Electricity and Magnetism I (PHYS*2330)

Code and section: PHYS*2330*01

Term: Fall 2015

Instructor: Eric Poisson


Course 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.

Class schedule and location

Day Time Location
Tuesday and Thursday 10:00am to 11:20am MacKinnon 116


Day Time Location
Alternating Wednesdays 7:00pm to 8:50pm in MacKinnon 115

Midterm exam

Wednesday October 28, from 7:00pm to 9:00pm, in MacKinnon 115

Final examination

Wednesday December 16, from 8:30am to 10:30am. The location of the final exam will be posted in due course.

Final exam weighting: 45% (Scheme A) or 55% (Scheme B). See below.

Course website

On Courselink


Instructor Office Phone Email
Eric Poisson MacNaughton 452 519-824-4120 x53653 epoisson@uoguelph.ca

Office hours

Each Monday from 9am to 12am. Alternative arrangements can be made by appointment.
Eric is very much an informal guy, and he prefers to be addressed simply as “Eric”. He does not appreciate being subjected to such pompous titles as Doctor, Professor, or His Gracious. Eric’s field of research is general relativity, including black holes and gravitational waves. For additional details, please consult his research web page at.

Teaching Assistant Email
Philippe Landry plandry@uoguelph.ca

Course content

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 tutorials and assignment due dates. 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 Tutorials/Assignments
0: Sept 10 Introduction No tutorial
1: Sept 15, 17 Electric field; line charge; gradient No tutorial
2: Sept 22, 24 Electric potential; line integrals; work; energy No tutorial
3: Sept 29, Oct 1 Coordinate systems: polar, cylindrical, spherical Tutorial Sept 30
Assignment #1 due:
10am, Tuesday Sept 29
4: Oct 6, 8 Electric field calculations (charge distributions) No tutorial
5: Oct 15
(no class on Oct 13)
Electric field calculations (charge distributions) Tutorial Oct 14
Assignment #2 due:
10 am, Tuesday Oct 13
6: Oct 20, 22 Motion of charges; conductors; insulators, dipoles; No tutorial
7: Oct 27, 29 Force and torque on dipoles; electric flux Midterm exam
Wednesday Oct 28, 7pm-9pm,
MacKinnon 115
8: Nov 3, 5 Gauss’s law; applications No tutorial
9: Nov 10, 12 Charges on conductor surface; divergence; curl Tutorial Nov 11
Assignment #3 due:
10am, Tuesday Nov 10
10: Nov 17, 19 Laplace’s equation; Poisson’s equation; solutions in 1D and 2D No tutorial
11: Nov 24, 26 Capacitance; polarization Tutorial Nov 25
Assignment #4 due:
10 am, Tuesday Nov 24
12: Dec 1, 3 Review No tutorial


There are no labs for this course.


Tutorials are held on alternating Wednesdays, from 7:00pm to 8:50pm, in MacKinnon 115, starting on September 30.

Course evaluation

The final mark for the course will be the highest of the two marks calculated under the following two schemes. No other marking schemes will be considered.

Scheme Quizzes Assignments Midterm Exam Final Exam
A 5% 15% 35% 45%
B 5% 15% 25% 55%

A number of quizzes will be made available on Courselink, each quiz appearing a few days prior to a specific lecture. 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 late assignments, and no assignment will be accepted after the tutorial on the following Wednesday. Assignments provide 15% of the course’s final mark. In marking scheme A, the midterm and final exams account for 35% and 45% of the final mark, respectively. In marking scheme B, the midterm and final exams account for 25% and 55% of the final mark, respectively.

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 relevant material such as a formula sheet. 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 Materials

Required text

  • David J. Griffiths, Introduction to Electrodynamics, Fourth edition (Pearson, 2013)

Recommended text

  • H.D. Young and R.A. Freedman, University Physics, 13th edition (Pearson, 2012)

The book by Griffiths is the same book that is used in PHYS*2340 (Electricity and Magnetism II). My lectures will loosely follow 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.

The book by Young and Freedman is the one you used in PHYS*1010 (Introductory Electricity and Magnetism); you will want to refer to it on a regular basis.

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 the solutions, 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.

Getting help

One of the best sources of help is the course’s TA and tutorial instructor. In addition, you can come to Eric’s office hours, or make an appointment for a special meeting at another time.
Course resources

Grading policies

Each homework assignment will be submitted by you before class begins on the day the assignment is due. A penalty will be applied to late assignments, and no assignment will be accepted after the tutorial on the following Wednesday. No partial credit will be given to unaccepted assignments.
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 relevant material such as a formula sheet. Calculators may be required; only non-programmable pocket calculators will be permitted. Personal communication or entertainment devices (such as smart phones or MP3 players) are now permitted during the exams.

Course policy on group work

You are permitted to discuss the homework problems with your colleagues while trying to solve them. However, and this is important, after the discussions you must write up the solutions yourself, independently of anyone else. Copying will not be tolerated. Evidence of copying will be considered under the Academic Misconduct section of this document (see below).

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. 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 Policies

Academic Consideration

When you find yourself unable to meet an in-course requirement because of illness or compassionate reasons, please advise the course instructor in writing, with your name, id#, and e-mail contact. See the Undergraduate Calendar for information on regulations and procedures for academic consideration.

Academic Misconduct

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 discourages misconduct. 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.

The Academic Misconduct Policy is detailed in the Undergraduate Calendar.


The University of Guelph is committed to creating a barrier-free environment. Providing services for students is a shared responsibility among students, faculty and administrators. This relationship is based on respect of individual rights, the dignity of the individual and the University community’s shared commitment to an open and supportive learning environment. Students requiring service or accommodation, whether due to an identified, ongoing disability or a short-term disability should contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) as soon as possible.
For more information, contact SAS at 519-824-4120 ext. 56208.

Course Evaluation

The Department of Physics requires student assessment of all courses taught by the Department. These assessments provide essential feedback to faculty on their teaching by identifying both strengths and areas of improvement. In addition, student assessments provide part of the information used by the Department Tenure and Promotion Committee in evaluating the faculty member’s contributions in the area of teaching. You are therefore encouraged to take the evaluation procedures seriously, and to provide feedback about this course and its instructor.

Drop date

The last date to drop one-semester courses, without academic penalty, is 6 November 2015. For regulations and procedures for Dropping Courses, see the Undergraduate Calendar.