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PHYS6005 Cosmology and the Early Universe

Module Overview

Modern cosmology is a fascinating and fast-developing field, with intense research activity fuelled by major discoveries made in the last decade. These have overturned our understanding of the Universe’s properties and established a new standard cosmological model that, however, poses challenging puzzles for fundamental physics, such as the nature of Dark Matter, the current acceleration of the Universe’s expansion and the occurrence of an inflationary stage in the first moments of the Universe. The course will draw upon a diverse range of core physics material as well as introducing new physics; it will not require specialist astronomical knowledge.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

This module will introduce the concepts of modern cosmology and the physics of the early universe.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Be able to identify the key steps that lead to the recognition of the expanding Universe
  • Be able to explain the main properties of the so called “?CDM” model
  • Be able to relate the Cosmological principle to Hubble's Law
  • Understand the physical implications of the cosmological expansion
  • Understand and use the Friedmann equations and Fluid equation
  • Be able to describe the physics of, and observational evidence for, the Big Bang model
  • Be able to explain why Einstein introduced the Cosmological constant and describe the current evidence for a non-zero value for this constant
  • Be able to discuss the physics responsible for the observed cosmic microwave background radiation
  • Understand the physics of the early universe and of Big Bang Nucleosynthesis
  • Understand the motivations and the observational evidence for Inflation
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Be able to critically evaluate technical papers on cosmology

Syllabus

PART 1: COSMOLOGY - Brief History of Cosmology - Observational overview - A Newtonian Cosmology? - Elements of General Relativity (non examinable in the final examination paper) - The geometry of the Universe - Simple cosmological models - The cosmological constant - The age of the universe - Observational parameters PART 2: THE EARLY UNIVERSE - The density of the universe and dark matter - The cosmic microwave background - The early Universe - Nucleosynthesis - The inflationary universe - The ?CDM model

Learning and Teaching

TypeHours
Preparation for scheduled sessions18
Wider reading or practice66
Revision10
Follow-up work18
Lecture36
Completion of assessment task2
Total study time150

Assessment

Assessment Strategy

There will be 11 problem sheets handed out on weekly basis. Although these do not count towards the final mark, they should provide useful feedback to students since detailed model answers will be posted the subsequent week. Some of the problems will be discussed in class. Notice also that a test will take place during the second hour of week 9. Though it will not contribute to the final mark, it will be marked. Results will be made available in week 11 and will provide a useful individual feedback before the final exam.

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Exam  (2 hours) 90%
Problem Sheets 10%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework marks carried forward %
Exam %

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisites

To study this module, you will need to have studied the following module(s):

CodeModule
PHYS2001Electromagnetism
PHYS2003Quantum Physics
PHYS2024Quantum Physics of Matter
PHYS2023Wave Physics
PHYS2006Classical Mechanics
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