Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
General Relativity and Cosmology
Academic Year
Semester 2
MP26020 or FG26020
Reading List
External Examiners
  • Professor Pete Vukusic (Professor - Exeter University)
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   70%
Semester Assessment 2 x Assignment Sheets (2 x 15%)  30%
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 critically review the introduction of Einstein’s field equations in general relativity underpinned by differential geometry.
2. Discuss general relativity problems such as the deflection of light ray by a gravitational body and the evolution of planet perihelion.
3. Derive the relation between red-shift and expansion from Robertson-Walker metric and describe the observational foundations of modern cosmology.
4. Discuss the necessity of dark matter and dark energy in the theory of cosmology.
5. Compare the observations with the theoretical predictions of cosmology.
6. Assess 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. Modern observations such as re-shift of light from distant objects, galaxy rotation curve, cosmic micro-wave background radiation, accelerated expansion of the universe suggest an expanding universe. These observations coupled with Einstein's theory of general relativity and with the help of differential geometry lead to a standard theory of the evolution of the universe.


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; Gravitational redshift, gravitational waves, Schwartzchild black holes

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