PHYC40120 General Relativity & Cosmology

Academic Year 2023/2024

This module introduces the theory of General Relativity, the relativistic formulation of gravity. Based on the equivalence principle, Einstein's field equations of General Relativity are discussed, including their mathematical foundation in differential geometry as needed. Linearised field equations are derived to describe weak gravitational fields, to make contact with Newton's theory of gravity, and to explain gravitational waves. The classical tests of General Relativity, in the solar system and beyond, are analysed, including current experiments to detect gravitational waves. Exact solutions of Einstein's field equations are presented, such as the static Schwarzschild solution and its black hole interpretation. Kinematics of a continuum matter distribution and isotropic cosmological models are discussed, with an emphasis on the past and future evolution of the universe.

This module is suitable for 4th-year undergraduate and graduate students, of all areas of physics and astronomy.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

To gain an understanding of the abstract theory of General Relativity and an ability to solve problems. This course is a necessary preparation for further study in General Relativity and Cosmology, Relativistic Astrophysics, and String Theory.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Lectures, homework sets, final exam.
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Exclusions:

This module (PHYC 40120) can not be taken by students who have taken the module ACM40750 (General Relativity and Black Holes).

This module (PHYC40120) and the module ACM40750 (General Relativity and Black Holes) can not both be taken.

Learning Recommendations:

1) Classical Mechanics (Lagrangian, Hamiltonian, central-force motion)
2) Special Relativity (Lorentz Transformations, relativistic energy / momentum / mass, 4-vector notation, 4-tensors)
3) Electromagnetism

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
ACM40750 - Gen Relativity & Black Holes

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Continuous Assessment: Homework Throughout the Trimester n/a Not yet recorded No


Examination: Written Exam 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Not yet recorded No


Carry forward of passed components
Remediation Type Remediation Timing
In-Module Resit Prior to relevant Programme Exam Board
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.

Required book:
General Relativity: An Introduction for Physicists,
M.P.Hobson, G.Efstathiou and A.N.Lasenby,
Cambridge University Press.
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Mon 11:00 - 11:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Thurs 09:00 - 10:50