Physics and astronomy

Early Universe

Module code: 879F3
Level 7 (Masters)
15 credits in spring teaching
Teaching method: Lecture
Assessment modes: Open examination, Coursework

An advanced module on cosmology.

Topics include:

  • Hot big bang and the FRW model; Redshifts, distances, Hubble law
  • Thermal history, decoupling, recombination, nucleosynthesis
  • Problems with the hot big bang and inflation with a single scalar field
  • Linear cosmological perturbation theory
  • Quantum generation of perturbations in inflation
  • Scalar and tensor power spectrum predictions from inflation
  • Perturbation evolution and growth after reheating; free streaming and Silk damping
  • Matter power spectrum and CMB anisotropies.


Pre-requisite: (881F3) General Relativity [T1, Level 7]; (900F3) Introduction to Cosmology [T1, Level 7].
Recommended, but not a strick prerequisite: (977F3) Quantum Fields 1 [T1, Level 7]

Module learning outcomes

  • Describe the history and calculate observables for an FRW universe using the Friedmann and geodesic equations, thermodynamics and symmetry principles.
  • Critically evaluate the hot big bang model, and be able to calculate how a single-field inflation model evolves and show how it can resolve some of the problems.
  • Calculate power spectrum predictions from single field inflation using the slow-roll approximation and understand how these relate to observations.
  • Be able to describe and calculate the evolution of density and curvature perturbations, and be able to describe and explain the broad features of the matter and CMB power spectra.