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PYU44A05 Cosmology  

Hilary Term – 20 lectures/tutorials – 5 credits (B Espey)


Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Appreciate the background to the topic from basic observational results through to more refined studies of the recent past, including the relative youth of physical cosmology.
  • Be able to explain the basic concepts of the subject and the basic assumptions made regarding our non-unique place and time in the Universe.
  • Derive the basic equations describing the equation of state of matter, radiation, and dark energy, and their evolution in time and to itemise and critically analyse the evidence in favour of the Big Bang.
  • Explain how recent observations of distance and velocity of distant objects have led to conflict with previously-held models, and how these models have had to be altered to accommodate these observations.
  • Critically evaluate the current best-fit models and provide evidence for/against open and closed universes and the importance of dark matter and dark energy in the evolution of our Universe.
  • Be able to place cosmology in the context of on-going developments both on very large and very small scales and to summarise the results expected in the near future.



Starting with basic cosmological observations and the basic postulates of the Cosmological Principle, this course derives far-reaching results using information from Newtonian principles. The implications of the most recent results concerning Dark Matter and Dark Energy are also discussed, together with possible future observational and research directions. The connection and derivation of similar results from the application of GR will also be discussed. On completion of the course, students will have an understanding of the basic properties of the Universe, how they have been derived from observational and theoretical approaches, and an appreciation for the youth of the field, and recent and future developments e.g. in the fields of dark energy, dark matter, etc.





Continuous Assessment