The fundamental equations of elasticity with extensions to electromagnetic effects are expressed in differential form for a regular region of materials, and the uniqueness of solutions is examined. Alternatively, the fundamental equations are stated as the Euler-Lagrange equations of a unified variational principle, which operates on all the field variables. The variational principle is deduced from a general principle of physics by modifying it through an involutory transformation. Then, a system of two-dimensional shear deformation equations is derived in differential and fully variational forms for the high frequency waves and vibrations of a functionally graded shell. Also, a theorem is given. which states the conditions sufficient for the uniqueness in solutions of the shell equations. On the basis of a discrete layer modeling, the governing equations are obtained for the motions of a curved laminae made of any numbers of functionally graded distinct layers. whenever the displacements and the electric and magnetic potentials of a layer are taken to vary linearly across its thickness. The resulting equations in differential and fully variational, invariant forms account for various types of waves and coupled vibrations of one and two dimensional structural elements as well. The invariant form makes it possible to express the equations in a particular coordinate system most suitable to the geometry of shell (plate) or laminae. The results are shown to be compatible with and to recover some of earlier equations of plane and curved elements for special material, geometry and/or effects. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.