NPRE 441: Principles of Radiation Protection

Spring, 2024


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

Course website:

GCOE course explorer website:


Lecture Hours and Lecture Room Information

Lecture hours: Monday and Wednesday at Noon to 1:50 pm.

Lecture room: 3018 Campus Instructional Facility.



6 homework: 20% (towards the final score)

4-6 quizzes: 30%

Midterm exam: 20%

Final exam: 20%

Term project: 10%


Teaching Assistants and Office Hours

Teaching Assistant: Runxia Wen, email:

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


Course Contents




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


Summary slides of Chapter 4


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


Summary slides of Chapter 5


Chapter 6: Biological Effects of Radiation

(Note (01/12/24) that the contents covered in this chapter will be subject to further adjustment)

      The time frame for radiation effects

      Physical, pre-chemical, and chemical changes in irradiated water

      Basic concepts of cell biology and irradiation of cells

      Types of radiation damage

      Therapeutic ratio and the 5 Rs of radiobiology

      Factors affecting dose responses

      The acute radiation syndrome and delayed somatic effects


Chapter 7: External Radiation Protection

    Basic principles for external radiation protection and gamma-ray shielding considerations

    Shielding in X-ray installations

    Protection against external beta radiation

    Neutron shielding


Summary slides of Chapter 7


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. It is due at 5 pm on Monday, February 12, 2024.

Homework 2. It is due at 5 pm on Monday, March 4, 2024.

Term Project







Midterm Exam:

Date: Wednesday, March 6th, at 12-2 pm.

Location: 3018 CIF.

Format: TBA.

Content covered in the exam: TBA.


Final Exam: TBA.