I know classical physics, quantum mechanics, special relativity, and basic nuclear physics. I would like to get into some particle physics.

Where can I find a good introduction? It might be useful to segment books by whether they require quantum field theory or not.


I would definitely recommend David Griffiths' book on particle physics. I don't have my copy with me right now, but as I recall, the book explains what the different particles of the Standard Model are, as well as the various properties of particles that are important in modern particle physics. It also introduces the basics of quantum field theory, just enough to allow you to calculate cross sections and decay rates for various reactions. Toward the end, it shows you the basic ideas behind spontaneous symmetry breaking and the Higgs mechanism, which shows you where this prediction of the Higgs boson comes from.

If you want to get into more mathematical detail, another book I could recommend is Halzen and Martin. It dates back to 1984 but the physics is still basically correct. I've found that that book takes a lot more effort to work through - that is, you actually have to slow down and think about what you're reading, and work through some of the math, but as long as you put the time in, the understanding you gain is well worth it.

  • $\begingroup$ Halzen and Martin looks good +1 $\endgroup$ Nov 7 '10 at 10:58
  • $\begingroup$ @TheMachineCharmer ---yes, Griffiths looks good. A fun read is always Abraham Pais, who also wrote scientific biographies of Einstein and Bohr. His book Inward Bound just takes you up to 1988 though. $\endgroup$
    – Gordon
    Feb 3 '11 at 19:09
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Griffiths shows you how to get a number out of a Feynman diagram (I summarize this too algorithmically in my notes notebk.googlecode.com/files/feynman.pdf ). A good follow up that begins the meat-and-potatoes of Particle Physics might be Abraham Seiden's Particle Physics: A Comprehensive Introduction (Addison-Wesley, 2005). It discusses the standard model quite clearly, and understandable for undergrads! $\endgroup$ Jun 22 '12 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ +1 for Griffiths, -1 for Halzen and Martin. At this point it's getting a bit outdated. Plus, during my reading of it after Griffith's book I found a good number of dubious or flat-out false claims without explanation, while Griffiths was consistently clear and correct. $\endgroup$
    – knzhou
    Jan 15 '18 at 13:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Urb sorry about that, googlecode went offline a while ago. You can find my notes on Feynman diagrams here $\endgroup$ Oct 4 '20 at 20:33

Griffiths seems to be a crowd favourite. Its last edition is from 2008, so it is not really that outdated. The book misses some new physics though, and it is sometimes slightly superficial, so here are some other very good options:

  • Cottingham, Greenwood. An Introduction to the Standard Model of Particle Physics. 2007. It does not assume previous QFT knowledge, but it only reviews it somewhat superficially. The thorough discussion is on particle physics, and when it comes to that, it is pretty detailed and up-to-date (e.g., massive neutrinos, etc.).

  • Schwartz. Quantum Field Theory and the Standard Model. 2013. It does not assume previous QFT knowledge. The first two thirds of the book introduce the techniques of QFT in a lot of detail (but with a very student-friendly approach), and the last third discusses particle physics. In this third part the author relies on all the QFT techniques presented beforehand to get into a rather deep analysis of the Standard Model and extensions thereof. The chapter on the precision tests of the SM is particularly good.

  • Thomson. Modern Particle Physics. 2013. It does not assume previous QFT knowledge. The philosophy is similar to Schwartz, but somewhat less detailed in the presentation of the principles of QFT. The relation between theory and experiments is more stressed throughout the text, though, instead of being relegated to the last chapters. It seems a better option if you are more interested in particle physics than pure QFT.

  • Palash. An Introductory Course of Particle Physics. 2014. It does not assume previous QFT knowledge. The book spends the first half presenting the principles of QFT, and the second half the current state of particle physics. The book is surprisingly complete and detailed. Off the top of my head, I cannot think of a topic that it is not covered there. By the same token, the book is rather long, so it might be too much depending on what you are looking for.

  • Paschos. Electroweak Theory. 2007. It does assume previous QFT knowledge. The main topic is, as its name suggests, the electroweak interactions, but it touches on strong interactions as well. All in all, the book does a great job at presenting the current state of particle physics, and it is pretty up-to-date.

  • Martin, Shaw. Particle Physics. 2008. It does assume previous QFT knowledge. It provides a quick review of (perturbative) QFT techniques (sometimes relegated to the appendices), but the bulk of the book revolves around pure particle physics. Very complete and thorough, yet accessible. The chapter on experimental methods is very good.

More specialised texts:

  • Giunti, Kim. Fundamentals of Neutrino Physics and Astrophysics. 2007. This book contains essentially all there is to know about neutrinos, both theory and experiments.

  • Georgi. Lie algebras in particle physics. 1982. A classical text on group theory. Very mathematically oriented, with almost no discussion of actual particles. It nevertheless includes all the mathematics needed to understand particle physics. Written by one of the big names in physics.

  • Ramond. Group Theory: A Physicist's Survey. 2010. Same as before, but modern. Also one of the big names in physics.

  • Grupen. Astroparticle Physics. 2005. A very complete book on particle physics from the point of view of astrophysics and cosmology. Well written and very pedagogic.

  • Perkins. Particle Astrophysics. 2009. Very similar to Grupen in scope and presentation. Give a look at the table of contents of both textbooks, and pick the one with the ordering that is more appealing to you.

Needless to say, the most complete and up-to-date collection of particle physics topics is the PDG. There you can find countless tables with experimental parameters and lots of very good reviews and summaries of the theoretical and experimental aspects of this branch of physics.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ A comprehensive list. $\endgroup$
    – Archimedes
    Jan 6 '18 at 18:05
  • $\begingroup$ To add: perhaps, Narison's "QCD as a theory of Hadrons". $\endgroup$ Jan 26 '18 at 1:02

I would definately suggest Quantum Field Theory and the Standard Model by Matthew D. Schwartz. This is becaming the new standard in the field. As, you see Quantum Field Theory is the language of Particle Physics and this book will let anyone master QFT and apply them in Particle Physics. It is also worth mentioning that the physical explanation in this book is charming!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Nice book, but it does not assume QFT knowledge either. $\endgroup$ Jan 3 '18 at 11:34

Also I recommend "Introduction to elementary particles" by David Griffiths (in fact, I have it lying on my couch right now). Many examples, worked out problems, though the Feynman rules (at tree level) are just stated and not explicitly derived. But for practical purposes, this shouldn't be a problem.

Besides the mentioned examples and worked out problems you also have to solve problems which are very educative (a solution to all problems can be downloaded just as the book; see below), Sometimes it seems Griffiths can read your mind by writing (for example): "I hear you thinking..." or similar remarks. He writes in a clear style and sometimes takes a walk on sideways just to make stuff more comprehensible. Almost every page contains (a) footnote(s).

The book by Halzen and Martin stands, so it seems to me, with respect to the difficulty degree, between Griffiths and QFT by Lewis H. Ryder .


This site is temporarily in read only mode and not accepting new answers.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .