Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Quantum Information PHYS5039

  • Academic Session: 2021-22
  • School: School of Physics and Astronomy
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

Quantum information science is an interdisciplinary field of research concerned with the encoding and manipulation of information in the state of a quantum system. This course will provide an introduction to the field, including aspects of classical information theory; the physics of measurement and evolution of finite-dimensional quantum systems; entanglement; and elements of quantum computation.


Typically 2 lectures per week.

Requirements of Entry

Quantum Information is an elective course for honours MSci students, and is also available to postgraduate students taking an MSc taught degree course in Physics and Astronomy. It is not available on BSc honours degree programmes.


Prerequisites for this course are a basic understanding of quantum mechanics, including quantum mechanical operators and wavefunctions, and a familiarity with bra-ket notation. Students must normally have attended previously, and been examined in, the following pre-requisite courses:


PHYS4002 Atomic Systems and PHYS4025 Quantum Mechanics


It is recommended, but not required, that students will also have taken Quantum Theory (PHYS4026).


For visiting students or students entering directly from other universities these can be replaced with equivalent courses.

Excluded Courses





Description of Summative Assessment: 


Assessment: Unseen examination.


Reassessment: Reassessment of the main diet examination is normally available for students on PGT degree programmes if they do not achieve an overall course grade of C3 at their first attempt. Reassessment of the main diet examination is not normally available for students on Honours degree programmes.

Main Assessment In: April/May

Course Aims

The aims of this course are:

To provide an introduction to quantum information theory, including the necessary background in classical information theory, and the physics of finite-dimensional quantum systems.

To describe how to encode, manipulate and read-out information in a quantum system, and to discuss the relationship between physics and information processing.

To introduce quantum protocols such as teleportation, quantum key distribution, the principles of quantum computation and some examples of quantum algorithms.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

Explain the difference between a bit, the carrier of classical information, and a qubit, the carrier of quantum information.

Give an example of a generalized quantum measurement and evaluate the probabilities of measurement outcomes.

Evaluate the evolution of a pure or mixed quantum state under a given quantum operation, perhaps represented as a quantum circuit.

Determine whether a composite pure state is entangled.

Perform advanced calculations in quantum mechanics.

Understand and explain important examples of quantum protocols including dense coding, teleportation, quantum key distribution, Grover's algorithm and Shor's algorithm.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.