Programme Coordinators

Prof. Palee Mahawette
Department of Nuclear Science,
Faculty of Science,
University of Colombo
Colombo 03,
Sri Lanka.

Work Phone: 0112158368  


Department of Nuclear Science,
Faculty of Science,
University of Colombo
Colombo 03,
Sri Lanka.

Work Phone: 0112158368

Medical physics is a branch of applied physics using concepts and methods of physics to help diagnose and treat human disease. The fusion of medicine, physics, technology and basic sciences makes Medical Physics one of the most fascinating sub-specialties of physical sciences A medical physicist is an expert in radiation physics. He practices medical physics, interacts directly with the radiation oncology team and is responsible for radiation treatment planning. The medical physicist guarantees the accurate measurements of the radiation beam. His goal is to compute the correct radiation dose that can best destroy malignant tumors while minimizing damage to normal tissue. In addition, he also plays a major role in the radiation protection, safety and functioning of radiotherapy units, radiation sources, and radiation detection equipment Employment for a Medical Physicist is wide and possible in institutions such as hospitals, cancer centers, nuclear power plants, radiopharmaceutical production facilities and the academia and foreign opportunities are many. The foremost pathway to becoming a medical physicist requires a postgraduate degree such as a master’s (M.Sc) or a doctorate (Ph.D) in medical physics. In addition, clinical practice under the supervision of a Medical Physicist is also required.

Want to know more about medical physics? Refer the below lecture done by Dr. Sarasanandarajah Sivananthan.


B.Sc. Degree from a recognized University with Physics as a subject or any other equivalent qualification acceptable to the Senate of the University of Colombo

Program Structure

The MSc program will consist of lecture courses, practical work and a research project. The duration of the complete program consisting of two parts part I and part II will be 24 months. The students who maintain a GPA of 2.50 in part I will be allowed to proceed to part II. Those who are unable to proceed to part II may be awarded the post graduate diploma based on their performance in part I. The M.Sc degree and the post graduate diploma will be awarded according to the general guidelines of the Faculty of Science.

MSc in Medical Physics Syllabus

PartTitleCredit valueLecture/Practical
part I
MMP5021Anatomy and Physiology330 L, 30P
MMP5022Radiation Physics and Dosimetry230 L
MMP5023Physics of Diagnostic Radiology230L
MMP5024Nuclear Instrumentation Lab130P
MMP5025Physics of Radiotherapy460L
MMP5026Diagnostic Imaging with Non-ionizing Radiation230L
MMP5027Medical Imaging Science330L,30P
MMP5028Lab in Radiation Oncology130P
MMP5029Radiation Protection and Radiobiology230L
MMP5030Physics of Nuclear Medicine230L
MMP5031Research Methodology and Ethics230L
MMP5032Lab in Radiological Physics130P
part II
MMP5019Guided independent research project5150P
part III
MMP5020Research Project (full time)30One year

Detailed Syllabus

Introduction to human body, Cells tissues and structure, organization of the body, Cross sectional anatomy, Skeleton, Muscular, Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Alimentary, Urinary, Nervous, Lymphatic, Reticuloendothelial, Reproductive systems, Eye, Ear, Mammary gland, Endocrine gland, Anatomical landmarks and surface marking of different organs, A brief overview of the various types of clinical conditions relevant to the medical physicist.

Radiation Physics: Basic concept of radiation: electromagnetic radiation and their characteristics, types of radiation; Background radiation; Interactions and energy deposition by ionizing radiation in matter; X-rays and gamma interaction with matter: Rayleigh scattering, Compton scattering, photo electric absorption, pair and triple production; Electrons and other charge particle interaction with matter: charged particle such as alpha particles, electrons, beta particles and positrons; Attenuation, absorption and transfer coefficients; Stopping powers: restricted, unrestricted; Charge particle scattering; Linear energy transfer (LET); Mean free path (MFP); Proton and carbon ion interaction with matters: elastic and non elastic interactions, transport equation, stopping power; Bragg peak; Range of charge particles in materials; Neutron interaction with matters; Radiation Detectors and dose meters: basic Principles of radiation detection, gas filed dosimeters, solid state dose meter, scintillation detectors, personal dosimeters; Dosimetry: Quantities and units according to ICRU: fluence, energy fluence, exposure, KERMA, absorbed dose; Electronic equilibrium concept; Cavity theory and charged particle equilibrium: Bragg gray theory, spencer Attrix theory, Burlin theory, Fano theorem; Radiation Standards; International dose calibration chains; Ion chamber calibration; Absolute dosimetry protocols and IAEA codes of practice (TRS 398); Measurement of Dose rate (Dw) for external beams from Cobalt-60 teletherapy and high-energy photon and electron beams from linear accelerators machines; Pulse dosimetry; Neutron dosimetry.

