Particle Physics and Particle Astrophysics

Particle Physics and Particle Astrophysics Teaching

Postgraduate 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:

  1. items required by the Department, which everyone has to do;
  2. formal modules, e.g. from the undergraduate syllabus or postgraduate taught courses;
  3. 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:

The core courses

CourseHoursPresenter
Data analysis with ROOT - lectures and practicing examples8Mark Hodgkinson
Detector techniques8Chris Booth
Introduction to GEANT 43Matt Robinson
Linux5Lee Thompson
Probability and statistics4Ed 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

CourseHoursPresenter
Introduction to pp physics2Ian Dawson
Phenomenology6Stathes Paganis
Quantum Electrodynamics6Dan Tovey
Quantum Field Theory6Dan Tovey
The Standard Model4Davide Costanzo
Warwick Week25Various

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!

Optional courses

CourseHoursPresenter
Cosmology4Susan Cartwright
Dark Matter3Neil Spooner?
Introduction to Accelerators2Chris Booth
Using the Grid2Matt Robinson
Cockcroft Institute lectures20Various

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 CodeCourse TitleSemesterHoursPresenter
PHY115*Positional AstronomyAutumn16Stuart Littlefair
PHY225*Programming in CAutumn22Lee Thompson
PHY326Dark Matter in the UniverseAutumn22Neil Spooner
PHY418Particle AstrophysicsAutumn22Susan Cartwright

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.

Postgraduate modules

Course CodeCourse TitleSemesterHoursPresenter
MAS6100Learning LaTeXAcad. Yr4?Kirill Mackenzie

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.

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.

English language support

If your first language is not English, you may wish to consider the following modules offered by the English Language Teaching Centre.

Course CodeCourse TitleSemesterHoursPresenter
ELT6050Thesis Writing: Principles & Practice Acad. Yr?ELTC
ELT6060Speaking Skills for Research Purposes Acad. Yr?ELTC

Further (non-credit-bearing) language support services are also available via the English Language Support Services and the Online Language Support. The ELTC also offers specialist support for students with dyslexia or other specific learning difficulties.

Undergraduate teaching

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:
Year 2:
Year 3:
Year 4:
(In addition, PHY406, 426 and 427 are 4th year variants of 306, 326 and 327, with the same taught material but more stringent assessment.)

Members of the group regularly supervise third and fourth year projects. Recent projects include:

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