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HAZA408 Radiation Hazards

An introduction to the nature and uses of radiation in New Zealand, and the legislation and regulations associated with radiation use in New Zealand.

This paper is designed to provide an outline of radiation and the hazards associated with its use. It surveys the human health consequences of exposure to radiation as well as devices for measuring radiation and how to deal with accidents. You will study the legislation associated with radiation use in New Zealand, and in the workshop associated with the paper, you will get hands on experience of dealing with a radioactive spill.

Paper title Radiation Hazards
Paper code HAZA408
Subject Hazard Assessment and Management
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2023 (Distance learning)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $2,012.90
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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HAZX 408
Candidates for the Postgraduate Diploma/Certificate in Health Sciences must either be a graduate or holder of a professional qualification that has required at least three years of tertiary-level study or have alternative qualifications or experience acceptable to the Board. The Board will require evidence of ability to undertake advanced academic study. In addition, candidates will require a minimum of Year 13 Physics.

Enrolments for this paper require departmental permission. View more information about departmental permission.

Teaching staff

To be advised when paper next offered.

Paper Structure

This paper is divided into a series of modules and includes an on-site workshop. These will progressively introduce concepts and knowledge in a coherent manner, with self-test exercises and formal assessments as you reach appropriate milestones.

Module 1: Introduction to the nature of radiation, historical uses and current uses

Module 2: Instrumentation - detection and measurement of ionising radiation

  • Personal monitors
  • Survey monitors
  • Ionisation chambers; GM counters, etc; uses; limitations
  • Analytical detectors

Module 3: Legislation and regulations associated with radiation use

  • Radiation Protection Act (RPA) 1965
  • The new Radiation Safety Act (RSA) 2016 - main features; radiation safety plan; regulations regarding transport, storage and disposal; dose limits (public and occupational)
  • International policies, treaties

Module 4: Health effects of radiation

  • Type of exposure - external, contamination, ingestion
  • Deterministic effects - whole body syndromes, partial body
  • Stochastic - cancer induction, factors affecting biological dose - radiation type, dose rate
  • Determination of dose to humans

Module 5: Non-ionising radiation (NIR)

  • Different types of NIR
  • Potential health risks of NIR
  • Regulations pertaining to safe use of NIR

Module 6: Radiation accidents

  • Transport accident, radionuclide contamination
  • Major accidents
  • Atomic bomb events (war and testing)
  • Radiation accidents - historical review
  • National and international response

Module 7: Case study

Module 8: Workshop - skills-based practical on site in which students will experience hands-on use of radiation monitors, etc.

Teaching Arrangements
Self-learning is the pedagogical basis for the paper, with students being directed to material rather than detailed lecture notes being provided. The paper is web-based, allowing individuals to learn and assimilate at their own pace.

Teaching materials, assignments and assessments are mostly in a web-based format using the University of Otago's Blackboard platform. The paper is taught over a 20-week period.


There is no final examination. The final mark is based on assessments during the paper:
  • Two assignments (25% each)
  • One case study (50%)
Assignment due dates will be confirmed at the start of the paper but are normally as follows:
  • Assignment 1 due end of week 6
  • Assignment 2 due end of week 12
  • Case study due end of week 20
There are no textbooks recommended for this paper. Most of the material will be accessed from Blackboard. This includes instructions, announcements, text files, exercises and assignments.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Communication, Critical thinking, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the paper will
  • Learn about the nature of radiation, the uses of radiation in New Zealand and the legislation and regulations covering the safe use of radiation
  • Understand the hazards involved with radiation and be able to apply the knowledge to deal with both minor and major incidents involving radiation. The paper will give students an appreciation of the ways in which radiation can be hazardous to humans, animals and the environment and the ways in which such hazards can be minimised
  • Develop a deeper understanding of the nature of radiation and the inherent dangers associated with its use in New Zealand
  • Be better prepared to recognise and implement various strategies to minimise risk associated with radiation use
  • Be able to place in a modern context the legal requirements relating to the interactions of hazards associated with radiation with people and the environment and will be better able to communicate on the interactions of the law with compliance requirements

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Not offered in 2023

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system