MP204: Electricity and Magnetism

Spring 2020

(2nd semester of 2019-2020)

Lecturer:   Masud Haque   (

Lectures and Tutorials

The lectures are on Tuesdays, 11:05 PM, Physics Hall, and Fridays, 11:05, Physics Hall.

There are two tutorials every week, with the same content.   (You can attend whichever is more convenient.)
Thursdays, 2:05, Hall A (Arts Block);     Fridays, 1:05, Hall C (Arts Block).

The tutor is Adam Tallon.     Email:
Office: Room 1.6 in the Theoretical Physics Dept.

During tutorials the tutor will discuss solutions to some of the assignment problems.

Problem sets

Problem set 03.   Due tuesday February 25th, 5:30PM.

Problem set 02.   Due tuesday February 18th, 5:30PM, in MP204 drawer near entrance of Dept.

Problem set 01.   Due tuesday February 11th, by the end of the working day (5:30PM), in the MP204 drawer near the entrance of the Theoretical Physics Dept.

Problems 3 and 4 in this problem set involve finding the total charge of objects from the linear charge density or from the surface charge density. This will require breaking up the object into infinitesimal pieces and then adding up the contributions of each piece, which amounts to an integration. We will have to do variants of this procedure many times during this module; so please practice until you are fully comfortable.
The relationship between charge density and total charge is the same as that between the usual (mass) density and total mass. For guidance, you could try
this video,   this video,   this discussion,   these notes.

Material covered in Class

I will point to relevant chapters in Prof. Nash's Notes and in Vol. II of the Feynman lectures (referred to as Feynman II below).
Of course, equivalent material is available in many other textbooks, or in online material such as those linked to further down on this page.

Continuous charge distributions. In class, we worked out how to calculate the potential and the electric field due to a continuous distribution of charge by first calculating the contribution due to an infinitesimal element and then integrating (``adding up''). This is an important technique which will recur throughout this module; please make sure you are able to set up integrals like this yourself.

Coulomb's Law, Electric Fields, Electric Potentials. Chapter 1 of Nash-notes. The introduction to the electric potential in Nash-notes Chapter 1 Section 3 is more detailed than we had time for in class; you might want to read this carefully.
In Feynman lectures Vol. II, you will find similar material in the first 4 sections of Chapter 4.

Overview and Background. In Feynman lectures Vol. II, Chapter 1 gives an overview of what we will learn this semester.
Chapters 2 and 3 introduces grad-div-curl and vector integration. You are supposed to know most of this material already. Working through them will be a great help for MP204.

Prerequisite: Vector Calculus

This module requires you to be very familiar with Vector Calculus. You should be comfortable with grad/div/curl, Stokes' theorem and the divergence theorem, and of course vector addition and components.

If you need a review, you can try working through some of the following. I strongly suggest making time to do this at the beginning of semester.

Important equations of electromagnetism

Here is a list of the main equations and results we encounter in MP204.

Material, sources

Lecture notes from a previous lecturer

MP204 lecture notes of Prof. Charles Nash --- this is roughly the material to be covered in the module, with some additions. It is recommended that you work through these notes, and in addition spend significant time working through at least one textbook.


There are many, many textbooks on introductory electromagnetism or electrodynamics. You are strongly encouraged to read through one or more textbooks.

In particular, I suggest working through the Feynman lectures (Volume II), which are free to read on this website. The material we will cover in MP204 is mostly contained within the first 20 chapters of Volume II. (Specifically: Chapters 1, 4--6, 13--18, 20.) This will be very close to what we will cover. However, the material is very standard and you will find the same topics in many other texts.

Other texts:

Material available online:

Lecture notes from various places.
Of course, I didn't check in detail for correctness and/or how closely these notes are aligned to the matter we cover in MP204, so please use at your own discretion.
Please let me know if any of the links don't work.

Practice Problems


We use SI (also called MKS or MKSA) units. Note that many equations look quite different when written in Gaussian (or CGS) units. When reading a textbook, be sure to watch out for which units that text is using.

Notations vary. I will mostly try using the same notations as in Prof. Nash's notes, but will not always succeed. You anyway need to be able to read and learn from multiple sources using different notations for the same physical quantities.

Solutions to previous exams   +   Sample Exams

Below is a sample exam for practice.

Sample exam 1, for 2018-2019

Below are solutions to some past exams.
(The length of exams has changed since 2017.)

2018 Repeat exam + solutions

2018 May exam + solutions

2017 Repeat exam + solutions

2017 May exam + solutions

Below are old sample exams for practice. They are in the style of previous (2017-2018) exams. The 2018-2019 exams may be structured differently, but the material covered and the level of difficulty should be similar.

Sample exam 1, for 2017-2018

Sample exam 2, for 2017-2018

Sample exam 3, for 2017-2018