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School of Physical and Chemical Sciences

Professor Chris Clarkson


Head of Astronomy Unit | Professor of Cosmology

Room Number: G. O. Jones Building, Room 506


I'm a cosmologist, concentrating mainly on large-scale structure in the universe. I study how to observe signatures of general relativity on large scales. Other things I look at are constraining curvature, dark energy, and modifications to general relativity in different ways. I also consider constraints on homogeneity and isotropy which tests the Copernican Principle. 

I am currently a Reader in Cosmology, a position I started in 2016. Before this, I was an Associate Professor at the University of Cape Town in the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics where I retain an Adjunct position. I am also a visiting Extraordinary Professor at the University of the Western Cape, also in Cape Town. 

I completed my PhD in 1999 at the University of Glasgow, and I did postdocs at Dalhousie University in Canada, and the University of Cape Town. I was also a lecturer at the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, University of Portsmouth. 


I'm currently the Module Organiser for Mathematical Techniques 1, SPA4121. You can find a load of videos to go with this course here

I previously taught Nuclear Physics and Astrophysics, SPA5302 
Lecture Notes on Nuclear Physics and Astrophysics [PDF 14,553KB]

I've also taught courses on astronomy, differential equations, mathematical methods, thermodynamics, statistical physics, general relativity, cosmology, classical physics, fluids, dynamics, stars and black holes, ...


Research Interests:

My current main area of research is the large scale structure of the universe, which is about how galaxies cluster together on the largest scales we can observe in the universe. There is a huge effort worldwide to map the universe on the largest scales we can, and we can use the statistics of how galaxies cluster to find out about dark energy and dark matter, as well as how gravity behaves on these scales. It can also tell us about some of the processes that happened during the Big Bang when the first seeds of structure were imprinted on the curvature of the universe. 

Areas I work on include

  • how we can observe signatures of general relativity in large scale structure. For example, the observed galaxy bispectrum has a unique signature from GR manifesting in a dipole around the observers' line of sight, which should be detectable with Euclid
  • testing general relativity in novel ways, such as will null tests, or through Doppler magnification
  • theoretical gravitational lensing beyond the weak lensing regime


An up-to-date list of my publications can be found on Inspire or on NASA/ADS


I'm currently supervising 2 PhD students at QMUL, and I have supervised numerous PhD students in Cape Town, many of whom have gone onto postdoctoral or other reseach. I would be happy to discuss PhD project possibilities in many areas of gravity and cosmology. Here's an example of a PhD project: Relativistic Cosmology in The Era of Large Scale Surveys

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