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 .


Final exam
The final exam is now available online. The final exam is a take-home exam taking place on 5-8 May 2023. The completed exam has to be submitted until 23:55pm CDT on Monday, 8 May 2022 online via my.physics.
Please see the exam page for more details.

There will be no class on Monday, 18 April 2023, due to the APS April Meeting. Homework 10 is due on 27 April 2023, we extend the deadline by one week to support your participation in the APS April Meeting 2023.
The office hours will be

The paper review will be due on 8 March 2023 and has to be submitted online. Please send us information about the paper that you wish to review until Friday, 3 March 2023. Information about deadlines and suggestions for papers are available here, and review criteria are listed here. The review should not take you more than 90 minutes.

The lecture on Monday, 6 February 2023, will be held by our TA Rohit Chandramouli in 162 Noyes Lab in person. The lecture on Wednesday, 8 February 2023 at 17:10pm and Prof. Witek's office hour on Tuesday, 7 February 2023 at 2:30pm - 3:30pm will take place online.

Starting on 25 January 2023 (week 2), the Wednesday lectures will start at 17:10pm so that everyone can attend the Physics colloquium.

The first class will take place on Wednesday, 18 January 2023 at 17:00-18:20pm in 162 Noyes Lab.

Time and location

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

Time: Monday at 17:00 - 18:20 Central US
Wednesday at 17:10 - 18:30 Central US
Location: 162 Noyes Laboratory


Homework sets will become available online on Wednesday, starting in week 2. Homework sets are due on the following Wednesday 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, 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.


During the Lecture you will engage with the material by answering conceptual questions via Gradescope, Entry code: K3X8X8. This will give you bonus points for the course.

Paper review and final exam

We will have a one paper review (instead of a midterm exam) and one final exam. You can find details about them here.


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.