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Introduction General Relativity and Astrophysical Applications


Admission requirements



This course provides an introduction to the Theory of General Relativity, with a particular focus on its astrophysical applications. The course sidesteps the usual mathematical approach to the subject (based on tensor calculus), and instead starts from the metric as the crucial concept. Particular astrophysical applications that are discussed include black holes, the Universe, gravitational lenses and gravitational waves. The Einstein equation, which forms the overarching principle of these phenomena, is only introduced at the end of the course. The course uses a textbook following the same approach.

Course objectives

The course provides an introduction to the principle of General Relativity and its most common astrophysical applications, and serves as an introduction to MSc level courses on the subject. Upon completion of this course the student should be familiar with the basic tenets of General Relativity, the concept of spacetime curvature and some of its mathematical tools, and the concept of metrics. The student should be able to handle and utilize the metrics commonly encountered in astrophysical situations, and using this approach, understand and analyze phenomena related to black holes, gravitational lensing, cosmology and gravitational waves.


See BSc schedules.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

  • Written exam (50% of final grade)

  • Homework assignments (50% of final grade)
    See Exam schedule.


Blackboard is not used in this course.

Reading list

The course uses the following book, which all students must have:

  • James T. Hartle – Gravity. An Introduction to Einstein’s General Relativity (Addison Wesley).
    The book is available as hardcover or as paperback; either is fine.


Via uSis.
More information about signing up for your classes at the Faculty of Science can be found here
Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for information on how to apply.
For Interest only & Contractual enrollment, please see this website.

Contact information

Lecturer: Prof.dr. P. (Paul) van der Werf
Assistants: Tommaso Marchetti, Wijers, Wang
See also Course website (available shortly before the start of the course).