Department of Physics

Wake Forest University

PHYS 339: Electrodynamics


Instructor: Dr. David Carroll

Class Location: 103 Olin Hall

Time: 12:30 - 1:45 T/TH

Ave. Out of Class Prep Time: 2 hours/class

Recitation: TBA

Office hours: Tuesday and Thursday, 10:00 - 11:00 (am) or by appointment

Office: 214 Olin Physical Laboratory, Reynolda Campus
ph: 336 727 1804


This highly mathematical course is aimed at developing strong problem solving skills that utilize more sophisticated mathematical methods. The course will cover Integral methods in Electrostatics, Differential methods in Electrostatics, and Dielectric Materials. The course is intended to be taken with PHYS 340/640 which covers magnetic effects. The 639 section will be assigned extra reading. It is an excellent review for the graduate examinations. This course runs 1/2 a semester beginning at midterm and is evaluated end of term.


I.    Review of Vector Calculus

II.   Electrostatics and Conductors

        problem assignment 1

III.  Potentials, Uniqueness, and Laplace

        problem assignment 2

IV.  Separation of Variables in 3 Coordinate Systems

        problem assignment 3

V.   Introduction to Dielectrics

        problem assignment 4       


The Class

Attendance is required.  You may leave class after 15 minutes if the professor has not arrived.  You are responsible for all information given in each meeting including dates and times of review sessions, homework assignments, changes in schedule etc.  No late homework.  Only a pencil/pen may be used during tests.  Honor system applies. 

This class follows the topics as they appear in the text. However, presentation of topics in class are distinctly different from the text, offering a different perspective and approach. The class presentations and text presentation are meant to be used TOGETHER.  The philosophy of the class is to discuss approaches and focus on the physical basis for the models used to solve problems.  You will be called upon in class to contribute to the discussion and to work problems in class within groups.  You don’t need to have all the answers, but you should be thinking about the readings/problems ahead of time.


There are four HW assignments one “midterm quiz” one “exit” exam in this class.  The exams are worth 40% of the grade each.  The HW is 20%.

You should work independently on each HW assignment.


  1. 1. As with many of today’s texts - the solutions to HW can be found online. But the point of the HW is to illustrate how the principles outlined in class apply to a wide variety of physical situations.  If you copy the HW from an online source, you may well miss this purpose and be unable to perform well on the exams.  Moreover many of the answers on the web are wrong!

  2. 2.Do not wait until the night before a HW set is due to begin work on it.  At the very least read through the HW questions the day they are assigned. These can be lengthy and hard. But you are more ready to understand the question just after the material has been presented in class.


Text: Griffiths Electrodynamics 4th edition

Suggested reading: div grad curl and all that by Schey