Phys 401, Electromagnetism I (Fall 2020)

Course info

  • Syllabus in PDF format
  • Class schedule: MWF 1400–1450, remotely via Google Meet
  • Office hours: Thurs 1500–1600, via Google Meet
  • Professor: Leo C. Stein (you can call me “Leo” or “Dr. Stein”)
  • Email:
  • Office: 205 Lewis Hall

Accessing lectures and homeworks will be through Google Classroom. If you are in this course and do not have access to the virtual classroom, email Leo ASAP!


  • Main text: Introduction to Electrodynamics, David Griffiths. We will be covering chapters 1–6.
  • The definitive reference, at a higher level, is Jackson’s Classical Electrodynamics.

Course goals and learning outcome

This is the first half of a standard course on electromagnetism in the undergraduate curriculum for physics.

Key concepts (time permitting): • vector calculus • curvilinear coordinates • electric field and potential • work and energy in electrostatics • Laplace’s equation, separation of variables, multipole expansions • electric fields in media • Lorentz force, magnetostatics • magnetic vector potential • magnetic fields in media.

Goals: Understanding of electrostatics, magnetostatics, and matter in static fields; relevance to physical systems; strengthen tools of vector calculus; applying multivariate and vector calculus and special mathematical tools (e.g. multipole/Legendre expansion). These goals are to enhance students’ mathematical reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical reasoning.


  • Grade type: Letter grade A–F
  • Grade ranges: (subject to change)
    • A 88% and up
    • B 75–87%
    • C 65–74%
    • D 55–64%
    • F <55%
  • Grade breakdown: (subject to change)
    • 50% Homework
    • 20% Midterm
    • 30% Final

Homework, tests, and final exam

Homework assignments will be announced via the course web site, and they must be turned in by 5PM on the due date. Late homework will be penalized 20% per day (exceptions and extensions permitted with good cause). Homeworks and exams should be submitted as PDFs or JPGs via the course web site. Homework must be easy to read: please clearly write down your name and the problem set number, do not use a red pen. The midterm and final exam will be open-book and open-notes, and a calculator will be permitted.


There is no strict attendance requirement, but you are strongly advised to attend class. Attendance has a strong correlation with performance. I recommend that you read the book sections in advance and come ready to participate. If you miss an exam or cannot turn in homework, please inform me beforehand and get a doctor’s note if applicable. Absences from tests count as zeros, unless they are justified. If you must be absent during a test for a University sponsored event, you must discuss this with me before the test date.

Academic Integrity

Violations of the University’s policy of academic integrity will result in a failing grade and other disciplinary actions. A student with a documented case of plagiarism or cheating in this course will receive a failing grade for the course and may face disciplinary action by the University, including expulsion.

In particular, do not turn in problem set solutions copied from online or a solutions manual. Copying solutions does nothing to enhance your learning. If I see this then you will get an automatic 0 for the problem set. It if happens more than once I will report it to the chair of the department.

Disability Access and Inclusion

The University of Mississippi is committed to the creation of inclusive learning environments for all students. If there are aspects of the instruction or design of this course that result in barriers to your full inclusion and participation, or to accurate assessment of your achievement, please contact the course instructor as soon as possible. Barriers may include, but are not necessarily limited to, timed exams and in-class assignments, difficulty with the acquisition of lecture content, inaccessible web content, and the use of non-captioned or non-transcribed video and audio files. If you are approved through SDS, you must log in to your Rebel Access portal at to request approved accommodations. If you are NOT approved through SDS, you must contact Student Disability Services at 662-915-7128 so the office can: 1) determine your eligibility for accommodations, 2) disseminate to your instructors a Faculty Notification Letter, 3) facilitate the removal of barriers, and 4) ensure you have equal access to the same opportunities for success that are available to all students.


If a change in the syllabus becomes necessary during the semester, it will be discussed in class and then posted on the course website. The course website will also contain up-to-date information on the class schedule, homework assignments and complementary material.

Schedule (subject to change)

Day Month Date Topic
M Aug 24 1.1, vector algebra
W Aug 26 1.2, differential calculus
F Aug 28 1.3, integral calculus
M Aug 31 1.4, curvilinear coordinates
W Sep 02 1.5, Dirac function
F Sep 04 1.6, vector field theory
M Sep 07 Labor day holiday
W Sep 09 2.1, field
F Sep 11 2.2, div and curl of
M Sep 14 2.2, div and curl of
W Sep 16 2.3, electric potential
F Sep 18 2.3, electric potential
M Sep 21 2.4, work and energy
W Sep 23 2.5, conductors
F Sep 25 2.5, conductors
M Sep 28 3.1, Laplace’s Equation
W Sep 30 3.1, Laplace’s Equation
F Oct 02 3.2, image charges
M Oct 05 3.3, separation of variables
W Oct 07 3.3, separation of variables
F Oct 09 3.4, multipole expansion
M Oct 12 3.4, multipole expansion
W Oct 14 4.1, polarization
F Oct 16 4.2, field of a polarized object
M Oct 19 4.3, field
W Oct 21 4.4, linear dielectrics
F Oct 23 5.1, Lorentz force
M Oct 26 5.1, Lorentz force
W Oct 28 5.2, Biot-Savart law
F Oct 30 5.3, div and curl of
M Nov 02 5.3, div and curl of
W Nov 04 5.4, magnetic potential
F Nov 06 5.4, magnetic potential
M Nov 09 6.1, magnetization
W Nov 11 6.2, field of a magnetized object
F Nov 13 6.3, the auxiliary field
M Nov 16 6.4, (non-)linear media
      Nov 18–24 Final exams