Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2010-2011 (archived)


Department: Mathematical Sciences


Type Open Level 4 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2011/12 and alternate years thereafter Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • Linear Algebra II (MATH2021) [2003/2004 and before: Linear Analysis and Applications II], Analysis in Many Variables II (MATH2031) and Mathematical Physics II (MATH2071); alternatively Linear Algebra II (MATH2021) [2003/2004 and before: Linear Analysis and Applications II], Analysis in Many Variables II (MATH2031) and Foundations of Physics II (PHYS2511). In addition, a minimum of 40 credits of Mathematics modules at Level 3.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • General Relativity III (MATH3331).


  • To appreciate General Relativity, one of the fundamental physical theories.
  • To develop and exercise mathematical methods.


  • (1) Differences between general and special relativity.
  • Experiments showing up the differences.
  • Gravity becomes geometry.
  • (2) Differential manifold as model of spacetime.
  • Coordinates and relations between different systems.
  • Curves in spacetime.
  • (3) Covariant derivative.
  • Partial derivatives are inadequate.
  • Properties (linearity, derivative of tensor product, commutation with contraction).
  • Geodesic curves.
  • Metric connection.
  • (4) Distance relations, shape, units, light cones, locally inertial coordinate systems.
  • Variational principles for geodesics.
  • (5) Curvature tensor.
  • Symmetries of curvature tensor.
  • Einstein tensor.
  • Geodesic deviation.
  • (6) Newtonian gravity and Einstein's theory.
  • Linear form of Einstein's theory.
  • (7) Schwarzschild solution, blackholes with Kruskal-Szekeres coords.
  • (8) Cosmology.
  • Reading material on a topic related to: Global structures of spacetime; causal properties and topology .

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module students will: be able to solve complex, unpredictable and specialised problems in General Relativity.
  • have an understanding of specialised and complex theoretical mathematics in the field of General Relativity.
  • have mastered a coherent body of knowledge of these subjects demonstrated through one or more of the following topic areas: Special relativity.
  • Differential manifolds.
  • Metric, covariant derivative, curvature.
  • General relativity.
  • Black holes.
  • Cosmology.
  • Global structures of spacetime
  • Knowledge and understanding of a topic in the following areas: global structures of spacetime, causal properties and topology.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will have highly specialised and advanced mathematical skills which will be used with minimal guidance in the following areas: Spatial awareness, Modelling.
  • Students will have the ability to read independently to acquire knowledge and understanding in the area of spacetime structure.
Key Skills:
  • Students will have enhanced problem solving skills.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures demonstrate what is required to be learned and the application of the theory to practical examples.
  • Subject material assigned for independent study develops the ability to acquire knowledge and understanding without dependence on lectures.
  • Assignments for self-study develop problem-solving skills and enable students to test and develop their knowledge and understanding.
  • Formatively assessed assignments provide practice in the application of logic and high level of rigour as well as feedback for the students and the lecturer on students' progress.
  • The end-of-year examination assesses the knowledge acquired and the ability to solve complex and specialised problems.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 40 2 per week for 19 weeks and 2 in term 3 1 Hour 40
Preparation and Reading 160
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
three hour written examination 100%

Formative Assessment:

Four written assignments to be assessed and returned. Other assignments are set for self-study and complete solutions are made available to students.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University