Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Electricity and Magnetism and Optics

UM LEVEL 01 - Year 1 in Modular Undergraduate Course




DESCRIPTION Electricity and Magnetism Section:

- Scalar and Vector fields;
- Electrostatic field (Charge, Coulomb's law, the principle of superposition, Electric field, (examples: electric dipole, line and ring charge));
- Gauss's law (Electric flux, field outside & inside hollow sphere of charge, infinitely long line charge, infinite plane charge, parallel plate capacitor);
- Electrical potential (Electrostatic potential energy, line charge revisited, electric dipole, dipole in a uniform E-field, Poisson's equation);
- Conductors & dielectrics (E-field due to charged conductor, E-field within dielectric, Susceptibility and permittivity, electric displacement);
- Capacitors and capacitance (spherical capacitor, capacitors and dielectrics, capacitors in series and in parallel, energy stored in E-field, force between capacitor plates), Electrical currents;
- Electric current (drift velocity, resistance, circuits, Kirchoff's laws);
- Magnetostatics (Electromagnetic equations for static fields, Ampere's circuital law, Biot-Savart law, magnetic dipole, Lorentz equation, magnetic fields in matter);
- Electromagnetic Induction (Hall effect, Faraday's law, EMF, Self & mutual Inductance;
- DC Circuits (Circuit analysis, Thevenin's theorem, Norton's theorem);
- Alternating currents (AC & Resistors, AC & non-linear circuit elements, Capacitors and inductors, RC & LR circuits).

Optics Section:

Covered topics include: Scattering and Interference; Reflection and Refraction (internal and external reflection, law of reflection, law of refraction); Huygen's principle; Fermat's principle; Introductory Lens Theory & Thin-lens Equations; Spherical and Aspherical Mirrors; Optical Instruments (including the various types of telescopes, microscopes, etc.); Stops; The Human Eye; Introduction to Aberration Theory; Lasers; Fibre optics.

Study-unit Aims:

Electricity and Magnetism section:

This study-unit aims to introduce various concepts of electromagnetism as well as to establish a grounding in electromagnetism in preparation for more advanced units. It will provide students with the necessary background knowledge to understand and appreciate advanced applications of electromagnetics.

Optics Section:

This study-unit introduces students to some of the basic principles of geometrical optics and lays the groundwork for the second year study-unit in physical optics. The students will start from basic concepts such as reflection and refraction at plane surfaces, and proceed to acquire a working knowledge of thin lens theory and the lens equation, mirrors, and aberration theory. The students will be able to apply this knowledge to the workings of various optical instruments.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

Electricity and Magnetism Section:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- explain the basic electric and magnetic interactions due to charged particles and currents;
- describe how the electric interactions due to single or collection of charged particles are embodied in the concepts of the electric field and the electric potential;
- predict the motion of charged particles in electric and magnetic fields;
- explain the basic physics of capacitors and resistors;
- predict the behaviour of simple and complex direct current circuits using the fundamental conservation laws.

Optics Section:

This study-unit provides a primer in the basic principles of geometrical optics and their application. The student will be able to apply the acquired knowledge to carry out simple calculations related to the working principles behind an array of optical instruments (e.g. cameras, telescopes, microscopes) and gain a basic understanding of the foundations of aberration theory via geometric description.

2. Skills:

Electricity and Magnetism Section:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- articulate the fundamental principles of electrostatics and magnetostatics;
- use the mathematical methods of Gauss's and Amepere's law;
- calculate the electric and magnetic fields from a distribution of charges or current;
- determine the motion of electrically charged objects using principles of mechanics;
- solve basic problems of electromotive induction (Faraday's and Lenz's law).

Optics Section:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- analytically solve problems in geometrical optics;
- gain the required knowledge and analytical skills to undertake further optics in a second-year study-unit.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Electricity and Magnetism Section:

- H Benson, University Physics, John Wiley & Sons
- F J Keller, W E Gettys and M J Skove, Physics, McGraw-Hill
- J B Marion and W F Hornyak, Physics for Science and Engineering, Holt-Saunders
- I.S. Grant and W.R. Phillips, The Elements of Physics, Oxford University Press
- H.D. Young and R.A. Freedman, University Physics, Addison Wesley

Optics Section:

- E Hecht, Optics, Addison Wesley


ADDITIONAL NOTES Pre-Requisite qualifications: Physics and Mathematics Intermediate level C or better

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Tutorial

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Sept. Asst Session Weighting
Presentation SEM2 No 10%
Written Exercises SEM2 Yes 10%
Examination (3 Hours) SEM2 Yes 80%

LECTURER/S Joseph Caruana
Lourdes Farrugia


The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2023/4. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.