Introduction to X-rays transmission image; X ray production; X-ray beam properties; X-ray generator; X-ray tube construction; X ray Imaging detectors (conventional/digital); Image parameter; Spacial resolution; Image Noise and Contrast; Fluoroscopy: physical principles, image intensifiers, image acquisition and display; Mammography: physical principles, imaging quality, breast thickness considerations, automatic exposure control and compression, radiation doses, use of various anode and filter materials to tailor the X-ray spectrum to individual patients; Angiography; Computed tomography: physical principles, different generation CT scanners, data acquisition concepts, image reconstruction, image quality and artifact, quality control programs in hospitals, radiation dose in CT, single-slice sprial/helical CT, multi-slice sprial/helical CT, three-dimensional CT.

This laboratory course takes place at the Department of Nuclear Science in the University of Colombo of Sri Lanka. Students will be assigned to groups and will follow the attached lab list. Labs will not be repeated.

  • Characteristic of GM tube.
  • Statistic of counting.
  • Gamma ray scintillation spectroscopy.
  • Gamma absorption.
  • Determination of half-life of isotopes (neutron activation method)
  • Beta absorption.
  • Radiation protection (shielding effect of different material and inverse square low.
  • Environmental radiation analysis.

Clinical aspects: target volume determination in clinical practice, tumor localization and cross sectional information, carcinogenesis, cell cycles, common cancers and the causes, how does radiation kills cancer cells, radio biology principles in treating cancers with radiation. External beam radiotherapy equipment: superficial machines, orthovoltage machines,linear accelerators, machine using isotopes, simulators; Central axis dosimetry parameters; Dose determination for external beams; Fixed soured-axis distance techniques; Fixed source-surface distance techniques; Isodose charts; Dose normalization; Correction for inhomogeneities;  Single-field treatment techniques; multiple-field treatment techniques; Dose prescription; Beam modifying and shaping devices; Patient immobilization devices; Computers in treatment planning; Treatment verification methods and dose delivery; Quality control of treatment planning system using IAEA TRS 430 and other protocols; Modern technologies in radiation therapy: IMRT/IGRT, total body irradiation (TBI), stereotactic radio surgery (SRS), total skin electron irradiation (TSEI), particle therapy (protons, heavy ions); Brachytherapy: commonly used brachytherapy sources (137Cs, 60Co, 192Ir, 125I), calibration of brachytherapy sources, low dose rate (LDR), high dose rate (HDR), afterloading technique, brachytherapy treatment planning;

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): Physics of magnetic resonance; Signal detection; Pulse sequences; Excitation; Hardware; Imaging methods: slice selection, phase encoding, signal readout, multi-slice imaging with 3D volume imaging; T1, T2 & proton density weighting images; MR contrast and image quality; artifacts; Follow and diffusion; Perfusion; Spectroscopy; Clinical applications and safety. Ultrasound: Physical quantities; Propagation of ultrasonic waves in biological tissues; Wave equation; Speed of sound in biological tissues; Acoustic impedance; Attenuation; Frequency dependence; Transmission and reflection; Display modes; Ultrasound in a moving medium; Transducer design and operation; Piezoelectric Elements; Ultrasound beam properties; Multi transducers arrays; Biological aspects; Principles of ultrasonic measuring and imaging instrumentation; Modes of Scanning; Doppler; Performance evaluation of ultrasound instrumentation and biological effects of ultrasound; Limitations and artifacts.

The Complex plane; Functions (odd and even); Dirac delta function; Liner system; Fourier’s theorem: Fourier series, the continuous Fourier transform, properties of the Fourier transform, essential Fourier transform pairs, the convolution principle, the complex transfer function, sampling theorem, sampling and restoration, apodizing and aliasing, discrete Fourier transform (DFT), 2D Fourier transform, central slice theorem; Sinogram; Analytic reconstruction methods; Sampling considerations in imaging from projections; Expectation, mean and variance; Binomial, Poisson and Gaussian distribution; Elementary decision theory; Signal to noise ratio; Rose model; Bayes’ theorem; Digital image processing: fundamentals, image enchantment, image display concepts and file formats, image Compression, image Reconstruction, Image Segmentation Concepts, mapping transformations and image registration.

