Nuclear Physics (PHYS*7160)

Code and section: PHYS*7160*01

Term: Winter 2022

Instructor: Liliana Caballero


Course Information

Course Description

This course will bring together the physics background needed to understand the evolution of stars and the synthesis of elements in our Universe. At the end of the course, students will have built knowledge on nuclear reactions and basic astrophysical concepts that play a role in nucleosynthesis.

The course will be as self-contained as possible, but previous background on quantum mechanics and statistical physics is needed. Basic nuclear and astro physics material will be covered.

Class Schedule

Monday and FridayWednesday, 1:00 p.m to 2:20 p.m

Lecture Room

MacN, Room 318

Note: that we will follow the University’s plan regarding the current pandemic. Therefore, the two first weeks of classes will be remote and synchronous.  We will meet via Zoom. The link to access the meeting will be posted in courselink.


Liliana Caballero
Office: MacN 433D

Office hours

By appointment

Course Materials

Recommended texts

  • Christian Iliadis, Nuclear Physics of Stars, Wiley, Second edition
  • Richard N. Boyd, An Introduction to Nuclear Astrophysics, The University Chicago Press

Course content

  1. Summary of nucleosynthesis processes and their sites
  2. Astrophysics background
    Stellar structure
    Stellar evolution
    White dwarfs
    Neutron stars
  3. Nuclear reactions
    Review of nuclear physics background
    Thermonuclear reaction rates
  4. Nuclear burning stages and stellar evolution
    Hydrogen burning
    Nuclear statistical equilibrium
    s-process, r-process, rp-process

Course evaluation

There will be assignments, an essay, one seminar, and one exam. 

Note that although you are permitted to discuss the homework problems with your classmates, you must write up the solutions yourself. Copying will not be tolerated. Later assignments will not be accepted unless special arrangements are made ahead of time. 


You will be asked to review and discuss 2 papers related to the first part of the course: stellar evolution and stellar structure. The papers will be of your choice and will be about the same topic but by two different authors. The  page limit is 3.


You will choose a paper to review, write a proposal (no more than one page) and deliver a 15 minute presentation + 5 minutes for questions. The proposal should contain the reason why you think this paper is relevant to the course content and what you are going to explain from that paper. Your instructor will approve your proposal in advance.  Note that some of you are already doing work in nuclear or astro -physics. If you consider talking about your research area that’s perfectly fine but in your proposal and talk you should discuss the application to the course content. Presentations will take place during the las week of classes, first week of April 2022. Attendance to all talks is mandatory.

The final mark of the course will be calculated with the following scheme. No other marking schemes will be considered.

Assessment Weight
Assignments 30%
Essay 10%
Seminar Proposal 10%
Seminar 20%
Exam 30%
Total 100%

Essay deadline: February 28 2022 (only PDF copies)
Proposal deadline: March 21th 2022 (only PDF copies)
Final exam date and time: TBA.

Course policies

Course policy on group work

See Course Evaluation ((Not) working with other students), above. 

Course policy on electronic devices and recording of lectures

What you do with your laptop, smart phone, tablet, etc, during lectures is your own business, so long as it does not create a distraction for your classmates or the instructor. (The instructor is easily distracted.) If such a distraction arises you will be asked to leave the classroom.
Electronic recording of classes is expressly forbidden without consent of the instructor. When recordings are permitted they are solely for the use of the authorized student and may not be reproduced, or transmitted to others, without the express written consent of the instructor.  

University Policies

Email Communication

As per university regulations, all students are required to check their e-mail account regularly: e-mail is the official route of communication between the University and its students.

When You Cannot Meet a Course Requirement

When you find yourself unable to meet an in-course requirement because of illness or compassionate reasons please advise the course instructor (or designated person, such as a teaching assistant) in writing, with your name, id#, and e-mail contact. The grounds for Academic Consideration are detailed in the Undergraduate and Graduate Calendars.

Drop Date

Students will have until the last day of classes to drop courses without academic penalty. The deadline to drop two-semester courses will be the last day of classes in the second semester. This applies to all students (undergraduate, graduate and diploma) except for Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Associate Diploma in Veterinary Technology (conventional and alternative delivery) students. The regulations and procedures for course registration are available in their respective Academic Calendars.

Copies of Out-of-class Assignments

Keep paper and/or other reliable back-up copies of all out-of-class assignments: you may be asked to resubmit work at any time.


The University promotes the full participation of students who experience disabilities in their academic programs. To that end, the provision of academic accommodation is a shared responsibility between the University and the student.

When accommodations are needed, the student is required to first register with Student Accessibility Services (SAS). Documentation to substantiate the existence of a disability is required; however, interim accommodations may be possible while that process is underway.

Accommodations are available for both permanent and temporary disabilities. It should be noted that common illnesses such as a cold or the flu do not constitute a disability.

Use of the SAS Exam Centre requires students to book their exams at least 7 days in advance and not later than the 40th Class Day.

For Guelph students, information can be found on the SAS website

Academic Integrity

The University of Guelph is committed to upholding the highest standards of academic integrity, and it is the responsibility of all members of the University community-faculty, staff, and students-to be aware of what constitutes academic misconduct and to do as much as possible to prevent academic offences from occurring. University of Guelph students have the responsibility of abiding by the University's policy on academic misconduct regardless of their location of study; faculty, staff, and students have the responsibility of supporting an environment that encourages academic integrity. Students need to remain aware that instructors have access to and the right to use electronic and other means of detection.

Please note: Whether or not a student intended to commit academic misconduct is not relevant for a finding of guilt. Hurried or careless submission of assignments does not excuse students from responsibility for verifying the academic integrity of their work before submitting it. Students who are in any doubt as to whether an action on their part could be construed as an academic offence should consult with a faculty member or faculty advisor.

Recording of Materials

Presentations that are made in relation to course work - including lectures - cannot be recorded or copied without the permission of the presenter, whether the instructor, a student, or guest lecturer. Material recorded with permission is restricted to use for that course unless further permission is granted.


The Academic Calendars are the source of information about the University of Guelph’s procedures, policies, and regulations that apply to undergraduate, graduate, and diploma programs.

Academic Calendars