Programme Coordinator

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

Work Phone: 0112158368  


Master of Science in Nuclear Science

M.Sc. Course in Nuclear Science was first set up in 1982 with the sponsorship of the Atomic Energy Authority of Sri Lanka. The main aim of this course was to meet the needs of the expanding fields of research and industrial applications of nuclear techniques in Sri Lanka.

Nuclear Techniques are currently being used in many fields. These include medicine, industry, agriculture, archaeology and almost all areas of research. The possible fields of application are rapidly expanding. This requires well trained personnel with special sense of discipline. The item of highest priority of any atomic energy programme must be proper training of adequate number of scientists in important areas of atomic energy.

The M.Sc. course in nuclear Science offered by the Department of Nuclear Science provides a broad based training in theoretical and applied nuclear science. Training in safety and protection is an integral part of this course. The course also includes practical and project work so that the students will gain confidence and also experience in safe handling of Radioactivity.


B.Sc. Degree in Physical or Biological Science or any other equivalent qualification acceptable to the Senate of University of Colombo.

Lecture Panel

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 Nuclear Science Syllabus

Course codeTitleLecture/Practical
MNS 5001Detection and measurement of radiation, Applied Statistics60L 4C
MNS 5002Nuclear Power and radiobiology60L 4C
MNS 5003Nuclear Physics and health physics60L 4C
MNS 5004Radio and Radiation Chemistry , Nuclear Geology60L 4C
MNS 5005Applications60L 4C
MNS 5006Laboratory work120P 4C
MNS 5008Guided independent study I30P 1C
MNS 5009Guided independent study II( research based )150P 5C

Detailed Syllabus

MNS 5001 : Detection and measurement of radiation, Applied Statistics 

Detection and Measurement of Radiation (45 L)

  • Interaction of Radiation with MatterInteraction of heavy charged particles, Beta-Bloch formula, energy loss per unit length, mass stopping power, Interaction of positrons and fast electrons, Interaction of photons; photo electric effect, Compton scattering, pair production, Total absorption coefficient, Interaction of neutrons.
  • Detection and Measurement of RadiationGeneral properties of radiation detectors; energy resolution, detection efficiency, dead time, Counting statistics, Gas filled detectors; ionization chambers, proportional counters, Geiger Mueller counters. Scintillation counters Scintillation detector principle, Photo multiplier tubes, Radiation spectroscopy with scintillators: Semiconductor detectors; semiconductor diode detectors, Lithium drifted germanium detectors, Other solid state detectors, Neutron detectors and spectroscopy; Slow neutron detection methods, Fast neutron detection and spectroscopy.
  • Detector Electronics and Pulse ProcessingBasic electronics, Detector electronics and pulse processing; Pulse shaping networks, preamplifiers, main amplifiers, signal processing related to energy measurements and timing measurements, standard signal processing equipment, Analogue to digital converters, Time to amplitude converters, NIM based modules.
  • Miscellaneous Detector TypesCerencov detectors, Photographic emulsion, Multi channel Plate Detectors, Thermoluminescent dosimeters, Track etch detectors, Neutron detection by activation.

Applied Statistics (15 L)

Introduction to Statistics and Probability, Data Collection, Descriptive Statistics: presentation of data, tables, pie charts, histograms, Measures of locations and dispersion, Statistical distributions; Binomial, Poisson, Normal and central limit theorem and normal approximations to Binomial/Poisson; Hypothesis testing; comparison of means and proportions, Association between variables, Z test, t tested X2test, Goodness of fit.

MNS 5002: Nuclear Power and radiobiology 

Nuclear Power (30 L)

  • Neutrons
    Neutron sources, Capture, absorption, scattering and fission, Neutron flux, microscopic and macroscopic cross-sections, energy dependence, interaction rates.
  • Nuclear Fission
    Binding energies, energy release in fission and fusion reactions, Fission products, chain reaction, criticality and critical mass.
  • Nuclear Power Plants
    PWR. BWR, PHWR, Main components, auxiliary systems, safety of nuclear plants, fuel cycles, Current global developments in nuclear plant technology and relevance to Sri Lanka.
  • Reactor Theory
    Fick’s law, Diffusion Theory, one group and two group calculation, infinite and effective multiplication factors, four factor and six factor formulae, buckling, simple criticality calculations.
  • Reactor Kinetics
    Reactivity, delayed neutrons, temperature coefficient of reactivity, fission product poisoning, start up and shut down.

