Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2
MP26020 or FG26020; and successful completion of Year 2.
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 22 lectures and example classes
Workload Breakdown Every 10 credits carries a notional student workload of 100 hours: 22 Lectures and Example Classes, 30 hours Assignment Sheets, 48 hours independent study


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   60%
Semester Assessment 2 x Assignment Sheets (2 x 20%)  40%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Describe the basic principles of the theory of general relativity and answer relevant problems and derive the relation between red-shift and expansion from Robertson-Walker metric
2. Describe the observational foundations of modern cosmology;
3. Discuss the necessity of dark matter and dark energy in the theory of cosmology;
4. Compare the observations with the theoretical predictions of cosmology;
5. Recognise the problematic areas of modern cosmology and appreciate how future tests may resolve or accentuate these problems

Brief description

This module considers modern observations and theory of the Universe. Observed red-shift of light from distant objects suggest an expanding Universe. The presence of hidden mass is indicated by the galaxy rotation curves and the kinetics of clusters of galaxies. Such observations suggest a Universe that started in a 'Big Bang' and has expanded to form our present Universe. This suggestion is strongly reinforced by measurements of the microwave background radiation which originated when the Universe was only 100,000 years old. Penetrating even further back, inflation theory reconciles the isotropy of the background radiation with the limits of observation and explains why the Universe has a geometry that is almost 'flat'. More recent supernovae observations suggest that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating so dark energy is needed to account for those observations.


Olber's paradox; the Cosmological Principle; Hubble and the expanding universe;

General theory of relativity: tensors, parallel transport, covariant derivative, geodesics; curvature tensor, Christoffel connection, Ricci tensor, principle of equivalence, Einstein field equation, weak gravitation field approximation, Schwarzschild solution, deflection of light by gravitational field, Einstein's theory of gravitation;

Metric of expanding space time, comoving coordinates, Robertson-Walker metric, proper distance, red-shift and proper distance, red-shift and luminosity distance;

Simple cosmological models: Einstein-de Sitter model and the 'Big Bang'; steady-state and continuous creation;

Cosmic microwave background and early Universe; Nuclearsynthesis: the origin of the light elements

Dark matter; accelerated expansion of the Universe, dark energy; standard cosmological model, age of the Universe;

Problems with expanding universe (isotropy; flatness; galaxy formation) inflation theory.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number All questions set in example sheets and formal examinations will include numerical problems.
Communication Written communication is developed via the assignment sheet.
Information Technology Students will be required to research topics within the module via the internet.
Personal Development and Career planning The module will highlight the latest developments in this field, and hence will assist with career development.
Problem solving Problem solving is a key skill in physics and will be tested via the assignment sheets.
Research skills The assignment sheet require the students to research topics in the library and over the internet.


This module is at CQFW Level 6