Electricity and Magnetism
••• Syllabus •••

[Useful links/info: Week 2 (E fields)Week 7 (Circuits)Week 8 (B field)]

Winter Term 2020
Section ID 993448 – 993459 (12 sections, see image below)
Section A01-A12

Lectures on Tuesday & Thursday 2:00 pm – 3:20 pm, York 2722
iClickers are required in every class.

Quizzes every Friday 5:00pm — 5:50pm, York 2722
Notice the scantron form required for every quiz F-289-PAR-L, see below.

Discussion sessions:ss 2019-12-26 at 5.06.30 PM

Final Exam Thursday 03/19/2020  3:00 pm – 5:59 pm Room TBA.
Absolutely no make-up final exam.

Physics Department Tutorial Center Mo-Fr 2218 Mayer Hall Addition

See The UC San Diego Schedule of Classes for enrollment information and updates. Enrolled after the class has started? You are responsible for reading all announcement on the posted lecture notes.

Also see the Academic Calendar for information on class dates and holidays.

Professor Contact Info

Julio Barreiro
barreiro  /  ucsd   edu
Please always start the Subject: with “PHYS2B: ” and always email from your ucsd account and include your student ID. However, usually your questions are of interest to the whole class so I recommend using Piazza for Physics 2B

Office hours: Monday 3:00 – 4:00 PM  and Thursday 3:20 – 4:00 PM  when there’s no faculty meeting. Location: Mayer Hall Addition 4531

Teaching Assistants Contact Info

Lead TA:  Nick Colmenares
ncolmenares  / physics ucsd  edu
Office: Mayer Hall Addition 2218 (Tutorial Center)
Office hours:  see piazza
Tutorial center hours:  see piazza

Course Description

Physics 2B is the second quarter of a four-quarter introductory physics sequence. The course is aimed at students majoring in science and engineering (e.g. chemistry, molecular biology, computer science, mathematics).

Physics 2B is a continuation of Physics 2A covering charge and matter, the electric field, Gauss’s law, electric potential, capacitors and dielectrics, current and resistance, electromotive force and circuits, the magnetic field, Ampere’s law, Faraday’s law, inductance, electromagnetic oscillations, alternating currents and Maxwell’s equations.
Prerequisites:  (PHYS 2A or 4A) and (MATH 20B or 20C or 31BH).
Recommended prep: MATH 20C or 31BH. There will be calculus.

Please note: If you didn’t have Physics or electromagnetism courses in high-school this will be the hardest course in your life so far, but I am here to help you succeed!

I will follow Eric Michelsen‘s course of SP’13 and W’14, including his course materials.  I also encourage you to check out his book: Quirky Quantum Concepts.

Required Textbook

This is a required textbook/online homework: Mastering Physics for Physics for Scientists and Engineers: A Strategic Approach with Modern Physics, Fourth Edition by Knight. Chapters 22-32, Electricity and Magnetism.

Custom edition for Physics 2B University of California-San Diego

Purchasing notes from the publisher:

  • Instructions to setup your “Mastering Physics” homework on Canvas.
  • Mastering Physics plus eText around $60 when purchased online through Canvas.
  • Students receive two weeks of temporary access to Mastering Physics. They can select this option during the registration process.
  • Students have the option to purchase with a loose-leaf copy of the full textbook within Mastering Physics for $86.75 with free shipping. I highly recommend this option for those students who want a print textbook. It’s a great deal for a full Physics textbook.
  • Tech Support: please have students review the attached tech support document for troubleshooting if they experience technical difficulties.

Q&A / discussion board

Piazza for Physics 2B

Scores: Homeworks, quizzes and exams

You should check all your grades as they are posted. You must notify me of any grade questions within 1 week of their posting.

Note on Scantrons

The Physics department has its very own scantron reader. The new machine will not read the old form (X-101864-PAR-L). Instead you must start using the F-289-PAR-L form. It looks very similar to the old form (both are red half sheets). This is how the new scantron form looks.
When filling out your PID, replace the A with a 1 (you will be reminded every quiz 😉

Course Goals (from E. Michelsen’s)

  • “Understand not just the facts of electromagnetism, but the methods by which people came to understand them, thus empower ourselveves to discover/build/invent/do new things.”
  • “Seek a conceptual and quantitative understanding of basic electricity and magnetism concepts, to allow:
    • Understanding an electromagnetic situation
    • Deducing the qualitative behavior of it
    • Assessing what information is available or needed to perform meaningful calculations
    • Performing such calculations.
  • Virtually all physical science occupations require such a basic understanding of electricity and magnetism
  • Email or talk with me about your course goals.”

