PHS2062 - Electromagnetism and optics - 2017

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 Findlay (unit coordinator)

Dr Russell Anderson (laboratory coordinator)

Dr Timothy Petersen (computation workshop coordinator)

Unit guides



  • Second semester 2017 (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.


Examination (3 hours): 40% + Assignments: 30% + Practical work: 30% + Hurdle requirement: 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


One of: PHS1011, PHS1080, PHS1031

plus PHS1022 and MTH2010

or MTH2015

or ENG2005


Recommended: MTH2032 or MTH2040 (required for level three physics units)