Preprint number: CP3-Origins-2015-28 DNRF90 and DIAS-2015-28
We construct the covariant effective field theory of gravity as an expansion in inverse powers of the Planck mass, identifying the leading and next-to-leading quantum corrections. We determine the form of the effective action for the cases of pure gravity with cosmological constant as well as gravity coupled to matter. By means of heat kernel methods we renormalize and compute the leading quantum corrections to quadratic order in a curvature expansion. The final effective action in our covariant formalism is generally non-local and can be readily used to understand the phenomenology on different spacetimes. In particular, we point out that on curved backgrounds the observable leading quantum gravitational effects are less suppressed than on Minkowski spacetime.