PHY 302: Classical Electrodynamics I

3 credits | Prerequisites: PHY 102, 223 for Major; PHY 230 for Minor

Course rationale

This is a core course for physics major students. Classical Electrodynamics is a founding pillar of physics. The focus of the first of the two courses of Classical Electrodynamics is on time-independent phenomena in electricity and magnetism. Equipped with vector calculus this course describes different phenomena by using Maxwell’s equations

Course content

Electric Field: the concept of a vector field, Coulomb’s law, the electric field, continuous charge distribution, divergence of the electric field, Gauss’s law, application of Gauss’s law; Work and Energy in Electrostatics: introduction to potential, Poisson’s and Laplace’s equation, boundary conditions, the energy of a point and continuous charge distribution, conductors; Electrostatic Potential: Laplace’s equation in various dimensions, conductors, boundary condition and uniqueness theorems, Techniques to Solve Laplace’s Equation: separation of variables, method of images, multipole expansion; Polarization: dielectrics, induced diploes, polar molecules alignment, bound charges, filed inside a dielectric; Displacement Current: Gauss’s law in the presence of dielectrics, boundary conditions, susceptibility, permittivity, dielectric constant, boundary value problem with linear dielectrics, energy, and force; Magnetic Field: Lorentz force law, the magnetic field, and force, current, Biot-Savart law, steady current, the magnetic field of a steady current; Magnetic Vector Potential: divergence and curl of the magnetic field, Ampere’s law, vector potential, boundary condition, multiple expansion; Magnetic Fields in Matter: magnetization, diamagnets, paramagnets, ferromagnets, torque and force on the magnetic dipole, bound currents, the magnetic field inside matter, the auxiliary field H, magnetic susceptibility and permeability; Maxwell’s Equations: electromotive force, electromagnetic induction, Faraday’s law, induced electric field, inductance, Maxwell’s equation, magnetic charge; Conservation Laws: charge and energy, the continuity equation, Poynting’s theorem, momentum, Maxwell’s stress tensor, conservation of momentum and angular momentum

Course objectives

  1. Understand various concepts related to electricity and magnetism.
  2. Apply vector calculus to express the laws of electrodynamics.
  3. Use appropriate mathematical formalism to solve different problems of interest.
  4. Familiarize yourself with Maxwell’s equations in different forms.
  5. Understand the classical mechanics of electrodynamics.


  1. Introduction to Electrodynamics (4th edition) by David J. Griffiths
  2. Electricity and Magnetism (3rd edition) by Edward M. Purcell, and David J. Morin
  3. Classical Electrodynamics (2nd edition) by Hans Ohanian
  4. Classical Electrodynamics by Julian Schwinger, Lester L. Deraad Jr., Kimball A. Milton, Wu-yang Tsai, Joyce Norton