ASP3051 - Relativity and cosmology - 2019

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

School of Physics and Astronomy

Chief examiner(s)

Associate Professor Duncan Galloway


Associate Professor Duncan Galloway

Unit guides



  • First semester 2019 (On-campus)


One of MTH2010,MTH2015 or ENG2005

Recommended units: MTH2032 or MTH2040


Newtonian physics and Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, the geometry of space-time, the Minkowski metric, Lorentz transformations, k-calculus, and four-vectors; the physics of space-time, momentum and energy; classical paradoxes; other metrics, Black Holes; observation of the Universe relevant to Cosmology; the expansion of the Universe, the Cosmic Background Radiation; the evolution of the Universe, propagation of light; primordial elements and recent observations.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Describe the reasons for supplanting Newtonian physics with relativity theory;
  2. Use special relativity to predict the behaviour of relativistic particles;
  3. Discuss the relativistic paradoxes in an informed way;
  4. Discuss the experimental and theoretical foundations of general relativity;
  5. Discuss our current understanding of the beginnings, nature, and fate of the Universe;
  6. Evaluate the current uncertainties in cosmology;
  7. Analyse physical problems geometrically, thinking logically in a theory at odds with common experience;
  8. Use mathematics to solve complex problems;
  9. Interpret complex mathematical results and communicate them in written form.


Examination (3 hours): 60%

Laboratory work and reports: 40%

Workload requirements

The workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours spread across the semester (roughly 12 hours per week) - approximately an even mixture of attendance at scheduled activities and self-scheduled study time. Learning activities comprise a mixture of instructor directed, peer directed and self-directed learning, which includes face-to-face and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study