Tentative schedule of topics

Week Topic
1 Course overview. Introduction to Electrostatics: Electric Charges and Forces
Quiz 1 will be on basic Math/Physics skills. See Mastering Physics assigned Math/Physics Skills Modules.
2 Electric charges, forces, and fields, ch 22, 23
3 Gauss’ Law, ch 24
4 Electric potential, ch 25
5 Potential and field, capacitors, ch 26
6 Current and resistance, ch 27
7 Fundamental of circuits, ch 28
8 The magnetic field, ch 29
9 Electromagnetic induction • E-M waves, ch 30-31
10 E-M waves • AC circuits, ch 31-32

I want you to succeed. As part of that, we expect you to read ahead of the class, and start the homework even as it is being discussed in class. I don’t cover every topic in class; some I leave to the book. I encourage questions in class, but if you want more individual questions answered, I also recommend going to the office hours, discussion/problem sessions, and the Physics Tutorial Center.”

Homework, Reading Quizzes, and Mastering Physics

“You are often required to answer some questions online on Mastering Physics before we cover it in class.
This is to encourage you to read the material  before we cover it in class, which makes the discussion much more productive. These questions are called “prelecture assignment”.

The purpose of homework is to help learning.
To understand the material, you must practice solving problems.

Prelecture assignments on Mastering Physics are assigned roughly twice per week.

Other homework is assigned weekly. All the online homework is graded and for credit.

The first step in solving a problem is often the most difficult, so it is very important for you to start work on your own. Studying in groups may be valuable, but it cannot completely replace working on your own. Problems given on the weekly quizzes will resemble the homework and iClicker questions. The textbook contains numerous worked sample problems, and a number of questions and exercises at the end of the chapter.

Learning physics is about understanding why a solution works, 
rather than just getting the correct numbers.  
Blindly plugging numbers into formulas is useless.

Prelecture assignments and homework will be added/updated throughout the course, see Mastering Physics through your TritonEd account.


“The classroom response system is used to stimulate discussion and thought throughout the lectures.  You must bring your iClicker to every class.  Responses are a small part of your grade, though credit will be given for any overall effort judged significant.

The point is thinking, not necessarily getting right answers all the time.

Please think for yourself, as that will improve your grade on other materials (rather than letting others think for you).  Don’t distract yourself searching the book for the “right” answer; that only hurts you.  Instead, think for yourself.

Registering your iClicker:  You must register your iClicker on Canvas by the 2nd week to get credit.  Use your full 9-character student ID, starting with “A”, and the full 8-digit clicker ID, including any leading zeros.  On the left list, choose “Tools”. Then in the lower right corner of the tools pane (you probably need to scroll down), is iClicker Student Registration.
You can share an iClicker with someone in a different class, but not with someone in the same class.  More answers here.

For each iClicker question, you get one point for answering plus one point to answering correctly.

Answering more than one iclicker device is considered an Academic Integrity Violation and it will be reported to the Academic Integrity Office. Possession of two iClickers in class is considered an attempt to disrupt Academic Integrity and will also be reported. TAs will be monitoring iClicker use during lectures.

Discussion Sessions

There is a weekly discussion session hosted by the TAs.  The quizzes from Winter 2019 will be used as “practice quiz” for the discussion session and distributed the weekend before.  This is also a chance for you to get answers to more questions.  After working on the homework, please come with good questions.  You should ask, “I tried doing the problem this way, and ran into a roadblock.  Can you help me through it?”  Or, “What concept do I use to get started on this problem?”  (You should not ask, “How do I do this problem?”, “Can you solve this problem for me?”)

There is little difference between the two sessions, though the problem session is slightly more focused on working problems than discussion session.  Usually, there is enough time for you to ask any question at either session.  Problem Session ends early if there are no more student questions.


