Physics and astronomy

Theoretical Physics

Module code: F3217
Level 5
15 credits in spring teaching
Teaching method: Workshop, Lecture
Assessment modes: Unseen examination, Coursework

Topics covered include:

  • electrostatics – electrostatic potentials and electric fields, methods of images, Laplace and Poisson equations, introduction to Green's functions, and Gauss' and Stokes' theorems
  • magnetostatics – vector potential
  • elementary considerations of Function Theory – complex numbers, Cauchy-Riemann differential equations, line-integrals, Cauchy's theorem, Power series, Laurent series, residue theorem, applications in electrostatics
  • vector calculus in space-time – four-vectors and tensors, metric tensor, energy-momentum four-vector relativistic electrodynamics, charges seen by different observers, four-vector potential, Maxwell's equations using four-vectors
  • calculus of variations, Fermat's principle, Euler-Lagrange equation, definition of action, applications to mechanics and electromagnetism.


Level 4: (F3201) Maths Methods 1 [T1] ; (F3202) Maths Methods 2 [T2].
Level 5: (F3204) Electrodynamics [T1] ; (F3205) Maths Methods 3 [T1]

Module learning outcomes

  • Solve some basic problems in electrostatics and magnetostatics and apply some features of vector calculus and function theory to static electromagnetism.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the use of four-vectors in special relativity, especially as applied to electromagnetism.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the procedures of the calculus of variations.
  • Solve simple problems relating to mechanical systems through the extremisation of the Lagrangian function.