Physics 421

Physics 421

Catalog Entry

PHYS 421. Electromagnetic Theory I
Three hours lecture (3).

Prerequisites: PHYS 112 or 222, and MATH 152, or permission of instructor

The fundamentals of electromagnetic theory are presented at an intermediate level. Topics covered are electrostatics, electric current, magnetic fields, the Maxwell equations, and electromagnetic radiation. The laboratory component of the course includes electrical measurements, electric circuits, and basic electronics.


Detailed Description of Course


This course develops classical electromagnetic theory from its empirical roots to its climactic formulation by Maxwell. Although the approach is mathematical and theoretical, this is fundamentally a very practical subject, and real-world applications are presented throughout the course. Vector calculus is developed and used extensively in physical applications.

The syllabus for the course is:

  • Vector algebra
  • complex numbers
  • real vectors
  • time harmonics
  • time averages
  • The Maxwell Equations
  • electric and magnetic field vectors
  • current density
  • Lorentz Force Law
  • electromagnetic radiation
  • Electrostatic Fields
  • electric potential
  • electric field
  • electric force
  • Gauss’ Law
  • work and energy
  • Direct currents
  • Ohms’ Law
  • electric circuits
  • Magnetostatic fields
  • magnetic materials
  • magnetic force
  • magnetic circuits
  • inductance
  • Faraday’s Law


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The amount of material presented in this course and the formal nature of much of this material requires a heavy dependence on standard lecture presentation. However, as in all physics courses, problem solving will be emphasized, and considerable lecture time will be devoted to problem solving strategies, the presentation of example problems, and the discussion of assigned problems.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

The student learning goals for the course are to be able to state and discuss the basic principles of nonrelativistic quantum mechanics; to be able to analyze basic physical situations in terms of the fundamental theory; and to be able to apply the theory, mathematically and quantitatively, to intermediate-level problems.


Assessment Measures

Student assessment in physics courses is strongly dependent on the evaluation of problem-solving ability. This is true even of the assessment of concept comprehension, since the concepts of physics must ultimately be stated and applied quantitatively. Well-constructed and carefully evaluated problems will reveal whether the student has a misconception at a fundamental level or is having difficulties with the mathematical manipulations in the intermediate steps. Frequent feedback from the instructor is important as the student strives to develop the skills required to solve physics problems at this level. The assessment and feedback should proceed not just through formal tests, although these have their place, but also through classroom presentations. Other feedback methods could include discussions inside and outside the classroom, one-on-one help sessions between student and instructor, lecture homework problems, laboratory projects and applications, and laboratory homework.


Other Course Information



Review and Approval

January 2006 Walter S. Jaronski

Name Revised March 8, 2006