Particle Physics Masterclasses

Whole day masterclasses reviewing and illustrating some of the latest developments in particle physics research are held at the University of Birmingham's School of Physics and Astronomy every year around Easter time. They are part of a national series of masterclasses, supported by the Institute of Physics.

Groups of AS Level students studying physics are invited to come along with their teachers to experience for themselves the excitement of the latest research. Activities include:

  • Talks from academic staff and young postgraduate researchers about particle physics and the latest experiments - including the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the biggest and most energetic particle accelerator ever built
  • Computer based activities where students can get hands-on experience of some of the techniques used by particle physics researchers
  • Q & A sessions with experts in the field
  • Live video conferencing to CERN

STFC usually provide a selection of Particle Physics resources that students and teachers can take back for use in school.

We have a page with links to further particle physics web resources relevant to the Masterclass topics or you may be interested in visiting the Discover the Cosmos web page.

The last Particle Physics Masterclass took place on 15th April 2015. See the programme from 15th April Masterclass (PDF).

Report and pictures of particle physics events in 2014-15 can be seen here (PDF).

The next Particle Physics Masterclass will provisionally take place in April 2016, following a similar programme.  See our calendar of events for the exact date.

Please email Dr Maria Pavlidou, our Schools Liaison Officer, to book places on this event.

We have also developed mini e-masterclassses in particle physics and can now offer;

  • Mini Particle Physics masterclasses (for groups of up to 30 A-level students); available on Tuesday mornings (3 hours 30 minutes) in schools or on campus by arrangement.  The session includes an introductory presentation on the ATLAS detector, training students to identify the different types of events (collisions) and hands-on computer analysis with the aim of identifying particles and calculating the rarity of particular events as well as estimating the mass of the Z boson.  The masterclass uses real data from CERN.  Please email Dr Maria Pavlidou to discuss possible dates/make a booking.
  • Teacher training events to enable teachers to run their own lessons using the Minerva software and data from CERN;  next training session at ASE Conference, 9.30am to 11.30am 8th January 2016.  Training sessions for teacher groups can be arranged upon request.  - please e-mail Dr Maria Pavlidou to discuss possibilities.  FREE resource starter activities here!


Read more 'hands on' particle physics "Learning with ATLAS at CERN" (Long, L. Phys. Educ 46 (2011) 270-280).


This article introduces teachers to a classroom activity analysing particle tracks in the ATLAS detector at CERN. It includes the use of some of the mind-boggling facts and figures from the Large Hadron Collider experiment to illustrate some basic school physics concepts. It also uses innovative software adapted and made available on the web by European particle physics researchers to introduce a more innovative investigative approach to teaching particle physics concepts.

This gives students a more 'hands-on' experience in the classroom and a feel for what real scientific research might be like.


One of a set of Masterclasses organised by the High Energy Particle Physics Group of the Institute of Physics throughout the UK.