The University of Newcastle, Australia
Available in 2019

Course handbook


Differential equations are one of the most powerful mathematical tools for understanding the natural world. Since rates of change are commonly expressed using derivatives, differential equations arise whenever some continuously varying quantities and their rates of change in space or time are known or postulated. Whether seeking to understand biological processes, behaviours of solids or liquids, ecological systems, or mechanical systems, differential equations provide essential insights. The modelling range of differential equations extends well into the world of human endeavour, for example, they are important for understanding financial markets, or even traffic flows.

This course introduces students to fundamental problems in differential equations. It will introduce students to mathematical modelling, exploring a wide breadth of application areas, and will investigate solution techniques, including methods for numerical computation of solutions.

Availability2019 Course Timetables


  • Semester 2 - 2019

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Build effective mathematical models using differential equations and use them to answer questions across the natural and human worlds

2. Classify different classes of differential equation and demonstrate understanding of how they arise and what characterises them

3. Solve important classes of differential equations arising from the mathematical modelling of physical, chemical and biological systems using analytical and numerical techniques.


Topics will include:

  1. Differential equations and mathematical modelling (model building, simplification, limitations and validation)
  2. First order differential equations
  3. Higher order differential equations
  4. Systems of first order differential equations
  5. Numerical solution techniques
  6. Partial differential equations (heat equation, wave equation and Laplace's equation)
  7. Fourier series and separation of variables methods for initial and boundary value problems

All topics will be taught in the context of applications drawn from real life examples.

Assumed knowledge


Assessment items

Written Assignment: Assignments

Formal Examination: Examination

Quiz: Quiz

Quiz: Online quiz

Contact hours



Face to Face On Campus 3 hour(s) per Week for Full Term


Face to Face On Campus 1 hour(s) per Week for Full Term

The tutorial may be held in a computer lab when needed.