Master’s studies

Syllabus for Plasma Physics



  • 5 credits
  • Course code: 1FA258
  • Education cycle: Second cycle
  • Main field(s) of study and in-depth level: Physics A1F
  • Grading system: Fail (U), 3, 4, 5
  • Established: 2011-03-10
  • Established by: The Faculty Board of Science and Technology
  • Revised: 2013-05-17
  • Revised by: The Faculty Board of Science and Technology
  • Applies from: week 30, 2013
  • Entry requirements: 120 credits with Mechanics II. Electromagnetic field theory. Complex analysis is recommended.
  • Responsible department: Department of Physics and Astronomy

Learning outcomes

On completion of the course the student shall be able to:

  • define, using fundamental plasma parameters, under what conditions an ionised gas consisting of charged particles (electrons and ions) can be treated as a plasma
  • distinguish the single particle approach, fluid appoach and kinetic statistical approach to describe different plasma phenomena
  • determine the velocities, both fast and slow (drift velocities), of charged particles moving in electric and magnetic fields that are either uniform or vary slowly in space and time; formulate the content of the drift approximation
  • formulate the mathematical tool to describe waves in a plasma, as a continuous media; classify the electrostatic and electromagnetic waves that can propagate in magnetised and non-magnetised plasmas, and describe the physical mechanisms generating these waves
  • define and determine the basic transport phenomena such as plasma resistivity, diffusion (classical and anomalous) and mobility as a function of collision frequency and of the fundamental parameters for both magnetised and non-magnetised plasmas
  • formulate the conditions for a plasma to be in a state of a perfect or a non-perfect thermodynamic equilibrium, analyse the stability of this equilibrium and account for the most important plasma instabilities
  • define the concept of resonant particles and an effect of mutual resonant interaction of particles and waves; explain the physical mechanism behind the Landau damping, as a collision-less wave damping, and make calculations in this area using kinetic theory
  • demonstrate the knowledge and understanding of the subject by oral presentations.


Definition of plasma. Applications in physics and technology. Debye screening. Single-particle approximation and motions of charged particles in electromagnetic fields and adiabatic invariants. Fluid models of plasmas. Waves in plasmas. Wave propagation, group velocity, cut-off and resonance phenomena. Collisions, resistivity and diffusion. Equilibrium and plasma instabilities. Elements of kinetic description of plasma and Landau damping.


Lectures and individual presentations based on the written essays on selected topics.


Written examination at the end of the course (3 credits) and individual presentations (minimum 3 times) based on the written essays on selected topics (2 credits).

Reading list

Reading list

Applies from: week 13, 2013

  • Chen, Francis F. Introduction to plasma physics and controlled fusion : Vol. 1 Plasma physics

    New York: Plenum, 1984

    Find in the library