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General Relativity and Cosmology

Dr Julien Larena
Associate Professor Amanda Weltman
1st and 2nd semester 2019
20 credits / 30 lectures per semester

1st semester (Theoretical Cosmology):

  • What is cosmology? (And what is it not?)
  • The background Universe: kinematics and dynamics in the expanding Friedmann spacetime (metric, lightcones, distances, 4-velocity, 4-wave vector, redshift, energy-momentum tensor, hot Big Bang model, Dark Energy, Inflation)
  • Cosmological perturbation theory: basics (overview of how fluctuations originate and then grow to generate the cosmic microwave background (CMB) anisotropies and galaxies; perturbations in density, velocity and metric potentials)
  • The perturbed Einstein field equations: the evolution of density, velocity and curvature perturbations in the radiation, matter and Dark Energy eras (how modes evolve from Inflation; transfer functions; the effect of Dark Energy; analytical and numerical solutions)
  • The galaxy correlation function and power spectrum (galaxy bias; galaxy number counts and variance; evolution of the power spectrum in the matter and Dark Energy eras)
  • Probing the expansion history and the growth of large-scale structure via galaxy surveys (the BAO feature in the galaxy power spectrum; the growth rate from RSD in the galaxy power spectrum)

2nd semester (Modern Cosmological Physics):

This module will cover many areas of active research today. Specific topics to be covered:

  • Black holes
  • Gravitational waves
  • Early universe physics
  • Particle astrophysics


The undergraduate module 3GR (General Relativity), or equivalent, is required.