• Class Number 6346
  • Term Code 3360
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Cedric Simenel
    • Prof Cedric Simenel
    • Prof Joseph Hope
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 24/07/2023
  • Class End Date 27/10/2023
  • Census Date 31/08/2023
  • Last Date to Enrol 31/07/2023
SELT Survey Results

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

- Zee, A. (2010) Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell (2nd ed.), Princeton University Press

- Peskin, M. and Schroeder, D. (1995) An Introduction to Quantum Field Theory, Westview Press, USA

- Lancaster, T. and Blundell S. J. (2014) Quantum ?eld theory for the gifted amateur, Oxford U. Press

- Srednicki, M. (2007) Quantum Field Theory

- Schwartz, M. D. (2013) Quantum Field Theory and the Standard Model, Cambridge U. Press

- Weinberg, S. (1995) The Quantum Theory of Field, Cambridge U. Press

Recommended student system requirements 

ANU courses commonly use a number of online resources and activities including:

  • video material, similar to YouTube, for lectures and other instruction
  • two-way video conferencing for interactive learning
  • email and other messaging tools for communication
  • interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities
  • print and photo/scan for handwritten work
  • home-based assessment.

To fully participate in ANU learning, students need:

  • A computer or laptop. Mobile devices may work well but in some situations a computer/laptop may be more appropriate.
  • Webcam
  • Speakers and a microphone (e.g. headset)
  • Reliable, stable internet connection. Broadband recommended. If using a mobile network or wi-fi then check performance is adequate.
  • Suitable location with minimal interruptions and adequate privacy for classes and assessments.
  • Printing, and photo/scanning equipment

For more information please see https://www.anu.edu.au/students/systems/recommended-student-system-requirements

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). Feedback can also be provided to Course Conveners and teachers via the Student Experience of Learning & Teaching (SELT) feedback program. SELT surveys are confidential and also provide the Colleges and ANU Executive with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Lorentz transformations. Relation between spin and statistics.
2 Classical Field Theory Introduction and motivations for QFT. Klein-Gordon, Maxwell, Schrödinger Lagrangians. Least action principle. Euler-Lagrange equations. Symmetries and Noether theorem. Canonical momentum and Hamiltonians. Skills learned: Mathematical: Complex analysis. Functional integration. Stationary phase approximation. Modelling real systems: Particle physics, atomic nuclei, condensed matter.
3 The Klein-Gordon ?eld Free scalar ?elds. Canonical quantization. Vacuum energy (Casimir e?ect). Cosmological constant. Particles and antiparticles from excitation of the vacuum. Causality problem.
4 Functional method Path-integral formulation of QM. Stationary phase approximation. Generating functional. Func-tional derivation and integration Correlation functions. Time ordering. Propagator. Residue theorem. Yukawa potential. Wick rotation. Euclidean ?eld theory. Partition functions. Boltzman statistics
5 Interacting ?elds f4 and cubic theories. Gaussian functional integral. Feynman diagrams. S-matrix. Scattering amplitude. Decay.
6 Fermions Elements of group theory. Dirac equation. Yukawa theory.
7 Quantum electrodynamics Electromagnetic tensor. Maxwell equations. Gauge invariance. Lorentz and Coulomb gauges. Basic QED processes.
8 Spontaneous symmetry breaking Goldstone mechanism. Spontaneous symmetry breaking. Higgs mechanisms. Higgs boson. Super?uidity. Superconductivity.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Assignments 35 % * * 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11
Research topic assignment 15 % 02/11/2023 30/11/2023 9,10,11
Final exam 50 % 02/11/2023 30/11/2023 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines , which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Integrity Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using 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. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Skills website. In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Three one hour lectures per week (with online lecture material), and optional weekly tutorial.

Workshops are compulsory and in person. Students unable to attend due to travel restrictions will be able to join remotely.


Please note, that where a date range is used in the Assessment Summary in relation to exams, the due date and return date for mid-semester exams indicate the approximate timeframe in which the exam will be held; the due and return date for end of semester exams indicate the approximate timeframe in which the exam will be held and the date official end of Semester results are released on ISIS. Students should consult the course wattle site and the ANU final examination timetable to confirm the date, time and venue of the exam.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 35 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11


There will be 10 weekly assignments. Some assignments might contain computational works and video presentations.

There are 10 assignments due over the semester. It is intended that the marked assignments will be returned within one week after submission. Further details can be found on the Course Wattle site.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 02/11/2023
Return of Assessment: 30/11/2023
Learning Outcomes: 9,10,11

Research topic assignment

One report on a research topic

Assessment Task 3

Value: 50 %
Due Date: 02/11/2023
Return of Assessment: 30/11/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8

Final exam

There will be a final exam exam. Please refer to the PHYS6201 Wattle page and Examinations timetable for exam scheduling.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. The University’s students are an integral part of that community. The academic integrity principle commits all students to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support, academic integrity, and to uphold this commitment by behaving honestly, responsibly and ethically, and with respect and fairness, in scholarly practice.

The University expects all staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle, the Academic Integrity Rule 2021, the Policy: Student Academic Integrity and Procedure: Student Academic Integrity, and to uphold high standards of academic integrity to ensure the quality and value of our qualifications.

The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 is a legal document that the University uses to promote academic integrity, and manage breaches of the academic integrity principle. The Policy and Procedure support the Rule by outlining overarching principles, responsibilities and processes. The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 commences on 1 December 2021 and applies to courses commencing on or after that date, as well as to research conduct occurring on or after that date. Prior to this, the Academic Misconduct Rule 2015 applies.


The University commits to assisting all students to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. All coursework students must complete the online Academic Integrity Module (Epigeum), and Higher Degree Research (HDR) students are required to complete research integrity training. The Academic Integrity website provides information about services available to assist students with their assignments, examinations and other learning activities, as well as understanding and upholding academic integrity.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

The Academic Skills website has information to assist you with your writing and assessments. The website includes information about Academic Integrity including referencing requirements for different disciplines. There is also information on Plagiarism and different ways to use source material.

Returning Assignments

Assignments are submitted electronically in Wattle

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

No resubmission permitted as the solutions are posted online.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Prof Cedric Simenel

Research Interests

  • Nuclear Physics
  • Quantum Physics

Prof Cedric Simenel

Prof Cedric Simenel

Research Interests

Prof Cedric Simenel

Prof Joseph Hope

Research Interests

Prof Joseph Hope

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions