Free course

James Clerk Maxwell

Free statement of participation on completion
James Clerk Maxwell

James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) is arguably the father of electromagnetism, and unarguably one of the greatest physicists ever. Einstein called Maxwell's equations 'the most important event in physics since Newton's time, not only because of their wealth of content, but also because they form a pattern for a new type of law'. This free course will examine Maxwell's greatest triumph, the prediction that electromagnetic waves can propagate vast distances through empty space and the realisation that light is itself an electromagnetic wave.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • explain the meaning of the emboldened terms and symbols, and use them appropriately
  • state the equation of continuity and use it in simple problems
  • state the conditions under which Ampère's law is true and explain why it does not apply more generally
  • state the Ampère–Maxwell law and explain why it has a greater domain of validity than Ampère's law
  • state and name the differential versions of Maxwell's four laws of electromagnetism.

First Published: 09/08/2012

Updated: 03/03/2016