• Class Number 6796
  • Term Code 3160
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • DisP Susan Scott
    • Dr Bram Slagmolen
    • Dr Daniel Toyra
    • Dr Karl Wette
    • DisP Susan Scott
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 26/07/2021
  • Class End Date 29/10/2021
  • Census Date 14/09/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 02/08/2021
SELT Survey Results

With the spectacular first direct detection of gravitational waves in 2015, General Relativity theory is now arguably the most successful theory of modern physics. This course provides an introduction to the concepts and tools of GR and to its applications in cosmology, gravitational wave theory and gravitational wave detection.

The full geometric structure underpinning the theory will be developed, leading to the Einstein Field equation and an in-depth study of the Schwarzschild black hole. We will study the application of GR theory to cosmology as well as its prediction of the existence of gravitational waves and the principles of how these waves can be detected on Earth.

This course is co-taught with undergraduate students but assessed separately.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Demonstrate understanding of the mathematics underpinning manifolds, tensors, metrics, geodesics and the Riemann tensor;
  2. Prove fundamental properties of, and relationships between, those mathematical elements;
  3. Derive geodesics from a given metric, and derive metrics from the Einstein field equation for simple forms of the stress-energy tensor;
  4. Discuss the fundamental properties of gravitational waves;
  5. Evaluate methods to detect gravitational waves on Earth;
  6. Develop critical thinking and problem-solving abilities with application to a diverse range of problems in general relativity and gravitational physics;
  7. Demonstrate high level oral and written communication skills.

Examination Material or equipment

Official lecture notes and a non-programmable calculator

"A First Course in General Relativity" by B. Schutz (2nd ed., 2009)

Recommended student system requirements 

ANU courses commonly use a number of online resources and activities including:

  • video material, similar to YouTube, for lectures and other instruction
  • two-way video conferencing for interactive learning
  • email and other messaging tools for communication
  • interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities
  • print and photo/scan for handwritten work
  • home-based assessment.

To fully participate in ANU learning, students need:

  • A computer or laptop. Mobile devices may work well but in some situations a computer/laptop may be more appropriate.
  • Webcam
  • Speakers and a microphone (e.g. headset)
  • Reliable, stable internet connection. Broadband recommended. If using a mobile network or wi-fi then check performance is adequate.
  • Suitable location with minimal interruptions and adequate privacy for classes and assessments.
  • Printing, and photo/scanning equipment

For more information please see https://www.anu.edu.au/students/systems/recommended-student-system-requirements

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 The first half of the course will introduce the framework and concepts of general relativity theory. It will also provide an introduction to black holes and cosmology There will be an assignment every 1-2 weeks throughout the semester
2 The second half of the course will introduce gravitational waves and discuss their sources and detail the principles of gravitational wave detection.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Assignment 1 3 % 04/08/2021 12/08/2021 1,2,3,4,5,6,7
Assignment 2 5 % 11/08/2021 19/08/2021 1,2,3,4,5,6,7
Assignment 3 3 % 18/08/2021 26/08/2021 1,2,3,4,5,6,7
Assignment 4 6 % 25/08/2021 02/09/2021 1,2,3,4,5,6,7
Assignment 5 8 % 22/09/2021 30/09/2021 1,2,3,4,5,6,7
Assignment 6 5 % 29/09/2021 07/10/2021 1,2,3,4,5,6,7
Assignment 7 5 % 06/10/2021 12/10/2021 1,2,3,4,5,6,7
Assignment 8 5 % 13/10/2021 21/10/2021 1,2,3,4,5,6,7
Assignment 9 5 % 20/10/2021 29/10/2021 4,5
Assignment 10 5 % 27/10/2021 04/11/2021 4,5
Final exam 50 % 04/11/2021 02/12/2021 1,2,3,4,5

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Three one hour lectures per week plus a tutorial and a weekly drop-in session. The tutorial will be conducted on campus but will also include remote participation.


Please note, that where a date range is used in the Assessment Summary in relation to exams, the due date and return date indicate the approximate timeframe in which the exam will be held and results returned to the student (official end of Semester results released on ISIS). Students should consult the course wattle site and the ANU final examination timetable to confirm the date, time and venue of the exam.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 3 %
Due Date: 04/08/2021
Return of Assessment: 12/08/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7

Assignment 1

Problems related to course material, due in one week.

Value: 3.13%

Assessment Task 2

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 11/08/2021
Return of Assessment: 19/08/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7

Assignment 2

Problems related to course material, due in one week.

Value: 4.69%

Assessment Task 3

Value: 3 %
Due Date: 18/08/2021
Return of Assessment: 26/08/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7

Assignment 3

Problems related to course material, due in one week.

Value: 3.13%

Assessment Task 4

Value: 6 %
Due Date: 25/08/2021
Return of Assessment: 02/09/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7

Assignment 4

Problems related to course material, due in one week.

Value: 6.25%

Assessment Task 5

Value: 8 %
Due Date: 22/09/2021
Return of Assessment: 30/09/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7

Assignment 5

Capstone assignment for the first half of the course, due first week after the break.

Value: 7.81%

Assessment Task 6

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 29/09/2021
Return of Assessment: 07/10/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7

Assignment 6

Problems related to course material on Gravitational Wave Theory

Assessment Task 7

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 06/10/2021
Return of Assessment: 12/10/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7

Assignment 7

Problems related to course material on Gravitational Wave Theory

Assessment Task 8

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 13/10/2021
Return of Assessment: 21/10/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7

Assignment 8

Problems related to course material on Gravitational Wave Theory

Assessment Task 9

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 20/10/2021
Return of Assessment: 29/10/2021
Learning Outcomes: 4,5

Assignment 9

Problems related to course material on Gravitational Wave Theory

Assessment Task 10

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 27/10/2021
Return of Assessment: 04/11/2021
Learning Outcomes: 4,5

Assignment 10

Problems related to course material on Gravitational Wave Theory

Assessment Task 11

Value: 50 %
Due Date: 04/11/2021
Return of Assessment: 02/12/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Final exam

Final exam (3hrs + reading time) worth 50% of the course. Please refer to the Examinations timetable and/or PHYS3203 Wattle page for exam scheduling.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Extensions may be arranged with the course convener.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Assignments must be submitted online via Wattle. Annotated assignments will be returned via email to the students.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

Assignment resubmission is not permitted.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

DisP Susan Scott

Research Interests

General Relativity, Cosmology, Gravitational Waves

DisP Susan Scott

Dr Bram Slagmolen

Research Interests

Dr Bram Slagmolen

Dr Daniel Toyra

Research Interests

Dr Daniel Toyra

Dr Karl Wette

Research Interests

Dr Karl Wette

DisP Susan Scott

Research Interests

DisP Susan Scott

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions