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Classical Electrodynamics


Admission Requirements

Electric and Magnetic Fields


The course covers Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetic field, wave theory of light, and propagation of electromagnetic waves in media.

The course exploits vector calculus, theory of linear differential equations and elements of asymptotic analysis to derive a number of foundational results in the theory of electromagnetism.

The course is divided into four major components

  1. Maxwell's equations: derivation, solution strategies, conservation laws.
  2. Electromagnetic waves.
  3. Theory of radiation.
  4. Electromagnetic fields in material media.

The course will be delivered by black-board instruction, combined with power-point illustrations. Weekly home assignments are offered, in which you are required to apply your mathematical skills and physics understanding to a variety of situations and systems.

The detailed list of topics includes

  • Maxwell's four equations in the integral and differential form

  • Continuity equation and local conservation laws

  • Energy conservation law and Poynting's theorem

  • Maxwell's stress tensor

  • Properties of Maxwell's homogeneous equations.

  • Solving Maxwell's homogeneous equations. The Fourier method.

  • Electromagnetic waves in vacuum.

  • Properties of Maxwell's equations with sources.

  • The vector and scalar potentials.

  • Gauge symmetry.

  • The retarded potentials.

  • The Lienard-Wiechert formula.

  • The dipole radiation.

  • Maxwell's equations in good conductors.

  • The skin effect.

  • Theory of reflection.

  • Waveguides.

  • Electric field in dielectric media. Dielectric polarisation. Bound charge.

  • Electric susceptibility, dielectric constant, electric displacement.

  • Magnetic field in magnetically polarisable media. Magnetisation. Bound current.

  • Magnetic susceptibility, types of magnetic response. Permeability.

  • Material interfaces and boundary conditions.

  • Electromagnetic waves in material media.

  • Refraction of electromagnetic waves.

Course objectives

After completion of this course you will be able to: – apply the theory of electromagnetism through Maxwell’s equations, using the tools of vector calculus. – explain the unifying connections between seemingly different phenomena in nature such as electromagnetic induction and optics. – describe the basic properties of wave propagation, diffraction and interference.
You will also have enhanced your general problem-solving and mathematical skills.


For detailed information go to Timetable in Brightspace

You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

See Brightspace

Assessment method

Written Examination with short questions

Reading list

D.J. Griffiths , Introduction to Electrodynamics

John David Jackson, Classical Electrodynamics


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.
Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


Contactgegevens Docent:Prof.dr. J.M. van Ruitenbeek