Radiobiology (30 L)

  • Effect of Radiation at the Molecular and Sub Cellular Levels
    Effect of radiation on proteins, nucleic acids. Radiation damage to cell membranes, nuclear damage versus cytoplasmic damage.
  • Cellular Effects of Radiation
    Cell killing, survival curves, target theory and mammalian cell survival curves, radio sensitivity of the different phase of cell cycle, recovery and repair.
  • Deterministic Effects
    Tissue radio sensitivity, Modes of death exposed to whole body radiation, Effects of radiation on the gonads and the skin.
  • Stochastic Effects
    Effects of radiation on chromosomes, Qualitative and quantitative aspects of radiation induced chromosomal aberrations, radiation genetic mutations, Radiation carcinogenesis, role of radiation as initiator, promoter, genetic and epigenetic effects in cellular levels, role of tissue environment in radiation carcinogenesis, Radiation induced non specific life shortening Effects of radiation on developing embryo. LD50 concept.
  • Biological Basis of Radio Therapy
    Physical, chemical and biological factors affecting cell survival, tumour re-growth and normal tissue response, non conventional fractionation scheme, and their effect of re-oxygenation, repair, redistribution in cell cycle, high LET radiation therapy, time dose fractionation.

MNS 5003:  Nuclear Physics and  Health Physics 

Nuclear Physics ( 30L)

  • Introduction
    Nucleonics; structure of the atomic nucleus, properties of the atomic nuclei, radioactivity; radioactive decay law, natural radioactivity, isotope production, separation and enrichment, labelled compounds.
  • Properties of the Atomic Nucleus
    Nuclear charge, nuclear mass, nuclear radius, angular momentum and quantum numbers, nuclear magnetic moment, electric quadruple moment, parity, nuclear models.
  • Nuclear Reactions
    Mass energy balance of nuclear reactions, the coulomb barrier, nuclear reaction cross section, compound nucleus mechanisms, Disintegration of unstable nuclei; negative beta decay, positive beta decay, electron capture, alpha decay, gamma ray emission, internal conversion.
  • Particle Physics
    historical background , fundamental forces, properties of particles and their detection, survey of currently known elementary particles, conservation laws, new theories of particle physics.
  • Particle Accelerators
    Cockroft-Walton Accelerator, Van de Graaff Accelerator. Linear Accelerator, Cyclotron, Synchrocyclotron, Betatron, Proton Synchrotron, Electron synchrotron.

Health Physics (30 L)

  • Radiation Dosimetry
    Units, Absorbed dose, Exposure, Exposure measurement: the free air chamber, air wall chamber, Exposure-dose relationship, Absorbed dose measurement; Bragg-Gray principle, Kerma, Source Strength: Specific Gamma-ray Emission, Internally Deposited Radioisotopes, effective half-life, dose commitment, Gamma emitters, Neutrons.
  • Radiation Protection Guides
    Philosophy of Radiation Protection, Basic Radiation Safety Criteria, Effective Dose-equivalent, Exposure of individuals in the general public, Exposure of populations, Medical exposure, Allowable limit on intake (ALI), Inhaled radioactivity, Derived air concentration (DAC), Combined exposure, Basis for Radiation Safety Regulations, Airborne radioactivity, Maximum permissible concentrations for non-occupational exposure.
  • External Radiation Protection
    Basic Principles, Techniques of external radiation protection, Time, Distance, Shielding, X-ray shielding, Beta ray shielding, Neutron shielding.
  • Internal Radiation Protection
    Internal Radiation Hazard, Principles of Control, Control of the source; confinement, Environmental control of man; protective clothing, respiratory protection, Surface Contamination Limits, Waste Management; High level liquid waste, Intermediate and low level liquid wasters, Airborne wasters, Meteorological considerations, Dispersion of gas from a continuous source, Solid wastes, Assessment of Hazard.
  • Evaluation of Protective Measures
    Medical Surveillance, Estimation of Internally Deposited Radioactivity, Personnel Monitoring, Radiation and Contamination Surveys, Choosing a health physics instrument, Surface contamination, Leak testing of sealed sources, Air Sampling, Airborne particulate, Filter, Natural airborne radioactivity, Continuous Environmental Monitoring.

