PHYS 515 :: Physics Illinois :: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Welcome to General Relativity I !

Announcements will be posted here as necessary.

This is the main website for the UIUC Physics Department graduate course PHYS/ASTR 515 on General Relativity. This one-semester course covers the basics of Einstein's theory, developing the mathematical tools and the underlying physical concepts that lead to black holes, neutron stars, gravitational waves and cosmology. You can find a detailed course description, together with an explanation of the target audience for this class, in the course description and syllabus.


The final exam will be an individual take-home exam taking place on 8-11 December= 2023. The exam will become available online at 9am Central US on Friday, 8 December 2023. The completed exam has to be submitted until 23:55pm Central US on Monday, 11 December 2023 online via my.physics exam. Please see the exam page for details.

The lecture on Tuesday, 28 November 2023, will be given by Dr. Deborah Ferguson.

The office hour on Monday, 27 November 2023, from 4-5pm will be held in 430a Loomis by our TA Qiantong Zhong.

The due date for homework 10 has been extended until Thursday, 16 November 2023, 23:55pm CST.

Midterm exam
The midterm exam will take place during class on Tuesday, 10 October 2023 from 13:00-14:20pm Central US in 222 Loomis Lab in person. Please see the exam page for details.

One of our own, graduate student Weizhen Jia, translated the textbook by C. Liang and B. Zhou into English. You can find the book here C. Liang and B. Zhou, "Differential Geometry and General Relativity," Springer, 2023. Weizhen kindly agreed to introduce the book in our class on Thursday, 12 October 2023.
Congratulations, Weizhen!

The lecture on Tuesday, 19 September 2023, will be given by Dr. Antonios Tsokaros.

The office hour on Monday, 18 September 2023, from 4-5pm will be held in 430a Loomis by our TA Qiantong Zhong.

The lecture today, 14 September 2023, will take place online via zoom.

Extraordinary office hour today, 5 September 2023, from 10:30-11:00am in 247 Loomis.

Office hours start this week, and the first office will take place on Friday, 1 September 2023, from 4-5pm CDT in 430a Loomis.

Both classes this week (29 and 31 August 2023) take place in person in 222 Loomis.

The first class will take place on Tuesday, 22 August 2023 at 13:00-14:20pm in 222 Loomis Lab.

Time and location

This course will be in person unless instructed otherwise. Zoom recordings of the lectures will be posted here.

Time: Tuesday at 13:00 - 14:20 Central US
Thursday at 13:00 - 14:20 Central US
Location: 222 Loomis Laboratory


Homework sets will become available online on Tuesday after class, starting in week 2. Homework sets are due on the following Tuesday at 11:55pm Central US and they have to be submitted as one PDF file via my.physics.
In general, you are allowed to use computer algebra software, like Maple or Mathematica, or Python unless stated otherwise. If you do use computer algebra software, you must provide a well-formatted print of your code and attach it as part of your PDF solution. Under no circumstances are you allowed to use a computer algebra package, such as grTensor or xTensor (and similar such packages), to calculate tensorial quantities.

1-hour paper review

Reading and reviewing scientific papers in a short time is an essential skill as a researcher. In this course you will practice this skill by reviewing four scientific paper throughout the semester. The review should take you no more than 60 minutes. The review criteria are listed here.
You can find further details and suggestions for papers here.


We will have one midterm exam and one final exam
The midterm exam is an in-person exam taking place during class hours on Tuesday, 10 October 2023 at 13:00-14:20pm Central US, in 222 Loomis Lab.
The final exam is a take-home exam taking place on 8-11 December 2023. The completed exam has to be submitted until 23:55pm Central US on Monday, 11 December 2023 online via my.physics.
Please see the exam page for more details.


We will mainly use "Spacetime and Geometry" by Sean Carroll. This and additional references for further reading are listed under Textbooks.


Please let me know if you have any suggestions or comments about the class, or if I mistakenly assume that you are familiar with some basic material. Your feedback is essential for this course, so please contact me. There is no point in waiting until the end of the semester (or when you fill in a course evaluation!) because by then it is too late for me to consider acting on your feedback.

Disability access (DRES)

The Department of Physics is committed to being an open and welcoming environment for all of our students. We are committed to helping all of our students to succeed in our courses.

To obtain disability-related academic adjustments and/or auxiliary aids, students must contact the Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) and the course instructor as soon as possible. To contact DRES, you may visit 1207 S. Oak St., Champaign, call 333-4603, e-mail or go to the DRES website.
If you are concerned you have a disability-related condition that is impacting your academic progress, there are academic screening appointments available on campus that can help diagnosis a previously undiagnosed disability by visiting the DRES website and selecting "Sign-Up for an Academic Screening" at the bottom of the page.

Assistance for Academically Related and Personal Problems

Most college offices and academic deans provide academic skills support and assistance for academically related and personal problems. Links to the appropriate contact can be found on this website.

Counseling Center 206 Fred H. Turner Student Services Building
Monday - Friday, 7:50 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Phone: 333-3704
McKinley Mental Health 313 McKinley Health Center
Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Phone: 333-2705

McKinley Health Education offers individual consultations for students interested in learning relaxation and other stress/time management skills, call 333-2714.

Academic integrity

All activities in this course are subject to the Academic Integrity rules as described in Article 1, Part 4, Academic Integrity, of the Student Code.