Module code: PHY2064

Module provider


Module Leader

SEAR RP Dr (Physics)

Number of Credits


ECT Credits



FHEQ Level 5

JACs code


Module cap (Maximum number of students)


Module Availability

Semester 1

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 84

Lecture Hours: 15

Tutorial Hours: 17

Laboratory Hours: 44

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Practical based assessment LABORATORY DIARY & REPORT/ABSTRACT 30%

Alternative Assessment

Alternative assessment: Examination submitted during the Late Summer Assessment period. For the laboratory coursework the written reports may be assessed by a condensed programme of laboratory work, with written report.

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module overview

The module will introduce the physical significance and the mathematical methods (and selected theorems) of the operators of vector calculus: div, grad and curl in different co-ordinate systems.

The module will introduce the partial differential equations of mathematical physics and their solution for selected physical systems involving different co-ordinate systems and involving time.

The module will introduce the foundations of electromagnetism, up to Gauss’ Law and Laplace’s equation, as a major application of the vector calculus and partial differential equations techniques.

Module aims

Vector calculus: To review vector properties and vector products and introduce both the physical significance and properties of the gradient, divergence and curl operators in scalar and vector fields. To develop the Laplacian operator in different coordinate systems for use in applications of the wave, diffusion, and Laplace equations of mathematical physics.

Partial differential equations: To develop use of the method of separable solutions and to discuss separable solutions in Cartesian and Polar co-coordinates and in time - with emphasis on problems involving scalar fields and involving Fourier series and Legendre Polynomials.

Electromagnetism. To introduce the principles of electromagnetism, from Coulomb's Law, to give an overview of electrostatics and scalar and vector fields. To develop theorems and applications of the use of vector calculus methods, including Stokes’ Theorem and the use of Gauss’ Law.

The laboratory classes will build on the foundation of earlier practical classes. Several classical electromagnetism experiments will be carried out to underpin theoretical knowledge and improve understanding.

To explore the concepts from electromagnetism in the laboratory, while developing practical skills.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
Demonstrate competence with using the notation and methods of partial differential equations and vector calculus.
Solve, partial differential equations in different coordinate systems and involving time, and be able to appraise the forms of the solutions in physically interesting cases.
Appreciate and be able to calculate the gradient, divergence and curl of scalar and/or vector fields and be able to manipulate and evaluate integral and differential vector equations involving div, grad and curl.
Describe and use the underlying concepts of electrostatics and calculate and use the field equations in simple problems in electrostatics.
Demonstrate practical skills through experimentation in areas related to electromagnetic phenomena
Be able to communicate results effectively using laboratory write-ups.

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Module content

Introduction to vectors and their properties, to vector and scalar fields, and the physical significance and mathematical properties and identities of the gradient, divergence and curl and Laplacian operators. Introduction to the application of these mathematical concepts, notations and techniques in Electromagnetism.

Introduction to differential equations involving more than one dynamical variable. The equations of mathematical physics: Laplace’s equation, the wave equation, the diffusion equation, Poisson’s equation.  The use of appropriate coordinate systems. The Laplacian operator in different coordinate systems coordinates. Homogeneous and inhomogeneous equations and boundary conditions. Discussion of the method of separable solutions: introduction to separable solutions involving spatial coordinates and involving time.

The basic principles of electrostatics are discussed, including electric charge, Coulomb's Law, the electric vector field E, the Principle of Superposition, the electrostatic scalar potential V, the conservative nature of E. The concepts of equipotentials, flux, and the properties and use of Gauss's Law and Stokes’ Theorem.


The student will perform a selection experiments with the general theme of electromagnetism. Typical experiments include: measurement of e/m for the electron, Coulomb's Law, Current balance, Magnetic Field Gradients, Transmission Lines or Paths of charged particles.

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

• Develop the skills required to analyse and solve problems that require vector calculus and/or partial differential equations, especially as applied to electromagnetism

• Develop problem-solving skills in mathematics by showing worked examples and challenging students to attempt problem-solving on their own.

• Apply knowledge and develop skills by tailored EM laboratory experiments.


The learning and teaching methods include:

33 hours of lectures and tutorials.

n1-week experiments throughout semester (22 hours laboratory work)


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of vector calculus, partial differential equations, and practical laboratory skills.


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

A final examination of 1.5h duration, with 2 questions to be attempted from 3.

The laboratory coursework is assessed through a combination of interviews, written reports and a poster presentation.


Formative assessment


Problem sets are provided weekly or twice weekly on vector calculus and electromagnetism, together with model answers to these questions, which allow the students to test their understanding of course material. Formative assessment during the laboratory classes is provided by an online quiz for each experiment carried out each week by the students to prepare for the forthcoming laboratory experiment.



Verbal feedback is provided at hour-long tutorial sessions throughout the semester. Model solutions are provided for the questions on the problem sets to provide students with feedback on their problem-solving ability. Feedback during the laboratory classes is provided by demonstrators and staff giving verbal feedback and support during the class.


Reading list

Reading list for ELECTROMAGNETISM, SCALAR AND VECTOR FIELDS : http://aspire.surrey.ac.uk/modules/phy2064

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2017/8 academic year.