MITx: 8.02x: Electricity and Magnetism

School: MITx
Course Code: 8.02x
Classes Start: 18 Feb 2013
Course Length: 17 weeks
Estimated effort: 8-10 hours/week


While this course is fascinating and even entertaining, it does require an understanding of introductory physics and calculus. Feel free to review the content of courses...

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8.02x: Electricity and Magnetism

Electricity and Magnetism

8.02x (Electricity and Magnetism) presents the basic concepts of Electromagnetism, and how this touches upon a vast variety of interesting real-world topics.

About this Course

*Note - This is an Archived course*

This is a past/archived course. At this time, you can only explore this course in a self-paced fashion. Certain features of this course may not be active, but many people enjoy watching the videos and working with the materials. Make sure to check for reruns of this course.

8.02 is the second semester of the MIT introductory physics sequence. Passing the online version of this course will guarantee you an MITx certificate of achievement The course is on electricity and magnetism which are at the heart of Maxwell's equations. We will study electric fields, magnetic fields, electromagnetic forces, conductors and dielectrics, electromagnetic waves, and the nature of light. This online version follows the MIT on-campus class as it was given by the renowned Professor Walter Lewin in the spring of 2002, and includes his video lectures and problem solving sessions. Professor Lewin, proclaimed "a Web Star" by The New York Times, has supplemented his lectures specifically for 8.02x by including interactive questions to help students check their understanding during the lectures themselves. Also, the course uses prize-winning animations and interactive simulations developed under the leadership of Professor John Belcher for MIT's Technology Enabled Active Learning (TEAL) classroom.

In addition to the basic concepts of Electromagnetism, a vast variety of interesting topics are covered in this course including: Lightning, Electric Shock Treatment, Electrocardiograms, Metal Detectors, Musical Instruments, Magnetic Levitation, Bullet Trains, Electric Motors, Radios, TV, Car Coils, Superconductivity, Aurora Borealis, Rainbows, Radio Telescopes, Interferometers, Particle Accelerators such as the Large Hadron Collider, Mass Spectrometers, Red Sunsets, Blue Skies, Haloes around Sun and Moon, Color Perception, Doppler Effect, Big-Bang Cosmology.

You will complete automatically graded weekly homework problems and a series of exams using multiple choice, numerical and symbolic questions to test your understanding and to help you master the material. Lectures are interspersed with questions that must be answered before advancing to the next lecture segment. There is a moderated forum for student-to-student threaded discussions. While homework deadlines will be strictly enforced, the lowest homework grade will be dropped. Your grade will be based on interactive questions during the lectures (5%), homework problems and simulations (20%), three midterm exams (15% each), and the final exam (30%). Depending on what percentage of all the points you get, your grade will be as follows: A (more than 85%), B (70-85%), C (60-70%). At least 60% of the points must be obtained to qualify for a certificate of mastery.

Lewin's lectures at MIT are legendary. Many have been shown for over six years (starting in 1995) on UWTV in Seattle, reaching an audience of about four million people. For fifteen years (starting in 1983) he was on MIT Cable TV helping freshmen with their weekly homework assignments. His programs, which were aired 24 hours per day, were also frequently watched by upper-class students. Additionally, his 35 lectures on Newtonian Mechanics, 36 lectures on Electricity and Magnetism and 23 lectures on Vibrations and Waves can also be viewed at MIT'S OpenCourseWare, iTunes U, YouTube and Academic Earth. These lectures are being watched by about 5000 people daily from all over the world, that's about two million people per year! Many teachers show them regularly in their class rooms, and Bill Gates wrote Professor Lewin that he has watched all his lectures more than once, and that he learned a lot from them. The many responses that Professor Lewin receives daily are quite wonderful and often very moving.

Ways to take this edX course:

Simply Audit this Course

Audit this course for free and have complete access to all of the course material, tests, and the online discussion forum. You decide what and how much you want to do.

Course Staff

  • Walter Lewin

    Walter Lewin

    Professor Lewin got his PhD in Nuclear Physics at the Technical University in Delft, the Netherlands in 1965. He joined the Physics faculty at MIT in 1966 and became a pioneer in the new field of X-ray Astronomy. His 105 online lectures are world renowned and watched by about 2 million people annually. Lewin has received five teaching awards. He is the only MIT Professor featured in "The Best 300 Professors" of The Princeton Review. Professor Lewin co-authored with Warren Goldstein the book "For the Love of Physics" (Free Press, Simon & Schuster), which in 2012 has been translated in 9 languages and will be translated in a total of 11 languages. About this book Bill Gates wrote:"For the Love of Physics captures Walter Lewin's extraordinary intellect, passion for physics, and brilliance as a teacher. Hopefully this book will bring more people into the orbit of this extraordinary educator and scientist". Review by Bill Gates of book "For the Love of Physics"

  • John Belcher

    John Belcher

    Professor Belcher earned his Ph.D. in Physics from Caltech in 1971. Much of his research career has centered on the Voyager Mission to the outer planets, now known as the Voyager Interstellar Mission. From 1999 to 2005, Professor Belcher led the TEAL Project at MIT. Among other things, that project developed original methods for the visualization and animation of electromagnetic fields, many of which appear in this course.

