String Theory I - Material for the year 2020-2021

We have updated our Undergraduate exams guidance in preparation for the Trinity Term examinations.

Please see our new webpages dedicated to TT exams.

Prof. Xenia de la Ossa
General Prerequisites: 

Quantum Field Theory (MT)

Course Term: 
Course Weight: 
1.00 unit(s)

Assessment type:

Course Overview: 

Areas: PT
Sequels: String Theory II (TT), Introduction to Gauge-String Duality (TT)
Please submit your homework here via the 'assignments' tab.
Visiting and Short Option Students Only: Please e-mail your work to your TA/Tutor by the required deadline, copying in

Link to submit your homework:
TA Thomas Harvey's class, deadline Tuesday 12 noon in weeks 2, 4 6 and 8:
TA Hanzhi Jiang's class, deadline Monday 12 noon in weeks 2, 4, 6 and 8 :
TA Enrico Marchetto's class, deadline Monday 12 noon in weeks 2, 4, 6 and 8:

Course Synopsis: 

Historical background, Dolan-Horn-Schmid duality, the Veneziano and Virasoro-Shapiro amplitudes. Nambu-Goto and Polyakov world-sheet actions, equations of motion and constraints, open and closed strings and their corresponding boundary conditions. Old covariant quantization: the Virasoro algebra, physical state conditions, ghosts, critical spacetime dimension, and spacetime particle spectrum. Basic considerations of light-cone gauge quantization. Vertex operators and string scattering amplitudes. Strings in background fields, spacetime effective action. Circle compactification, elementary consideration of D-branes, T-duality.

Reading List: 

1. M. Green, J. Schwartz, and E. Witten, Superstring Theory Volume 1: Introduction*
2. J. Polchinski, String Theory Volume 1: An Introduction to the Bosonic String
3. B. Zwiebach, A First Course in String Theory