MA209      Half Unit
Differential Equations

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Jan van den Heuvel


This course is available on the BSc in Actuarial Science, BSc in Business Mathematics and Statistics, BSc in Mathematics and Economics, BSc in Mathematics with Economics and BSc in Statistics with Finance. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit. This course is available with permission to General Course students.


Mathematical Methods (MA100) and Introduction to Abstract Mathematics (MA103) are pre-requisites. Real Analysis (MA203) and/or Further Mathematical Methods (MA212) are highly desirable, and students who have done neither MA203 nor MA212 should contact the lecturer.

Course content

The course concentrates on the theory and qualitative analysis of (ordinary) differential equations, although some solution techniques will be considered as well. Special attention will be paid to geometric concepts and the role of differential equations in the theory of dynamical systems. Specific topics covered are: First examples; illustrations of use of the computer package Maple. Existence and uniqueness of solutions. Autonomous 1 and 2 dimensional systems. Linear equations and systems: phase portraits; classification of systems in the plane; higher dimensional systems and higher order equations. Nonlinear systems in the plane: local and global behaviour; linearisation and stability at equilibrium points; Lyapunov functions; limit cycles. Control theory; linear systems; controllability.


22 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT.

Formative coursework

Written answers to set problems will be expected on a weekly basis.

Indicative reading

Full notes will be handed out throughout the course. A good additional text book is D K Arrowsmith & C M Place, Dynamical Systems - Differential Equations, Maps and Chaotic Behaviour. Other books closely related to R Grimshaw, Nonlinear Ordinary Differential Equations and W A Brock & A G Malliaris, Differential Equations, Stability and Chaos in Dynamic Economics.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: Mathematics

Total students 2016/17: 89

Average class size 2016/17: 12

Capped 2016/17: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills