Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Astrophysics II: Galaxies, General Relativity and Cosmology
Academic Year
Semester 2
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Assignments  Semester assessment will include weekly questions and at least 2 problem sheets.  30%
Semester Exam 3 Hours   written exam  70%
Supplementary Exam 3 Hours   August resit  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

Summarise the main galaxy types and describe the evolution of the main galaxy types

Discuss the essential morphological, dynamical, and chemical properties of galaxies in the local Universe.

Ascertain the simple physics of galactic systems and summarise the key processes involved in Active Galactic Nuclei.

Critically review the basic principles of the theory of general relativity and the introduction of Einstein’s field equations in general relativity underpinned by differential geometry.

Discuss general relativity problems such as the deflection of light ray by a gravitational body and the evolution of planet perihelion.

Derive the relation between red-shift and expansion from Robertson-Walker metric and describe the observational foundations of modern cosmology including dark matter and dark energy.

Brief description

The module provides an overview to galactic astrophysics, considering galactic formation, dynamics and evolution. The module considers modern observations and theory of the Universe. Modern observations such as red-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.


The module aims to introduce the physics processes in astrophysics on galactic and cosmological scales.


The dynamics, physical properties, structure and morphology of the galaxies.

Gas, dust, interstellar absorption.

Radio, x-ray and gamma-ray astronomy.

Dark matter, kinetics of galactic rotation, kinetics of clusters of galaxies.

Active galactic nuclei: accretion disks, astrophysical jets.

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, gravitational redshift, gravitational waves, Schwartzchild black holes.

The Cosmological Principle, Hubble and the expanding universe. 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', standard cosmology model. Accelerated expansion of the Universe, dark energy, standard cosmological model, age of the Universe.

Cosmic microwave background and early Universe, Nuclearsynthesis: the origin of the light elements. Problems with expanding universe, inflation theory.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Creative Problem Solving Problem solving is a key skill in physics and will be tested via the problem questions posed in the coursework and examination.
Digital capability All coursework (including weekly questions) submissions will be online. Students will need to have/develop necessary digital skills to do so.
Professional communication Written communication is developed via the coursework.
Reflection Coursework is used in order that students might reflect on their progress during the module.
Subject Specific Skills The module will equip the students with the background for the most developed observational techniques/theories in astrophysics.


This module is at CQFW Level 6