Module Identifier MA31210  
Academic Year 2006/2007  
Co-ordinator Dr Joe Hill  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Dr Joe Hill  
Pre-Requisite MA21410 , MA11210  
Course delivery Lecture   19 Hours. (19 x 1 hour lectures)  
  Seminars / Tutorials   3 Hours. (3 x 1 hour example classes)  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours (written examination)  100%
Supplementary Assessment2 Hours (written examination)  100%

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module, a student should be able to:
1. interpret conditions for the existence and uniqueness of solutions of autonomous ordinary differential equations;
2. explain what is meant by the invariant intervals for an equation;
3. classify the critical points of one-dimensional systems;
4. classify the critical points of linear two-dimensional systems;
5. locate and classify the critical points of two-dimensional nonlinear systems;
6. sketch possible phase portraits of two-dimensional nonlinear systems;
7. describe simple ecological models and draw appropriate conclusions;
8. solve second order systems by matched asymptotic expansions.

Brief description

A wide variety of phenomena can be modelled by means of ordinary differential equations.
Very few such equations can be solved explicitly, and in the quantitative theory of differential equations methods have been developed to determine the behaviour of solutions directly from the equation itself. The subject was pioneered in the early part of the twentieth century by Poincare and then by Liapunov. This module provides a thorough grounding in the theory of dynamical systems and nonlinear differential equations.


To provide an introduction to the qualitative theory of nonlinear differential equations, with particular emphasis on the construction of phase portraits of two-dimensional systems and applications.


1. Existence and uniqueness of solutions; autonomous and non-autonomous systems.
2. One-dimensional systems; stability and invariance of solutions.
3. Two-dimensional linear systems: classification of critical points.
4. Critical points of two-dimensional nonlinear systems. linearised stability theorem, Poincare-Benedixson theorem, conservative systems; construction of possible phase portraits.
5. Modelling by means of two-dimensional nonlinear systems, eg predator-prey models, infectious disease models.
6. Singular pertubations and matched asymptotic expansions. Law of mass action in chemical reactions.

Reading Lists

** Supplementary Text
D W Jordan & Smith (1987) Nonlinear ordinary differential equations. 2nd. Oxford University Press 0198596561
J Guckenheimer & P Holmes (1983) Nonlinear oscillations, dynamical systems & bifurcations of vector fields Springer 3540908196
M Hisch and S Smale (1974) Differential equations, dynamical systems, and linear algebra. Academic Press
P Glendinning (1994) Stability, instability and chaos : an introduction to the theory of nonlinear differential equations CUP 0521425662


This module is at CQFW Level 6