MMath&Phys Mathematics and Physics

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Electrodynamics (M)

Course unit fact file
Unit code PHYS30441
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
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

For recommneded theory units following this module please see PHYS40202, PHYS40481, PHYS40771 and  PHYS40682.


To cover theoretical aspects of electromagnetic fields and radiation.

Learning outcomes

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; Lorentz transformations applied to radiated power; synchrotron radiation and; 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
Written exam 100%

Feedback methods

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

Recommended reading

Recommended texts:

Griffiths, D.J., Introduction to Electrodynamics, (Cambridge University Press, 4th edition, 2017) 
Heald, M.A. & Marion, J.B., Classical Electromagnetic Radiation, (Academic Press, 
3rd Edition, 1995) 

Supplementary reading:

Jackson, J.D., Classical Electrodynamics, (John Wiley & Sons, 3rd edition, 1999) 
Feynman, R.P., The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Vol II (Addison Wesley, 1964) 

  Zangwill, A., Modern Electrodynamics (Cambridge University Press, 2013) 

 Rybicki, G.B. & Lightman, A.P., Radiative Processes in Astrophysics (John Wiley & Sons, 1979) 
Schwartz, M., Principles of Electrodynamics, (Dover Publications, 1972) 

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

Return to course details