Electricity and Magnetism I (PHYS*2460)

Code and section: PHYS*2460*01

Term: Fall 2014

Instructor: Michael Massa


Course Information

The Purpose of this Course

The principal aim of this course is to continue building the foundation of classical physics that students need in their progress toward the frontier of modern physics research. The second aim of this course is to strengthen the problem-solving skills of students, which will be invaluable regardless of their future career path. Topics include vector calculus, electric fields, potential, electric work and energy, Gauss's Law, Poisson's and Laplace's equations, capacitors, D.C. circuits and dielectric materials. The laboratory work requires a formal treatment of error analysis, as well as computer programming for data analysis.

(0.75 credit course)


Lecturer Office Extension Email
Mike Massa MacN 328 52625 massam@uoguelph.ca

Office Hours: TBA

Teaching Assistants Office Email
Calvin Tabert MacN 403 ctabert@uoguelph.ca
John Malcolm MacN 402 malcolmj@uoguelph.ca

Lectures, Labs and Tutorials


Day Time Location
Tuesdays & Thursdays 10:00 am - 11:20 pm MACK 121


3 hours per week, alternating weeks

Section Day Time Location
Laboratory section 1 Tues. 2:30 to 5:30 pm MacN 302
Laboratory section 2 Thurs. 2:30 to 5:30 pm MacN 302
Tutorial Section 1 Wed. 7:00 to 8:50 pm MACK 029

Required Materials

Introduction to Electrodynamics, 4th Edition, D. J. Griffiths, Prentice-Hall, 2013. This text will also be used in the following semester for PHYS*2340 E&M II.
It will also be necessary to regularly consult your first year physics text.

NOTE: the laboratory procedures can be found at the course webpage available through Courselink.


Assessment Weight
Participation 5%
Assignments 15%
Laboratories 20%
Midterm Exam 20%
Final examination 40%

The assignments will be handed out in class and will be submitted in class by the due date and time clearly indicated on the assignment (see also the schedule below). There will be a penalty for late assignments and no assignments will be accepted after the posting of the solutions on the course webpage. The detailed breakdown of the laboratory mark will be provided by your TA.

Laboratories & Tutorials

Laboratories are held in MacN 302 for PHYS*2460 and in MacN 414 for PHYS*2440.
Tutorials are held in MACK 029 for both courses.

The weekly laboratories and tutorials are co-ordinated with those in PHYS*2440 (Mechanics I). If you are registered in both courses, in a given week you will have a laboratory in one of the two courses (2440 or 2460) and a tutorial in the other course. You will not have both a lab and tutorial in one course in the same week.

  • In this course you will be keeping your experimental records in a portfolio. The portfolio will marked at the end of each lab.
  • Two of the labs are inquiry-based. For each lab, you will submit a brief proposal, detailing your intended approach to completing the experiment. The proposals are due two weeks prior to the scheduled lab week.
  • In addition, for the second inquiry lab, you will be writing a formal report.

More details will be provided during the laboratory sessions with respect to expectations for the portfolio and the formal report, as well as due dates for all submissions.

The inquiry labs are different from the majority of experiments conducted previously in your studies. Inquiry labs do not contain detailed discussions of the principles explored in the studies or a step-by-step procedure. Rather, you are required to research possible solutions to a given problem using physics presented in other parts of the course: tutorials, lectures, and the textbooks. It is hoped that these inquiry-based labs will provide context for you, applying the material presented in the course to real-life situations.

Students are required to hand in a proposal two weeks before performing the inquiry lab. More details regarding the general requirements of the proposal can be found in the “Inquiry Lab Expectations” document, available on the course website. In each inquiry lab procedure, specific guidance will be provided as necessary with respect to issues that need to be addressed in a particular proposal. Lab T.A.s will then read over the proposal and remark on the possible setbacks or problems that the students may encounter, and add detail on how the students can improve their results. Your proposal will be returned to you before you perform the experiment.

