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MPhys Physics

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Electrodynamics (M)

Unit code PHYS30441
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Department of Physics & Astronomy
Available as a free choice unit? No


Electrodynamics (M)


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Electromagnetism PHYS20141 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Lagrangian Dynamics PHYS20401 Pre-Requisite Recommended


To cover theoretical aspects of electromagnetic fields and radiation.

Learning outcomes

This course unit detail provides the framework for delivery in 20/21 and may be subject to change due to any additional Covid-19 impact.  Please see Blackboard / course unit related emails for any further updates

On completion successful students will be able to

  1. use scalar and vector potentials and explain the concept of gauge invariance;
  2. demonstrate the compatibility of electrodynamics and special relativity;
  3. use Lorentz covariant formalism (scarlars, 4-vectors and tenors) in the context of electrodynamics and special relativity;
  4. solve Poisson's equation and the inhomogenous wave equation;
  5. distinguish between radiation fields and other electromagnetic fields;
  6. calculate the radiated power produced by accelerating charges.


1.     Electromagnetic Field Equations (7 lectures)

Maxwell's equations and wave solutions. Definition of scalar and vector potentials. Electro- and magnetostatics and Poisson’s equation; multipole expansions. Electrodynamics in Lorentz Gauge; the inhomogeneous wave equation and the retarded time.


2.     Electromagnetism and Relativity (7 lectures)

Covariant and contravariant formalism of Lorentz transformations; Scalars, four vectors and tensors; relativistic dynamics. Consistency of Maxwell's equations and relativity. Electromagnetic field tensor and electrodynamics in covariant form.


3.     Accelerating Charges (6 lectures)

Lienard-Wiechert potentials; Power radiated from an arbitrarily moving charge. Larmor’s power formula; synchrotron radiation; bremsstrahlung.


4.     Harmonically Varying Sources (2 lectures)

Multipole radiation: electric (Hertzian) and magnetic dipole radiation; slow-down of pulsars. Rayleigh and Thomson scattering.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 33%
Written exam 67%

Feedback methods

Feedback will be offered by examples class tutors based on examples sheets, and model answers will be issued. A few optional sessions will provide extra problem solving opportunities and cover a few interesting “extra-curricular” topics.

Recommended reading

Recommended texts:
Heald, M.A. & Marion, J.B. Classical Electromagnetic Radiation, (Academic Press,
London 1995)
Griffiths, D.J., Introduction to Electrodynamics (Benjamin Cummings; 3rd edition (December 30, 1998)

Supplementary reading:
Jackson, J.D., Classical Electrodynamics, (John Wiley & Sons, 3rd edition 1999)
Schwartz, M., Principles of Electrodynamics, (Dover Publications, 1972)
Feynman, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Vol II (Addison Wesley, 1964)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1.5
Lectures 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 76.5

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Terence Wyatt Unit coordinator

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