Phys 401, Electromagnetism I (Fall 2021)

Course info

  • Syllabus in PDF format
  • Class schedule: MWF 1400–1450, Lewis 109
  • Office hours: Monday 1300–1400, Lewis 205
  • Professor: Leo C. Stein (he/him; 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 7-12.
  • 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 midnight on the due date. Late homework will be penalized 20% per day (exceptions and extensions permitted with good cause). Homeworks and exams can be submitted in person, or electronically as PDFs or JPGs via the course web site (electronic submission is preferred). 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 23 1.1, syllabus, vector algebra
W Aug 25 1.2, differential calculus
F Aug 27 1.3, integral calculus
M Aug 39 1.3–1.4, integral calculus, curvilinear coordinates
W Sep 01 1.4, curvilinear coordinates
F Sep 03 1.5, Dirac “function”
M Sep 06 Labor day holiday
W Sep 08 1.5–1.6, Dirac “function”, vector field theory
F Sep 10 1.6–2.1, vector field theory, field
M Sep 13 2.2, div and curl of
W Sep 15 2.2, div and curl of
F Sep 17 2.3, electric potential
M Sep 20 2.3, electric potential
W Sep 22 2.4, work and energy
F Sep 24 2.4, work and energy
M Sep 27 2.5, conductors
W Sep 29 2.5, conductors
F Oct 01 2.5–3.1, conductors, Laplace’s Equation
M Oct 04 3.1, Laplace’s Equation
W Oct 06 3.2, image charges
F Oct 08 3.3, separation of variables
M Oct 11 3.3, separation of variables
W Oct 13 3.4, multipole expansion
F Oct 15 3.4, multipole expansion
M Oct 18 3.4, multipole expansion
W Oct 20 4.1, polarization
F Oct 22 4.2, field of a polarized object
M Oct 25 4.3, field
W Oct 27 4.4, linear dielectrics
F Oct 29 4.4, linear dielectrics
M Nov 01 5.1, Lorentz force
W Nov 03 5.1, Lorentz force
F Nov 05 5.2, Biot-Savart law
M Nov 08 5.2, Biot-Savart law
W Nov 10 5.3, div and curl of
F Nov 12 5.3, div and curl of
M Nov 15 5.4, magnetic potential
W Nov 17 5.4, magnetic potential
F Nov 19 6.1, magnetization
      Nov 20–28 Thanksgiving holiday
M Nov 29 6.2, field of a magnetized object
W Dec 01 6.3, the auxiliary field
F Dec 03 6.4, (non-)linear media
      Dec 06–10 Final exams