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Syllabus for

Academic year
FFM485 - String theory  
Syllabus adopted 2016-02-13 by Head of Programme (or corresponding)
Owner: MPPHS
7,5 Credits
Grading: TH - Pass with distinction (5), Pass with credit (4), Pass (3), Fail
Education cycle: Second-cycle
Major subject: Engineering Physics
Department: 16 - PHYSICS

Teaching language: English
Application code: 85122
Open for exchange students: Yes
Block schedule: D
Minimum participants: 5
Maximum participants: 20

Module   Credit distribution   Examination dates
Sp1 Sp2 Sp3 Sp4 Summer course No Sp
0101 Written and oral assignments 7,5 c Grading: TH   7,5 c    

In programs

MPPHS PHYSICS, MSC PROGR, Year 2 (elective)
MPPHS PHYSICS, MSC PROGR, Year 1 (compulsory elective)


Bengt E W Nilsson

  Go to Course Homepage


General entry requirements for Master's level (second cycle)
Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling the requirements above.

Specific entry requirements

English 6 (or by other approved means with the equivalent proficiency level)
Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling the requirements above.

Course specific prerequisites

This course assumes that the student has passed courses in Quantum Physics, Mathematical physics, Electromagnetism and Subatomic physics at the Bachelor level. Special requirements for this course is Special relativity while Quantum mechanics and Gravitation and cosmology at master level are very useful but not necessary to follow the course.


The purpose of this course is to give an gentle introduction to string theory and the fundamental questions about nature that can only be answered using strings. This is done using a minimum of advanced mathematical methods.

Learning outcomes (after completion of the course the student should be able to)

After having passed the course 'String theory' the student should have acquired  some understanding of the basic clash between General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, and how this clash is resolved in string theory. The student should then have obtained a set of mathematical tools making it possible to
compute various physical effects in string theory, and knowledge of how the gravitational force and the standard model of elementary particles are extracted from
string theory and its so called D-branes. He/she should also be able to quantize the dynamical string theory and express it in terms of the infinite dimensional Virasoro algebra. Also very important is the expected ability to discuss and evaluate the good and weak points of string theory and its relation to physics in four-dimensional spacetime.


The course begins with an introductory discussion of the fundamental
problems encountered when trying to understand our universe in terms
of standard (quantum) field theory methods of elementary particle
physics, and how string theory
may solve them. String theory is then introduced and quantized in the
most simple way possible and with a minimum of mathematics. Some of
its properties are studied in particular its connection to higher
dimensional physics and D-branes, a kind of dynamical surfaces.
Dimensional reduction to four-dimensional spacetime is another central
topic that is discussed. More advanced material like conformal field theory, low energy
supergravity och scattering amplitudes are briefly mentioned but not studied in detail.


The lectures cover the most relevant material of the course
while computational methods and skills are developed by solving
a number of home problems.


B. Zwiebach, 'A first course in string theory' (Cambridge university press, 2nd edit. 2009)

Examination including compulsory elements

Home problems and a mandatory oral exam

Page manager Published: Mon 28 Nov 2016.