UNIVERSITY OF THE WITWATERSRAND,
School of Electrical and Information
Course Brief and Outline---2006
Printable pdf version
1 Course Background and Purpose
The aim of the course is to provide an overview of electromagnetic concepts
and to lay a sound theoretical foundation. It therefore includes the
debunking of the standard ``black magic'' image of electromagnetics, where
problems are solved by ``thumb suck'' and side-cutters!
Electromagnetics pervades almost every aspect of our everyday lives,
Radio, TV, Ordinary Telephones, Cell's Doll, Microwave Ovens, Radar, Remote
Sensing, Medical Electronics, Roving Mars Robots, Iridium/GlobalStar
Satellite ``phones'', GPS positioning, Wireless LANs at Ethernet speeds,
``toy'' LANs like Bluetooth, broadband microwave LANs...
In many ways, Electromagnetics can be viewed as a superset of circuit
theory, with the power flow through the mysterious ``ether'' as opposed to a
physical circuit. Thus the student is exposed to a broader and more general
context than before.
There is a growing awareness of compatibility issues in
Electromagnetics---what with planes crashing by Notebook; cancer by 50Hz;
Brain tumors by Cellular phone---so it is essential that knowledge of
this field is gained by all engineers, so that the effect on the
environment is minimized (and to improve the SNR :-).
It is to be remembered that the Electromagnetic Spectrum is simply another
part of our environment, but that its pollution and desecration is just not
so easily seen!
2 Course Outcomes
On successful completion of this course, the student is capable of:
understanding electromagnetics terminology;
- using simple finite element software;
- using sophisticated Method-of-Moments software;
- designing simple transmission line systems, including
- antenna and radiation fundamentals; and
- understanding electromagnetic compatibility issues.
3 Course Content
- Introduction, infinite transmission line,
terminated transmission line, input impedance, standing and travelling
waves, VSWR, power flow
- Smith Chart
- Development, use, matching---single and double stub.
- Static Fields
- Basic revision of electric fields, flux, duality,
- Maxwell's Equations
- For plane waves; boundary
conditions---conductors and dielectrics; Depth of penetration (skin
- Basic radiation fundamentals, launching and receiving
- EMC, Shielding effectiveness, remote sensing,
4 Prior Knowledge Assumed
Thorough knowledge of basic physics, especially the field components, and a
thorough grasp of mathematics, especially vector calculus.
5.1 Components of the Assessment
The final mark for Electromagnetics is made up as follows:
5.2 Assessment Criteria
The student's understanding of the fundamental aspects of the course will
be probed. Exam questions etc will need to be answered in order to answer
the question: ``WHY?'' as opposed to the simplistic ``HOW''. I am not
attempting to assess a simple methodology, I will assess fundamental
understanding of concepts.
Note that the onus is upon the student to convey this understanding in an
examination. A terse, correct ``answer'' may not necessarily attract marks!
Please refer to my exam writing skills
notes at ytdp.ee.wits.ac.za/ExamWritingSkills.html.
5.3 Calculators in Examinations
The examination will be of 3 hours duration and will cover all
material covered in the course. It will be a closed book exam, allowing a
type 2 calculator (ie an engineering calculator) and an A4
handwritten information sheet. The standard statement on these
An A4 information sheet may be brought into the examination. Both
sides of the sheet may be used for text, figures and equations, but
it must be hand-written. No printed or photostatic copies are allowed. No
additional reading aids are allowed.
Obviously, the test is under similar jurisdiction.
6 Teaching and Learning Process
6.1 Teaching and Learning Approach
My lecturing style is highly interactive, and largely of the ``chalk and
talk'' variety. This means that the emphasis during lectures is upon
understanding, and not on ``transferring the lecturer's notes to those of
the student, without passing through the minds of either''. Interaction on
the part of the student is required.
One negative consequence of an interactive lecturing style (as opposed to a
transfer of notes style), is that the student actually gains an
understanding in the lecture. If it assumed that this initial
understanding is all that is required, disaster occurs. Learning is an
iterative exercise, and requires constant re-inforcement. My
lecturing style can thus lead to a complacency which is rudely interrupted
at examination time. HENCE:
Tutorial exercises are designed to complement and probe material currently
being taught. They are not necessarily designed as examination questions.
Doing these exercises only just before the exams will not help. They are to
be done concurrently with the material being explored.
There will be three lectures per week, on a double on Tuesday at 08h00, and a single on Wednesday at 10h15
There will also be a tutorial on Wednesday at 11h15.
There will be 2 laboratories associated with this course held in the Basic
Laboratory, covering topics taught in the course, as well as topics not
formally dealt with in lectures.
Students who have not done the lab preparations will be asked to leave the
Students are required to attend all labs; failure to do so will result in a
Satisfactory Performance refusal.
7 Information to Support the Course
7.1 Prescribed Text/Reading
No text perfectly covers the course material: all books have flaws. If it
can be obtained the Third Edition of ``Electromagnetics'' by
J.D. Kraus (McGraw-Hill) is definitive. The Fourth Edition is OK,
the Fifth Edition, co-authored by Fleisch, is completely useless.
In addition, as of 2004, there is a ``Study Guide'' provided by Poynting
Innovations below cost:
- Cheng, D.K (1989) ``Field and Wave Electromagnetics'' Second
Edition, Addison Welsey Publishers.
- Clark A. R. (2004) ``SuperNEC Study Guide for Electromagnetics
and Antennas'', Poynting Innovations.
7.2 Course Home Page
For other information related to the course, please refer to the
Course Home page at
8 Other Information
Although the University Senate has ruled that attendance at lectures is not
compulsory, lectures will be used to supplement course texts, and
this supplementary information will be examinable. Announcements
relating to the course will also be made in lectures from time to time.
I have what I call a ``Modified Open Door'' policy. You can come and see me
at any time, but only in groups! I have a great regard for the peer-support
system; you only really understand something if you can explain it to your
peers. I have long ago forgotten the particular difficulties I had with
some of the concepts taught in this course, they now appear to me as
``obvious''; peers do not have this myopia.
The preferred method of contact, however, is email.
The Third Year notice board may be used for any course announcements.
The online version is http://ytdp.ee.wits.ac.za/elen302outline.html
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