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This course is intended as an introduction to, or refresher on, key parts of mathematics and physics that you may well need in order to study radiobiology.  This course is available for anyone undertaking a postgraduate course (MSc or DPhil) in the Department of Oncology at the University of Oxford.


 On completion of this course, students will be able to: 

  • Describe physical systems using quantities, calculus, and SI units.
  • Use dimensional analysis, continuous functions, and Ordinary Differential Equations in physical systems.
  • Describe the physics of radioactive decay, radiation types, and particle interactions.
  • Discuss the concepts of random processes, probability distributions, and uncertainties in measurements with respect to physical systems.
  • List the properties of electrons, photons, electric charge, and the energy units used in radiobiology.
  • Describe the principles of electromagnetism, including forces, fields, and Maxwell's Equations.
  • Discuss the concepts of complex numbers, Fourier series, and Fourier transforms in the context of signal processing.
  • Relate the principles of optics and imaging to medical imaging modalities.


This is a self-paced, online course made up of six virtual lessons. Each lesson includes a short recorded video to explain key concepts, some additional reading, and some quiz questions to check your knowledge.

Rather than simply list all of the relevant concepts from mathematics and physics, we have presented them in the context of six things you might (or might not) find or use in Oncology, namely:

  1. A mass on a spring (OK, you probably won't find this is in Oncology)
  2. A Cobalt-60 radioactive source
  3. A radiotherapy Linac
  4. A receiver coil from an MRI scanner
  5. An optical microscope
  6. A PET scanner


This course is only available for students undertaking a postgraduate course (MSc or DPhil)  in the Department of Oncology at the University of Oxford.  Students on the MSc Radiobiology and MSc Medical Physics with Radiobiology will be automatically enrolled on this course and can access it via Canvas. Students on other courses can request access by emailing the Graduate Studies Administrator. 

This course is available from September to July each year. It goes offline for the summer to allow updates to be made and new students to be added for the following academic year.