This laboratory course takes place at the Department of Medical Physics in the National Cancer institute of Sri Lanka. Students will follow the attached lab list. Labs will not be repeated: Cobalt-60: inverse square law, PDD measurement and dose calibration with TRS-398 reference dosimetry and QA;  Treatment planning (Cobalt-60): parallel opposing techniques, three field techniques, four field box techniques, four field cross field technique, half beam block techniques and wedge field techniques; Linac (3D relative dosimetry): electron/photon percent depth dose at different SSDs, Beam profiles, Relative dose factor and TPR in Solid Water; Linac: Dose calibration of electron/photon clinical beam using TRS-398; Linac QA: Mechanical QA, beam flatness/symmetry, jaw/MLC position accuracy, Field congruence test, laser beam; Mould room procedures and simulation: Preparing custom block, patient alignment, preparing mould and CT simulator; External beam photon therapy planning (ICRU 50 & 62);  Electron beam electron therapy planning (ICRU71);  3DCRT planning (ICRU 83); Evaluation of treatment planning (Linac): 3D phantoms, wedges, DVHs, BEV; Quality assurance of a treatment planning system (AAPM TG43); Brachytherapy: calibration, treatment planning, safty and QA ; Field congruence test for telecobalt and the linear accelerator; IMRT treatment planning (ICRU 83) and patient specific QA (AAPM TG 142); Radiation protection survey in the teletherapy unit.

Radiation Protection: Radiation safety:physical and biological aspects of the use of ionizing radiation, radiation quality factor, equivalent dose; effective dose; Radiation Protection: Basic physics of radiation protection; Distance, time, shielding and scatter; Radiation protection principles and philosophy; Regulatory infrastructure (local and international); Occupational, public exposure and annual limits; ICRP Basic Radiation Safety Criteria; Sri Lankan regulations on radiation protection; Discussion of techniques for achieving dose reduction to patients and staff; Radioactive transport and waste management; Radiation emergency procedures; Radiation protection programme design, implementation and management in the medical sector; Shielding design for hospital radiation facilities for diagnostic and therapy. Radiobiology: Classification of Radiation in radiobiology; Effects of ionizing radiations on living cells and organisms including physical, chemical and physiological bases of radiation cytotoxicity, mutagenicity and carcinogenesis; Cell killing and Dose Response curves; Chromosome aberrations; Cell sensitivity; Effect of cellular radiation; Oxygen effect; Type of radiation damage; Cell survival curve; Dose-response curve; Early and late effects of radiation; Modelling, Linear Quadratic Model, α/β ratio; Time-dose fractionation; Dose rate effect; DNA damage and repair processes, Radiosensitizers and Protectors;

Introduction to nuclear medicine; Modes of radioactive decay; Radioisotopes production; most frequently used radioisotopes; Radio-pharmacy; In-vitro and in-vivo techniques; Scintillation counting systems; Pulse-height spectrometry; Imaging instrumentation: planar, single photon emission tomography (SPECT), positron emission tomography (PET), hybrid imaging techniques; Clinical applications of SPECT and PET; Image quality and noise; Non-imaging instrumentation: dose calibrators, well counters, probes; QC in nuclear medicine; Radionuclide therapy.

Ethics: Ethical principles and historical perspective; Ethical encounters or dilemmas; Professional Conduct; Basic ethical values; Relationships; Clinical conflicts; Continuing education; Public responsibility; Employer/employee relationships; Conflict of Interest; Human research principles; Animal research; Scientific principles; Scientific misconduct; Publication practices. Research Methodology:Statistical methods in research; Introduction of computational tools; Monte Carlo simulation methods for medical physics research; Literature review; Writing a research proposal; Research planning; Scientific writing; Ethical clearance for research.

This laboratory course takes place at the Department of Radiology in different hospitals in Sri Lanka. Students will follow the attached lab list. Labs will not be repeated: X-ray generator tube assembly evaluation, measurement of X-ray tube focal spot size and factors limiting the image quality and Quality assurance of diagnostic x-ray machine; Evaluation of fluoroscopic system; Quality control of a flat panel digital detector; Evaluation of a Full Field Digital Mammography unit; Monitor calibration and Quality Assurance; Quality control of dose caliber in the Nuclear Medicine Unit; Basic quality control of an ultrasound scanner; Evaluation of image performance of a computed tomographic scanner; MRI QA test; Radiation protection survey in the diagnostic radiology unit.

Students need to produce independent research project of Medical Physics guided by the thesis supervisor/s at least one from the Department of Nuclear Science or the Faculty of Science,University of Colombo. The student will need to be in a position to start the independent research at the end of semester three. Project proposals need to be submitted to the department for approval. Depending on the level of performance (with minimum GPA of 2.5), Masters Degree with course work will be offered. Otherwise postgraduate Diploma can be offered.

Offer a 30 credit (1 year full time) optional research module after Part II to those who are having GPA of 3.0 or better for Part II. Independent research work of Medical Physics under the direction of the thesis supervisor/s at least one from the Department of Nuclear Science. The student will need to be in a position to start the independent research at the end of semester three. Project proposals need to be submitted to the  university higher degree committee (HDC)through the Department of Nuclear Science. Depending on the level of performance (with minimum GPA of 2.5), Masters Degree with research will be offered. Otherwise Masters Degree with course work can be offered.