• Offered by Research School of Physics
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Physics
  • Areas of interest Physics, Science, Theoretical Physics, Nuclear Physics
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Prof Cedric Simenel
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Second Semester 2021
    See Future Offerings

This course has been adjusted for remote participation in Sem 2 2021, however students are encouraged to attend on-campus activities if possible.

This course provides an introduction to the concepts and tools of quantum field theory (QFT) and to its applications in various fields, such as particle physics and condensed matter. QFT is arguably the most far-reaching attempt to combine special relativity and quantum physics in a unique framework. This course builds on the content of previous courses on Classical and Quantum Mechanics, Electromagnetism, and Statistical Physics, providing an elegant synthesis of these key areas of modern Physics. We explain in this course the origin of particles (why are all electrons identical?), forces (why same charge repel while gravitation is attractive?) and antiparticles. The Feynman path integral formalism is used, leading to Klein-Gordon, Maxwell and Dirac equations. Feynman diagrams to describe interacting fields are also introduced. The concepts of Gauge Invariance, spontaneous symmetry breaking, as well as the Goldstone and Higgs mechanisms are introduced in a general context, and applied, e.g., to describe superfluidity, superconductivity and ferromagnetism.

This course is co-taught with undergraduate students but assessed separately.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Discuss the reasons for the failure of relativistic quantum mechanics, such as the causality problem, and the need for quantum field theory
  2. Discuss the origin of particles and forces
  3. Analyse the statistical distributions of identical particles and the repulsive/attractive nature of the forces as a function of spins
  4. Apply Feynman rules to calculate probabilities for basic processes with particles (decay and scattering)
  5. Obtain classical and/or non-relativistic limits of fully quantum and relativistic models, and identify the relativistic origin of effects such as the spin-orbit interaction
  6. Use effective field theory techniques to develop models at large scales
  7. Describe qualitatively effects such as superconductivity, superfluidity, and ferromagnetism using the concepts of gauge invariance, Goldstone and Higgs mechanism, and spontaneous symmetry breaking.
  8. Apply mathematical tools such as complex analysis, Gaussian path integration, and Fourier analysis in the context of physical systems.
  9. Develop computational skills by solving numerically simple problems such as pionless effective field theory and the Ising model.
  10. Develop critical thinking and problem-solving abilities with application to a diverse range of practical problems in quantum field theory.
  11. Demonstrate high level oral and written communication skills

Indicative Assessment

  1. Assignments (40) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11]
  2. Final written exam (45) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,10]
  3. Research topic oral presentation (15) [LO 10,11]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


The expected workload will consist of approximately 130 hours throughout the semester including:

  • Face-to face component which will consist of 1 x 3 hour workshop per week.
  • Approximately 94 hours of self-study which will include listening/viewing the online lectures, preparation for the weekly online lectures, workshops/labs and other assessment tasks.

This is a flipped class.

Inherent Requirements

To be determined

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enroll in this course you must be active the Master of Science in Theoretical Physics or the Master of Science (Adv) in Theoretical Physics programs. Incompatible with PHYS3201.

Prescribed Texts


Preliminary Reading

"Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell", by A. Zee (2nd ed., 2010)

"Quantum Field Theory for the Gifted Amateur", by T. Lancaster and S. Blundell (2015)

Assumed Knowledge

24 units of university level mathematics for physicists and engineers. 24 units of university advanced level physics.

Knowledge of Physics equivalent to PHYS3101, PHYS3102 and PHYS3103 is highly desirable.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $4110
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $5880
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
6797 26 Jul 2021 02 Aug 2021 14 Sep 2021 29 Oct 2021 In Person View

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