Physics 324 - Spring 2018

Advanced General Physics

Course Description / Learning Goals

This is the second of two one-semester courses on advanced general physics. The primary purpose of this course is to give you an understanding of classical electromagnetism at a greater depth than that covered in introductory physics. You should develop an understanding of the general principles of E&M, and an ability to solve certain classes of problems amenable to analytic solutions using symmetry principles and vector calculus.

How to Contact Me

My office is Serin 212 W. If you would like to contact me, please send email to me at If I do not answer within a day, it has been buried by too many other emails. Send me another email, I will not be offended.

Format of the Course

The format of the course will be different than in previous years. It will consist of both lectures and active learning sessions. You can no longer put off all work until the end of the term.

All classes are in the Allison Road Classroom builing (ARC) room 333. Lectures will be on Tuesdays and the active learning sessions will be on Thursday. There are two sections of the course. Section 1 will meet from 1:40 pm to 3:00 pm on both Tuesdays and Thursdays. Section 2 will meet from 6:40 pm to 8:00 pm on both Tuesdays and Thursdays. Please try to attend the meetings for the section that you are registered for. The first class for both sections is Tuesday, January 16, the first day of the term.

In the Tuesday lectures, I will cover material from the textbook. Please come to class prepared having read the assigned material from the textbook. Also please come prepared to ask questions. I want the students to be actively engaged. It is not common that people learn difficult concepts when sitting passively in lecture. If there aren't sufficient questions, then I will ask questions of the students randomly.

The Thursday meetings will be active learning sessions. You will go over lecture material and homework problems in groups of three to four. Teaching assistants will be available to answer questions and to assist with problems. Every other Thursday a quiz will be given on material covered since the previous quiz. More detail on the quizzes is given below.

Active participation by the students, particularly in the Thursday sessions is important. Attendance and participation in the lectures and active learning sessions combined will count for 20% of the course grade.


Purcell and Morin, Electricity and Magnetism, ISBN 978-1-107-01402-2.


I am working on the course syllabus. When it is ready I will post it here. This syllabus is meant to be flexible and will be modified as appropriate as the course proceeds.

Office Hours

We will decide later if I will hold regular office hours; in the past I found very few students came to regular office hours. Please don't hesitate to come by my office at Serin 212 W if you have questions; I try to keep a current schedule posted on my door, and you can write yourself in. Or email me at suggesting three times that you are available. Phone calls generally will not work.


I will post weekly homework problems usually consisting of problems from the textbook. The homework will not be graded but is meant to help you to learn the material and to prepare for the quizzes and exams. The homework will in general consist of a range of problems from straight forward to challenging. You can probably find solutions online, but many people learn as well from reading solutions as they do from sitting passively in lecture. So it is to your advantage to try to solve the homework problems before looking at the solutions. Making an attempt at the homework problems is very important. In the past I have taught classes where students average 90% on online homework, but below 70% on quizzes, even though the quiz problems are simplified versions of homework problems they already answered correctly. How do you think this happens?

Grading / Assessment

The course grade / your performance assessment will be based on the following criteria:

Class attendance and participation: 20%
Inclass quizzes: 50%
Midterm exam: 10%
Final exam: 20%


There will be six in-class quizzes during the semester. They will be given during the Thursday sessions shown in the schedule below. Based on fall 2017 323 performance, we have decided to not allow makeup quizzes except for excused absences. For each student, we will only drop the lowest of the six quiz grades. The quiz grades in total will count for 50% of the course grade.

Quizzes will be given on the following Thursdays:   1/15,   2/8,   2/22,   3/29,   4/12, and   4/26.


There will be an 80-minute, in-class, mid-term exam and a 3-hour, final exam. Since the final is about twice as long, about 1/4 of the material in it will come from the first half of the term. The mid-term exam will be on Thursday, March 8. The final exam date and time are TBD. The midterm will count for 10% of the course grade and the final will count for 20%.

Common policies

A summary of common policies for SAS courses in pdf format can be found here. These policies address the honors policy, disability services, student wellness services, electronic devices in classrooms, and absences.

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This page is maintained by Prof. Ron Gilman.