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Gravitational Wave Physics

Key information

Subject area:

Stackable Microcredentials

Course type:

Assessed Module

Credit level:


Credit value:



11 weeks

Available course dates:

From: 13 January 2025 To: 28 March 2025
Application deadline: 02 December 2024

Course overview

On 14 September 2015, the twin Laster Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors observed for the first time ripples in the fabric of spacetime. This discovery marks a milestone for both theoretical and experimental physics and opens the era of gravitational-wave astronomy. Gravitational waves (GWs), observed one hundred years after being predicted by Albert Einstein and fifty years after the first experimental efforts to detect them, carry information about their origin, opening a new window onto the cosmos. They not only reveal the nature, dynamics, and structure of GW sources, but can also provide a powerful test of Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, as well as of various extended gravity theories. This module will offer a complete introduction to the theory of gravitational waves and will cover all aspects needed for you to conduct research in the subject.

What does this course cover?

This module aims to provide the following:

  • An introduction to Gravitational waves (GWs)
  • An understanding of the nature, dynamics, and structure of GW sources, and how they provide a powerful test of Einstein's theory of General Relativity, as well as of various extended gravity theories.

This will be accomplished by using your prior knowledge of general relativity to solve the relevant equations in a variety of scenarios to establish the structure of the waves and how they can be detected, including data analysis.

What will I achieve?

By the end of the module, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a deep and systematic understanding of the topics related to Gravitational Waves (GW) and how this relates to topics in astrophysics and cosmology
  • Explain the definition of the transverse traceless gauge, the GW energy momentum tensor and GW propagation on a curved background
  • Systematically explain the sources of gravitational waves, including the following: GW bursts from gravitational collapse; GW pulsars; radiation from a binary star system; quasi-normal modes of a black hole; stochastic background
  • Systematically explain the interaction of gravitational waves with test masses and the principle of interferometric detection
  • Demonstrate deep and systematic understanding of physics with gravitational waves; speed of GWs; polarization of GWs; black hole spectroscopy; tests of General Relativity
  • Derive the wave equation in linearised theory
  • Calculate leading-order generation of gravitational waves in the slow-motion approximation and derivation of the quadrupole formula
  • Demonstrate that you can analyse incomplete and contradictory data in areas where GW play an important role, such as black hole astrophysics; neutron star astrophysics; multi-messenger GW astronomy, or Cosmology with gravitational waves, e.g. detecting a stochastic GW background; origin of a background of GWs (inflation, topological defects, phase transitions); cosmography.

Who is this for?

​​T​he standard entry requirements comprise:

  • A 2:2 honours degree or international equivalent in Physics, or a closely related subject
  • A CV and personal statement outlining your reasons for study
  • English language band D (for example, IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum of 6.0 in each skill)
  • Plus, you should have general relativity knowledge.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed via coursework and examination, as follows:

  • Coursework = 10%
  • Examination = 90%.

What is the teaching schedule?

This is an on-campus module. Lectures will be held on a single day of the week, each week, during term time. You will be expected to be on-campus for these. Exact dates and times will be confirmed upon enrolment.

Further information

This module is offered as part of our flexible master’s awards in Professional Development. The awards are one of the most flexible currently offered in the UK, providing the opportunity to study a range of modules from across King’s, both on-campus and online. Whether you are looking for a promotion or to retrain, you have come to the right place.

Designed for mature professionals juggling life and work commitments, our postgraduate awards will enable you to study at your own pace. In challenging financial times, you are also able to fund your studies module-by-module. We will support you to select the right module diet that meets your objectives while ensuring that you are well prepared for success. We will also help you to build your professional network of peers from across our suite of CPD modules.

We can’t wait for you to continue your lifelong learning journey here at King’s.

Course status:

Opening soon

Full fee £1039

International students £2937

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