• Support PF! Buy your school textbooks, materials and every day products via PF Here!

Courses How difficult is an undergraduate course in GR?

Just wondering if i'm going to be in over my head here, as i'm not sure what to expect. A notoriously "difficult" professor as my school is teaching a senior level undergraduate course

"Introduction to General Relativity
Physical consequences of Einstein's equations, including the principle of equivalence, curved space-time, geodesics, the Schwarzchild solution, deflection of light, black holes, and gravitational radiation."

with pre-reqs being Vector Calculus, ODE's, Relativity & Quanta, and Classical Mechanics.

How can i best prepare for such a course and what should i expect? Is the Mathematics involved going to be abstract?


Do you know which textbook will be used?
Unfortunately, I've no idea on which text will be used and won't know till a few weeks before the class begins in January.


Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Insights Author
Gold Member
2018 Award
Make sure you really control vector analysis (preferably tensor analysis). Particularly focus on the description of spaces in curvilinear coordinates using tangent and dual bases (i.e., not normalising the bases).

Is the Mathematics involved going to be abstract?
This is impossible to say without knowing your professor. GR can be taught either through a mathematics first or a physics first approach. The mathematics first approach includes a significant amount of more abstract ideas about how to do calculus on manifolds and use them to describe curved spaces.

Want to reply to this thread?

"How difficult is an undergraduate course in GR?" You must log in or register to reply here.

Physics Forums Values

We Value Quality
• Topics based on mainstream science
• Proper English grammar and spelling
We Value Civility
• Positive and compassionate attitudes
• Patience while debating
We Value Productivity
• Disciplined to remain on-topic
• Recognition of own weaknesses
• Solo and co-op problem solving