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An Introduction to String Theory

Dr Jonathan Shock
2nd semester 2019
20 credits / 30 lectures

String theory is one of the most exciting fields in theoretical physics today and offers the potential of unifying gravity and all of the other forces of nature together with all forms of matter into one unified conceptual framework. Consequently, it has, over the past 40 years evolved into a truly interdisciplinary field assimilating knowledge ranging from differential equations to algebraic geometry (and everything in between). Nevertheless, the basic concepts in the theory are quite simple and quite comprehensible at the honours level. This course offers just such a pedagogical introduction to the field, requiring only a knowledge of partial differential equations and some quantum mechanics. In return, students will be afforded the opportunity to sharpen their understanding of most of the undergraduate applied mathematics and physics curricula as well as to learn some of the most powerful tools in contemporary mathematical physics.

  • Electromagnetism and Gravity in Higher Dimensions,
  • The Classical String, the relativistic point particle and string,
  • Lightcone fields and particles,
  • Relativistic open and closed strings.
  • Depending on time:
    • D-branes and Gauge Fields,
    • The thermodynamics of black holes, the AdS/CFT correspondence.


A basic knowledge of Quantum Mechanics and Special Relativity would be useful.