Course Title: Medical Imaging Physics

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Medical Imaging Physics

Credit Points: 12.00

Course Coordinator: Professor Rick Franich

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 3390

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 14.06.07

Course Coordinator Availability: Email for appointment.

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Students undertaking this course are assumed to have a thorough grounding in the following areas of undergraduate Physics such as provided by the recommended course in each case (or equivalents). A Bachelor’s degree majoring in Physics or another related discipline with appropriate experience would normally be sufficient: 

  • Scientific mathematics, calculus, uncertainties (MATH1142 Calculus and Analysis 1, MATH1144 Calculus and Analysis 2, and MATH1129 Mathematics for Physicists) 
  • Origins of radiation, radiation interactions with matter (PHYS2137 Optics and Radiation Physics) 
  • Operation and principles of a range of radiation detectors (PHYS2137/PHYS2125 Optics & Radiation Physics and PHYS2138/PHYS2126 Applied Physics) 
  • Kinematics, energy, momentum, forces (PHYS2122 Mechanics) 
  • Basic quantum mechanics and relativity (PHYS2123 Modern Physics and PHYS2140 Electromagnetics and Quantum Physics) 
  • Electromagnetism, optics and waves (PHYS2127 Thermodynamics and Electromagnetism, PHYS2137 Optics and Radiation Physics) 

Course Description

This course is a core component of the MC215 Master of Medical Physics and MR233 Master of Applied Science (Health & Medical and Physics). The course is also relevant to the conduct of a successful research project within the context of the RMIT higher degrees program.  

It specifically provides you with a knowledge and understanding of the physical and technological basis of operation of a range of radiological and other medical imaging modalities.  

Radiology is probably the most technologically intensive field in medicine and has seen unprecedented changes in recent years. Physicists working in the field require a solid understanding of the technology and the physical principles upon which it is based in order to appreciate advantages and limitations, evaluate equipment performance and assess risk.  

The course aims to introduce you to the principles of x-ray projection radiography, computed tomography (CT), fluoroscopy, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasonography, and nuclear medicine techniques including gamma camera planar imaging, positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT).  

Image quality, visual interpretation, image file representation, and imaging system evaluation and quantitative comparison are also studied. 

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

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

  • PLO-1 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.
  • 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-7 Technical and research skills to evaluate developments in diagnostic and therapeutic technology.

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

  1. Apply image processing techniques to digital images, quantitatively assess image quality and compare the capabilities of different imaging systems;
  2. Demonstrate understanding of the physical and technological basis of various radiological equipment, and associated imaging techniques of x-ray radiography, fluoroscopy and x-ray computed tomography (CT)
  3. Describe the application of physics principles such as ultrasound and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance to MR Imaging and ultrasound imaging;
  4. Discuss the concepts of nuclear medicine such as radionuclide production and selection, radiopharmaceuticals, tracer studies, in-vitro assay, detection systems and the operation of the gamma camera;
  5. Describe Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) processes;
  6. Examine radiation protection issues relevant to patients and practitioners and assess patient dose in nuclear medicine and x-ray radiography; and
  7. Conduct a literature survey to assess the contemporary implementation of advanced modes of imaging by MRI, PET, and SPECT techniques and hybrid imaging systems. 

Overview of Learning Activities

You will learn in this course by: 

  • Participation in lectorials where material will be presented and explained, and the subject will be illustrated with demonstrations and examples followed by active class discussion of key concepts and emerging developments; 
  • 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; and 
  • Completing written and online assignments consisting of numerical and other problems requiring an integrated understanding of the subject matter.  

Higher Degree by Research students taking this course as part of the MR233 Master of Applied Science (Health & Medical and Physics) program may be approved to take this course in Distance Learning mode and should have access to online lecture materials and lecture recordings. 

Overview of Learning Resources

You should be able to access comprehensive course information, lecture notes, journal papers, learning materials and other useful resources through the myRMIT website. Lists of relevant reference texts, resources in the library and internet-based resources should be provided in the lecture notes and during the classes.

Overview of Assessment

Note: This course has no hurdle requirements. 

Assessment Tasks

Assessment Task 1: Topic Quizzes 
Weighting 20%
This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5  

Assessment Task 2: Problem Solving Assessments
Weighting 30%
This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2, 5, 6 & 7  

Assessment Task 3: Skills and Capabilities Assessment 
Weighting 50%
This assessment supports CLOs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6