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Theoretical Cosmology

Vak 2018-2019

Admission Requirements

Prerequisites: General Relativity


A course on Theoretical Cosmology. You will have the successes of the field and know where its challenges lie to which you may be able to contribute in the future.

Program: Firstly, the students will become familiar with the standard model of Cosmology, and its main aspects including:
- Big Bang Cosmology
- Inflation
- Initial Conditions
- Linear Perurbation theory
- Gauges
- Cosmic Microwave Background
- Large Scale Structure

Secondly, the students will learn about the open questions in Cosmology and beyond the standard model theories that address them, including:
- Dark Energy
- Modified Gravity
- Cosmological tests of gravity

The main mode of Instruction will be blackboard lectures, with the occasional use of slides. There will be some practice sessions with problem solving and eventually some coding (in C).

Course objectives

After successful completion of the course you will be able to:
- Describe the main phases in the history of the Universe and the relevant physical processes.
- Solve for the dynamics of the FLRW Universe at different epochs
- Solve simple single-field models of inflation
- Calculate full set of linearly perturbed Einstein equations for vector, tensor and scalar modes.
- Transform between gauges
- Calculate main transfer functions and the growth rate of structure
- Link the former to main cosmological observables
- Solve the cosmology of simple representative beyond LCDM models
- Calculate impact of non-standard physics and modified gravity on cosmological observables

Generic skills (soft skills)

  • Analytical skills
  • Computational skills
  • Communication
  • Vision
  • Perseverance


Mode of instruction

Blackboard lectures with occasional use of slides

Course load

A brief calculation of the course load, broken down by:
- 168 hours
- 22 hours spent on attending lectures (eg 2 hours per week x 14 weeks = 28 hours)
- 142 hours of time for studying the compulsory literature and reference books, for completing homework assignments and preparing for the final exam.

Assessment method

The final grade will be based on two parts:

Part a (10%): 2 set of homeworks to be handed in by the respective deadlines, with no retake opportunity. A ‘sufficient’ on Part a is required to access the final exam.

Part b (90%): final written exam (accessible only if scored 'sufficient' in Part a) . One retake opportunity. (90%)


Reading list

Main reference books: Modern Cosmology, S. Dodelson; Cosmological Inflation and Large-Scale Structure, A.Liddle and D.Lyth
Additional reading material will be provided through blackboard.
While consulting these books is highly recommended, and is likely to help you understand and apply the material offered in the course, they also contain much additional material that goes beyond the course and will not be examined.


Instructors:Dr. A.Silvestri (Alessandra)
Teaching Assistant: S. Peirone, MSc (Simone)