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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PHYS3011 Cosmology

15 creditsClass Size: 100

Module manager: Dr Stuart Lumsden

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Pre-requisite qualifications

An understanding of Physics and Mathematics at first year University level or equivalent in basic calculus, quantum mechanics and thermodynamics is essential. Physics 1020 "Stars and Galaxies" is recommended as an introduction to the basic astronomy required, but not essential.

This module is mutually exclusive with

MATH3532Relativity and Cosmology

Module replaces

PHYS3010 Cosmology

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module introduces students to modern Cosmology. You will see how the geometry of the Universe affects its evolution, and how the contents of the Universe shape its geometry. You will study how we make measurements of distant stars and galaxies to study the properties of the expansion of the Universe, as well as studying the physics of the early Universe, when the seeds of the objects that turned into the Galaxies around us were first created. The course will cover from the first 10^-43 seconds through to the present day.


This module provides the fundamental knowledge for understanding the basis for both observational and theoretical cosmology.

Learning outcomes
Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge, understanding and application of:
1. identify the observational evidence for a Big Bang;
2. derive and utilize the equations that describe the evolution of the universe;
3. explain methods used to measure fundamental cosmological parameters;
4. discuss possible problems of the Big Bang Theory;
5. derive how structure forms in the Universe.

Skills outcomes
Problem modelling and solving.


I) Observational Clues for Big Bang Cosmology
II) Cosmological Model Building: Friedmann Equations
III) Deriving the dependence of the fundamental parameters on the contents and geometry of the Universe;
IV) “Freeze-out” in cosmology: nucleosynthesis: the formation of the elements;
V) Problems with the canonical Big Bang and (the need for) Inflation: Horizon, Flatness, Vacuum energy, GUTs;
VI) Structure Formation: Jeans Mass, CMBR anisotropies;
VII) The Very Early Universe: Planck scales.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours123.00
Total Contact hours27.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

Working through unmarked problem sheets, reviewing and assessing workshop problems, reading background material provided and in text books.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Workshops, and follow-ups.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
In-course AssessmentRegular Coursework20.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)20.00

Resits will be in standard exam format.

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 30 mins80.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)80.00

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.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 28/04/2023 14:55:13


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