Electricity and Light - PH322

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Spring 4 15 (7.5) DR A Bradu checkmark-circle


Properties of Light and Optical Images; Wave nature of light. Reflection, refraction, Snell’s law, total internal reflection, refractive index and dispersion, polarisation. Huygens' principle, geometrical optics including reflection at plane and spherical surfaces, refraction at thin lenses, image formation, ray diagrams, calculation of linear and angular magnification, magnifying glass, telescopes and the microscope.

Electric Field; Discrete charge distributions, charge, conductors, insulators, Coulomb’s law, electric field, electric fields lines, action of electric field on charges, electric field due to a continuous charge distribution, electric potential, computing the electric field from the potential, calculation of potential for continuous charge distribution.

Magnetic Field; Force on a point charge in a magnetic field, motion of a point charge in a magnetic field, mass spectrometer and cyclotron.

Electric current and Direct current circuits, electric current, resistivity, resistance and Ohm’s Law, electromotive force, ideal voltage and current sources, energy and power in electric circuits, theory of metallic conduction, resistors in series and in parallel, Kirchhoff’s rules and their application to mesh analysis, electrical measuring instruments for potential difference and current, potential divider and Wheatstone’s bridge circuits, power transfer theorem, transient current analysis in RC, RL, LC and LRC circuits using differential equations.

Alternating Current Circuits; Phasor and complex number notation introduced for alternating current circuit analysis, reactance and complex impedance for Capacitance and Inductance, application to LRC series and parallel circuits. Series and parallel resonance, AC potential dividers and filter circuits, Thevenin's theorem, AC bridge circuits to measure inductance and capacitance, mutual inductance, the transformer and its simple applications.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

Lectures (24 hours); workshop sessions (6 hours).


This is not available as a wild module.

Method of assessment

Coursework 20% including class test and homework, involving problem solving.
• Final (written, unseen, length 2 hours) exam 80%

Indicative reading


  • Physics for Scientists and Engineers (6th Ed.); Tipler, P.A. & Mosca, G. (2008)
  • Schaum's outline of theory and problems of electric circuits; Nahvi, M. & Edminister, J. (2003)

    See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

    Learning outcomes

  • Knowledge and understanding of laws and principles of electricity and light, and their application to diverse areas of physics.
  • An ability to identify relevant principles and laws of electricity and light when dealing with problems, and to make approximations necessary to obtain solutions.
  • An ability to solve problems involving electricity and light using appropriate mathematical tools.
  • An ability to use mathematical techniques and analysis to model behaviour involving electricity and light.
  • An ability to present and interpret information relating to electricity and light graphically.
  • An ability to make use of appropriate texts, research-based materials or other learning resources about electricity and light as part of managing their own learning.
  • Problem-solving skills, in the context of both problems with well-defined solutions and open-ended problems; an ability to formulate problems in precise terms and to identify key issues, and the confidence to try different approaches in order to make progress on challenging problems. Numeracy is subsumed within this area.
  • Analytical skills – associated with the need to pay attention to detail and to develop an ability to manipulate precise and intricate ideas, to construct logical arguments and to use technical language correctly.


    1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage of an undergraduate degree.
    2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
    3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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