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My experience from nearly thirty years of college teaching is that good course design is startlingly important: seemingly small details can spell the difference between success and mediocrity. This is particularly true when the textbook has an unusual design and/or you have high expectations for students learning difficult material.

The guidelines summarized below should help instructors design the sort of class schedule and grading policies that (in my experience) will undergird a successful undergraduate general relativity course using this textbook. The links send you to pages that explore the issues in greater depth.

  • Prerequisites should include at least vector calculus (more math is always better!) and probably some intermediate mechanics or electrodynamics. Your design will also need to take account of how much special relativity students have seen.
  • Remember that each chapter is designed to correspond to one 50-minute class period.
  • Be aware of the section dependencies displayed in the flow chart on each chapter's title page.
  • The workbook format's success absolutely depends on somehow goading students to work the box exercises before coming to class.
  • Work through the boxes yourself before class. This helps you appreciate and anticipate your students' problems and isolates questions you have to resolve before class.
  • Don't lecture: focus class time instead on addressing students' needs and questions.
  • Collect and grade roughly two problems from each chapter, and consider this unusual grading scheme, which encourages students to try tough problems without fearing failure.
  • Consider giving take-home exams or exams with relaxed time limits.

To see how I teach the course at Pomona College, look at the syllabus I used when I last taught the course.

If you are a professor thinking about using the book in a course, go to the professors' resources page at University Science Books, where you can request an examination copy (if you are not quite sure) or a desk copy (if you are). In the latter case, be sure to request an instructor's solution manual that provides complete solutions to all box exercises and homework problems.


You can purchase a copy directly from the publisher here.

New! Online Student Manual available here.


Thomas A. Moore has been a professor in the Physics and Astronomy Department at Pomona College since 1987. He does theoretical research on detecting gravitational waves using LISA (now eLISA). Send him a message.