FYS3120 – Classical Mechanics and Electrodynamics

Teaching and exams spring 2022

In light of the most recent infection control regulations, we will at the start of the spring semester 2022 increase our online teaching, while we at the same time try to maintain in-person teaching where this is possible. We hope to go back to more in-person teaching later on in the semester. You will be informed about any changes in teaching or examinations on the semester page, in Canvas or through your regular channels.

Read more about postponed exams for the autumn semester 2021.

Course content

This course gives an introduction to analytical mechanics with an emphasis on Lagrange-Hamilton formalism and the action concept. Further, the course contains a thorough introduction to Einstein’s special relativity using four-vector formalism. This is used to give a covariant (independent of reference frame) description of mechanics and electromagnetism, including Maxwell’s equations.

Learning outcome

After completing this course you are expected to:

  • understand the fundamental concepts of analytical mechanics such as generalised coordinates and momenta, the Lagrange and Hamilton functions, the action, cyclic coordinates and the relation between symmetries and conserved quantities, as well as the use of Poisson brackets
  • be able to use the Lagrange and Hamilton equations to solve complex mechanical problems, and to use phase space based arguments to achieve a qualitative understanding of the existing solutions, as well as to apply variational calculus to more general problems.
  • understand the fundamental concepts of special relativity and their physical consequences, such as the Lorentz transformation, invariant quantities, the metric, and four-vectors and more general tensors, as well as their use in covariant formulations of physical laws.
  • be able to perform calculations using relativistic mechanics and conservation laws, including Newton’s second law on covariant form.
  • be able to use Maxwell’s equations in calculations featuring: both free and stationary electromagnetic waves, polarisation, problems with stationary sources, use of the multipole expansion, and time-dependent sources with electromagnetic radiation, including radiation from a dipole.
  • have a basic understanding of the field formulation of the Lagrange-Hamilton formalism.

Admission to the course

Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

Special admission requirements

In addition to fulfilling the Higher Education Entrance Qualification, applicants have to meet the following special admission requirements:

  • Mathematics R1 (or Mathematics S1 and S2) + R2

And in addition one of these:

  • Physics (1+2)
  • Chemistry (1+2)
  • Biology (1+2)
  • Information technology (1+2)
  • Geosciences (1+2)
  • Technology and theories of research (1+2)

The special admission requirements may also be covered by equivalent studies from Norwegian upper secondary school or by other equivalent studies (in Norwegian).

Overlapping courses


The course is taught through a whole semester with 6 hours of teaching per week:

  • 4 hours of lectures
  • 2 hours of problem-solving classes

This course has 12 mandatory assignments. A minimum of six of these must be submitted and approved before you can sit the final exam. Three of these must be from the first six assignments, and three from the final six.

Regulations for mandatory assignments can be found here.


  • Midterm home exam which counts 20 % towards the final grade.
  • Final written exam, 4 hours, which counts 80 % towards the final grade.

A minimum of 6 out of 12 assignments must be approved before you can sit the final exam.

When writing your exercises make sure to familiarize yourself with the rules for use of sources and citations. Breach of these rules may lead to suspicion of attempted cheating.

It will also be counted as one of the three attempts to sit the exam for this course, if you sit the exam for one of the following courses: FYS4120 – Classical mechanics and electrodynamics (discontinued)

Examination support material

  • Approved calculator
  • Rottman: "Matematisk formelsamling"
  • Øgrim and Lian or Angell and Lian: "Fysiske størrelser og enheter"
  • Compendium with formulas for the course

Language of examination

You may write your examination paper in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Resit an examination

This course offers both postponed and resit of examination. Read more:

Special examination arrangements, use of sources, explanations and appeals

See more about examinations at UiO

Last updated from FS (Common Student System) Jan. 22, 2022 7:11:16 AM

Facts about this course

Teaching language
Norwegian (English on request)