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Cosmology - PHY00055H

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  • Department: Physics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. John Pasley
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Related modules

Co-requisite modules

  • None

Prohibited combinations

  • None

Additional information

Please note, students taking this module should also have taken Electromagnetism and Optics -PHY00002I or the appropriate equivalent.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2020-21

Module aims

This module considers the dynamics and evolution of the universe as a whole, with an examination of experimental observables. This will be followed by an introduction to properties of space and cosmological models. Finally we will look at the early phases, and the main epochs, in the development of the universe from the Big Bang to the present as well as links with particle physics.

Module learning outcomes

  • Explain the observed large-scale structure of the Universe with reference to cosmological models.
  • Explain how the cosmic microwave background provides evidence for the Big Bang
  • Derive the equations of motion in Newtonian Cosmology and contrast Newtonian and Relativistic cosmology
  • Understand the concept of curvature in the geometry of the Universe
  • Understand the meaning of the Cosmological Constant and the evidence for it
  • Understand how primordial nucleosynthesis and the cosmic microwave background provide clues to the early stages of the Universe’s evolution
  • Discuss and derive the consequences of different cosmological parameters on the time development of the universe
  • Define density parameter and critical density
  • Discuss and explain the main epochs of the early development of the universe
  • Discuss and explain the meaning and implications of inflation in cosmological models of the early universe
  • Understand the meaning of the baryon asymmetry and possible causes of it
  • Discuss the ‘magnetic monopole mystery’
  • Understand the potential role of gravitational wave observations in cosmological astronomy

Module content


  • Galaxy distribution and large-scale structure
  • Observations and relevance to cosmology
  • Cosmological models using Newtonian gravity and General Relativity
  • Curvature and the geometry of the Universe
  • The Cosmological Constant
  • The Big Bang Model and problems
  • Primordial Nucleosynthesis and Inflation
  • The Cosmic Microwave Background and Precision cosmology
  • Gravitational Wave Cosmology


Task Length % of module mark
Cosmology Assignment 1
N/A 32
Cosmology Assignment 2
N/A 32
Cosmology Assignment 3
N/A 36

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Cosmology Assignment 1
N/A 32
Cosmology Assignment 2
N/A 32
Cosmology Assignment 3
N/A 36

Module feedback

Physics Practice Questions (PPQs) - You will receive the marked scripts via your pigeon holes. Feedback solutions will be provided on the VLE or by other equivalent means from your lecturer. As feedback solutions are provided, normally detailed comments will not be written on your returned work, although markers will indicate where you have lost marks or made mistakes. You should use your returned scripts in conjunction with the feedback solutions.

Exams - You will receive exam marks from eVision. Detailed model answers will be provided on the intranet. You should discuss your performance with your supervisor.

Advice on academic progress - Individual meetings with supervisor will take place where you can discuss your academic progress in detail.

Indicative reading

Liddle A: Introduction to modern cosmology (Wiley, 2003)

Elmegreen D: Galaxies and galactic structure (Prentice Hall)

Raine D & Thomas E G: An introduction to the science of cosmology (Taylor & Francis/IoP Publishing)

Coles P & Lucchin F: Cosmology: the Origin and Evolution of Cosmic Structure (Wiley)

Sparke L & Gallagher J: Galaxies in the Universe (Cambridge, 2007)

Roos M: Introduction to Cosmology (Wiley, 2003)

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.

Course changes for new students