2023-2024 / SPAT0084-1

Theory of gravitational waves


20h Th, 10h Pr

Number of credits

 Master in space sciences (120 ECTS)4 crédits 


Maxime Fays

Language(s) of instruction

English language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the first semester, review in January


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

Introduction to key concepts of gravitational-wave emission and detection methods without general relativity.


1. History of gravitational-wave detections
2. Generation of gravitational waves
3. Current generation detectors

4-5-6-7. sources of gravitational waves
4. Compact binary systems
5. Bursts
6. Continuous waves
7. Stochastic

8. Next generation detectors
9 & 10. To be suggested by students following interest.

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

These lectures will detail the main properties of gravitational waves, and help students understand how to detect and produce them.

At the end of the course, you will be able to:

1) understand key concepts of gravitational-wave emissions from several astrophysical sources.
2) understand challenges of current and future gravitational-wave detectors.

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

Nils Andersson - Gravitational-Wave Astronomy: Exploring the Dark Side of the Universe

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

This course is based on lectures, and on discussion sessions where problems are discussed & solved in the class. The problems will be solved by the students, under the guidance of the instructor.

Mode of delivery (face to face, distance learning, hybrid learning)

Face-to-face course

Additional information:

Face-to-face if possible, depending on the COVID situation.

Recommended or required readings

Sean Carrol, Lecture Notes on General Relativity, chapter 6

Exam(s) in session

Any session

- In-person

written exam ( open-ended questions )

Additional information:

The exam will consist of 5 questions: one on the generation of gravitational waves, two on the physics of one of the main sources of gravitational waves, and two on the physics of gravitational-wave detectors. 

Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course

The course will be organised in 10 one-and-a-half-hour lectures/discussion sessions (see contents).


Maxime Fays


Room 4.43 Bât. B5A

Inter. fondamentales en physique et astrophysique (IFPA)

Quartier Agora allée du six Août 19

4000 Liège

Téléphone de service: +32 4 3663643

Association of one or more MOOCs