Radioactivity and Radiation Interactions (PHYS*3170)

Code and section: PHYS*3170*01

Term: Fall 2015

Instructor: Christopher Heirwegh


Course Information

The Purpose of this Course

This course introduces the student to concepts in radiation physics with an underlying emphasis on its practical application. Topics include: atomic and nuclear structure, introduction to different types of radiation and their reaction mechanisms, the interaction of radiation with matter, radioactive decay processes, human dosimetry calculations and external radiation shielding. This course is meant to provide the student with the capacity to carry out calculations in this field and provide context to material taught in upper level physics courses.

Prerequisites: (1 of IPS*1510, Math*1210, Math*2080) and (Math*2170 or Math*2270)


Lecturer Office Extension Email
Christopher Heirwegh MacN 330 53985

Office Hours

Tuesday 2:30-4:30 pm and Thursday 9:30-10:30 am.


Day Time Location
Tuesdays & Thursdays 11:30 - 12:50pm JTP 212

Course Materials

Required Text

James E. Turner, “Atoms, Radiation, and Radiation Protection”, 3rd edition, John Wiley & Sons, 2007.

Class resources

Supplementary class notes will be made available on the CourseLink Desire to Learn (D2L) website: All students registered in this course have access through their University of Guelph Central Login account. The instructor will also post solutions to assignments and midterms on this site.

Other Resources

  • W. E. Burcham, “Nuclear Physics, An Introduction”, 2nd edition, Longmans, 1973.
  • C. M. Lederer and V.S. Shirley, “Table of Isotopes”, 7th (or 6th) edition, Wiley, 1978.
  • H. Cember, “Introduction to Health Physics”, 2nd edition, McGraw-Hill, 1992.
  • H. E. Johns and J. R. Cunningham, “The Physics of Radiology”, 4th edition, Charles C. Thomas, 1983.
  • N. A. Dyson, “X-rays in Atomic and Nuclear Physics”, 2nd edition, Cambridge University Press, 1990.
  • E. J. Hall and A. J. Giaccia, “Radiobiology for the Radiologist”, 7th (or 5th and 6th) edition, Wolters Kluwer Heatlth/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2012.

These texts have been placed on reserve at McLaughlin Library


Assessment Weight
Assignments 30%
Midterm Exam 20%
Final Exam 50%

The assignments will be handed out in class and due in class at the time posted on the assignment. Late assignments will be penalized and no assignments will be accepted after the posting of the solutions on the course D2L page.

Midterm and Final Exam

The midterm exam will be 2 hours long and is scheduled for Thursday, October 22nd from 7:00 – 9:00 pm in MCKN 229. The final exam is scheduled for Friday, December 18th from 7:00 – 9:00 pm. Both the midterm and final exam will be closed book. You will be provided with an equation sheet. Only non-programmable pocket calculators will be permitted. Personal communication or entertainment devices (eg. Cell phone, MP3 player) are not permitted.

If you miss a midterm examination due to illness or compassionate reasons, you need to provide the instructor with a waiver slip. See your Program Counsellor if you require assistance. If you miss the final examination, see your Program Counsellor. Please refer to “General Information for Academic Consideration and Appeals” in the 2015/16 Undergraduate Calendar.

Course Policies

(Not) Working With Other Students

All work submitted for grading in this course must be each individual student's own work. While students are encouraged to share thoughts and ideas, it is not acceptable to share assignment solutions. The assignments are not group projects. It is important that you do not show your final written solutions to other students.


Your instructor will be a major source for additional help and will be happy to answer questions during office hours. Requests to meet at alternate times will also be considered. Brief questions may also be answered immediately before and after lectures.


The University of Guelph is committed to creating a barrier-free environment. Providing services for students is a shared responsibility among students, faculty and administrators. This relationship is based on respect of individual rights, the dignity of the individual and the University community's shared commitment to an open and supportive learning environment. Students requiring service or accommodation, whether due to an identified, ongoing disability or a short-term disability should contact the Student Accessibility Services as soon as possible. For more information, contact SAS at 519-824-4120 ext. 56208 or email or see the website:

Academic Misconduct

The University of Guelph takes a serious view of academic misconduct and will severely penalize students, faculty and staff who are found guilty of offenses associated with misappropriation of others' work, misrepresentation of personal performance and fraud, improper access to scholarly resources, and obstructing others in pursuit of their academic endeavours. Each student is assumed to be familiar with the regulations surrounding academic misconducts, as spelled out in the Undergraduate Calendar.