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Durham University

Department of Physics

PHYS3651 Planets and Cosmology 3 (2018/19)

Details of the module's prerequisites, learning outcomes, assessment and contact hours are given in the official module description in the Faculty Handbook - follow the link above. A detailed description of the module's content is given below, together with book lists and a link to the current library catalogue entries. For an explanation of the library's categorisation system see



Dr R.J. Wilman & Dr B. Li

18 lectures + 8 workshops in Michaelmas Term


Required: An Introduction to Modern Cosmology, A. Liddle (2nd Ed Wiley 2003)
The course is defined by material contained in this book, in particular Chapters 1-13 and 15 (topics 1 and 2).

Syllabus: Observational overview and the expansion of the Universe, the cosmological principle (homogeneity and isotropy), Newtonian gravity and the Friedmann equation, the geometry of the Universe, solutions of Friedmann╩╝s equations, the age of the Universe, weighing the Universe, the cosmological constant, general relativistic cosmology (the metric and Einstein equations), classic cosmology (distances and luminosities), standard candles (type is SNe) and standard ruler (baryon acoustic oscillations), the cosmic microwave background, the thermal history of the Universe, primordial nucleosynthesis, dark matter, problems with the hot big bang, inflation, current constraints on cosmological parameters.

Planetary Systems

Prof T.P. Roberts

18 lectures + 9 workshops in Epiphany Term


Required: Fundamental Planetary Science, J. J. Lissauer and I de Pater (Cambridge 2013)
The course is defined by material in this book, in particular Chapters 1-6, 14-16.

Additional: Orbital Motion, A.G. Roy (Adam Hilger 4th Edition)
The course is defined by material in this book, in particular Chapter 4.

Additional: Physics of Planetary Interiors, G.H. Cole (Adam Hilger)
The course is defined by material in this book, in particular Chapter 2.

Syllabus: Overview of the Solar System, orbital dynamics, planetary interiors, planetary atmospheres, formation of the Solar System, extrasolar planets.


2 lectures in Easter Term, one for each lecture course.

Teaching Methods

Lectures: 2 one-hour lectures per week.

Workshops: These provide an opportunity to work through and digest the course material by attempting exercises assisted by direct interaction with the workshop leaders. They also provide opportunity for you to obtain further feedback on the self-assessed formative weekly problems. Students will be divided into two groups, each of which will attend one one-hour class every week. The workshops for this module are not compulsory.

Progress test: One compulsory formative progress test (to be completed over the Christmas break) Problem exercises: See