FYS4160 – The General Theory of Relativity

Course content

The course provides a comprehensive introduction to the general theory of relativity where all forms of gravity can be described as a purely geometric effect where the curvature of space and time follows the distribution of energy and the amount momentum the matter has. An overview is given of the classical tests of theory, and how the theory is used to describe black holes, gravitational waves, and the cosmological evolution of the universe. The course also provides an introduction to differential geometry, which is necessary to be able to both formulate and apply the theory.

Learning outcome

After completing the course, you:

  • master the equivalence principle and have a good knowledge of how this leads to a geometric description of gravity, in the form of the general theory of gravity.
  • know about methods used in modern differential geometry, and master tensor calculus on Riemannian manifolds.
  • have detailed knowledge about how space and time are curved for spherically symmetric mass distributions, you can solve practical problems in such geometries, and you know about the basic properties of black holes.
  • know how to apply perturbation theory in GR, and how this leads to the description of gravitational waves.
  • have acquired basic knowledge about the cosmological concordance model, and how it is based on Einstein's theory of gravity.
  • are able to present complex topics in GR in a clear and pedagogic way, and communicate this to fellow students.
  • can communicate the basic principles behind the theory, as well as tests of the theory, to people outside the community.

Admission to the course

Students admitted at UiO must apply for courses in Studentweb. Students enrolled in other Master's Degree Programmes can, on application, be admitted to the course if this is cleared by their own study programme.

Nordic citizens and applicants residing in the Nordic countries may apply to take this course as a single course student.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures for international applicants.

We strongly advice that you have taken the following courses:


The course extends over one full semester with 6 hours of teaching per week:

  • 4 hours of lectures
  • 2 hours of seminars/problem-solving

The course also includes about 15 assignments (approximately one per week) which the students prepare at home and then present in the group lecture.


  • Final oral or written exam which counts 100 % towards the final grade.

An oral or written exam is decided after registration depending on how many students have registered for the exam.

Examination support material

  • 3 sheets / 6 A4 pages with own notes.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English. You may answer in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Resit an examination

This course offers both postponed and resit of examination. Read more:

Special examination arrangements, use of sources, explanations and appeals

See more about examinations at UiO

Last updated from FS (Common Student System) Dec. 4, 2022 6:13:40 AM

Facts about this course


If the course is offered, a minimum of four students is required for ordinary lectures to take place. If less than four students participate, an exam will be given, but one should not expect ordinary teaching.

Teaching language
Norwegian (English on request)