analysis (TNA) form, which asks very general (and rather bureaucratically phrased) questions covering a wide range of generic and subject-specific knowledge and skills. You will need to fill one of these out every year as you progress.
To simplify the situation, the Department has produced a TNA Summary document, which provides a clear summary of the courses you are expected to take to satisfy your needs. You should download this document and complete it with the assistance of your supervisors.
The TNA summary document lists three types of course:
- items required by the Department, which everyone has to do;
- formal modules, e.g. from the undergraduate syllabus or postgraduate taught courses;
- non-modular courses.
Most home students in our group will be doing the departmental items (1) and the Particle Physics and Particle Astrophysics Group postgraduate courses, which belong in (3). Overseas students and those from non-standard backgrounds (i.e. not recent physics or physics/astrophysics graduates) may, however, find it useful to do some undergraduate and/or Graduate School modules.
More details of the PPPA Group courses are given below.
Postgraduate teaching in the Particle Physics and Particle Astrophysics Group
The postgraduate courses provided by the PPPA Group are divided into three packages:
- core courses, which should be taken by all students;
- particle physics courses, which should be taken by all students working in "mainstream" particle physics (ATLAS, MICE, T2K), and may be taken by other students;
- optional courses, which will meet specialised needs but will not be necessary for a typical student in the group.
The core courses
|Data analysis with ROOT||3||Ed Daw|
|Detector techniques||8||Chris Booth|
|Introduction to GEANT 4||3||Matt Robinson|
|Probability and statistics||4||Ed Daw|
All students are expected to take these courses, unless you have already acquired the relevant expertise (for example, some ex-MPhys students may have learned ROOT in their final-year projects).
The particle physics package
|Introduction to pp physics||2||Ian Dawson|
|Quantum Electrodynamics||6||Dan Tovey|
|Quantum Field Theory||6||Dan Tovey|
|The Standard Model||4||Davide Costanzo|
These courses lead up to the RAL Summer School, an intensive two-week residential school at the end of your first year, which is attended by nearly all UK-based experimental particle physics students. It is therefore a good way of getting to know your peer group – though it is also very hard work!
|Dark Matter||3||Neil Spooner?|
|Introduction to Accelerators||2||Chris Booth|
|Using the Grid||2||Matt Robinson|
|Cockcroft Institute lectures||20||Various|
These courses are provided on demand to suit the needs of particular students. They may not run every year.
Optional courses offered as modules or parts of modules
Some students may find it useful to attend all or part of an undergraduate or postgraduate taught module. These should be entered in Part 2 of the TNA Summary form. In general, we do not expect you to register formally for undergraduate modules and take the exam: if it is appropriate for you to learn the material, you will be assessed by viva or by homework exercises.
Some modules that may be useful are listed below.
Undergraduate modules in the Dept of Physics and Astronomy
|Course Code||Course Title||Semester||Hours||Presenter|
|PHY115*||Positional Astronomy||Autumn||16||Stuart Littlefair|
|PHY225*||Programming in C||Autumn||22||Lee Thompson|
|PHY323||Dark Matter in the Universe||Spring||22||Neil Spooner|
|PHY411/412||Experimental Astroparticle Physics||Spring||11||Vitaly Kudryavtsev|
Courses marked with an asterisk are largely web-based and can be taken in self-study mode (after consulting the lecturer) instead of joining the undergraduate class.
|Course Code||Course Title||Semester||Hours||Presenter|
|MAS6100||Learning LaTeX||Acad. Yr||4?||Kirill Mackenzie|
|GSC6050||Thesis Writing: Principles and Practice||Either||?||Alice Lawrence|
|GSC6060||Speaking Skills for Research Purposes||Either||?||Alice Lawrence|
Most of our students write their theses in LaTeX, which is good at mathematics formatting and has good tools for cross-referencing, labelling figures, etc., so if you haven't met it before the Learning LaTeX module could be useful. The other two are primarily intended for students whose first language is not English.
In addition, you may wish to consider the Sheffield Teaching Assistant programme, which – as its name suggests – is aimed at developing your skills as a teacher and supervisor. It is not compulsory to sign up for this simply because you're doing some lab demonstrating or tutorials (any training needed will be provided by the lab head), but you do get a certificate at the end which might be useful for some types of job application.
Later in your PhD, especially if you have decided to apply for jobs outside academic research, you may wish to sign up for a Graduate School, either those supported by the Research Councils and run by Vitae, or Sheffield's in-house equivalent. Students who have attended these in the past did enjoy them. They are intended for students towards the end of their PhD, not for new entrants.
The Department of Physics and Astronomy aims to provide teaching that is informed and invigorated by its research. Members of the Particle Physics and Particle Astrophysics Group teach the following modules:
- Year 1:
- PHY101 Electricity and Magnetism: Dr Chris Booth
- PHY111 Our Evolving Universe: Dr Susan Cartwright
- PHY112 Introductory Mathematics for Physicists and Astronomers: Dr Vitaly Kudryavtsev
- Year 2:
- PHY202 Quantum Mechanics: Prof. Dan Tovey
- PHY225 Programming in C: Dr Lee Thompson
- PHY226 Mathematical Methods for Physics and Astronomy: Dr Vitaly Kudryavtsev
- Year 3:
- PHY303 Nuclear Physics: Prof. Neil Spooner
- PHY304 Particle Physics: Dr Chris Booth
- PHY306 Introduction to Cosmology: Dr Susan Cartwright
- PHY314 Relativity and Cosmology: Dr Ed Daw
- PHY315 Problem Solving in Physics: Dr Chris Booth
- PHY320 Nuclear Astrophysics: Dr Lee Thompson
- PHY323 Dark Matter in the Universe: Prof. Neil Spooner
- PHY324 History of Astronomy: Dr Susan Cartwright
- Year 4:
In addition, members of the group regularly supervise third and fourth year projects and directed reading. Recent projects include:
- Cooling the MICE target (3rd year): Dr Chris Booth
- Off-axis neutrino beams (3rd year): Dr Susan Cartwright
- Measurement of electrical properties of novel silicon wafers for the ATLAS detector (3rd year): Dr Stathes Paganis
- The DRIFT dark matter detector: analysis and interpretation of data (3rd year): Prof. Neil Spooner
- Development of a peak finding and fitting algorithm for the treatment of HPLC spectra (3rd year): Dr Lee Thompson
- Determination of radiation dose to silicon detectors from high energy radiation (4th year): Dr Davide Costanzo and Dr Ian Dawson
- Application of time domain digital signal processing to the analysis of brain waves (4th year): Dr Ed Daw and Dr John Fenner
- Cosmic-ray muon background in a proton decay experiment (4th year): Dr Vitaly Kudryavtsev
- Build and instrument a Geiger counter (4th year): Dr John McMillan
- QCD jet backgrounds to SUSY searches in ATLAS (4th year): Prof. Dan Tovey