Cosmology Course Complete!

I passed the Introduction to Cosmology course that I started last year, but I wasn't particularly pleased with my final grade. I got a 2:1 which is better than a 2:2 or a "pass"—or as I think of it, a thanks for taking part—but I know I could have done much better. One reason was the seemingly arbitrary deduction of marks on the Question Sheet assignments. Here's a screenshot of my answer to a question about why the distance to very distant objects that we detect by their light is greater than the speed of light multiplied by the time taken for the light to travel to us. The key to this question is that space is constantly expanding in all directions at all points in space. The text in the box at the bottom is the comment from the person marking my answer.

Another reason that I know I could have done much better is that I'm an idiot and when I did my essay, I discussed slightly the wrong topic. I assumed that one of the essay topics was bound to be something related to Dark Matter and I decided that if it was, I'd do something else just to make it interesting. However, when I looked at the list, of essay titles, I found that I had a much stronger interest in Particle Candidates For Dark Matter than any of the other titles, so I ended up going for it anyway.

It is fairly common in discussions of Cosmology to refer to pretty-much any large collection of things as "particles"—even galaxies. There are also many different types of Dark Matter which vary wildly in size: from many times the size of the earth to the immeasurably small. So I set about trying to cram a discussion of all of these types into just 1000 words; for comparison, just the text of this entry is roughly 550 words (excluding page headings, titles etc.). When I got about half way through my first draft, I did a quick word count and found I'd written ~1400 words. So I had no choice but to completely eviscerate my essay, finish it off and hand it in.

It seemed impossible to perform an in-depth discussion of so many different things in just 1000 words, and not without good reason: it is. The essay was supposed to focus on particles called Axions, Neutralinos and LSPs. My essay did discuss these but, given that I was also trying to cram in loads of other stuff that I didn't know was completely irrelevant, the discussion was rather brief and cost me dearly. So a combination of about %20 harsh marking and %80 me being an idiot saw to it that my final mark was not as good as I'd hoped. I won't be doing any more courses with the University either because they've now more than doubled the tuition fees to £1000 per module! So now their cost them puts them way out or reach for me. It's especially disappointing because now I can't do the module I most wanted to do: Energy, Matter and the Universe. Oh well, I guess I can at least buy the textbook for the course and study that at my leisure.


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