Welcome to the Electric and Magnetic Fields (PHY-210) Home Page

Office hours

Official office hours, when I shall normally be available in my office for students to see me to ask questions, are Wednesdays, 14.00 - 15.00.  However, you should feel free to see me at any time, just email - if I am busy just then, I will make an arrangement to see you at a later.

Course requirements

Students who fail to meet the course-work and/or attendance requirements will risk being de-registered from the course. A student may be de-registered if he or she fails to meet any of the following requirements without medical or other valid reasons, verified by the student’s adviser. The requirements are summarised in full below.

1.  Attendance at 6 or more of the 9 exercise classes.

2.  Attendance at 70% or more of the lectures.

3.  Attempts at 6 or more of the 9 assignments.

Note: “attempting” an assignment does not necessarily mean achieving a good mark: any effort which is handed in on time, no matter how poor it my be, will be accepted as an attempt.


The course textbook is University Physics with Modern Physics by Young & Freedman (Addison Wesley, 2000 or latest version).  It is available from the College book shop, and is also used as the set text for other Physics courses.  The course covers most of Chapters 22 to 33 of this book, with some material on vectors from Chapter 1.  The book will be followed fairly closely, and students areexpected to read the relevant chapters in parallel with the lectures.    Another very useful book is Physics by H C Ohanian, which was the set text for this course until this year - it contains a great deal of useful material, and the course structure and approach still bear much similarity to that of  Ohanian'sIt is essential that you have a copy of Young & Freedman or Ohanian Other useful texts are Physics by Alonso & Finn; Physics, Classical and Modern by Keller, Gettys, & Skove and Fundamentals of Physics by Halliday, Resnick, & Walker.  These and various other textbooks are available in the library, and you may find them useful for supplementary reading. 

Learning Outcomes

The aims and learning outcomes of this course are  the basic laws of Electromagnetism. It is based around the development and use of Maxwell's equations in integral form.

At the end of the course, successful students will be able to state and explain the basic laws of Electromagnetism, apply them to elementary problems involving steady and changing fields and currents, and understand the nature of electromagnetic radiation. The main  Aims and Learning Outcomes of the course may be summarised as follows:

  1. To learn and remember the rigorous definitions of, relationships between, and physical significance of the important quantities in basic Electricity and Magnetism:
  • Electric charge and force 
  • Electric field and flux 
  • Electric energy and potential 
  • Capacitance 
  • Electric current and resistance 
  • Electric power 
  • Magnetic force 
  • Magnetic field and flux 
  • Electromotive force 
  • Mutual and self Inductance
  • Most students will have met many of these ideas before, but the course assumes no prior knowledge. 


  1. To learn, remember, understand and apply the basic laws describing the relationships between these quantities and the behaviour of the Electric and Magnetic Fields, i.e., Maxwell's equations. This is the most important element of the course, and involves:
  • being able to STATE the mathematical expressions of these laws; 
  • being able to EXPLAIN using words and simple diagrams the physical meanings and implications of the laws; 
  • being able to APPLY the laws to solve problems.

The emphasis is on physical intuition and visualisation rather than an overly mathematical approach.

  1. To acquire a good conceptual understanding of how the fundamental relationships, as embodied in Maxwell's equations, imply the existence of electromagnetic waves. 
  2. To develop and practice some general skills which are essential for the course, and also have many applications in other subjects: e.g., vector algebra; basic calculus (simple integration and solution of first-order differential equations); 3-dimensional visualisation.

Starting in the second week, each student will also be required to attend a 1-hour Exercise Class (Thursday morning or afternoon) for practice in topics from the previous week's lectures. You must attend at the time specified on the attendance lists. Lists will be published in due course.  You should bring the following to each class: your copy of Young & Freedman, your lecture notes, pen and paper, and a calculator.

There are four classes, 1 hour each. You will be assigned to a class in the first lecture. Please note that you must attend the allocated class.  If there is a permanent timetable clash, and you cannot make the class, please email me to arrange a different time. Note that this may not always be possible to simply move class - if too many students get allocated to one particular class, then you will be asked to find a student to swap with. Also note that it is not possible to swap and change several times to suit your social calendar; if necessary for academic reasons, swapping should be done once at the start of the term, and never again. 

The Exercise Classes are informal sessions, and the work you do in them will not be collected and will not be counted in your final mark.  However, they are a vital part of the course (there is always a strong positive correlation between exercise class attendance and exam performance). The purpose of these classes is to help you to understand and use some of the key concepts of the course, and to prepare you for the examination, during which you will be called upon to solve similar problems. Attendance will be recorded at every exercise class, and in order to satisfy the course requirements, you must attend at least 6 out of the 9 classes.  If, for any valid reason, you are unable to attend a particular class, you should make sure to let me know immediately.

Exercises1   Answers 1

Exercises 2  Answers 2

Exercises 3  Answers 3

Exercises 4  Answers 4

Exercises 5  Answers 5

Exercises 6  Answers 6

Exercises 7  Answers 7

Exercises 8  Answers 8

Exercises 9  Answers 9


The course comprises three lectures per week; a one-hour exercise class each week; and weekly assignments.  Each assignment is a set of problems, which must be handed in for marking.  Assessment will be based on assignment marks (20%) and the examination at the end of the session (80%).  The overall pass mark is 40%.

There will be 9 assignments during the course, starting at the end of the first week.  These are to be done in your own time and handed in by the date specified (usually 10 days later).  Marked assignment scripts will be returned to students.  Late assignments will be penalised by a reduction in marks.  Work which is more than two days late will merit a maximum mark of 40%.  Work will not be accepted later than three days past the hand-in deadline unless there are valid medical or other reasons. Assignment solutions will eventually be available on the course website. In cases where blatant copying of assignment scripts is detected, both scripts shall be given reduced marks. Persistent copying may result in de-registration from the course. However, collaboration and mutual assistance between students on the methods and ideas needed to solve assignment problems is strongly encouraged.

You may not be able to solve every problem completely, but you should at least make an attempt - remember that these problem assignments contribute significantly to your final mark and give you valuable practice at exam-type questions. To satisfy the course requirements, students must hand in attempts at 6 or more of the total of  9 assignments.

 When doing the problems, try to remember the following.

1.      Always put your name at the top, and make sure it's clearly written.

2.       Write clearly and legibly - someone has to make sense of what you (and a hundred other students) write down.

3.       The problems will always be linked with material covered in the lectures and in the book.  If you look at the notes or the relevant section of the book, you will almost always find strong hints as to how to do the problem.

4.       For most problems, it will be useful or essential to start by drawing and labelling neat and clear diagram(s).  

5.       It is best not to substitute numerical values until the end - the algebra is then easier to follow for you and the marker, arithmetical mistakes are less likely.

6.       Always convert all quantities to SI units before plugging them into equations.

As well as revision and re-writing of your lecture notes and doing the assignments you should always read the relevant sections of  the textbook. The reading is an essential part of the course: the textbook explains and supplements the topics treated in the lectures.  Worked examples covered in the lectures and in the book are especially important: make sure that you go through them carefully and understand them.  Practice in doing problems is also essential: the more problems you try, the better.  The examination questions will be very similar to many of the examples and problems done in the book, the home assignments and the exercise classes. 


Assignment 1.       Answers 1

Assignment 2.       Answers 2

Assignment 3.       Answers 3

Assignment 4.       Answers 4

Assignment 5.       Answers 5

Assignment 6.       Answers 6

Assignment 7.       Answers 7

Assignment 8.       Answers 8

Assignment 9.       Answers 9







Examination questions