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Key information

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Module description

 Learning aims & outcomes

This course is an introduction to classical electrostatic, magnetostatic, and electromagnetic phenomena. Although an effort is made to revisit the main elements of elementary mechanics and vector calculus, a good grasp of the fundamental notions of calculus, vector manipulation, kinematics, forces and scalar potentials are necessary for this course.

The course prepares the students for the third year courses where electromagnetic fields are encountered, particularly those including an in-depth quantum mechanical description of the interaction of charged particles with electromagnetic fields (these include e.g., the Solid State Physics, Spectroscopy and Optics modules). By the end of the course, the students should be able to solve physics problems involving electrostatics, magnetostatics, Maxwell Equations, and the propagation of electromagnetic waves.


  • Reminder of electrostatics in a vacuum with free sources 
  • Electrostatics of linear, isotropic media
  •  Electric dipoles and their interaction 
  • Dielectric polarisation P
  • The electric displacement D 
  • Relative permittivity
  • Boundary conditions and Capacitance
  • Magnetic dipoles
  • Magnetic field strength H and induction B 
  • Magnetostatic vector potential A 
  • Magnetic materials: dia-, para- and ferro-magnetism 
  • Magnetisation M, magnetic susceptibility and permeability 
  • Electrodynamics 
  • 3D-wave equations, Maxwell’s equations and the displacement current 
  • The plane wave solution 
  • Propagation of plane waves in media 
  • Refractive index 
  • Wave polarisation 
  • Electrodynamic potentials, the Coulomb and the Lorenz gauge
  • Electromagnetic energy and Poynting’s theorem
  • Retarded time


Assessment details

Written Exam (2 hours) May/June