Relativity & Gravitation Group

The microwave sky as seen by the European Space Agency's Planck satellite

The Relativity & Gravitation Group is part of the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, which in turn is part of the Faculty of Mathematics of the University of Cambridge. The group was founded by Dennis Sciama in 1961, and is currently headed by Professor Paul Shellard.

It is internationally renowned for a number of important developments in Einstein's classical theory of gravitation, including the no hair and area theorems for black holes and the theorems indicating that singularities would occur both in gravitational collapse and at the beginning of the expansion of the Universe.

In recent years the group's main effort has been towards the inclusion of quantum effects, and the development of a theory of quantum gravity; in particular, the semi-classical quantization of black holes (leading, e.g, to the discovery of the thermal radiation produced by them) and the formulation of the Euclidean path integral approach to quantum gravity (leading to the no boundary condition for the Universe).

Furthermore, the group has expertise in the areas of supergravity, string and membrane theories of gravity, cosmology, cosmic strings and other topological defects in cosmology, numerical relativity and Regge calculus.

In addition, the group houses and operates COSMOS, the UK national cosmology supercomputer.

Please feel free to browse our public pages, which attempt to describe our work in non-technical terms.

Contact details:

Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics
Centre for Mathematical Sciences
Wilberforce Road
Cambridge, CB3 0WA

Telephone and Fax

Telephone: +44 1223 764 267
Fax: +44 1223 764 984


Since 2000, we have been housed in The Märit and Hans Rausing Pavilion (Pavilion B) of the Centre for Mathematical Sciences.

Map and Directions

More information about our research can be found on the website of the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology

The Centre for Theoretical Cosmology

News & Events


CTC to host New Frontiers in Dynamical Gravity, 24-28 March 2014

The AdS/CFT correspondence has led to a vast number of applications of General Relativity that go beyond its traditional applications in astrophysics and cosmology. Via the correspondence, GR now plays a key role in improving our understanding of non-gravitational physics at strong coupling including high energy physics as well as condensed matter physics. In order to explore these exciting new phenomena it is necessary to study GR with AdS boundary conditions and in higher dimensions.

This workshop aims at making progress on these topics by bringing together experts in numerical and mathematical GR and the AdS/CFT correspondence.


COSMO 2013

The CTC will host the seventeenth edition of the annual International Conference on Particle Physics and Cosmology in the week of September 2-6, 2013.

The COSMO series is one of the major venues of interaction between cosmologists and particle physicists. COSMO 2013 will have an excellent line-up of plenary speakers, and topics to be discussed include results from the Planck satellite, the large-scale structure of the universe, primordial cosmology, numerical cosmology and dark matter.

In addition to the scientific conference, COSMO will include a public symposium featuring Stephen Hawking, Brian Cox and Andrew Liddle.


Numerical Cosmology 2012

Organised by the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology, this invitation-only workshop will be held in Cambridge from 17th to 20th July 2012.  Its aim is to explore and develop synergies between different aspects of numerical cosmology, both scientifically and technologically.  The workshop will include participants from the high performance computing industry.  For further details, please follow the link above to the workshop website.  Online registration for invited participants will open very shortly.


'The State of the Universe' is a major international meeting in January 2012 being held in Cambridge to celebrate the 70th birthday of Professor Stephen Hawking.  It features a world-class line-up of speakers, including two Nobel Laureates.  The first part, from 4th to 7th January, will be a scientific conference here at CMS.  It will be followed by a public symposium at Lady Mitchell Hall on Sunday 8th January.  Registration for the scientific conference is by invitation only and entry to the public symposium is by ticket only; it is hoped to make tickets available soon.  (coming soon: You can also watch live webcasts of both the scientific conference [link] and the public symposium [link]).


Applications are invited for a number of postdoctoral positions in Theoretical Physics. For details see the DAMTP vacancies page.

Deadline for the applications: 2 December 2011.


PASCOS 2011 - PDFs of presentations now online

PASCOS 2011, the 17th International Symposium on Particles, Strings and Cosmology, was held in the University of Cambridge's Centre for Mathematical Sciences from 3rd to 8th July 2011 and was a great success, enjoyed by speakers and participants alike.  PDFs of many of the presentations, including those by parallel speakers, are now available on the PASCOS website at:, under 'Programme'.  A group photo is also available on the home page of this site.


2009 Primordial Gravitational Waves Workshop.

Presentations (in PDF and MOV formats) from the recent Primordial Gravitational Waves Workshop are now available from the workshop's Programme page. Also some photos can be found there.


2008 Non-Gaussianity from Fundamental Physics Workshop.

8-10th September 2008, Centre for Mathematical Sciences.


The Very Early Universe - 25 Years On. 17-20 December 2007, Centre for Mathematical Sciences. Presentations available from the Programme page.
(Note. Some of the presentations are rather large. Some of them are not presented correctly, due to the format differences between Windows and Mac versions of PowerPoint. PDF alternatives are provided, where it was possible.)