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Module MA3432: Classical electrodynamics

Credit weighting (ECTS)
5 credits
Semester/term taught
Hilary term 2012-13
Contact Hours
11 weeks, 3 lectures including tutorials per week
Prof. Tristan McLoughlin
Learning Outcomes
On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:
  • Describe how to find the Fourier transform of a Green function and hence evaluate it for the equation of D'Alembert;
  • Use the retarded Green function to solve the Maxwell equations for electromagnetic fields in Heaviside-Lorentz units;
  • Describe electromagnetic radiation, including plane-wave and spherical vector waves;
  • Explain the concepts of electromagnetic potential and that of retarded time for charges undergoing acceleration;
  • Analyse simple radiation systems, in which the electric dipole, magnetic dipole or electric quadrupole dominate;
  • Show how the orthogonaligy and magnitude of electric and magnetic radiative fields may be established;
  • Use expressions for the fields to evaluate the differential power radiated in a particular direction, and hence find the total power;
  • Determine the motion of a radiating charged particle in the electric field of another charged particle or in a constant magnetic field;
Module Description
The purpose of module MA3432 is to outline the properties of Classical Electrodynamics as an example of a massless vector field an dto indicate important features in the theory of radiation including the intensity and direction of emanations from accelerated particles with charge. Applications to determining the motion of charged particles in particular electic and magnetic fields are considered, emphasis being placed upon the role of radiation in finding the dynamics of the particles. The module forms an element of the undergraduate programme in theoretical physics being built upon prerequisite first and second year courses in classical dynamics and mathematics and leading to courses in the fourth and final year including quantum field theory.
Module Content
  • Cartan formalism for Maxwell equations.
  • Solving Maxwell's equations; Green functions for Laplacian D'Alembertian.
  • Lienard-Wiechert potential; velocity, acceleration fields for moving charge.
  • Radiation theory; velocity and acceleration fields in three dimensions.
  • Non-relativistic Larmor formula and relativistic Kienard radiation formula.
  • Linear & circular accelerated motion; radiation in constant magnetic field.
  • Angular distribution of relativistic radiation; electric & magnetic elements.
  • Radiation during collisions, Bremsstrahlung.
  • Introduction to radiation damping; scattering and absorbtion of radiation.
  • Envoi: quantum chromodynamics and the unified electroweak
Indicative Textbooks
1. Classical Electodynamcis - J. David Jackson, John Wiley (3rd edition) 1998
2. Introduction to Electordynamics - David J Griffiths, Prentic-Hall, 1999
3.Electrodynamics courses at Stanford University: EM fields & EM radiation
4.  Module Website - MA3432 - Classical Field Theory
Module Prerequisite
Classical Field Theory (MA3431)
Assessment Detail
This module will be examined jointly with MA3431 in a 3-hour examination in Trinity term, except that those taking just one of the two modules will have a 2 hour examination. However there will be separate results for MA3432 and MA3431. Assignments will contribute 15% to the final result.