1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Taking Electrodynamics this semester

  1. Aug 21, 2010 #1
    I am taking Electrodynamics this semester and we are doing the course with the aid of "david griffith's Intro to electrodynamics" there has been alot of word that the course is extremely difficult... can anyone tell me ways to prepare for it?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 21, 2010 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Re: Electrodynamics

    ideally, your math classes will have prepared you for it. Some useful math topics are:

    subject (application to electrodynamics)

    vector calculus (field effects)
    differential equations (laplacian)
    linear algebra (special relativity)
    wave equation (trigonometric form, for propagating waves)

    But realistically, I think the best thing you can do is mentally prepare yourself to spend long nights on homework and studying for the class. Just stick tight through it. My roughest semester was the second half of electrodynamics and classical mechanics, as well as solid state. I didn't have a social life that semester.
  4. Aug 21, 2010 #3
    Re: Electrodynamics

    The course has a reputation for being difficult, but it does depends on which year you are in certainly. I am an engineering major and took it my senior year as an elective. By that point in my education, it was actually not a big deal for me; however, it certainly was for many juniors taking the class. If I took it a year previous, I would have found it just as difficult I imagine.

    As stated, your math courses will have presumably exposed you to all the fundamentals needed to approach the topic. This class will help cement these tools in your understanding, and give you real practice in using them.

    You could confer with textbooks regarding vector calculus, and so forth, but ultimately you will spend a good deal of time easing into the topic once you start the course. If you were to procure a copy of the text, you would notice that the first entire chapter is about vector calculus review. Your class should begin with such a 'review,' and lead you to the material in a relatively comfortable fashion. No worries, and you will enjoy the text. Griffith's is a friendly author, who even speaks in first person, it is almost like he is leading you by the hand through the material. I took Jackson electrodynamics (grad level) last year, and am studying for my PhD qualifying examinations now, but I studied from Griffiths, not Jackson when reviewing electrodynamics. What I mean to say is, it is a good book. One to hold onto for your reference. There is nothing really you have to prepare for given that you will learn it as you go, but the other poster's topics list is good and should be all you need. I also agree that the best preparation is mental preparation. Best of luck!
  5. Aug 22, 2010 #4


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Re: Electrodynamics

    If you have some time to spare before the course starts, I'd go pick-up the textbook from your university bookstore (or borrow it from the library if it isn't yet available at the bookstore) and read through the 1st chapter (it's an introduction to the mathematics you will use throughout the rest of the course/text) doing ALL the problems along the way, including the ones at the end of the chapter (there are 60+ if memory serves, so it will take a fair bit of time). If you have difficulties with some of the problems, use the intro or advanced homework help subforums here. You should find the course much more manageable if you can get a good grasp of the mathematical techniques used in advance. Some of the vector calc proofs at the end of the chapter will be especially benificial.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook