Electromagnetism and Optics - PH504

Looking for a different module?

Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
(version 2)
Autumn 5 15 (7.5) PROF A Podoleanu checkmark-circle



Vectors: Review of Grad, Div & Curl; and other operations
Electrostatics: Coulomb's Law, electric field and potential, Gauss's Law in integral and differential form; the electric dipole, forces and torques.
Isotropic dielectrics: Polarization; Gauss's Law in dielectrics; electric displacement and susceptibility; capacitors; energy of systems of charges; energy density of an electrostatic field; stresses; boundary conditions on field vectors.
Poisson and Laplace equations.
Electrostatic images: Point charge and plane; point and sphere, line charges.
Magnetic field: Field of current element or moving charge; Div B; magnetic dipole moment, forces and torques; Ampere's circuital law.
Magnetization: Susceptibility and permeability; boundary conditions on field vectors; fields of simple circuits.
Electromagnetic induction: Lenz’s law, inductance, magnetic energy and energy density;

Field equations: Maxwell's equations; the E.M. wave equation in free space.
Irradiance: E.M. waves in complex notation.
Polarisation: mathematical description of linear, circular and elliptical states; unpolarised and partially polarised light; production of polarised light; the Jones vector.
Interference: Classes of interferometers – wavefront splitting, amplitude splitting. Basic concepts including coherence.
Diffraction: Introduction to scalar diffraction theory: diffraction at a single slit, diffraction grating.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

Contact hours: lectures (30 hours); workshop sessions (3 hours); class tests (2 hours).
Total study hours 150 hrs.


This is not available as a wild module.

Method of assessment

Written (unseen) examination, 2 hours, 70%. Class tests: 30%.

Indicative reading

D.J. Griffiths, Introduction to Electrodynamics, 3rd Ed. (1999), Prentice Hall

  • Tipler, P. A., Physics 4th Edition, W.E. Freeman
  • E Hecht, Optics, 2nd, Ed. (1987) Addison-Wesley.
  • URL: http://www.kent.ac.uk/physical-sciences-local/teaching-materials/physics.htm

    See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

    Learning outcomes

    Knowledge and understanding of physical laws and principles in Electromagnetism and Optics, and their application to diverse areas of physics.

  • An ability to identify relevant principles and laws when dealing with problems in Electromagnetism and Optics, and to make approximations necessary to obtain solutions.
  • An ability to solve problems in Electromagnetism and Optics using appropriate mathematical tools.
  • An ability to use mathematical techniques and analysis to model physical behaviour in Electromagnetism and Optics.
  • An ability to present and interpret information graphically.
  • An ability to make use of appropriate texts, research-based materials or other learning resources 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 5. Intermediate level module usually taken in Stage 2 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.
    Back to top

    University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that module information is accurate for the relevant academic session and to provide educational services as described. However, courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Please read our full disclaimer.