Electricity and Magnetism I (PHYS*2330)

Code and section: PHYS*2330*01

Term: Fall 2022

Instructor: Eric Poisson


General information

Course description

This course continues building the foundation in electricity and magnetism begun in the first year and is intended for students proceeding to advanced studies in the physical sciences. Topics include vector calculus, electric fields, potential, electric work and energy, Gauss’s Law, Poisson’s and Laplace’s equations, capacitors, D.C. circuits, transients and dielectric materials.


Role Name Office Email Ext
Instructor Eric Poisson MacNaughton 452 epoisson@uoguelph.ca 53653
TA Michael Lahaye   mlahaye@uoguelph.ca  

Eric's Office hours

Office hours are on Tuesday afternoons, from 1:30pm to 4:00pm. I am generally available outside of these times. Please schedule an appointment if you have trouble finding me.
I am very much an informal guy, and I prefer to be addressed simply as “Eric”. I don’t appreciate being subjected to such pompous titles as Doctor, Professor, or His Gracious. My field of research is general relativity, including black holes and gravitational waves.

Graduate Teaching Assistant information
The TA for the course is Michael Lahaye (mlahaye@uoguelph.ca). Michael will mark homework assignments and exams, and he will run the tutorials. 

The TA specifically responsible for the computational supplements is XXXX. 

Class schedule and location

Meeting Type Day Time Location
Lecrtures Tuesday and Thursday 10:00am to 11:20am MacKinnon (MCKN) 227
Tutorials Wednesdays 7:00pm to 8:50pm Macdonald Institute (MINS) 103
Computation Thursdays 2:30 - 3:50 MAC 149

Midterm exam

Wednesday October 26, from 7:00pm to 9:00pm, room MACN 415

Final examination (35% of Final Grade)

Wednesday December 14, from 8:30am to 10:30am. The room will be posted in due course.

Course Materials and Content 

Required text

  • David J. Griffiths, Introduction to Electrodynamics, Fourth edition (Cambridge University Press, 2017) 

The book by Griffiths is the same book that will be used in PHYS*2340 (Electricity and Magnetism II). My lectures will follow the relevant sections of the book, and reading assignments will be given each week to ensure that you keep up with the material. The quizzes will provide even more incentive to keep up with the reading. 

As additional resources for the course you might rely on the texts you used in your first-year courses.

Course website


Course content

Specific learning outcomes

After taking this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a mastery of Coulomb’s law for the electric field, and apply it to systems of point charges as well as line, surface, and volume distributions of charges.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the relation between electric field and potential, exploit the potential to solve a variety of problems, and relate it to the potential energy of a charge distribution.
  3. Exploit alternative coordinate systems (cylindrical and spherical coordinates) to solve problems.
  4. Apply Gauss’s law of electrostatics to solve a variety of problems.
  5. Apply the tools of vector calculus, and demonstrate a working understanding of the divergence and curl of vector fields, as well as the divergence and curl integral theorems.
  6. Demonstrate an understanding of electric dipoles and the role of molecular dipoles in the electrostatic response of dielectrics.
  7. Demonstrate an understanding of the behaviour of electric conductors.
  8. Reformulate the laws of electrostatics in the form of Laplace’s or Poisson’s equations for the potential, and solve boundary-value problems.
  9. Demonstrate a working understanding of capacitors

Lecture, tutorial, and assignment schedule

The following table provides a rough guide of the material covered during each week of the semester, as well as key information regarding quizzes, tutorials, and assignments. All dates are tentative; check Courselink regularly to get the most updated information. Regular attendance at lectures and tutorials is the best way to ensure that you are up to date on the relevant course material.

Week Material Covered Activity
0:Sept 8 Introduction; Coulomb’s law  
1: Sept 13, 15 Electric field; line charge; gradient Quiz: Electric field
Quiz: Gradient
2: Sept 20, 22 Potential; line integrals  Quiz: Potential
3: Sept 27, 29 Work and energy; polar, cylindrical, and spherical coordinates  Quiz: Work
Quiz: Coordinates
Comp. Suppl. #1 due
4: Oct 4, 6 Coordinates (cont); potential and field calculations Quiz: Field and potential
Assignment #1 due
5: Oct 13 Potential and field calculations (cont)  
6: Oct 18, 20 Gauss’s law; applications  Quiz: Gauss’s law 
Assignment #2 due 10am, Tuesday Oct 16 
7: Oct 25, 27 Applications (cont); divergence and curl  Midterm exam Wednesday Oct 26, 7pm
8: Nov 1, 3 Equations of electrostatics; dipoles Quiz: Divergence and curl
Quiz: Dipole
Comp Supp #2 due
9: Nov 8, 10  Dipoles (cont); dielectrics  Assignment #3 due
10: Nov 15, 17 Conductors; boundary value problems Quiz: Laplace and Poisson equations
11: Nov 22, 24  Method of images; capacitors Quiz: Capacitance
Assignment #4 due
12: Nov 29, Dec 1 Capacitors (cont)   Comp Supp #3 due


There are no labs for this course.


A tutorial is held each Wednesday, from 7:00pm to 8:50pm, in Macdonald Institute (MINS) 103.

Course evaluation

Assessment Weight
Quizzes  5%
Assignments 15%
Comp. Supp. 10%
Midterm 35%
Final 35%

The purpose of the quizzes is to encourage you to read the relevant sections of the textbook prior to class, so that you’ll already have some familiarity with the material. The quizzes consist of simple multiple-choice questions that will be very easy to answer if you have done the reading. Quizzes will be posted on Courselink, each quiz appearing a few days prior to a specific deadline. Completion of these quizzes by the assigned deadline is mandatory, and the quizzes will be marked to provide 5% of the final mark.

