Cosmology (900F3)

15 credits, Level 7 (Masters)

Autumn teaching

This module covers:

  • Observational Overview: in visible light and other wavebands; the cosmological principle; the expansion of the universe; particles in the universe.
  • Newtonian Gravity: the Friedmann equation; the fluid equation; the aceleration equation.
  • Geometry: flat, spherical and hyperbolic; infinite vs. observable universes; introduction to topology
  • Cosmological Models: solving equations for matter and radiation dominated expansions and for mixtures (assuming flat geometry and zero cosmological constant); variation of particle number density with scale factor; variation of scale factor with time and geometry.
  • Observational Parameters: Hubble, density, deceleration.
  • Cosmological Constant: fluid description; models with a cosmological constant.
  • The Age of the Universe: tests; model dependence; consequences
  • Dark Matter: observational evidence; properties; potential candidates (including MACHOS, neutrinos and WIMPS)
  • The Cosmic Microwave Background: properties; derivation of photo to baryon ratio; origin of CMB (including decoupling and recombination).
  • The Early Universe: the epoch of matter-radiation equality; the relation between temperature and time; an overview of physical properties and particle behaviour.
  • Nucleosynthesis: basics of light element formation; derivation of percentage, by mass, of Helium; introduction to observational tests; contrasting decoupling and nucleosynthesis.
  • Inflation: definition; three problems (what they are and how they can be solved); estimation of expansion during Inflation; contrasting early time and current inflationary epochs; introduction to cosmological constant problem and quintessence.
  • Initial Singularity: definition and implications.
  • Connection to General Relativity: brief introduction to Einstein equations and their relation to the Friedmann equation.
  • Cosmological Distance Scales: proper, luminosity, angular distances; connection to observables.
  • Structures in the Universe: CMB anisotropies; galaxy clustering
  • Constraining Cosmology: connection to CMB, large scale structure (inc BAO and weak lensing) and supernovae.


67%: Lecture
33%: Practical (Workshop)


40%: Coursework (Problem Set)
60%: Examination (Unseen examination)

Contact hours and workload

This module is 150 hours of work. This breaks down into 33 hours of contact time and 117 hours of independent study.

This module is running in the academic year 2019/20. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.