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Observational Cosmology

Module PH2199

This module handbook serves to describe contents, learning outcome, methods and examination type as well as linking to current dates for courses and module examination in the respective sections.

Module version of WS 2022/3 (current)

There are historic module descriptions of this module. A module description is valid until replaced by a newer one.

Whether the module’s courses are offered during a specific semester is listed in the section Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature below.

available module versions
WS 2022/3WS 2021/2WS 2020/1WS 2019/20SS 2014

Basic Information

PH2199 is a semester module in English or German language at Master’s level which is offered in winter semester.

This Module is included in the following catalogues within the study programs in physics.

  • Specific catalogue of special courses for nuclear, particle, and astrophysics
  • Complementary catalogue of special courses for condensed matter physics
  • Complementary catalogue of special courses for Biophysics
  • Complementary catalogue of special courses for Applied and Engineering Physics

If not stated otherwise for export to a non-physics program the student workload is given in the following table.

Total workloadContact hoursCredits (ECTS)
150 h 40 h 5 CP

Responsible coordinator of the module PH2199 is Wolfgang Hillebrandt.

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


1. Basic equations, general relativistic cosmology

2. Constituents of the universe

3. Cosmic expansion and measuring cosmological distances

4. The Hubble constant

5. Big Bang and the early universe

6. Big Bang nucleosynthesis

7. Problems of the Big Bang, inflation

8. The cosmic microwave background and what it measures

9. The universe after recombination

10. Dark matter and the growth of structure

11. Dark energy and the expansion history of the universe

12. Concordance cosmology and alternatives

Learning Outcome

 After successful completion of the module the students are able to:

1. name the basics of modern cosmology and to scrutinize them critically;

2. understand the methods that are used to determine cosmological parameters and to apply them;

3. name the observed large scale structures in the universe and to name their essential properties;

4. explain the reasons for the existence of such structures and their evolution;

5. understand the arguments in favour of the existence of 'dark matter' and 'dark energy';

6. name the role of cosmology in the framework of astronomy, astrophysics, and particle physics.


  At least four semesters of physics Bachelor study.

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

VO 2 Cosmology Leibundgut, B. Fri, 12:00–14:00, PH HS3

Learning and Teaching Methods

ln classroom lectures the teaching and learning content is presented and explained in a didactical, structured, and comprehensive form. This includes mainly elementary basic knowledge from the broad field of cosmology, spiced also by selected examples of current research topics. Universal methodical and physics concepts are highlighted by cross referencing between different topics. Crucial facts are conveyed by involving the students in scientific discussions to develop their intellectual power and to stimulate their analytic thinking on physics problems. Regular attendance of the lectures is therefore highly recommended.

The presentation of the learning content is enhanced occasionally by problem examples and calculations that the students should work on on a voluntary basis. These examples are intended to deepen the students' understanding and to help their learning of the course material. They can be discussed with the teacher upon request. The examples as well as regular self-study of personal notes from the lectures and of textbooks and recent review articles referenced in the course are an important part of the learning process by the students. Such post-processing and practising of the teaching content is indispensable to achieve the intended learning results that the students develop the ability of explaining and applying the learned knowledge independently.


Black board and laptop teaching, notes and online material.


  • S. Dodelson: Modern Cosmology, Academic Press 2003
  • J. Peacock: Cosmological Physics, Cambridge University Press, 2005
  • P. Schneider: Extragalactic Astronomy and Cosmology: An Introduction, Springer, 2014
  • S. Weinberg: Cosmology, Oxford University Press, 2008

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

There will be an oral exam of 30 minutes duration. Therein the achievement of the competencies given in section learning outcome is tested exemplarily at least to the given cognition level using comprehension questions, simple formulae to establish basic concepts and quantitative estimates..

For example an assignment in the exam might be:

  • Conditions for the validity of the Robertson-Walker metric and the Friedman equations
  • Description of methods to measure cosmological distances
  • Physical/astrophysical arguments supporting the existence of 'dark matter'
  • Physical/astrophysical arguments supporting the existence of 'dark energy'
  • Particle physics candidates for 'dark matter'

Exam Repetition

The exam may be repeated at the end of the semester.

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