2022/23 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue
PHYS5390M General Relativity
15 creditsClass Size: 60
Module manager: Dr Stuart Lumsden
Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable
Year running 2022/23
Pre-requisite qualificationsLevel 2 Physics or equivalent – prior understanding of tensors is helpful but not essential; understanding of the basic principles of special relativity and differential calculus is essential. Prior study of differential geometry is not required.
This module is not approved as an Elective
Module summaryThis module introduces students to General Relativity. You will learn how to utilise techniques appropriate to differential geometry for familiar problems from Special Relativity before moving onto the study of how these methods can be used to derive the optimal means of studying particle dynamics in a curved space-time, and how physical laws can be translated into the same framework. The course will conclude with a study of applications of General Relativity including Cosmology and Black Holes.
ObjectivesYou should be able to understand the underlying mathematical principles and techniques appropriate to General Relativity, as well as be able to apply them to simple physical cases by the end of this module.
- solve problems in special relativity using the formalism of tensor analysis;
- derive, and explain the basis for, the physical and mathematical principles of general relativity; derive equations governing spacetime geometry and the motion of particles in curved spacetimes;
- solve simple problems related to differential geometry and tensor calculus;
- describe the geometrical structures of Schwarzschild and Robertson-Walker spacetimes and their physical interpretations; derive and interpret the motions of light and massive particles in these cases.
- Ability to apply advanced mathematical methods and modelling techniques to physical problems.
- Ability to grasp a complex body of ideas.
Review of special relativity, Lorentz transformations and particle dynamics. Introduction of metrics and tensors, and the role of invariance.
Geometry of space and time – the road to general relativity and the field equations. Differential geometry and tensor calculus: parallel transport, covariant derivative, curvature, geodesics. Metric: definition of length and angle, role in tensor calculus, metric connection.
Applications of the techniques of general relativity to spherical bodies, including black holes. Schwarzschild, and other, solutions. Meaning of distances and times in curved space and the role of the observer. Applications to Cosmology: Friedmann-Robertson-Walker models and the standard hot big bang.
|Private study hours
|Total Contact hours
|Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)
Private studyWorking through unmarked problem sheets, reviewing and assessing workshop problems, reading background material provided and in text books.
Opportunities for Formative FeedbackWorkshops, and follow-ups.
Methods of assessment
|% of formal assessment
|Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)
Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated
|% of formal assessment
|Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)
|2 hr 30 mins
|Total percentage (Assessment Exams)
Students will have to complete an in-person exam at the end of the module. This will take place during the examinations period at the end of the semester and will be time bound. Students must submit a serious attempt at all assessments for this module, in order to pass the module overall.
Reading listThe reading list is available from the Library website
Last updated: 29/04/2022 15:31:38
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