Faculty of Science

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This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2016 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

Monash University

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

School of Physics and Astronomy


Dr Scott FindlayDr Russell Andersonand Dr Timothy Petersen. (computation workshop coordinator)



  • Second semester 2016 (Day)


Electromagnetism and optics fundamentally underpin such modern communication technologies as radio, cellular phones, GPS, Wi-Fi, laser and optical fibres.

  1. Electromagnetism: classical electromagnetic theory; Maxwell's equations; Gauss's law; Faraday's law; Ampere-Maxwell law; electric and magnetic fields in vacuum; electric and magnetic fields in matter; electrodynamics.
  2. Optics: geometric ray tracing; optical cavities; electromagnetic waves; Gaussian beam propagation; multiple-beam interference; polarisation; birefringence.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Explain and apply the key concepts of electricity, magnetism and optics to a variety of phenomena.
  2. Demonstrate awareness of scientific computing methods and visualisation techniques for modelling physical systems, and use computers as a tool to solve problems in optics and electromagnetism.
  3. Use modern instruments and methods to acquire, manipulate and interpret physical data, and draw evidence based conclusions.
  4. Write scientific reports at a level suitable for publication.


Examinations: 40%
Assignments: 30%
Practical work: 30%
Students must achieve a pass mark in the practical component to achieve an overall pass grade.

Workload requirements

  • Two 1-hour lectures per week
  • One 2-hour laboratory class per week
  • One 2-hour class per week - alternating between a computational class and a tutorial
  • Six hours of independent study per week

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study



Recommended: MTH2032 as this is required for level three physics units