6 ECTS credits
170 h study time

Offer 1 with catalog number 1004290BNR for all students in the 2nd semester at a (B) Bachelor - advanced level.

2nd semester
Enrollment based on exam contract
Grading method
Grading (scale from 0 to 20)
Can retake in second session
Enrollment Requirements
Om te kunnen inschrijven voor Elektromagnetisme moet men geslaagd zijn voor Golven en elektromagnetisme en ingeschreven of geslaagd zijn voor Complexe analyse: residurekening en integraaltransformaties OF moet men ingeschreven zijn in het Voorbereidingsprogramma master fotonica. Bacfhelorstudenten ingenieurswetenschappen moeten tevens ingeschreven of geslaagd zijn voor het technologieproject Informatie en Communicatietechnologie en 1 van de 3 overige technologieprojecten.
Taught in
Faculty of Engineering
Educational team
Yves ROLAIN (course titular)
Activities and contact hours
42 contact hours Lecture
30 contact hours Seminar, Exercises or Practicals
Course Content

Starting from the very general Maxwell equations, we end up with the differential equations that govern the behaviour of the electrical field in free space. This simple differential equation is subsequently solved using simple mathematical functions in different geometries and field configurations.

These use-cases contain both real engineering problems and fair approximations of more complex situations. This includes but is not limited to the propagation of electromagnetic waves in free space, or in a guiding structure. Examples used in the course are the coaxial cable, the rectangular metal waveguide and the flat dielectric waveguides.

The dissipative behaviour of the electrical field results in an in-depth analysis of the Skin-effect in plane and cylindrical conductors.

A lot of time and effort is spent to cover the theory and the practical applications of the transmission lines. A whole collection of techniques are explained theoretically and are next illustrated in the tutorials, the exercises, and the laboratory work. Some examples are: the S-parameters, the reflection coefficient, the VSWR, the reflectometric setup, and the singe- and double-stub matching techniques.

Finally some energetic concepts of the propagation of the electromagnetic fields in the free space are touched. The vector of Poynting is used to introduce the basics of the theory of the antennas and to calculate the power balance of a radio propagation.

The course is split in the Lectures and practical work.


  1. Lectures (42 hours):

  • Wave propagation of E and Complex representation of the EM field

  • Helmholtz equation and critical frequency

  • Plane waves and polarisation

  • Skin effect

  • Coaxial cable

  • Differential equation of a transmission line

  • Use of the Smith Chart including Stub Matching

  • S parameters and wave formalism

  • TDR (Time Domain Reflectometry)

  • Standing Waves - VSWR

  • Bergeron

  • Parallel plane metalic waveguides

  • Rectangular metalic waveguides

  • Dielectric waveguides

  • Vector and theorem of Poynting

  • Dipole of Hertz (Retarded Biot-Savart)

  • Radiation resistance, power and gain, Resonating dipole

  • Helmholtz - Kirchoff diffractionintegral, Principle of  Huygens

  • Fraunhofer diffraction in apertures and grids

Exercises (15 hours):

  • Calculus of the AC resistance of cylindric conductors at sensible application frequencies

  • TDR

  • Standing waves

  • Single stub matching

  • Double stub matching

  • Bergeron

  1. Laboratory assignements (15 hours):

  • TDR

  • Standing waves / Reflection factor

  • Coupler / Horn antenna

  • Cut-off waveguide, attenuation and phase

  • Dipole antenna

Course material
Course text (Required) : Elektromagnetisme, Notas 'Elektromagnetisme', Y. Rolain, Dienst Uitgaven VUB, 2220170003641, 2017
Handbook (Recommended) : Engineering Electromagnetic Field and Waves, C.T.A. JOHNK, Wiley, 9780471098799, 1986
Additional info

Because this course is only tought in Dutch, it is strongly adised to the English speaking students to have at least basic skills in Dutch.

Dutch notes 'Elektromagnetisme' edited by the 'Dienst Uitgaven VUB'.

An English reference textbook can be used as a backup.

C.T.A. JOHNK, Engineering Electromagnetic Field and Waves, Wiley 1975, 1986

Learning Outcomes

General competencies

General positionning in the cursus:

This course aims at the development of skills and knowledge in the field of electromagnetism. This track starts in the first bachelor, static fields and networks are added in the second bachelor in the "general electricity" course and this course finshes teh bachelor education in electromagnetics for the 'EIT' in the third bachelor.
For the 'EIT' students, the course is followed by the compulsory course 'High Frequency electronics' and by the option course 'Microwave design: From Datasheet to design'.

