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Unit of study_

PHYS5124: HDR Physics of the Standard Model

2024 unit information

Our current understanding of the basic building blocks of matter and interactions between them is called the Standard Model of Particle Physics (SM). This most fundamental description of Nature incorporates three of the four basic interactions which govern how the Universe works, the electromagnetic, weak and strong interactions. This unit investigates the mathematical underpinnings of the SM, a quantum field theory constructed upon fundamental notions of symmetry including Lorentz and local gauge invariance. It also explores the notion of spontaneous symmetry breaking, the Higgs field and the way that fundamental particles acquire mass. The interplay between theory and experiment, which has driven the SM's development, is highlighted. Finally, limitations of the model and possible extensions which could overcome them are discussed. You will learn how the SM is constructed based on symmetry principles, quantum fields and their space-time derivatives; how to derive equations of motion for the fields using the Action Principle; and how predictions for physical observables such as cross sections and decay rates can be calculated starting from the SM Lagrangian density. By studying examples of both recent and historically significant measurements confirming or challenging the SM, you will gain experience in reading and interpreting the scientific literature. This will include analysis of a current research paper for the final assignment. Through this unit you will develop an appreciation of humankind's most contemporary and successful attempt to describe Nature in terms of fundamental laws.

Unit details and rules

Managing faculty or University school:

Physics Academic Operations

Code PHYS5124
Academic unit Physics Academic Operations
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge:
A major in physics including third-year quantum physics and third-year particle physics

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Apply knowledge of quantum mechanics and special relativity to the interaction of fundamental particles.
  • LO2. Explain the key concepts governing the mathematical structure and symmetries underpinning the Standard Model.
  • LO3. Outline the strengths and limitations of the Standard Model in its ability to predict the properties of the observed particles and interactions of Nature, as determined by experiment.
  • LO4. Use knowledge and understanding of the Standard Model to solve qualitative and quantitative problems in particle physics.
  • LO5. Study and analyse a classic research paper in particle physics as a contribution to the Standard Model description of Nature.
  • LO6. Review and evaluate a contemporary research paper, assessing how it advances the Standard Model description of Nature.
  • LO7. Demonstrate a sense of responsibility, ethical behaviour and independence as a learner.

Unit availability

This section lists the session, attendance modes and locations the unit is available in. There is a unit outline for each of the unit availabilities, which gives you information about the unit including assessment details and a schedule of weekly activities.

The outline is published 2 weeks before the first day of teaching. You can look at previous outlines for a guide to the details of a unit.

Session MoA ?  Location Outline ? 
Semester 2 2024
Normal day Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Outline unavailable
Session MoA ?  Location Outline ? 
Semester 2 2022
Normal day Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Semester 2 2023
Normal day Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

Modes of attendance (MoA)

This refers to the Mode of attendance (MoA) for the unit as it appears when you’re selecting your units in Sydney Student. Find more information about modes of attendance on our website.