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Electromagnetism and Optics (PHYC20011)

Undergraduate level 2Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 2
Subject codePHYC20011
Semester 2
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject extends knowledge of the fundamental principles of electromagnetism, introducing Maxwell’s equations in differential form, and key topics in optics. Electromagnetism topics include the electric field (e.g. Gauss’s law in integral and differential form, scalar potential and gradient, Poisson and Laplace equations), the magnetic field (e.g. Ampere’s law in integral and differential forms), Maxwell’s equations in vacuum (integral and differential forms), Maxwell’s equations in matter (polarization, electric displacement, magnetic vector potential), time-varying electric and magnetic fields (Maxwell’s equations in general form, wave equations for E and B, plane electromagnetic wave, Poynting vector). Optics topics include an introduction to Fourier optics, Fourier transforms in 1 and 2D, Dirac delta function and comb, discrete Fourier transforms and the sampling theorem, convolution, cross and autocorrelation. Fresnel and Fraunhofer diffraction are treated explicitly and a description of polarized light with methods of producing and controlling polarisation.

Intended learning outcomes

To challenge students to expand their knowledge of fundamental physics principles and develop their capacity to:

  • explain the physical basis of Maxwell's equations and solve and analyse simple problems in electromagnetism by applying Maxwell's equations;
  • explain Fraunhofer and Fresnel diffraction and solve and analyse simple problems in optics using Fourier transforms and related analytical tools.
  • acquire and interpret experimental data and perform computer modelling.

Generic skills

A student who completes this subject should be able to:

  • explain their understanding of physics principles and applications lucidly, both in writing and orally;
  • acquire and interpret experimental data and design experimental investigations;
  • participate as an effective member of a group in tutorial discussions, laboratory and study groups;
  • think independently and analytically, and direct his or her own learning;
  • manage time effectively in order to be prepared for regular practical and tutorial classes, tests, the examination and to complete assignments.

Last updated: 10 August 2019