Department of Physics and Astronomy, University College London


PHAS3136 is a third year undergraduate course designed to provide an introduction to cosmology and extragalactic astronomy (Syllabus.pdf) [CourseDescription.pdf]. The only pre-requisites are basic mathematical skills (i.e., elementary calculus) and general familiarity with astronomical nomenclature and principles, plus PHAS2112 - Astrophysical Processes: Nebulae to Stars. Students will not normally have encountered General Relativity at the time they take this course, and the development of the material is therefore essentially non-GR, although GR results are introduced as necessary. A subsequent GR-based cosmology course is available from the Maths Department.

This course consists of approximately 30 one hour timetabled sessions, covering cosmology (approx 15 lectures) taught by Dr Filipe Abdalla and extragalactic astronomy (approx 15 lectures) taught by Dr Hiranya Peiris. Assessment is 10 per cent by the best three of four written problem papers and 90 per cent by written examination.

We are available for (optional) consultation about PHAS3136 in the Kathleen Lonsdale Building (see "Directions to the Astrophysics Group" here Please set up an appointment via email: Dr Abdalla (fba at / Dr Peiris (h.peiris at

Some other information can be found on the UCL moodle website. Handouts and problem sheets will appear below.


The core course textbooks are:

Jones & Lambourne, An Introduction to Galaxies and Cosmology

Liddle, An Introduction to Modern Cosmology

In addition you may find it helpful to refer to:

Binney & Merrifield, Galactic Astronomy

Peterson, Active Galaxies


  1. 1.Galaxy classification from Binney & Merrifield

  2. 2.Introduction to AGN from Jones & Lambourne p124 - 135

  3. 3.Nucleosynthesis chapter from Liddle

  4. 4.Power spectra


There are four marked problem sheets. The best three will contribute 10 per cent towards the final assessment. Please note that most of the marks are awarded for showing working and listing assumptions.

Problem sheet answers must be handed in by the stated deadlines. Late submission of work is subject to a penalty of a 10% deduction for every working day late, up until the time solutions are available, after which no credit is awarded.

There are continuous assessment marks for "class participation", which are formally awarded as the final question of the final problem sheet: the final question of the final problem sheet has 6 marks, which are for answering a question well in class or for asking a good question in class (one mark per question); no additional marks will be assigned for more than 6 questions/answers.

Problem Sheet 1: [3 pm Friday 5th Feb 2010] [problemsheet1.pdf] [solutions1.pdf]

Problem Sheet 2: [3 pm Friday 26th Feb 2010] [problemsheet2.pdf] [solutions2.pdf]

Problem Sheet 3: [3 pm Friday 19th March 2010] [problemsheet3.pdf] [solutions3.pdf]

Problem Sheet 4: [3 pm Monday 26th April 2010] [problemsheet4.pdf] [solutions4.pdf]

Revision Materials

Please note that everything written on the whiteboard during lectures are not on these slides. It is your responsibility to take adequate notes, as these cannot be provided to you later.

Cosmology Slides: [Cosmo1_12_intro.pdf][Cosmo2_34_fried.pdf][Cosmo3_56_fried.pdf][Cosmo4_78_inflation.pdf][Cosmo5_9_nucleo.pdf][Cosmo6_101112_cmbpower.pdf][Cosmo7_131415_power.pdf]

Extragalactic Astronomy Slides: [OurGalaxy.pdf][GalRot.pdf][GalLight.pdf][Galactic Chemical Evolution: Whiteboard Only][Clusters.pdf][ActiveGal.pdf]

Past exams can be found through this web site.


You will need to bring these handouts to the lectures.

Extragalactic Astronomy Handout [Extragalactic_handout.pdf]

You might find these notes on the FRW background solution helpful (this is from a more advanced exposition than needed for PHAS3136): [cosmology notes]

Please note that there is a significant amount of additional (examinable) material written on the whiteboard during the lectures. The bullet point notes on the slides are a summary of the essential information. To perform well in the exam it is essential to understand these bullet points. This is best achieved by attending the lectures and annotating the slides with additional notes from listening to the lecturers. Obtaining the handouts is therefore not a substitute for attending the lectures.