Course Title: Radiobiology for Medical Physicists

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Radiobiology for Medical Physicists

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


135H Applied Sciences


Sem 2 2014,
Sem 2 2015


City Campus


171H School of Science


Sem 2 2017,
Sem 2 2018,
Sem 2 2019,
Sem 2 2023

Course Coordinator: Prof Rick Franich

Course Coordinator Phone: +613 9925

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Availability: Email for an appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Assumed knowledge: You are assumed to have a thorough understanding of the interaction of radiation with matter (such as that provided by PHYS2176 Radiation & Nuclear Physics, PHYS2167 Radiation Physics & Laboratory or equivalent). Prior studies that include cellular biology and anatomy would be an advantage.

Course Description

The course provides a specialised study of the effects of ionising radiation exposure on biological systems from the cellular level to systemic effects. Biological response to irradiation is considered from two perspectives: as it pertains to radiation sensitivity for the purpose of radiotherapy as a treatment technique for cancer and other diseases; and susceptibility versus resistance for the purposes of radiation protection in medical, occupational and environmental exposures to radioactivity. There will be some practical/laboratory-based activities during the course which may be off-site, at another facility and/or require attendance at classes at the Bundoora campus. There may be specialist lectures by radiobiology and radiotherapy experts during the course.


Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course contributes to the following program learning outcomes of the MC215 Master of Medical Physics: 

PLO1 - Advanced and integrated understanding of the applications of physical processes to the diagnosis and treatment of disease, including an understanding of contemporary developments in professional practice. 

PLO2 - 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. 

PLO9 - Demonstrate the application of knowledge and skills with a high level of personal autonomy and accountability.


Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs)

On successful completion of this course you should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the biological effects of radiation at a cellular and systemic level; and basic knowledge of cancer biology and cell death (the hallmarks of cancer)
  2. Critically review the differences in response for healthy and mutagenic cells and how this influences radiotherapy practice, fractionation schemes and optimisation between doses to targets and healthy tissues;
  3. Explain the stochastic and non-stochastic effects of low level radiation exposures arising from medical, occupational and environmental exposure to ionising radiation, and to communicate the significance of this to a non-specialist audience;
  4. Access and independently use a variety of learning materials and resources;
  5. Work effectively as part of a collaborative team in tutorial and laboratory sessions;
  6. Present solutions to problems and write reports in a concise, clear, systematic and professional manner applying the concepts, terminology, conventions and calculations important in radiation biology.

Overview of Learning Activities

The learning activities included in this course are:

  1. participation in classes where syllabus material will be presented and explained, the subject illustrated with demonstrations and examples, and class discussions encouraged;
  2. laboratory and tutorial exercises including small group experimental activities;
  3. completion of tutorial questions, and tests designed to give further practice in the application of theory, and to give feedback on your progress and understanding;
  4. private study, working through the course as presented in classes and learning materials, and gaining practice at solving conceptual and numerical problems;
  5. written assignments requiring an integrated understanding of the subject matter, both theoretical and practical.

Overview of Learning Resources

You will be able to access course information, lecture notes and other learning materials through the ‘myRMIT Studies’ web service (specifically Canvas). Lists of relevant reference texts, resources in the library and freely accessible internet sites will be provided. A range of referred articles and references will be provided and you will be encouraged to read widely from these sources and supplement your course notes with pre-reading from the recommended texts.

Details of the recommended textbooks for this course are provided in Part B of the course guide.

Overview of Assessment

Note that: This course has no hurdle requirements.

Assessment Task 1: Topic Tests/Quizzes
Weighting (20%)
This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2, 3

Assessment Task 2: Laboratory Experiment & Report
Weighting (20%)
This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 4- 6

Assessment Task 3: Assignment
Weighting (10%)
This assessment task supports CLOs 1 - 6

Assessment Task 4: Skills and Capabilities Assessment
Weighting (50%)
This assessment task supports CLOs 1 - 6