PHYC40110 Medical Physics (Selected Topics)

Academic Year 2023/2024

This course is designed to provide an introduction to some of the medical applications of physics, including MRI, CT, Nuclear Medicine, Ultrasound, lasers and radiotherapy. The lectures include a review of the main interaction processes of high energy photons and charged particles in tissue equivalent material and a section on the use of ionizing radiation to image human anatomy using Nuclear Medicine and Computed Tomography scan techniques. Devices, such as X-ray tubes and linear accelerators, required for the production of high energy particles and photons for use in diagnostic and radiation therapy applications, are presented. Accurate calibration of these devices, in terms of absorbed dose, is discussed using the concept of electronic equilibrium, and a description of the parameters and detector systems employed is also provided. An account is provided of how imaging data and radiation beam models are used in combination to calculate dose delivery with a view to the treatment of human cancers by radiotherapy. Finally, a concise overview is given of the philosophy underlining modern radiation protection practice, with emphasis on practitioners, patients and the public alike. Guided visits to appropriate medical centers will also form part of the student experience.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module, students should have acquired a clear understanding of the interaction of high energy photons and changed particles in tissue equivalent material, and on the application of ionizing radiation in selected areas of medicine, including Nuclear Medicine, Radiology and Radiotherapy. The student should also have acquired an appreciation of modern radiological protection principles and practices. Students should also have gained knowledge on MRI and ultrasound, as well as the uses of lasers in medicine.

Indicative Module Content:

Introduction to radiotherapy (RT) physics. Review of interactions of photons and electrons with matter. External Beam Radiotherapy equipment. Linacs. Photon beam parameters. Detectors and dosimetry in RT. Treatment Planning and dose calculation in RT. Motion management and 4D CT acquisition.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Field Trip/External Visits




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Lectures provided by practising medical physicists in university teaching hospitals. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Requirements:

Stage 3 Physics or equivalent

Learning Recommendations:

PHYC 30090 Nuclear Physics or equivalent

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Examination: Written exam at end of semester 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Standard conversion grade scale 40% Yes


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Self-assessment activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

In class discussions with lecturers.

Name Role
Dr Sean Cournane Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Brendan McClean Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Mon 09:00 - 10:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Wed 09:00 - 09:50