MNS 5004: Radio and Radiation Chemistry , Nuclear Geology 

Radio and Radiation Chemistry (45 L)

  • Chemical Effects of Nuclear Radiation
    Dissipation of radiation energy in matter, formation of ions, free radicals and excited species, G-values, radiolysis of water, radiolysis of aqueous solutions, radiolysis of gasses, radiation effects on organic compounds radiation effects of solids, formation of colour centre.
  • Actinides and Transuranic Elements
    Synthesis of transuranic elements, experimental techniques used in transuranium chemistry, electronic structure and properties of actinides, thorium and extraction, uranium chemistry and extraction, plutonium chemistry, Reprocessing of Nuclear fuel.
  • Hot Atom Chemistry
    General theory, hot and thermal reactions, hot reaction in liquid phase, gas phase, , Estrap-Walfgang theory, chemical effects associated with alpha decay; chemical effects associated with beta decay, chemical effects associated with nuclear reactions.
  • Nuclear Analytical Technique
    Application, precision and limitation of non nuclear analytical methods, Isotope dilution analysis, radioisotope exchange, radio release method, radiometric titration, activation analysis, chemical separation and radio chemical analysis.
  • Mossabuer Effects and Application
    Width of gamma ray spectrum, recoil free emission and absorption of gamma radiation, recoil free fraction, isomer shift, quadruple splitting, methods of measuring above parameters, uses.
  • Radiation Technology
    Radiation Polymerisation, vulcanizing rubber latex without chemical additives, food irradiation, sterilisation of medical products, Tissue bank, techniques in environment conservation; waste treatment, removal of SO2 and NOx.

Nuclear Geology (15 L)

Radioactive minerals and their occurrence

MNS 5004: Applications

  • Application in Medicine
    Diagnostic and therapeutic uses of X rays, Diagnostic uses of radioisotopes such as 131I, 128I, 51Cr, 59Fe, 99mTc, 11C; Medical radioisotope scanning, use of gamma camera, therapeutic uses of X rays. Brachytherapy, computers in treatment planning, In vitro Application: RIA, Molecular biology Techniques using radio nuclide methods.
  • Nuclear Techniques in Industry
    Radioactive tracer applications; flow and leakage measurements, residence times and residence time distribution measurement; Miscellaneous radio tracer applications; mixing and blending studies, volume measurements, scaled source applications, Gamma ray absorption techniques, Radiation scattering techniques, Neutron techniques. Gamma , X, beta and neutron radiography, concentration measurements, friction and ware studies, density and thickness gauging, Radioisotope applications in industrial processing, Case studies.
  • Nuclear Techniques in Agriculture
    Use of isotopes in path way identification, soil and fertiliser nutrient assessment, disease control in plants, insect control, mutations, radioisotope in animal nutrition, RIA in reproduction and disease, irradiated vaccines.
  • Isotope Hydrology
    Basic principles, measurement of stable and radioactive isotopes used in hydrological studies, artificial radio tracers in surface and ground water hydrology, environmental and isotopes in surface and ground water hydrology, case studies.
  • Radiometric Dating methods
    Archaeological and Geological dating methods; 14C and 3H dating, Thermo luminescence dating, Fission track dating, Lead isotope method, 87Rb/87Sr, 40K/40Ar, Uranium/Helium methods.
    Miscellaneous Applications

MNS3006 – Laboratory Work

  • Computer Application packages (15hrs)
  • Basic Nuclear Science Experiments (15hrs)
  • Advanced Nuclear Science Experiments (15 hrs)
  • Health Physics Experiments (15 hrs)
  • Electronics (15 hrs)
  • Non Destructive Testing Techniques (15 hrs)
  • Nuclear Analytical Techniques (15 hrs)
    Five Field Trips (15 hrs) from any of the following
  • High background areas
  • Nuclear Medicine Unit, General Hospitals
  • Blood Bank
  • Tissue Bank
  • Atomic Energy Authority
  • Cancer Hospital

MNS5007- Research Project 

Minimum duration of the project is 6 months full time or one-year part time.


MNS 5008: Guided independent study I

Students are expected to produce a report on a current topic in Nuclear Science given by the Department.

MNS 5009 – Guided independent study II (research based)

Students are expected to do a guided independent study on a topic in Nuclear Science and produce a report (research based or literature review).