PHY2021 Electromagnetism I 2024-25
Prof. M.R. Bate
Delivery Weeks: T1:01-11
Level: 5 (NQF)
Credits: 15 NICATS / 7.5 ECTS
Enrolment: 160 students (approx)


This module surveys the phenomena associated with electrostatics (charges at rest) and magnetostatics (the magnetic effects associated with steady currents). It introduces and develops the use of the electric and magnetic field vectors and relates them by considering electromagnetic induction at a classical level. The connection between these fields and conventional lumped-circuit parameters R, C and L is also developed.

This module relies on, and develops, student's ability to apply vector analysis. Maxwell's equations in differential form will be developed systematically, starting from the force between two charged particles, thereby building a firm foundation for the study of more advanced material in PHY3051 Electromagnetism II.

Module Aims

The electromagnetic force holds atoms, molecules and materials together and plays a vital role in our understanding of almost all existing and potential technological developments. Electromagnetism is the second strongest of the four basic interactions of Physics. Its laws, as enunciated by James Clerk Maxwell, enable physicists to comprehend and exploit an enormous range of phenomena.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

A student who has passed this module should be able to:

Syllabus Plan

  1. Introduction
    1. Brief historical survey
  2. Revision of Vector Analysis
    1. Transformation properties
    2. Gradient of a scalar field
    3. Vector properties of the 'Del' operator
    4. Divergence of a vector field
    5. Curl of a vector field and Stokes's theorem
    6. Curvilinear coordinate systems
  3. Fields
    1. The force between two charged particles
    2. Definition and properties of E
    3. Interpretation of divergence; the continuity equation
    4. Flux and the divergence theorem
    5. Charge distribution and Gauss's law
    6. Electrostatic potentials
  4. Electrostatic Fields in Matter
    1. Simple electric dipole
    2. Multipole distributions
    3. Capacitors
    4. Electric permitivity (constant)
    5. Polarisation P and displacement D in linear dielectric media
    6. Surface and volume polarization
    7. Boundary conditions for electric fields
    8. Energy density of the electrostatic field
  5. Electrostatic Systems
    1. Laplaces's and Poisson's equations
    2. General properties of solutions to Laplaces's equation
    3. Analytic solutions to Laplace's equation in special cases
    4. Solutions to single-variable problems
    5. Solutions to two-variable problems
    6. Electrostatic images
  6. Magnetostatic Fields in Matter
    1. Definition and properties of B
    2. Ampère's law
    3. Magnetic vector potential A
    4. Faraday-Lenz law
    5. Magnetic permeability (constant)
    6. Magnetisation M and Magnetic-field intensity H in linear magnetic media
    7. Boundary conditions for macroscopic magnetic fields
    8. Energy density of magnetic field
  7. Electromagnetic Systems
    1. Steady currents in the presence of magnetic materials
    2. Forces in magnetic fields
    3. Electromagnetic induction for stationary magnetic media
    4. Inductors and transformers
    5. Faraday's law
    6. Measurement of susceptibilities
  8. Conclusions
    1. Maxwell's equations
    2. Energy density of an electromagnetic field
    3. The Poynting vector
    4. Summary

Learning and Teaching

Learning Activities and Teaching Methods

Description Study time KIS type
22×1-hour lectures 22 hours SLT
5×6-hour self-study packages 30 hours GIS
8×2-hour problems sets 16 hours GIS
Problems class support 8 hours SLT
Tutorial support 3 hours SLT
Reading, private study and revision 71 hours GIS


Weight Form Size When ILOS assessed Feedback
0% Exercises set by tutor 3×1-hour sets (typical) Scheduled by tutor 1-15 Discussion in tutorials
0% Guided self-study 5×6-hour packages Fortnightly 1-15 Discussion in tutorials
10% 8 × Problems sets 2 hours per set Weekly 1-15 Marked in problems class, then discussed in tutorials
15% Mid-term test 30 minutes Weeks T1:06 1-14 Marked, then discussed in tutorials
75% Examination 120 minutes January 1-14 Mark via MyExeter, collective feedback via ELE and solutions.


The following list is offered as an indication of the type & level of information that students are expected to consult. Further guidance will be provided by the Module Instructor(s).

Core text:

Supplementary texts:


Further Information

Prior Knowledge Requirements

Pre-requisite Modules Mathematics for Physicists (PHY1026)
Co-requisite Modules none


Re-assessment is not available except when required by referral or deferral.

Original form of assessment Form of re-assessment ILOs re-assessed Time scale for re-assessment
Whole module Written examination (100%) 1-14 August/September assessment period

Notes: See Physics Assessment Conventions.

KIS Data Summary

Learning activities and teaching methods
SLT - scheduled learning & teaching activities 33 hrs
GIS - guided independent study 117 hrs
PLS - placement/study abroad 0 hrs
Total 150 hrs
Summative assessment
Coursework 10%
Written exams 90%
Practical exams 0%
Total 100%


IoP Accreditation Checklist
  • EM-01 Electrostatics and magnetostatics.
  • EM-02 DC and AC circuit analysis to the level of complex impedance, transients and resonance.
  • EM-03 Gauss, Faraday, Ampère, Lenz and Lorentz laws to the level of their vector expression.
Availability unrestricted
Distance learning NO
Keywords Physics; Charge; Circuit theory; Electromagnetic fields; Electrostatics; Energy; Induction; Magnetostatics; Maxwell's equations; Vector analysis.
Created 01-Oct-10
Revised 01-Oct-11