PHY-30035 - General Relativity, Black Holes and Gravitational Waves
Coordinator: Rob Jeffries Room: LJ2.08 Tel: +44 1782 7 33892
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 6
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office: 01782 734921

Programme/Approved Electives for 2023/24


Available as a Free Standing Elective





Successful study at level 4 and level 5 of either Physics (Combined Honours), Astrophysics (Combined Honours), Physics (Single Honours) or Physics with Astrophysics (Single Honours)

Barred Combinations


Description for 2023/24

The module aims to present the theory of General Relativity in the context of solar system, stellar and black hole astrophysics, a level of mathematical complexity appropriate for level 6 Physics/Astrophysics students. Students will have the opportunity to apply the theory of General Relativity to examples within these arenas and to develop and practise analytical, numerical and problem-solving skills. Students will also apply General Relativity as a tool for understanding the generation of gravitational waves and will study the techniques used for their detection making synoptic links to previously studied (at levels 4 and 5) modules in Optics, Waves, Mechanics and computer programming. Throughout, there will be an emphasis on the forefront nature of these topics by making use of, and choosing examples from, the very latest research in the fields of gravitational wave detection and black hole astrophysics.

Talis Aspire Reading List
Any reading lists will be provided by the start of the course.

Intended Learning Outcomes

apply the theory of General Relativity to solve problems in solar system, stellar and black hole astrophysics, identifying the appropriate analytical or numerical tools; quantitatively assess when a General Relativistic, rather than Newtonian approach is required: 2
describe and explain the main planks of evidence for General Relativity and for the existence of black holes: 2
use General Relativity to explain the existence, propagation and generation of gravitational waves and to solve problems relating to gravitational wave sources using appropriate analytical and numerical techniques: 2
explain the physical nature and purpose of the design and main components of gravitational wave detectors and quantitatively describe the factors that influence detector design and sensitivity: 2
engage with, and assimilate knowledge from, original research material and the primary literature: 2

Study hours

Class room sessions 22 hours
Tutorial 11 hours
Examination 2 hours
Three assessed problem sheets - total of 30 hours
Private study 85 hours

School Rules

Barred Combination - PHY-30003

Description of Module Assessment

1: Open Book Examination weighted 70%
2-hour invigilated, unseen, open-book examination
2 hours invigilated, unseen, "open book" examination to take place duing the main examination period in a room where students have access to University computers. Students will have a choice of 3 questions from 5, each of which have equal weight.

2: Problem Sheets weighted 30%
Problem Sheets
There will be three problem sheets, each worth 10% of the module mark. The sheets will contain a mixture of analytical and computational problems to solve, associated with the module content, that will serve as both summative and formative assessment. One of the problem sheets will require the reading of an original research paper in order to answer the questions; at least one of the problem sheets will require some coding/programming. Each problem sheet is expected to take 10 hours to complete.