PHYS 3600: Electromagnetism I

Instructor:  T.-C. Shen (, 797-7852)
Textbook: Introduction to Electrodynamics, 3rd edition, by David J. Griffiths
Class meets: MWF, 11:30-12:20 at SER 122
Final examination: December 14 (Wednesday)  9:30-11:20
Class Website:
Undergraduate Teaching Fellow: Sean Hunt (
Help session: 5:30-6:30 pm, Tuesday, at SER-122
Office hour: 1:30 pm, Friday 

The scope of this course is to understand classical, static electric and magnetic fields in vacuum and media with various boundary conditions.  We will cover chapters 1 to 6 of the textbook and leave 7 to 12 to Advanced Electromagnetism (PHYS 4600).  A major difficulty to understand electromagnetism is its abstractness- it is not as apparent as mechanics that you have plenty of experiences in everyday life. We have to rely on multi-variable calculus and differential equations to describe electromagnetic phenomena.  Thus, learning the mathematical tools including vector analysis, Laplace equations in spherical coordinates, and volume, surface and line integrals, besides physics, is an important goal in this course.  In the lectures, I hope to help you build the links between the concepts of physics and mathematics.  Since lecture hours will never be enough for mathematical details, I hope you can attend Mr. Hunt’s help session to fix any troubled spots of yours.

After each lecture, an abstract of topics discussed and homework assignment related to the material will be posted on the class website.  There are no better ways to learn physics than working on problems and the most efficient way is to do it right after the lecture. Assignments will be collected on every Wednesday at the beginning of the lecture. I recommend you to work out all the exercises in the book; even though I can only assign a small portion of them.   I do not accept MathCad printout for homework. If you like to use MathCad to help you solve mathematical problems, make sure that you can reproduce them by your biological equipment both in homework and tests.  Given the small percentage of the homework in the final grade, late homework will not be accepted.  

There will be reading assignment and questions in each class note to prepare you for the next topics. Since I cannot explain everything in the textbook, it is very important that you read the assignment before the class and raise questions during the class.  I will ask you to answer those questions in the class and help you learn through them.

The final grade will be calculated from home work (10%), first mid-term exams (Ch 1-2, 20%), second mid-term (Ch 3-4, 30%), and a comprehensive final (Ch1-6, 40%). All exams will be close-book and close-notes. I will provide physics equations or mathematical identities, if necessary.