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Durham University

Department of Physics

PHYS4181 Particle Theory (2012/13)

Details of the module's prerequisites, learning outcomes, assessment and contact hours are given in the official module description in the Faculty Handbook - follow the link above.  A detailed description of the module's content is given below, together with book lists and a link to the current library catalogue entries.  For an explanation of the library's categorisation system see


Relativistic Quantum Mechanics

Dr C.J. Maxwell 

12 lectures in Michaelmas Term

Syllabus: Klein-Gordon equation. Dirac equation. Spin. Free particle and antiparticle solutions of the Dirac equation. Massless fermions. Lagrangian form of classical electromagnetism. Lagrangian form of the Dirac equation. Global gauge invariance. Noether's theorem and conserved current for the Dirac equation. Second quantisation of classical Klein-Gordon field. Local gauge invariance. Lagrangian of Quantum Electrodynamics (QED). Motivation of QED Feynman Rules.  Example calulations:  e+e-µ+µ-, e+e-→e+e- .

Gauge Field Theories

Dr C.J. Maxwell

12 lectures in Michaelmas and Epiphany Terms

Syllabus: How to construct gauge theories.  Symmetries and group theory.  SU(n) gauge theories.  A gauge theory for weak interactions.  Spontaneous symmetry breaking of a global symmetry.  Spontaneous symmetry breaking of a gauge symmetry:  The Higgs mechanism.


Dr M. Spannowsky

12 lectures in Epiphany Term

Syllabus: Accelerators and detectors.  Elementary boson decays:  Z0.  Physics at the Z0 resonance: results from LEP.  Elementary boson decays:  the Higgs.  Hunting the Higgs.  QCD:  measurement of alpha_s.  Flavour and CP violation.  Neutrino oscillations.  Beyond the standard model.


3 lectures in Easter Term, one by each lecturer.


Additional: Modern Elementary Particle Physics, G.L. Kane (Perseus)
Additional: An Introduction to the Standard Model of Particle Physics, W.N. Cottingham and D.A. Greenwood (CUP)
Additional: Quarks and Leptons, F. Halzen and A.D. Martin (Wiley)
Additional: An Introduction to Relativistic Processes and the Standard Model of Electoweak Interactions, C. M. Becchi & G. Ridolfi (Springer)
Additional: The Standard Model: A Primer, C. Burgess and G. Moore (Cambridge University Press)

Teaching methods

Lectures: 2 one-hour lectures per week

Problem exercises:  See