NPRE 441: Principles of Radiation Protection

Spring, 2023


Course Description

This course provides a comprehensive coverage of the principles and methodologies underlying radiation protection and radiation health physics. The major topics being discussed in this course include sources of ionizing radiation, the interaction of ionizing radiation with matter, essential tools and techniques for dosimetry measurements, counting statistics, principles of radiation dosimetry, biological effects of ionizing radiation, methods for deriving the radiation dose from internal and external radiation sources, and standard approaches for shielding design and radiation protection.



Primary: J. Turner, "Atoms, Radiation, and Radiation Protection", Third Edition, Wiley-VHC, Inc. (2007).


Reference Books:

[1] H. Cember - "Introduction to Health Physics", 4th Edition, McGraw-Hill (2010).

[2] J. K. Shultis and R. E. Faw, "Radiation Shielding," American Nuclear Society (2000).
[3] R. E. Faw and J. K. Shultis, "Radiological Assessment: Sources and Doses, American Nuclear Society (1999).
[4] E. L. Alpen, "Radiation Biophysics," Academic Press (1998).
[5] G. F. Knoll, Radiation Detection and Measurements, Third Edition, John Wiley & Sons, 1999.

Course Website:



8 homework: 20% (towards the final score)

6 quizzes: 30%

Midterm exam: 20%

Final exam: 20%

Term project: 10%


Teaching Assistants and Office Hours:

TA: Galen Selligman, email:

Office Hours: 1-3 pm on Tuesday and 10-noon on Friday, both at 220 Talbot.


Lecture Information:

Location: 2018 Campus Instructional Facility.

Time: Monday and Wednesday at noon-2 throughout the Spring 2023 semester.

Office Hour

To be announced soon.




Chapter 1: The Nucleus and Nuclear Radiation

       Nuclear structure and nuclear binding energy

       Alpha decay, beta decay, and secondary ionizing radiations

       X-ray and neutron sources

       Transformation kinetics and serial decay

       Naturally occurring radioactivity


Summary slides for Chapter 1


Chapter 2: Interaction of Radiation with Matter

       Interaction of beta particles with matter

       Interaction heavy charged particles and phenomena associated with charged particle tracks

       Interaction of X-rays and gamma-rays I Interaction mechanisms

       Interaction of X-rays and gamma-rays II attenuation coefficients, calculation of energy absorption and energy transfer

       Interactions of neutrons


Summary slides of Chapter 2


Chapter 3: Methods for Radiation Detection

(Note: this chapter will not be covered in NPRE441, but the conceptual understanding of basic radiation detection and measurement techniques would be needed for Chapters 4 and 5)

       Gas-filled detectors, ionization process, charge migration, ionization counters, and proportional counters.

       Scintillation detectors

       Semiconductor detectors

       Neutron detection techniques


Chapter 4: Counting Statistics

       Statistical models for radioactive decay processes, Bernoulli processes, binomial, Poisson, and Gaussian distributions

       Counting statistics, error, and error propagation

       False-positive and false-negative errors and delectability limits

       A brief introduction to Monte Carlo techniques


Chapter 5: Radiation Dosimetry

       Units, dose, exposure, and dose-exposure relationship

       Measurement of exposure and absorbed dose, the Bragg-Gray principle

       Dose calculations associated with X-ray, gamma-ray, charged particles, and neutrons

       Internally deposited radioisotopes and the MIRD method


Chapter 6: Biological Effects of Radiation

       Basic concepts of cell biology and irradiation of cells

       Types of radiation damage (slides attached, these covers class2&3)

       Therapeutic ratio and the 5 Rs of radiobiology


Chapter 7: External Radiation Protection

     Basic principles for external radiation protection

     Gamma-ray shielding considerations

     Shielding in X-ray installations

     Protection against external beta radiation

     Neutron shielding


Chapter 8: Radiation Protection Criteria and Exposure Limits

       The objective of radiation protection

       ICRP dosimetry models (for the respiratory system and gastrointestinal tract)



Homework 1. Due on 02-13-23 by 5 pm. Please return to me during the lecture on Monday, or to my office at 111E Talbot Lab. Solutions.

Homework 2. Due on 02-27-23 by 5 pm. Solutions.


Term Project

Please see the instructions, group designation, and a template for the short essay.

Note that short essay is due on April 30th, at 5 pm. The term-project presentations will take place on Wednesday, April 26 (Group 1-5), and Monday, May 1 (Group 6-10).



Quiz 1 and solutions.

Quiz 2 and solutions.



Midterm Exam:

Date: Wednesday, March 8th, at 12-2 pm.

Place: 2018 CIF.

Format: Close-book, you can prepare and take a 2-page cheat-sheet to the exam.

Content covered in the exam: Chapter 1, 2 and 3 (the portion covered before the exam)


Final Exam: To be announced.