Electromagnetism and Light module (PH21001)

Learn about electricity, electromagnetism, and light to gain an understanding of the physics underpinning most technology

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Module code


Electromagnetism and light describe the physics of electric and magnetic fields, and how they are connected.

We use electromagnetism to describe the underpinning science of many of our everyday devices and technology. Visible light is an electromagnetic wave, with a wavelength between 400 and 750 nm. Your television, phone, and radio rely on electromagnetism, using electricity, magnetism, or light to work.

Electric and magnetic fields can be either static, like the Earth's magnetic field, or changing, like in AC circuits.

What you will learn

In this module, you will:

  • review Coulomb’s Law, electric fields, and electric potential
  • learn about Gauss’s law
  • study magnetic fields and forces, and sources of magnetic fields
  • learn about electromagnetic induction and alternating current circuits
  • study the nature and propagation of light, including polarization, interference, and diffraction
  • experimental techniques to measure electric and magnetic fields, and alternating currents

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • name and describe a range of electrostatic and magnetic effects, making use of calculus and vector mathematics
  • describe the concepts of electromagnetic induction, inductance, and electromagnetic energy
  • analyse alternating current circuits making use of inductors, capacitors, and resistors
  • use electromagnetic waves to develop Maxwell’s description of electromagnetism
  • apply the concept of an electromagnetic wave to the understanding of light and its interactions
  • undertake electromagnetism experiments including advanced data analysis using MATLAB

Assignments / assessment

  • coursework (25%)
  • laboratory (25%)
  • exam (50%)

Teaching methods / timetable

  • lectures
  • problem classes
  • tutorials
  • weekly laboratories


This module is available on following courses: