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2010/1 Module Catalogue
Module Provider: Physics Short Name: PHM-NNR
Level: M Module Co-ordinator: REGAN PH Prof (Physics)
Number of credits: 15 Number of ECTS credits: 7.5
Module Availability
Semester 2
Assessment Pattern
Unit(s) of Assessment Weighting Towards Module Mark (%)
Closed book examination 100 %
Part-time Students: Same as for full time students

Module Overview

This course describes the physical propagation of electromagnetic radiation, its interaction and effect in biological tissue and methods for calculating dosimetry of non-ionising radiation. Radiation types considered range from power transmission at the very low end of the spectrum through radio waves ending with the frequencies of optical radiation. Legislative and standardisation issues for EM fields also will be discussed. This course will also provide an overview of optical radiation safety, introducing the relevant safety legislation and standards and appropriate control measures and protection hierarchy. Following an introduction to neutron interactions and the underlying concepts in reactor physics, this course describes reactor operation, control and changes in fuel composition, the course concludes with an overview of reactor decommissioning, fuel storage and disposal.

Module Aims

To develop an understanding of the biological effects of time varying electromagnetic fields and radiation on humans, animals and isolated cell preparations. To review the physics of electromagnetic wave propagation and the restrictions on the use of non-ionising radiation. To provide practical information on the legal and technical issues related to restrictions on exposures to and emissions of electromagnetic fields. To understand what optical radiation is and the hazards associated with exposure to it. To understand the current legislation with regard to exposure to optical radiation sources, and to be aware of the relevant standards and guidance. To understand the importance of carrying out risk assessments and implementing control measures to reduce exposure to optical radiation sources. To provide an understanding of reactor operation, reactor physics principles and aspects of nuclear power production at an introductory level. To overview reactor decommissioning and disposal of radioactive materials.

Learning Outcomes

After completing this module, the student should be able to:

Module Specific Skills:
Critical analysis of how non-ionising radiation propagates and its interaction with tissue
Critical analysis of the biological basis for setting standards for human exposure to electromagnetic fields and radiation
Appreciate what effects occur and to be aware of the controversy surrounding the biological and health effects of non-ionising radiation
To have a broad grasp of experiments that have been performed and be aware of their limitations and strengths for setting exposure guidelines

To understand guidelines for exposure to EM fields, who sets them, who enforces them and what the legal issues are public and occupational exposures

Discipline Specific Skills:
Gain an understanding of the basic concepts of reactor physics
Be able to discuss and assess the importance of factors influencing reactor operation
Be able to discuss problems inherent in reactor decommissioning and disposal
Be aware of present and future activities regarding nuclear power

Personal and Key Skills:
Ability to discuss the problems inherent in reactor decommissioning and waste disposal

Module Content















Mr R Bunger


Optical radiation, ultra violet radiation, sources and biological effects, laser safety






Dr D Jones


Practical radiation protection aspects of emergency response





Dr Z Sienkiewicz


Possible biological effects, acute effects on behaviour and the nervous system, reproduction and development and cancer related effects






Dr I Holloway


General survey and review of present nuclear power production, nuclear fuel resources and recycling; reactor types and special features.





Prof P Regan


Reactor physics, neutron induced fission, energy release in fission, concept of neutron flux and cross-section, neutron cycle in thermal reactors, criticality, the six factor formula, effects of fuel and moderator temperature, short and long term changes in fuel.  Radioisotope inventory of irradiated fuel, amounts produced, fissile and fertile materials. Differences between thermal reactors and fast reactors; the role of plutonium and higher isotopes.


Reactor control and operation, neutron lifetime and delayed neutrons.





Dr J Lillington


Fuel cycle and materials, thermal hydraulics and reactor safety.





Methods of Teaching/Learning

This module is assessed in Paper III which will consist of 6 questions. Students answer 4 questions from the 6. Full marks for a question will be equivalent to 100 % of the total marks available in assessment of this module.

Selected Texts/Journals

1. “NIEHS Report on Health Effects from Exposure to Power-Line Frequency Electric and Magnetic Fields”, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Prepared by the NIEHS EMF-RAPID Program Staff. NIH Publication No. 99-4493. Website -
2. “A review of the Potential Health Risks of Radiofrequency Fields from Wireless Telecommunication Devices”, an Expert Panel Report prepared at the request of the Society of Canada for Health Canada. Publication No. RSC.EPR 99-1. Website - (main address, follow links)
3. “Mobile Phones and Health”, Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones, NRPB, Chilton. Website -
4. “Hazards of Optical Radiation”, McKinlay, Harlen and Whillock, Hilger, 1988
5. "Lighting at Work", HSE Guidance Note HS/G, HSE Books, 1987 (ISBN 0 11 883964)
6. "Safety in Universities"; Notes of Guidance Part 2:1 Lasers, CVCP, 1992
7. British standard BS EN 60825:1992, BSI
8. "Lasers Festival and Entertainment Lighting Code", Institution of Lighting Engineers, 1995
9. “Nuclear Physics: An introduction”, Burcham, W.E., Longmans, 1965
10. “Radiation Detection and Measurement”, Knoll, G.F., Wiley, 2nd edition, 1989
11. “Elementary Reactor Physics”, Grant, P.J., Pergamon Press, 1966
12. “Nuclear Reactor Engineering”, Glasstone, S. and Sesonske, A., Van Nostrand, 1967
13. “Fast Breeder Reactors”, Waltar, A.E. and Reynolds, A.B., Pergamon Press, 1980
14. “Radiological Risk, Assessment and Environmental Analysis”, Till and Grogan, (ISBN: 978-019-51272), Oxford University Press
15. “Introduction to Health Physics”, Herman Cember (ISBN: 0-07-105461-8), McGraw-Hill
16. “Radioactive Fallout after Nuclear Explosions and Accidents (Radioactivity in the Environment)”, Iurii Izrae, (ISBN: 0-08-043855-5), Elsevier Science
17. “Radiation Protection in the Health Sciences”, (ISBN: 978-981-270-5), World Scientific Publishing
18. “Introduction to Radiation Protection Dosimetry”, (ISBN: 978-981-02-21), World Scientific Publishing

Note: References 5-8 may be borrowed from the University of Surrey Safety Office by special arrangement. In addition, various course handouts will be provided.

Last Updated

13th December 2010