PHYC 511: Electrodynamics


Prof. Alejandro Manjavacas
Office: PAIS: 2232

Teaching assistant
Sivaprasad Omanakuttan

Office: PAIS 2008

Description of the class

The aim of this course is to cover the standard topics of classical electrodynamics in a mathematically sophisticated and conceptually rigorous manner. Electrodynamics is one of the fundamental subjects in Physics because all of the modern physics experiments basically rely on electromagnetism one way or another.

This course will cover a number of fundamental topics in classical electrodynamics, including a brief review of electrostatics and magnetostatics and detailed studies of the characterization, propagation, generation, and scattering of electromagnetic waves, and an introduction to covariant electrodynamics. The course assumes a prior exposure to electrostatics and magnetostatics at the undergraduate level.


Monday and Wednesday, 9:00-10:15, PAIS 1160.

Recommended Books

Classical Electrodynamics by J. D. Jackson.
Electrodynamics of Continuous Media by L. Landau and E. Lifshitz
Introduction to Electrodynamics by D. Griffiths
Classical Field Theory by F. E. Low.
Modern Electrodynamics by A. Zangwill.

Office hours

Mondays and Wednesdays 10:15-11:30, and Wednesdays 15.50-16.50 in PAIS 2232. These are nominal office hours, you are welcome to come into my office at other times too if your questions cannot wait, although I would appreciate if you could send an email announcing your visit. Sometimes, this drop-in approach may not work if I am very busy or your question requires more than just a few minutes, but in that case I will ask you to come back at a later time.

Teaching assistant
The teaching assistant is Sivaprasad Omanakuttan will be available on Tuesday from 14.00 to 15.00 in PAIS 2008 for you to discuss any homework grading issues you may have (please send an email to arrange an appointment).


The grading in the course will be based on your performance in homework assignments, one midterm exam, and a final exam. The maximum grade will be 100 points, with the following distribution:

  1. Homework: the best (n-1) scores of the n assignments will represent the 20% of the final grade.
  2. Midterm exam: it will represent the 40% of the final grade.
  3. Final exam: it will represent the remaining 40% of the final grade.

The MT exam is tentatively scheduled for March 11, during class time and the final exam will be tentatively held on May 13 (7.30 am).

There will be an optional small project that will provide a maximum of 10 extra points. More details will be given during the semester.

Homework assignments

There will be tentatively 9 assignments during the semester each with 4-7 problems apiece. The assignments will be given throughout the semester and will be posted in the tentative schedule about 7-10 before they are due. Late homework policy: homework returned in the next 24 hours after the due date will be accepted but with 50% penalization. After 24 hours of the due date the corresponding solutions will be posted here.

Problems class

Listed officially as Phyc 551.015 (Wednesdays: 15:30-16.30, Room 1100). This is a very important adjunct to the main lecture class. It will provide you additional practice with solving problems beyond the homework assignments and self study. We will also cover some examples of numerical approaches to solve problems in electrodynamics. Furthermore, the class will also give you a valuable opportunity to bring to my attention your difficulties with any concepts covered in the lecture class so I can address them in a group setting. The problem sheets would be posted here before the problem class. The corresponding solutions will be posted after the class. You will receive credit for the problems class as long as you register and show up for 10 sessions or more.

Syllabus topics

You can find the calendar for the course in the tentative schedule.

  1. Static phenomena
  2. Time-dependent phenomena
  3. Electromagnetic waves
  4. Sources of radiation
  5. Relativistic electrodynamics

Tentative schedule

Topic Date Subject Homework HW Due Solutions
Static phenomena
01/20 (M) MLK Jr day - No class

01/22 (W) Electrostatics HW1 02/03

01/27 (M)
No class


01/29 (W) Poisson equation

02/03 (M) Separation of variables I HW2

02/05 (W) Separation of variables II

02/10 (M) Separation of variables III

02/12 (W) Multipole expansion HW3

02/17 (M) Electrostatics in dielectrics

02/19 (W) Magnetostatics I

02/24 (M) Magnetostatics II

Time-dependent phenomena
02/26 (W) Magnetostatics III

03/02 (M) Magnetic materials

03/04 (W) Maxwell's equations    

03/09 (M) Inhomogeneous wave equation and Green's function

03/11 (W) Midterm exam

03/16 (M) Spring break - No class

03/18 (W) Spring break - No class

Electromagnetic waves
03/23 (M) Conservation laws I

03/25 (W)
Conservation laws II

03/30 (M) Electromagnetic waves I

04/01 (W) Electromagnetic waves II

04/06 (M) Reflection and refraction at interfaces

04/08 (W)
Microscopic theory of dielectric functions

04/13 (M) Wave packets

Sources of radiation
04/15 (W) Waveguides I

04/20 (M) Waveguides II

04/22 (W) Radiation sources I

04/27 (M) Radiation sources II

Relativistic electrodynamics
04/29 (W) Scattering

05/04 (M) Diffraction

05/06 (W)
Special relativity

Radiation from relativistic moving charges

Problems class

Date Problems Solutions
01/22 (W) PC1
01/29 (W) PC2 PC2_sol
02/05 (W)
PC3 PC3_sol
02/12 (W) PC4 PC4_sol
02/19 (W) PC5 PC5_sol
02/26 (W) PC6 PC6_sol
03/04 (W) PC7 PC7_sol
03/11 (W) PC8 PC8_sol
03/18 (W) Spring break - No class
03/25 (W) PC9 PC9_sol
04/01 (W) PC10 PC10_sol
04/08 (W) PC11 PC11_sol
04/15 (W) PC12 PC12_sol
04/22 (W) PC13 PC13_sol
04/29 (W) PC14
05/06 (W)

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Microsoft Word - Sample Syllabus.