MDPH 613 - Health Physics for Medical Physicists

This graduate-level course provides students in the McGill Medical Physics M.Sc program with an introduction to radiation protection. It incorporates a study of the physics and biology of radiation interactions with matter and tissue and examines the application of our scientific knowledge to the formulation of public health policy. The course covers a broad range of subjects from pure science to law and management and draws upon publications by national and international bodies.

Class Notes    Statistics for Health Physics
Class Notes for MDPH 316 prepared by John Kildea (available upon request)

The application of radiation protection to the medical environment is studied in detail and students participate in a laboratory exercise to design and optimize radiation shielding for a radiotherapy clinic in order to comply with national regulations and following international design recommendations.

                            Overview of Health Physics
Conceptual Overview of Health Physics for Medical Physicists

Unless otherwise arranged, classes for this course are held on Friday mornings during the Fall semester from 10 am to 12 pm in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Cedars Cancer Centre.

Several laboratory sessions and field trips outside of scheduled classes are anticipated.

Several guest lectures in the second half of the semester will be presented by William Parker.

Shielding Laboratory
A shielding lab will be held during one weekend of the semester, after the shielding material has been covered in the lectures. Students will be advised of the date and time in advance.
Part of the laboratory exercise will be led by Michael Evans, MUHC Class II Radiation Safety Officer.

Class Materials and Handouts
Slides, notes, announcements, and the results of quizzes and exams will be available via the McGill myCourses web site.

A comprehensive set of notes is provided. However, please be aware that the exams and assessments may require that you apply what you have learned beyond the material in the notes.

Text Books
No specific textbook is recommended for this course. Class materials and the notes provided should be sufficient.
However, the following books were used in the preparation of class material:

Recommended Readings
Students may find the following (free via the McGill library website) publications useful during the course:

Student Evaluation
Pass mark is 65%

Assessment Method

Weight (%)

Class quizzes

10 quizzes worth 2% each


Radiation safety scenarios

Presentations and continuous assessment


Midterm exam

Closed book


Final exam

Closed book, including material from before midterm exam


The main purpose of the assessments is to ensure that students achieve competency in introductory Health Physics.

Since the class is held just once a week there is often a tendency to neglect the material between classes with the result being a panic before the midterm and final exams. With 30% of the overall mark dependent on continuous assessment (quizzes and radiation safety scenarios), each student has an opportunity to improve her/his exam grade by studying during the semester. This should also relieve the study stress at the time of the midterms and finals.

A multiple-choice quiz will be held at the beginning of each class.

The quiz will last at most 15 minutes (including the time spent handling the paperwork) and will incorporate any or all of the material covered in the course until that point.

Students are encouraged to discuss among themselves the quiz topics and the course material in advance of each class.

Radiation Safety Scenarios
Each student will be randomly assigned a radiation safety scenario during the first lecture. During the week between lectures students should review the material of the most recent lecture and place it in the context of the radiation safety scenario they were assigned.

Each student should prepare a brief summary (letter to an imaginary replacement radiation safety officer) of how the material they have reviewed relates to their assigned scenario. Students are encouraged to use Google forms (each student is provided with their own form) to prepare their summaries online for continuous instructor feedback. The details will be discussed during the first lecture.

Office Hours
Due to my clinical responsibilities, I cannot list regular office hours in advance. However, if you need to talk to me about any aspect of the course please email me and we can arrange a meeting time. You may also approach me at my office or in the clinic at any time.

Questions and student interaction during the classes are encouraged!

If you are getting low marks in the quizzes please seek help. It has been noticed that quiz grades and final grades are tightly correlated.

Please seek help immediately if you feel you are falling behind in this or any other class

Maintained by John Kildea
Last updated: 12 December 2015