A set of four homework assignments will also be made available on Courselink, to be returned before the assigned due date. A penalty will be applied to any late assignment, at the rate of 20% per day, and no assignment will be accepted after the tutorial on the following Wednesday. Special arrangements for late submission must be made well ahead of time. Assignments provide 15% of the course’s final mark.

In addition to the homework assignments, there is also a set of three computational supplements that must be completed. These also will be made available on Courselink, and they must also be submitted before the assigned due date. The computational supplements provide 10% of the course’s final mark. 

The midterm and final exams account for 35% of the final mark, each. Both midterm and final exams will be closed-book exams, meaning that you will not be allowed to consult your notes nor any other source of information. You will, however, be provided with a formula sheet. The formula sheet, as well as practice exams, will be made available on CourseLink. Calculators may be required; only non-programmable pocket calculators are permitted. Personal communication or entertainment devices (such as smart phones or MP3 players) are not permitted during the exams.

Course policies

(Not) Working with other students

All work submitted for grading in this course must be each individual student’s own work. While students are encouraged to share thoughts and ideas prior to writing up solutions to homework assignments, it is not acceptable to share assignment solutions. The assignments are not group projects, and it is important that you do not show your final written solutions to other students.

Completing assignments is an essential part of your preparation toward midterm and final exams. A serious attempt to do the work yourself, independently of others, will provide you with a very good preparation. Relying too much on others to provide pieces of solutions will give you a very poor preparation.

Getting help

One of the best sources of help is the course’s TA and tutorial instructor. You can also consult with Eric in his office. Do not wait too long before getting the help you need; it may be too late by then.

Course policy on electronic devices and recording of lectures

What you do with your laptop, smart phone, tablet, etc, during lectures is your own business, so long as it does not create a distraction for your classmates or the instructor. (The instructor is very easily distracted.) If such a distraction arises you will be asked to leave the classroom.
Electronic recording of classes is expressly forbidden without consent of the instructor. When recordings are permitted they are solely for the use of the authorized student and may not be reproduced, or transmitted to others, without the express written consent of the instructor.  

University Statements

COVID-19 Disclaimer

Please note that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may necessitate a revision of the format of course offerings and academic schedules. Any such changes will be announced via CourseLink and/or class email. All University-wide decisions will be posted on the COVID-19 website and circulated by email.  
The University will not normally require verification of illness (doctor's notes) for fall 2020 or winter 2021 semester courses.  However, requests for Academic Consideration may still require medical documentation as appropriate.

Email Communication

As per university regulations, all students are required to check their e-mail account regularly: e-mail is the official route of communication between the University and its students.

When You Cannot Meet a Course Requirement

When you find yourself unable to meet an in-course requirement because of illness or compassionate reasons please advise the course instructor (or designated person, such as a teaching assistant) in writing, with your name, id#, and e-mail contact. The grounds for Academic Consideration are detailed in the Undergraduate and Graduate Calendars.  

Drop Date

Students will have until the last day of classes to drop courses without academic penalty. The deadline to drop two-semester courses will be the last day of classes in the second semester. This applies to all students (undergraduate, graduate and diploma) except for Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Associate Diploma in Veterinary Technology (conventional and alternative delivery) students. The regulations and procedures for course registration are available in their respective Academic Calendars. Undergraduate Calendar - Dropping Courses 

Copies of Out-of-class Assignments

Keep paper and/or other reliable back-up copies of all out-of-class assignments: you may be asked to resubmit work at any time.


The University promotes the full participation of students who experience disabilities in their academic programs. To that end, the provision of academic accommodation is a shared responsibility between the University and the student. When accommodations are needed, the student is required to first register with Student Accessibility Services (SAS). Documentation to substantiate the existence of a disability is required; however, interim accommodations may be possible while that process is underway. Accommodations are available for both permanent and temporary disabilities. It should be noted that common illnesses such as a cold or the flu do not constitute a disability. Use of the SAS Exam Centre requires students to book their exams at least 7 days in advance and not later than the 40th Class Day.

Academic Integrity

The University of Guelph is committed to upholding the highest standards of academic integrity, and it is the responsibility of all members of the University community-faculty, staff, and students-to be aware of what constitutes academic misconduct and to do as much as possible to prevent academic offences from occurring. University of Guelph students have the responsibility of abiding by the University's policy on academic misconduct regardless of their location of study; faculty, staff, and students have the responsibility of supporting an environment that encourages academic integrity. Students need to remain aware that instructors have access to and the right to use electronic and other means of detection. Please note: Whether or not a student intended to commit academic misconduct is not relevant for a finding of guilt. Hurried or careless submission of assignments does not excuse students from responsibility for verifying the academic integrity of their work before submitting it. Students who are in any doubt as to whether an action on their part could be construed as an academic offence should consult with a faculty member or faculty advisor. Undergraduate Calendar - Academic Misconduct 

Recording of Materials

Presentations that are made in relation to course work - including lectures - cannot be recorded or copied without the permission of the presenter, whether the instructor, a student, or guest lecturer. Material recorded with permission is restricted to use for that course unless further permission is granted.


The Academic Calendars are the source of information about the University of Guelph’s procedures, policies, and regulations that apply to undergraduate, graduate, and diploma programs. Academic Calendars