Tag Archives: Electricity and Magnetism

Course Review: PHYS 108

Enriched Physics II 

“Oh my God! Something is changing my magnetic flux!”

Text: David Halliday, Robert Resnick and Jearl Walker. Fundamentals of Physics 10th Edition Volume 2 (Chapters 21-44)

Prof: Dr Janis McKenna

Janis keeps things really straightforward. Further, she brings entertaining demo’s to class. She exploded lots of things and showed us how several devices work, ranging from a rail gun to an electric guitar. She is super-passionate about particle physics, and comes to the tutorials to help explain. Discussions on magnetic monopoles are always on the table. She also gave us guided tours of Triumf. Overall, a great prof for an enriched class in electromagnetism.


In comparison to PHYS 107, the professor and the textbook was a lot easier to understand. At the same time, electricity and magnetism is more abstract then mechanics. Further, you are expected to have grasped the basics of calculus by now, so the maths is harder. There was no scaling in this course yet the average was 75-78%, so if you keep up with the material you are okay. They through some tricky tutorial and homework questions at you once in a while, but rarely on exams or midterms. The midterms and exams were fairly conceptual-only a handful of plug-n-chug or mathematical questions. Most of the questions on the exam focused on applying (a) known physics concept/s in a possibly new environment. Thus, the cheat sheet was more of a security blanket than anything else.

Key Concepts

Maxwell’s Equations


Electric Fields


Magnetic Fields


Hard Concepts

Induced EMF: Never understood how an EMF can be circular, and not produce a voltage. Just learnt to accept magic.

Inductance: Tricky at first. Helpful to view as capacitance backwards.

Flux: Flux is mentioned in all of Maxwell’s Equations. Important to write flux through a loop as an area integral for some questions.

Integration: Sometimes its difficult to set-up the integral correctly, for a particular current or charge distribution. Important to make good use of trigonometry and right-hand rule. Also, check the answer.



Fun course. Not as much work as Phys 107. Recommend it to anyone who has a vague interest in Physics. Even if you don’t do well, Janis’s demo’s will make it worthwhile for sheer entertainment value.