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PX445-15 Advanced Particle Physics

Undergraduate Level 4
Module leader
Timothy Gershon
Credit value
Module duration
10 weeks
100% exam
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

The Standard Model (SM) is the basis of our understanding of particle physics. In this module we will look at its successes and at electroweak unification in some detail. We will also discuss some of the unresolved issues with the SM and whether it can be extended to unify all the forces. To date, the SM has been tested over a large range of energies and to considerable precision; for example, the mass of the Z is determined more precisly than G, the gravitational constant. The Standard Model cannot be the final theory since it predicts neither the particle masses nor the strengths of their interactions. Nevertheless, if these parameters are fed in by hand, the SM accounts for all experimental results most impressively. We are in the tantalising situation of having a Model which works surprisingly well but which requires other unknown ingredients in order to turn the Model into a consistent theory.

Module web page

Module aims

To present the theoretical framework, that underpins the Standard Model of particle physics, and use it to make calculations of basic fundamental particle interactions.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

  1. Introduction.
    Solutions to the Dirac equation, gauge theories, the role of symmetry and group theory.
  2. The Feynman Rules.
    Particles with spin and calculations of some lowest order processes in quantum electrodynamics. Extensions to account for the characteristics of the strong and weak interactions.
  3. The Electroweak Interaction.
    Advanced topics in weak interaction. Unification of electromagnetism and the weak interaction to give a predictive quantum field theory of the weak interaction at high energies – the electroweak interaction.
  4. Beyond the Standard Model (SM).
    The inadequacies of the SM. Unifications of the fundamental forces. Extensions to the SM.
Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Explain how quarks and leptons, and the bosons that mediate their interactions, are described by local gauge theories
  • Calculate some lowest order processes in Quantum Electrodynamics.
  • Explain the Feynman Rules needed to account for the characteristics of the Strong and Weak interactions
  • Explain how spontaneous symmetry breaking and the Higgs Mechanism can account for massive gauge fields
  • Discuss the limitations and inadequacies of the Standard Model and where progress in the field is thought likely to come
Indicative reading list

Introduction to Elemenatry Particles, David Griffiths, Wiley; Modern Elementary Particle Physics, Gordon Kane, Addison Wesley; Quarks and Leptons, F. Halzen, A.D. Martin, Wiley; Gauge Theories in Particle Physics I.J.R. Aitchison, A.J.G. Hey, Taylor and Francis (3rd Edition)

View reading list on Talis Aspire

Subject specific skills

Knowledge of mathematics and physics. Skills in modelling, reasoning, thinking.

Transferable skills

Analytical, communication, problem-solving, self-study

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 30 sessions of 1 hour (20%)
Private study 120 hours (80%)
Total 150 hours
Private study description

Working through lecture notes, solving problems, wider reading, discussing with others taking the module, revising for exam, practising on past exam papers


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You must pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Assessment group B2
Weighting Study time
In-person Examination 100%

Answer 3 questions

  • Answerbook Pink (12 page)
  • Students may use a calculator
Feedback on assessment

Personal tutors, group feedback

Past exam papers for PX445


This module is Optional for:

  • Year 4 of UPXA-F304 Undergraduate Physics (BSc MPhys)
  • Year 4 of UPXA-F303 Undergraduate Physics (MPhys)

This module is Option list B for:

  • Year 4 of UPXA-FG33 Undergraduate Mathematics and Physics (BSc MMathPhys)
  • Year 4 of UPXA-FG31 Undergraduate Mathematics and Physics (MMathPhys)