Midterm test: Will take place in week 7 of the term (Oct. 20-24). Details will be discussed in opening class.
Final Examination: Friday, Dec. 5th, 11:30 to 1:30 pm. Location: TBA

Both the midterm and the final examination will be closed book. You will be provided with an equation sheet. Calculators may be required. Only non-programmable pocket calculators will be permitted. Personal communication or entertainment devices (e.g. call phone, MP3 player) are not permitted.

If you miss the midterm examination due to illness or compassionate reasons, you need to provide the instructor with a waiver slip. See your Program Counselor if you require assistance. If you miss the final examination, see your Program Counselor. Refer to “General Information for Academic Consideration and Appeals” in the 2013/14 Undergraduate Calendar.

Tentative Schedule for the Semester

Week Date Lecture Material Laboratoy/Tutorial
0 Sept. 4,5 Introduction No tutorial or experiment
1 Sept. 8 – 12 Coulomb’s law, work done by electric force, electric potential energy Experiment: Intro to Maple, Data Analysis w Spreadsheets (SCIE1303/5) †
2 Sept. 15 – 19 Electric potential energy, line integrals, gradients Experiment: Data Analysis with Spreadsheets & Maple (MacN 302)
3 Sept. 22 – 26 Coordinate systems, electric field calculations (point charges) Tutorial (MACK 029)
Assn #1 due
4 Sept. 29 – Oct. 3 Electric field calculations (charge distributions), electric potential, calculations Experiment: DC circuits – Inquiry Lab (MacN 302)
5 Oct. 6 – 10 Relationship between electric field and electric potential, effect of electric field on charges Tutorial (MACK 029)
Assn #2 due
6 Oct. 13 – 17 Electric dipoles, force and torque on dipoles in different fields No tutorial or experiment
7 Oct. 20 – 24 Flux, introduction to Gauss’s law (integral form) Midterm test (room TBA)
8 Oct. 27 – 31 Gauss’s law, applications Experiment: Capacitance – Inquiry Lab (MacN 302)
9 Nov. 3 - 7 Divergence, curl Tutorial (MACK 029)
Assn #3 due
10 Nov. 10 - 14 Laplace’s equation, Poisson’s equation, solving Laplace in 1D and 2D Experiment: Solutions of Laplace’s equation (SCIE 1303/5) †
11 Nov. 17 - 21 Capacitance, polarization Tutorial (MACK 029)
Assn #4 due
12 Nov. 24 - 28 Review No tutorial or experiment

† Labs taking place in SCIE 1303 or 1305 will run from 3:30-5:20 on Sept. 9, 11 and Nov. 11, 13.

NOTE: The information in the table above is provided as a rough guide in terms of the schedule of material covered during the term. Regular attendance at lectures and tutorials is the best way to ensure that you are up to date on the relevant course material. The indicated weeks in which assignments will be due are also tentative. Assignments will be posted on the course website, along with associated due dates, as well as handed out in class. Check Courselink regularly to be informed.

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, it is not acceptable to share assignment solutions, experiment reports, etc. The assignments and experiment reports are not group projects. It is important that you do not show your final written solutions, experiment reports, etc., to other students.


One of your best sources of help is your tutorial/lab instructor.

In addition, Mike is always happy to answer students' questions whenever he is in his office. Hours will be announced when he is almost certain to be in his office for consultation with students. Short questions can often be handled in the lecture room just before or after lectures. (Mike will try to refrain from referring to himself in the third person during consultation)

Course Assessment

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 possible areas of improvement. In addition, annual student assessment of teaching provides part of the information used by the Department Tenure and Promotion Committee in evaluating the faculty member's contribution in the area of teaching.

The Department's teaching evaluation questionnaire invites student response both through numerically quantifiable data, and written student comments. In conformity with University of Guelph Faculty Policy, the Department Tenure and Promotions Committee only considers comments signed by students or by choosing "I agree" in question 14 (online process). Your instructor will see all signed and unsigned comments after final grades are submitted. Written student comments may also be used in support of a nomination for internal and external teaching awards.

NOTE: No information will be passed on to the instructor until after the final grades have been submitted.


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