Course Title: Optics and Radiation Physics

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Optics and Radiation Physics

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


135H Applied Sciences


Sem 1 2011,
Sem 1 2012,
Sem 1 2015,
Sem 1 2016


City Campus


171H School of Science


Sem 1 2017,
Sem 1 2018,
Sem 1 2019


City Campus


135H Applied Sciences


Sem 1 2015,
Sem 1 2016


City Campus


171H School of Science


Sem 1 2017,
Sem 1 2018

Course Coordinator: Dr. Rick Franich

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 3390

Course Coordinator Email:

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Students undertaking this course are assumed to have a thorough grounding in the following areas of knowledge such as provided by the recommended course in each case (or equivalent):

  • Scientific mathematics, calculus, uncertainties (MATH1142Calculus and Analysis 1 and MATH1144 Calculus and Analysis 2)
  • Kinematics, energy, momentum, forces (PHYS2122 Mechanics)
  • Basic quantum mechanics and relativity (PHYS2123 Modern Physics)
  • Electromagnetism (PHYS2127 Thermodynamics and Electromagnetism)
  • Scientific communication and presentation of data such as provided by a first year laboratory program and ONPS2334 Scientific Skills and Communication

Course Description

This course deals with the behaviour of electromagnetic radiation from the visible light spectrum through to atomic and nuclear radiation. You will study the basic properties and phenomena of visible light, and how they are used in some examples of optical instruments. You will be introduced to the fundamentals of radiation detection, and its practical application to the study of the structure of matter. The course is augmented with practical laboratory sessions in optics and radiation. On completing this course you will be well prepared for studies of theory and applications of optics and radiation at final year level, particularly courses in Photonics and Nuclear Physics. It is necessary background for some advanced laboratory and final year project experiments.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

On completion of this course you should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an extended knowledge of concepts related to Optics such as radiometry, transmission, reflection, attenuation, dispersion, interference, coherence, and diffraction; and in Radiation: alpha, beta, gamma, neutron and X-ray radiation, nuclear decay and energy, interactions with matter, and radiation protection;
  2. Solve conceptual and quantitative problems in Optics and Radiation Physics;
  3. Communicate experimental findings and explain concepts to others – both to experts and non-specialists;
  4. Work in a group environment to solve extended physics problems and to conduct experiments;
  5. Apply the theory you have learned to novel physical situations;
  6. Maintain a scientific journal and report on technical matters in a clear and concise

This course contributes to the following Program Learning Outcomes for BP229PHYS Bachelor of Science (Physics):

PLO-1 Understanding science

PLO-1.1 You will demonstrate an understanding of the scientific method and an ability to apply the scientific method in practice.

PLO-1.2 You will demonstrate an understanding of the role and relevance of science in society.

PLO-1.3 You will demonstrate an understanding of the role and importance of evidence in the continuous evolution of scientific knowledge.


PLO-3 Inquiry and Problem Solving

PLO-3.1 You will be able to plan and carry out a research project under supervision, showing the development of some capacity for independent work.

PLO-3.2 You will be able to gather, critically review and synthesise information relevant to a scientific inquiry or research project.

PLO-3.3 You will be able to choose appropriate tools and methods to solve scientific problems within your area of specialization.

PLO-3.4 You will demonstrate well-developed problem solving skills, applying your knowledge and using your ability to think analytically and creatively.

PLO-3.5 You will possess an ability to accurately record, analyse, interpret and critically evaluate your research findings.


PLO-4 Communication


PLO-4.1 You will be able to communicate the solution to a problem or the results of a scientific investigation using effective oral, written and presentation skills.

PLO-4.2 You will be able to communicate the solution to a problem or the results of a scientific investigation using appropriate methods for different audiences.


PLO-5 Personal and professional responsibility

PLO-5.1 You will develop a capacity for independent and self-directed work.

PLO-5.2 You will work responsibly, safely, legally and ethically.

PLO-5.3 You will develop an ability to work collaboratively.


This course contributes to the following Program Learning Outcomes for MC215 Master of Medical Physics:

PLO-2 Advanced understanding of the origins of radiation and its interactions with matter pertaining to the production and use of ionising radiation, with particular regard to the protection of people and environments.

PLO-4 Skills to investigate, analyse and interrogate scientific data to ensure quality control of complex technological systems and to diagnose causes of discrepancies.

PLO-5 Skills to identify problems, generate novel solutions and evaluate their effectiveness.

PLO-6 Communication and research skills to interpret Medical Physics issues and justify decisions for specialist and non-specialist audiences.

PLO-9 Demonstrate the application of knowledge and skills with a high level of personal autonomy and accountability.

Overview of Learning Activities

You will learn in this course by:

  • Attendance at lectures where material will be presented and explained, and the subject will be illustrated with demonstrations and examples;
  • Private study, working through the theory as presented in lectures, texts and notes, and gaining practice at solving conceptual and numerical problems;
  • Completing tutorial questions designed to give you further practice in application of theory, and to give feedback on your progress and understanding;
  • Completing written and online assignments consisting of numerical and other problems requiring an integrated understanding of the subject matter;
  • Undertaking a number of laboratory experiments related to the theory topics, keeping a laboratory journal and preparing reports on their outcomes.

Total study hours

60 teacher-guided hours (including 12 hours of Lab classes) and approximately 60 student-directed hours

Overview of Learning Resources

You will be able to access comprehensive course information, lecture notes, laboratory manuals, learning materials and other useful resources through the myRMIT website. You will also use laboratory equipment and computer-aided learning technologies within the School for project and assignment work. Lists of relevant reference texts, resources in the library and internet-based resources will be provided in the lecture notes and during the classes. Details of the recommended textbooks for this course are also provided in Part B of the course guide.

Overview of Assessment

Assessment in this course is via a combination of assignments, experimental reports, experimental conduct in the laboratory, and formal examination.

There will be ongoing assessment during the semester to encourage you to engage with the material and to give feedback on your progress. This is done with in-class tests, online quizzes, and several short assignments, including both conceptual and numerical problems. All assessment tasks will be administered and submitted through the myRMIT online Learning Management System (Canvas and/orWeblearn).

Experimental work will be assessed by pre-Lab preparation tasks, in-class experimental conduct and journals, and via submission of laboratory reports. A final examination will assess your overall achievement in the course.


Note that:

 This course has no hurdle requirements.

Assessment Task 1:  Optics Assignments

Weighting 10%

This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2, & 5


Assessment Task 2:  Radiation Assignments

Weighting 10%

This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2, & 5


Assessment Task 3: Laboratory Assessments

Weighting 40%

This assessment task supports CLO 2, 3, 4 & 6


Assessment 4: Mid-semester Exam and Final Exam

Weighting 40% 

This assessment supports CLO 1, 2, 3, & 5