  • Riccardo Abbate

    Riccardo Abbate

    Riccardo earned his Ph.D. in Theoretical Particle Physics at MIT in 2012, with a thesis focusing on the Theory of Strong Interaction.

  • Isaac Chuang

    Isaac Chuang

    Isaac Chuang is a professor of Physics and a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. His research focuses on quantum information and quantum computation. Professor Chuang leads the NSF IGERT on Interdisciplinary Quantum Information Science and Engineering at MIT. He is deeply involved in developing new methods for teaching and learning, as the associate director of MIT's Office of Digital Learning, and as a core developer of the edX platform.

  • Peter Dourmashkin

    Peter Dourmashkin

    Peter Dourmashkin is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physics at MIT. His research interests are in Mathematical Physics, Lie Group and Algebra Representation Theory. He has been part of the development, implementation, and teaching team for Technology Enabled Active Learning (TEAL). He has developed OCW Scholar Courses, the physics curriculum for a new university, the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), and is currently working on online learning through MITx and edX.

  • Saif Rayyan

    Saif Rayyan

    Saif Rayyan is a lecturer in the Physics Department and the Concourse Program at MIT. He received his Ph.D. in theoretical particle physics from Virginia Tech before switching his interests to teaching and to physics education research. He moved to MIT as a postdoc working with the RELATE group (Research in Learning, Assessing and Tutoring Effectively). Now, In addition to teaching introductory physics, Saif is working on the development of courses on edX, and trying to find the best practices in using online platforms to help students learn.

  • George Stephans

    George Stephans

    George Stephans (PhD U Pennsylvania) is a Senior Research Scientist in the Laboratory for Nuclear Science and a Senior Lecturer in the Physics Department at MIT. His research work involves collisions of very high energy atomic nuclei. The goal of these studies is to understand the behavior of systems of sub-atomic constituents (quarks and gluons) at extremely high temperatures and densities. His most recent experiments use the CMS detector at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. He has decades of experience teaching physics at MIT, including many different versions of 8.02.


While this course is fascinating and even entertaining, it does require an understanding of introductory physics and calculus. Feel free to review the content of courses 8.01 (also by Professor Lewin) and 18.01 to assess whether you meet the expected level of preparation. If you have the necessary background knowledge, we estimate that it will take 8-10 hours weekly to finish the course in the required time of 4 months. Additionally, you can always simply audit the course (watch the videos and not take exams) if you don't have the prerequisites or time to complete the course


What do I have to buy in order to participate in the course?

Nothing. All edX courses are free. The lectures, homework, simulations, and textbook are all available online.

Will certificates be awarded?

Yes. Online learners who achieve a passing grade in 8.02x will earn for free a certificate of achievement. These certificates will indicate you have successfully completed the course, but will not include a specific grade. Certificates will be issued by edX under the name of MITx.

What textbook do I need for the course?

For 8.02x we will use "Introduction to Electricity and Magnetism" by Peter Dourmashkin, John Belcher, and Sen-Ben Liao. The book is available on line without charge. You can also buy the book (publisher Pearson). Since the book is a record of things you will soon forget Professor Lewin recommends you buy the book if you can afford it. In 2002, Professor Lewin used the book “Physics for Scientists and Engineers” by Douglas Giancoli and you may hear occasional references to this book in his lectures.

When can I watch the lectures?

You can watch the lectures any time at your leisure.

Can I register to the class after the start date has passed?

Yes, you can register at any time between the start date and the end date. To obtain the certificate, however, you will have to get at least 60% of the total available points for the class.

I don't have the prerequisites. Can I still take the course?

We do not check students for prerequisites, so you are certainly allowed to try. However, 8.02x does depend on previous experience with mechanics and calculus. If you do not know those subjects before taking the class, you will have to learn them over the semester, which can be a very difficult task.

Other questions

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If you have any questions about 8.02x that are not answered in this FAQ, please ask them in the discussion forum.