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Department of Physics

Quantum field theory for the gifted amateur

Our new textbook, intended to explain Quantum Field theory for a general scientific audience, is out now!

The book


Quantum field theory is arguably the most far-reaching and beautiful physical theory ever constructed, with aspects more stringently tested and verified to greater precision than any other theory in physics. Unfortunately, the subject has gained a notorious reputation for difficulty, with forbidding looking mathematics and a peculiar diagrammatic language described in an array of unforgiving, weighty textbooks aimed firmly at aspiring professionals. However, quantum field theory is too important, too beautiful, and too engaging to be restricted to the professionals. This book on quantum field theory is designed to be different. It is written by experimental physicists and aims to provide the interested amateur with a bridge from undergraduate physics to quantum field theory. The imagined reader is a gifted amateur, possessing a curious and adaptable mind, looking to be told an entertaining and intellectually stimulating story, but who will not feel patronised if a few mathematical niceties are spelled out in detail. Using numerous worked examples, diagrams, and careful physically motivated explanations, this book will smooth the path towards understanding the radically different and revolutionary view of the physical world that quantum field theory provides, and which all physicists should have the opportunity to experience.

  • Provides the curious amateur with a bridge from undergraduate physics to quantum field theory
  • Packed with worked examples, witty diagrams, and applications intended to introduce a new audience to this revolutionary theory
  • Mathematical steps clearly explained, providing careful help for those trying to learn the subject
  • A balance of particle physics and condensed matter applications makes the book accessible for all students, independent of background

Readership: Undergraduate and graduate physics students; professional physicists.


Dr Tom Lancaster is a Reader in Physics in the Department of Physics at Durham University

Prof Stephen J Blundell is a Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Mansfield College, Oxford


There is a need for a book on Quantum Field Theory that is not directed at specialists but, rather, sets out the concepts underlying this subject for a broader scientific audience and conveys joy in their beauty. Lancaster and Blundell have written with this goal in mind, and they have succeeded admirably. (Michael Peskin, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Stanford University.)

This wonderful and exciting book is optimal for physics graduate students. ... The physical explanations are exceedingly well written and integrated with mathematics. Quantum field theory is the next big thing and this book will help the reader to understand and use the theory. (Optics &Photonics News)

"This is a wonderful, and much needed book ... Why have the authors been so successful? It is the way the book has been structured. Each of the 50 chapters is short. Every chapter starts with a readable plan of what is to be explained and why; and finishes with a compact summary of the key ideas that have been covered. Moreover, the language is kept as simple as possible. The aim is always to be clear and difficult ideas are approached gently. The text is interspersed with a large number of detailed worked examples which are central to the story and which are arranged so as not to intimidate the reader ... They have produced an accessible book that gives us a wonderful opportunity to understand QFT and its numerous applications," (Contemporary Physics)

"...a treasury of contemporary material presented concisely and lucidly in a format that I can recommend for independent study ... this volume offers an attractive, new "rock and roll" approach, filling a large void in the spectrum of QFT books," (CERN Courier)