Physics 413: Electricity and Magnetism


Prof Eric Corwin
374 Willamette Hall


MWF 3:00 – 3:50 pm, 110 Willamette Hall

Office hours

Thursdays 1 pm – 2:45, WIL 374
You are strongly encouraged to come to office hours, either with course-related questions, or just to chat.

Teaching Assistants (GTF)

Sripoorna Bharadwaj <>
Office hours Thursdays 10 am – 12 pm, WIL 453

Mohamad Nourikorabaslo <>
Office hours Wednesday 1 – 3 pm, WIL 271


Introduction to Electrodynamics, David J Griffiths


“I’ve found out so much about electricity that I’ve reached the point where I understand nothing and can explain nothing.

― Pieter van Musschenbroek, Inventor of the Leyden jar

In this course we will continue our study of classical electricity and magnetism, covering magnetism, electrodynamics, waves and radiation.  Throughout we will focus on building up the ability to tackle new problems and create scientific knowledge from scratch.

More broadly, this course aims to assist you in your development as a scientist.  We hope to demonstrate to you that physics is not a collection of facts and formulae, nor a series of disconnected topics, but rather a unified (but incomplete) approach towards understanding the world using critical and analytical thinking.

Conceptual questions

Most classes will begin with a conceptual question, related in some way to the topics of study. These questions are intended to push you to integrate your knowledge and understanding of physics into a coherent whole.  You will have a few minutes to try to puzzle things out for yourself and then a few more to try to convince your neighbors that you are right. Afterwards we will discuss as a class.


Midterms will be held during the first week of February and the first week of March.


There will be weekly problem sets due on TBD.  Except by prior arrangement late homework will only be accepted until 24 hours after the deadline and will automatically lose 50% of its score.

Problem sets exist to aid you in understanding and reasoning about physics.  I don’t care much about the numerical answer.  I care that you understand what you are doing and can articulate your thought-process.  To this end, I will require that all problem set solutions be in the form of fully explained well-written English.  Each question will be graded out of 15 points total, 10 points for scientific correctness of your answer and 5 points for the clarity and quality of your writing.  This means that I expect a well developed logical argument and explanation of your solution.  It should go without saying that correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling are required.  An example of how to write a problem set solution in plain English can be found at <>.

I understand that this is unusual and may chafe initially.  However, I hope to convince you of the merits of this approach, which I believe will aid your understanding and better prepare you to become scientists.

How to do Homework

Students are highly encouraged to collaborate on homework, but reminded that the work you submit should be your own.  I can almost guarantee that by working with others you will achieve a deeper understanding of physics and get a better grade in the course.  If you get stuck on a problem, don’t spin your wheels for very long. It is useful to struggle for a while, but it is a waste of your time to stare at one problem for hours.  Instead, talk to your problem set group and come to office hours.

No Laptops in Class

The use of laptops and phones in class is in general not allowed. Why? Several studies, plus past experience, show that students using laptops in class spend a great deal of time on non-class-related activities (facebook, games, …) and that these distractions negatively impact both learning and grades. This alone isn’t a reason to ban laptops – you’re responsible for your own performance in class. In addition, however, studies have shown that non-class-related laptop use distracts and impacts the learning of other students nearby. (E.g. Fried, C. B. Computers & Education 50, 906-914 (2008).) Plus, students have complained to me about the environment created by their classmates laptop use. Taking notes by hand, by the way, is more effective in cementing concepts in your mind. Please speak to me if you require an exception to this rule.

Course Objectives

At the end of the course you will be expected to possess:

  • Ability to apply principles and concepts to analyze problems.
  • Experience with integration of concepts: analysis of complex problems cutting across multiple domains of physics
  • Knowledge of principles and concepts of Electricity and Magnetism.
  • Ability to communicate physics concepts orally and in writing.


Final grades will be determined by a ranked combination of scores on homework, midterm(s), and a final.  Your best performance will contribute 45%, middle 30%, lowest 25%.  Your grade may be supplemented by your class participation as measured by engaging in the question to start class as well as asking and answering questions in class.

Students with disabilities

If there are aspects of the instruction or design of this course that result in barriers to your inclusion, please notify me as soon as possible. You are also welcome to contact Disability Services in 164 Oregon Hall, 346-1155.

Soft Matter Physics at the University of Oregon