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Edinburgh’s course review: The Discovery of the Higgs Boson

Listen to Prof. Peter Higgs and experts and find out more about particle physics, understanding the Universe.

The FutureLearn courses were absolutely invaluable to my learning and made a profound contribution to my gaining an M.A and MPhil postgraduate degrees. Therefore, I would like to share my experience taking the class The Discovery of the Higgs Boson.

Who is this course for?

This is a course I would recommend to anyone who would like to learn more about particle physics but was afraid to ask! The structure and pace is very well thought out, and the student is carefully guided through the course content. There might be fellow students who think they are not competent to take on the magnitude of this subject area, but they would be pleasantly surprised from the start. It is a long course of seven weeks which gives time to revise topics at the weekend, if necessary. Course completion gives students access to a good deal of very useful knowledge, and a satisfaction that ‘bursts like a supernova in space’.

Instructors: Dr. Christos Leonidopoulos (Experimental Particle Physics) and Dr. Luigi Del Debbio (Theoretical Particle Physics)

Who are the instructors?

There are fourteen academics from the School of Physics, University of Edinburgh, together with Professor Peter Higgs, Nobel Prize Winner. This group is also supplemented by experimentalists on the Large Hadron Collider at Cern, Switzerland. All of these dedicated scientists are there to assist and support students. One student’s post in the first week commented, ‘it would seem the team with their extensive knowledge can easily guide us through the minefield of: leptons, quarks and gauge bosons’.

Prof. Peter Higgs (Nobel Prize winner for Physics 2013)

What relevance can the Higgs boson have for you?

One answer might be the sun which is still burning 4.6 billion years after its creation. An explanation is provided by the work of Professor Higgs and the course team. You will find out more about Particle Physics and understand the Universe by completing this fascinating course.

An invaluable and profound contribution is made to the course by Professor Higgs. In a series of lectures/videos, students are taken through the scientific problems that face physicists today.

Theories beyond the Standard Model

One challenge is found in the ‘Theories beyond the Standard Model’. Completion of this course gives a better understanding of the situation and the arguments that surround it. However, with all its weaknesses and challenging theories, the Standard Model still represents quite an impressive unification and simplification of our general understanding. The Model was only constructed after decades of experimental and theoretical effort. This, in my humble opinion, is also a step from which a good many theories may be advanced beyond the standard model.

Finally, it was noted that in the course conclusion there were three hundred and fifty comments. One student’s comment that eloquently sums up the excellent structure and content of the course. ‘What a treat it is to be in the same room as the great man himself ‘.

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Mike Baker

I left school at 15 years but secured a B.A (Hons) with the Open University whilst in the Royal Navy. After discharge, I gained a B.Ed degree. The FutureLearn courses were absolutely invaluable to my learning and made a profound contribution to my gaining an M.A and MPhil postgraduate degrees. I have never considered my age to be an obstacle to learning, eighty years. Instead I like to remember the advice...’Ancora Imparo’; I am still learning at age eighty-nine (Michelangelo).

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