84279 - Medical Physics

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

Describe the physical phenomena most relevant to biological processes and fundamental to the understanding of diagnostic and medical treatment. Define the physical basis of medical procedures and devices used for the diagnosis and therapy of diseases.

Course contents

The Medical Physics course is focused on the teaching of the basic mathematical and physical notions that will be used during the subsequent courses.

The course is divided in two parts:

I-Physical basis

Physical quantities and dimensions

Mechanics, vectors and basic mathematics

Fluid Mechanics : Ideal and real fluids

Oscillations and waves

Heat and Thermodinamics with application to metabolism

Optics: Geometrical and Physical

Electricity and Magnetism

Modern Physics and radioactivity

II- Applications to Medicine with particular focus on the physiological and clinical application such as modern imaging techniques (NMR, PET, SPECT etc)

Radiations in medicine. Radiation-matter interaction, physical quantities in dosimetry. Biological effects and interaction with tissues. Biological effects of ionizing radiation and dose-effect curve for the induction of cancerogenesis.

Radiotherapy: conventional and conformational radiotherapy

Diagnostic: Physical principles of imaging diagnostic. Morfological and functional analysis.

Diagnostic by X rays, radioisotopes, ultrasounds and nuclear magnetic resonance.

Elements of health physics: Radioprotection and quality control in diagnostic radiology. Basic radioprotection legislation.


Lecture notes will be distributed

Physics in Biology and Medicine 4th Edition: Paul Davidovits

Teaching methods

Frontal lectures


Attendance to this learning activity is mandatory; the minimum attendance requirement to be admitted to the final exam is 60% of lessons. For Integrated Courses (IC), the 60% attendance requirement refers to the total amount of I.C. lessons. Students who fail to meet the minimum attendance requirement will not be admitted to the final exam of the course, and will have to attend relevant classes again during the next academic year.

Professors may authorise excused absences upon receipt of proper justifying documentation, in case of illness or serious reasons. Excused absences do not count against a student’s attendance record to determine their minimum attendance requirement.

Assessment methods

Final exam (written, with optional oral exam)

The test will be composed of two sections, a set of 2 exercises and ten multiple-choice questions, to be performed in maximum 2 hours.

The 2 exercises will weight 5 points each in the final mark, while each multiple-choice question will weight 2 point, for a maximum possible mark of 30 points. This will be the proposed mark for the exam.

In a following date (Usually 3-4 days after the written test), one will have the option to formally accept the result of the written exam or take an oral exam to modify the result of the test. One needs to have obtained at least 18 in the written test to try the oral exam. The oral exam is necessary to obtain the maximum with laude (30L) score.

Use of calculators will be allowed (their use is actually reccomended), but not of notes or books. Cellphones do not count as calculators

Teaching tools

Frontal lectures with Slides

Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Enrico Giampieri