PHYSICS 746 : Relativistic Quantum Mechanics and Field Theory


2020 Semester Two (1205) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Examines quantum field theory. Covers the relativistic generalisations of the Schrödinger equation and many-particle quantum mechanics, quantum electrodynamics is explored using Feynman diagram techniques. Extensions of scalar field theory to include path integrals, statistical field theory, broken symmetry, renormalisation and the renormalisation group.

Course Overview

This course introduces quantum field theory. Beginning from the relativistic generalizations of the Schrödinger equation and many-particle quantum mechanics, the Lagrangian field theory is introduced using Feynman diagram techniques. The course then deals with extensions of scalar field theory to include path integrals, statistical field theory, broken symmetry, renormalisation and the renormalisation group. Having completed the course the student will be able to move on to non-Abelian gauge theory, quantum electrodynamics and quantum chromodynamics. Also they will be prepared to address research problems in scalar field theory and topological field theory.

Course Requirements

Restriction: PHYSICS 706, 755

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a broad overview of quantised fields. (Capability 1)
  2. Be able to explain the concept of second quantisation. (Capability 1 and 3)
  3. Be able to explain the concept of symmetry and Noether’s theorem. (Capability 1)
  4. Be able to identify how electromagnetism is the simplest gauge theory. (Capability 2)
  5. Be able to show that the role of propagators and Feynman diagrams are related. (Capability 4)
  6. Be able to introduce path integrals and detail a lattice gauge theory. (Capability 1 and 3)
  7. Be able to describe how broken symmetry leads to the Higgs mechanism. (Capability 2)
  8. Be able to use the related concepts of renormalization and the renormalization group. (Capability 1 and 3)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Assignments 30% Individual Coursework
Presentation 20% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 50% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Final Exam

Learning Resources

T.J. Lancaster and S.J. Blundell, Quantum Field Theory for the Gifted Amateur (2014).
L.H. Ryder, Quantum Field Theory (1985, 2nd edn. 1996).
M.E. Peskin and D.V. Schroeder, An Introduction to Quantum Field Theory (1995).

Special Requirements

No special requirements.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 20 hours of lectures, 10 hours of tutorials, 30 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 30 hours of work on assignments and seminar preparation.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website at

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page:

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter (


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 13/07/2020 12:14 p.m.