Study outcomes :

  • Analyze, interpret and understand advanced, electromagnnitic problems at the RF ans microwave frequencies.
  • Apply, understand, interpret, and develop an analytical solution for some illustrative propagation problems in electromagnetism. To maximize practical usability, the emphasis is always put on the generic character of the solution and on the use of a streamlined framework to solve the problems. This helps you to assimilate the concepts and eases an intuitive assimilation of the material. Clearly,  you will be able to solve the problems independently.
  • Use the "engineering way" in high-frequency techniques. The difference in behavior between lumped and distributed systems is hereby especially stressed.
  • Analyze, understand and apply transmission line technology. The techniques covered include: the Smith-Chart, the Time Domain Reflectometric setup (TDR) to the localize faults.
  • Understanding and adapting mismatches by the interpretation of standing wave patterns and stub matching techniques.

-exam requirements :

  1. Written examination covering tutorials and laboratory work:
  • Independently solve exercises of a similar level of difficulty as those given during the tutorials.
  • Exploit and interpret measurement data harvested during the laboratory.
  • Note: the students may consult all course notes and textbooks.
  1. Oral examination covering the theory:
  • Apply Helmholtz equation to establish the distribution of the electrical field in configurations (cases or geometries) studied during the lectures.
  • Comment and explain the behavior of the obtained electrical field, including the spacial distribution, the orientation of the field vector and the presence of modes.
  • Understand modal propagation and its consequence on the propagation properties of a communication channel.
  • Note: the student may NOT consult any notes or textbooks except for the list of formulas included in the Dutch course notes.

This course contributes to the following programme outcomes of the Bachelor in Engineering Sciences:

The Bachelor in Engineering Sciences has a broad fundamental knowledge and understanding of
1. scientific principles and methodology of exact sciences with the specificity of their application to engineering;
3. integrated design methods according to customer and user needs with the ability to apply and integrate knowledge and understanding of other engineering disciplines to support the own specialisation engineering one;
4. fundamental, basic methods and theories to schematize and model problems or processes.

The Bachelor in Engineering Sciences can
5. define, classify, formulate and solve engineering problems, identify the constraints and is able to delimit and formulate the tasks in order to submit these to a critical examination and to check the solutions for their sustainability and social relevance;
6. monitor, interpret and apply the results of analysis and modelling in order to bring about continuous improvement;
10. correctly report on design results in the form of a technical report or in the form of a paper;
12. reason in a logical, abstract and critical way;

The Bachelor in Engineering Sciences has
16. a creative, problem-solving, result-driven and evidence-based attitude, aiming at innovation;
17. a critical attitude towards one’s own results and those of others;
18. acquired the tools for knowledge collection towards life-long learning;
19. The Bachelor in Engineering Sciences has more advanced fundamental knowledge and understanding electronics and information technology from the component up to the system level and can apply this knowledge to solve basic engineering problems.


The final grade is composed based on the following categories:
Other Exam determines 100% of the final mark.

Within the Other Exam category, the following assignments need to be completed:

  • Exam with a relative weight of 1 which comprises 100% of the final mark.

    Note: Mondeling examen over de theorie 40%
    (een afgesproken formularium mag gebruikt worden tijdens dit mondeling examen)

Additional info regarding evaluation

  1. 1st exam session:

  • Laboratory work: 10% of the score

  • Written examination of 4 hours covering tutorials and laboratory work  50% (open book)

  • Oral examination covering theory  40% (ONLY a special formularium included in the course may be used)

  1. Second exam session:

  • idem

Academic context

This offer is part of the following study plans:
Bachelor of Engineering: Electronics and Information Technology (only offered in Dutch)
Bachelor of Engineering: verkort traject elektronica en informatietechnologie na vooropleiding industriële wetenschappen (only offered in Dutch)
Bachelor of Physics and Astronomy: Default track (only offered in Dutch)
Preparatory Programme Master of Science in Photonics Engineering: Standaard traject (only offered in Dutch)
Preparatory Programme European Master of Science in Photonics: Standaard traject (only offered in Dutch)