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Durham University

Department of Physics

PHYS4201 Theoretical Astrophysics (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


Cosmic Structure Formation

Prof C.G. Lacey

18 lectures in Michaelmas Term


Additional: The Origin and Evolution of Cosmic Structure, P. Coles and F. Lucchin (Wiley, 2nd Edition).

Syllabus: Cosmological perturbations, fluid equations, Jeans theory, non-baryonic dark matter, temperature fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background radiation, spherical collapse model, N-body simulations, statistics of galaxy clustering.

General Relativity

Prof R.G. Bower

18 lectures in Epiphany Term


Additional: A Short Course in General Relativity, J. Forster and J.D. Nightingale (Springer). Chapter 2 is placed on Duo.
Additional: Black Holes an Introduction, D.J. Raine and E. Thomas (Imperial College Press). Chapter 2 is placed on Duo.

Syllabus: Gravity as curvature, tensor algebra, mathematics of curved spacetime, the Einstein equations, the Schwarzschild metric, weak field tests of general relativity, black holes.


2 lectures in Easter Term, one by each lecturer.

Teaching methods

Lectures: 2 one-hour lectures per week

Problem exercises: See