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Phys 503 / 729: General Relativity and Gravitation
Fall 2015 – Syllabus

Carroll's book

Instructor: Luca Bombelli

Contact: E-mail: <bombelli at>; Phone: +1-662-915-5319
Fax: +1-662-915-5045; Website:
Office: Lewis 105; Hours: TTh 10:00 – 11:30 am, or by appointment

Location and Time: Lewis 228, MWF 11:00 – 11:50 am.

Required Text:
Sean Carroll, Spacetime and Geometry: An Introduction to General Relativity, Addison-Wesley 2003;

Supplementary Text:
Robert Wald, General Relativity, University of Chicago Press 1984.

Course Description: This is an introductory graduate-level course on modern relativistic gravitation and cosmology, based on general relativity. A previous exposure to special relativity will be very helpful, since that subject will only be quickly reviewed at the beginning of the course, and some knowledge of classical mechanics and electromagnetism will be assumed. After an introduction of the conceptual foundations and a review of some aspects of Newtonian gravity and special relativity, the main part of the course will cover: (i) Manifolds, tensor fields and curvature; (ii) Einstein's equation and some of its general properties; and (iii) Important solutions and applications–black holes, linearized gravity and gravitational radiation, and homogeneous, isotropic cosmology.

Assignments: Homework problems will be assigned frequently. Homework solutions should be readable and well organized, and contain full explanations of the reasoning used. Homework will be graded both for technical content and for the completeness and clarity of the explanation.

Quizzes and Exams: There will be a short quiz at the end of each chapter in the text, and a final exam. Both quizzes and the final exam will include conceptual questions and problems, and will be graded using the same criteria as for homework.

Phys 503 vs 729: Although the lectures will be the same for all students, some homework assignments and quizzes, as well as the final exam, will be different for students taking this course as Phys 503 and as Phys 729.

Attendance: Attendance is expected and may be recorded each day of class. The UM attendance policy states that "The university requires that all students have a verified attendance at least once during the first two weeks of the semester for each course. If your attendance is not verified, then you will be dropped from the course and any financial aid will be adjusted accordingly. Please see for more information." To comply with attendance verification requirements, a report of all students' attendance will be made on August 31st.


Grading Scheme
Homework ...... 30 %
Quizzes ....... 40 %
Final Exam .... 30 %

Tentative Grading Scale
A: 90 %
B: 80 %
C: 70 %

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website by luca bombelli <bombelli at>; page last modified on 28 sep 2015