The Physics department has its very own scantron reader. The new machine will not read the old form (X-101864-PAR-L). Instead you must start using the F-289-PAR-L form. It looks very similar to the old form (both are red half sheets). This is how the new scantron form looks.

You must bring your Scantron form, and two soft pencils with you to quizzes, and know your Student ID.  The old forms won’t work.  Fill out your student ID ahead of time.  Please do not fold your Scantron sheet.

There are 10 closed-book quizzes, given every Friday. You must know some basic equations (e.g., F = ma); any equations beyond those will be given.  The formulas that will be given in the quiz are included in the discussion session “practice quiz”.  Quiz scores and correct answers will be posted on the web.  Your overall quiz grade will be computed from your best 8 of the 10 quizzes; two quizzes can therefore be missed without penalty.

The purpose of dropping two quizzes is to accommodate unavoidable conflicts for medical, academic, athletic, or other reasons.  The purpose is not to improve your grade.

  • There are no make-up quizzes.  If you anticipate missing more than two quizzes you will likely have to drop or withdraw from the class.
  • Please do not ask to take any exam early or late; to be fair to everyone, the answer is always “No.”
  • The quizzes are multiple choice and approximately 10 questions (except quiz 1 with 30-40 questions.  I recommend you fill in your 9-digit Student ID (use “1” for “A”) before coming to class.  We do not use the “Exam number” field.
  • Quizzes may ask about any concept used in HW, Reading Quizzes, or iClicker questions.  They are not necessarily simply rehashed HW questions with different numbers.
  • All quizzes are cumulative, and may include anything covered so far.
  • You will need a calculator (but may not use a laptop or phone) during the quiz. You may wish to bring some blank scratch paper as well.
  • You must enter your 9-digit Student ID on every quiz/exam, using “1” for “A”.  Fill out your name and Student ID before coming to class, so you’re not rushed.  Write your name, the course number, and quarter on the Scantron form.  ID errors (missing or incorrect) will be penalized from the quiz score.

Final Exam

Your student I.D. is required to take the final exam.

The final will be just a big quiz: a closed-book exam, with no note sheets, and uniformly cover the whole course.   It will be multiple choice questions, just like the quizzes.  As always, you must bring a Scantron form (same as quizzes) with you, and a calculator (but not a laptop or phone).  You may wish to bring some blank scratch paper as well.  There will be approximately 30 questions.

Course Grade

You should check all your grades as they are posted.  You must notify me of any grade questions within 1 week of their posting.

I consider many factors in setting the cut-lines for the final letter grades.  To be fair to everyone, I choose the cuts from a blind list of course scores.  The spreadsheet does the rest.  Please do not ask me to change your grade.  The final grade weighting will be determined when all the scores are in, as part of the overall grading process.  See course overview slides for grading on Canvas (Lecture 1).

Course Notes

See Canvas and E. Michelsen’s notes.

Academic integrity

Please read UCSD Policy on Integrity of Scholarship, the Academic Integrity Office, and the slides on Academic Integrity of the first day of lectures (e.g., having more than one iclicker in your possession in the classroom is considered an Academic Integrity Violation).

Accommodation for a disability

Students requesting accommodations for this course due to a disability must provide a current Authorization for Accommodation (AFA) letter issued by the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD) which is located in University Center 202 behind Center Hall. Students are required to present their AFA letters to Faculty (please make arrangements to contact me privately) and to the OSD Liaison in the department in advance so that accommodations may be arranged.

Contact the OSD for further information:

858.534.4382 (phone)


Most of this syllabus and material is reproduced with permission from Eric Michelsen‘s course.

Header image from wikipedia: “This is a close-up of a sample of titanium-zirconium-nickel alloy inside the Electrostatic Levitator (ESL) vacuum chamber at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). The ESL uses static electricity to suspend an object (about 3-4 mm in diameter) inside a vacuum chamber allowing scientists to record a wide range of physical properties without the sample contracting the container or any instruments, conditions that would alter the readings. Once inside the chamber, a laser heats the sample until it melts. The laser is then turned off and the sample cools, changing from a liquid drop to a solid sphere. Since 1977, the ESL has been used at MSFC to study the characteristics of new metals, ceramics, and glass compounds. Materials created as a result of these tests include new optical materials, special metallic glasses, and spacecraft components.” NASA/MSFC/Emmett Given nasaimages.org