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Short Learning Programme
Nuclear Physics
Nuclear engineering and technology use applied nuclear physics. Participants should therefore gain a good command of the applicability of nuclear physics, especially neutron interactions. Attention is also focused on radiation transport in matter, specifically neutron transport. The detection and measurement of ionising radiation is also treated.

Purpose of the course:

The purpose of this short learning program are to introduce participants to the needs of nuclear scientists and technologists working in the South African nuclear industry.Wat ‘n kursus?The participant of this module will gain an understanding of the practical implications of theoretical concepts of nuclear physics. Therefore the mathematical formulae are introduced on a conceptual level. Some of the most important formulae will be derived, selected with a view to enhancing participants’ insight into the theory. Participants should gain knowledge of, and skills in the history of nuclear engineering, the basics of atomic and nuclear physics for engineers, the interaction of neutrons and nuclear radiation with matter, the transport of ionising radiation, how to shield it, and how to detect and measure it. The course also forms part of the continuous professional development (CPD) for Nuclear Engineering.

Admission requirements:

Admission requirements: 
Experience in Chemical- / Nuclear- / Mechanical Engineering industry and/or physics and applied mathematics.
Learning assumed to be in place: 
NQF level 7 Qualification. BSc (with Mathematics and/or Physics) / BTech (Engineering) Qualification. Relevant working experience within the nuclear- and power generation industry.

Course outcomes and assessment criteria :

Course outcomes and the associated assessment criteria: 

Study Unit


Assessment Criteria


After completion of this module, the participants should be able to demonstrate the following:

Knowledge that is applied to the following:

  • Issues pertaining to global trends in the field of energy production and the global consequences thereof.
  • History of nuclear engineering, including the negative image of nuclear energy due to the explosion of nuclear weapons and the three major nuclear reactor accidents.
  • The conceptual application of expertise in the field of Nuclear Physics
  • Negative health effects of radiation; the basics of radiation protection transport of ionising radiation, radiation detection, measurement and shielding.

Demonstrate the following skills:

  • Synthesising lessons from the history of nuclear power to gain insight into how to best utilize nuclear power.
  • Conceptually applying fundamental knowledge of radiation protection and radiation shielding, safety and environmental aspects of nuclear power towards improving nuclear safety.
  • Communicating with the public about the benefits and potential risks associated with nuclear power in an ethical and appropriate manner.

I (the assessor) will know that the participant has achieved this specific outcome if he/she can:

  • Understand the microstructure of matter-electrons, the nucleus, nucleons, atoms, molecules, isotopes etc.
  • Present the fundamentals of the quark-lepton model of matter
  • Distinguish between a lepton and a hadron, and know the two main classes of hadrons: mesons and baryons
  • Discuss the 4 fundamental interactions in nature, and the particles between which they act.
  • Have an idea about the history of nuclear physics
  • Grasp the concept of nuclear binding energy
  • Understand how the graph of binding energy per nucleon in stable nuclei, enables one to explain why energy is available from fission of heavy nuclides, or from the fusion of light nuclides.
  • Understand that the micro world is described by quantum mechanics, and not by classical mechanics, and that the Schrödinger equation is the simplest formulation of quantum mechanics
  • Write out the Schrödinger equation and discuss the different terms
  • Explain why the mathematical description of the potential well in which a particle is bound, is of paramount importance in Quantum Mechanics etc.


The assessment will be in the format of formative and summative assessments and students should attain a minimum of 50% for the program as a final mark to successfully complete the programme. The formative assessment will contribute 40% of the final course mark and will be in the form of tests; homework assignments and larger projects that may involve group work The summative assessment will contribute 60% of the final course mark and will be in the form of a final examination Attendance at the lecture sessions is also compulsory. The student requires a 50% final program mark to pass the course.
Method of assessment: 
Satisfactory achievement of the outcomes will be assessed by means of tests, assignments, projects that may involve group work and a written exam. The following methods of formative and summative assessment will be done to determine if the learner successfully acquired the agreed-upon outcomes, namely: Formative assessment: It will be done in the following manner to determine to what extend the individual students acquire the agreed-upon competencies and to guide them in this regard: Assignments, tests and project work that are assessed, that contribute 100% to the formative assessment. Summative assessment: Examination will contribute 100% to the summative assessment

Additional information

Mode of delivery: 
Target group: 
Professionals, scientists and engineers working in the power generation industry (nuclear, chemical and mechanical engineering industry), regulatory institutions, government departments and nuclear energy institutions who need to develop technical expertise in reactor analysis.
Contact us
Miss Sue-Mari Benson
Telephone number: 
018 299 4369