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General Relativity

General Relativity is Einstein's theory of gravity. Here he shows that gravity should not be described as a force, as in Newton's theory, but as a consequence of spacetime curvature. This course is about this remarkable discovery.

The course begins by introducing the basic ideas behind the theory, such as the equivalence principle, how to describe curved spaces in terms of a metric, and the importance of special relativity as a locally valid theory. These insights are then used to study the Schwarzschild spacetime – the spacetime outside a spherically symmetric mass distribution, such as a planet, star or black hole. Thereafter we move on to the more mathematical parts of the theory, introducing tensors, the concept of parallel transport, the covariant derivative and the Riemann curvature tensor. After a discussion of the stress energy tensor we are then able to write down Einstein's equation, describing the connection between spacetime curvature and matter. In the last part of the course we discuss some important consequences of the theory, such as black holes, cosmology and gravitational waves.

  • Course structure

    This is an advanced level course given in half pace during daytime. It is recommended (but not mandatory) for the Master's programme in theoretical physics.

    Teaching format

    The teaching consists of lectures, problem solving sessions and assignments with feedback.


    The examination consists of a written part and an oral part.


    Sören Holst

    Phone: +468 5537 8740


  • Schedule

    The schedule will be available no later than one month before the start of the course. We do not recommend print-outs as changes can occur. At the start of the course, your department will advise where you can find your schedule during the course.
  • Course literature

    Note that the course literature can be changed up to two months before the start of the course.

    James B. Hartle: Gravity - an Introduction to Einstein's General Relativity (Addison Wesley 2003, ISBN: 0-8053-8662-9 or Cambridge University Press 2021, ISBN 9781316517543)

  • Course reports

  • Contact

    Course coordinator and teacher:
    Sören Holst, phone: +468 5537 8740, e-mail:

    Joakim Flinckman, e-mail:


    Academic advisor at the Department of Physics:

    Student office: