Relativity Optics and Maxwell's Equations - PHYS6040

Looking for a different module?

Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2021 to 2022
Autumn Term 6 15 (7.5) Christopher Solomon checkmark-circle


Special Relativity: Limits of Newtonian Mechanics, Inertial frames of reference, the Galilean and Lorentz transformations, time dilation and length contraction, invariant quantities under Lorentz transformation, energy momentum 4-vector
Maxwell's equations: operators of vector calculus, Gauss law of electrostatics and magnetostatics, Faraday's law and Ampere's law, physical meanings and integral and differential forms, dielectrics, the wave equation and solutions, Poynting vector, the Fresnel relations, transmission and reflection at dielectric boundaries.
Modern Optics: Resonant cavities and the laser, optical modes, Polarisation and Jones vector formulation.


Contact hours

Lectures (30 hours), including class tests.
In addition, 120 hours of directed reading, problem solving and self-study are required.
Total number of study hours 150 hrs.


This is not available as a wild module.

Method of assessment

Coursework 30% including class tests;
Final (written, unseen, length 2 hours) exam 70%.

Indicative reading

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

  • E. Hecht, Optics 3rd Edn., Addison Wesley, [QC375.2]
    J. Wilson and J.F.B. Hawks,
  • Optoelectronics: An Introduction, Prentice-Hall International, 1983.[QC 447]
  • A.Yariv, Optical electronics, Holt-Saunders International, 1985. [QC 447]
  • G. Barton, Introduction to the Relativity Principle, J. Wiley & Sons, 1999.
  • URL:

    See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

    Learning outcomes

    Knowledge and understanding of electromagnetic and relativistic laws and principles, and their application to diverse areas of physics.

  • An ability to identify relevant principles and laws when dealing with problems in electromagnetism and relativity, and to make approximations necessary to obtain solutions.
  • An ability to solve problems in electromagnetism and relativity using appropriate mathematical tools.
  • An ability to use mathematical techniques and analysis to model physical behaviour in electromagnetism and relativity.
  • 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 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 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.