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The University of Southampton

PHYS6005 Cosmology

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

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 “ΛCDM” 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


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 and the ΛCDM model PART 2: BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO THE EARLY UNIVERSE - The density of the universe and dark matter - The cosmic microwave background - Nucleosynthesis - The inflationary universe - Structure Formation

Learning and Teaching

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


Assessment Strategy

There will be 3 problem sheets handed out on a roughly bi-weekly basis. All problem sheets will contribute to the final mark.


MethodPercentage contribution
Continuous Assessment 12%
Final Assessment  88%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: PHYS2001 AND PHYS2003 AND PHYS2006 AND PHYS2023 AND PHYS2024.

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