Physics 616 Syllabus, General Relativity, Cosmology

Subject to change. Please feel free to email me or contact me on Canvas if you have any questions or concerns.

Personal Safety and Course Schedule

This class will be online, except whereas necessary in order to comply with (quickly changing) US government requirements for international students. Students are expected to be on zoom during the time scheduled for the course, which will be a combination of lecture, quizzes, exams, and group discussion exercises. See also the UTK policy regarding social distancing below. Please contact me if you have questions or concerns as I would like to keep everyone safe but also maximize the educational value of this course.

Course Materials

  • Textbook: "Schutz, General Relativity" and others TBD

Other Useful Resources

  • TBA


Homework (due on Thursdays) 20% (lowest score dropped), in-class group work 20% (lowest score dropped), midterm 25%, final 35%.

Office Hours

Thursday 11am or by appointment.


Solutions must be submitted electronically in a single .pdf file in 8.5 by 11 form (portrait mode). If you would like to hand-write your homework, this is no problem, please just scan it or take a readable picture of it with your cell phone. Late homeworks are not accepted, but the lowest homework score is dropped. You may work with your classmates on your homework, but whatever you turn in must be entirely written by you in your own words.


I will use Canvas for this course. This link should take you directly there.


The midterm will be a take-home exam, released on TBA and due on TBA at 7pm. Do not work with your colleagues on the take-home exam, but you are free to use the books, lectures notes, homeworks, and MESA.


There will be a take-home final, formatted similarly to the midterm.


  1. The principle of equivalence
  2. General covariance
  3. The general theory of relativity
  4. Black holes
  5. Neutron stars and GR
  6. Gamma-ray bursts
  7. Gravitational waves
  8. Hubble expansion
  9. Energy and matter in the universe
  10. Friedmann cosmologies
  11. Big bang
  12. Beyond the classical big bang

Disability Statement

Any student who may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact Student Disability Services in Dunford Hall at 865-974-6087 to coordinate reasonable accommodations.

Masks and social distancing

Students are required to wear face masks at all times and maintain social distancing (6 feet between individuals in traditional classrooms, or, in instructional laboratories and similar settings, only a few minutes in closer proximity when absolutely necessary to achieve learning objectives). Students who are feeling ill or experiencing symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, or a higher than normal temperature will be excused from class and should stay at home.

Instructors have the right to ask those who are not complying with these requirements to leave class in the interest of everyone's health and safety. In the event that a student refuses to comply with these requirements, the instructor has the right to cancel class.

Additionally, following other simple practices will promote good health in and out of the classroom, such as frequent and thorough hand washing, wiping down desks and seats with disinfectant wipes whenever possible, not sharing personal items such as pens and cell phones, and avoiding crowded hallways and other enclosed spaces.

The Volunteer Creed reminds us that we bear the torch in order to give light to others. As Volunteers, we commit to caring for one another and for the members of the communities in which we live, work, and learn. This semester, the University asks that we all demonstrate the Volunteer spirit by following these and other health guidelines and requirements.