Partial Differential Equations

The details
Mathematical Sciences
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 03 October 2019
Saturday 14 December 2019
04 October 2019


Requisites for this module
MA201 and MA202 and MA210



Key module for

BSC G1F3 Mathematics with Physics,
BSC G1F4 Mathematics with Physics (Including Placement Year),
BSC GCF3 Mathematics with Physics (Including Year Abroad)

Module description

The main majority of physical processes and phenomena can be described by partial differential equations, i.e. equations involving partial derivatives (e.g. the Navier-Stokes equations of Fluid Dynamics, Maxwell's equations of Electromagnetism, Schrodinger equation in Quantum Mechanics, Einstein equations in General relativity). This module considers the properties of the most common first and second order PDEs, the mathematical concepts behind them and analytical methods of solution for such equations.

The main difference from the case of ordinary differential equations is that here there is no analogue of existence and uniqueness theorem for a generic PDE. Instead of this, there is a variety of initial and boundary value problems one can impose for finding solutions of wide classes of equations. In addition, some important classes of nonlinear PDEs are also considered.

In this course we shall concentrate on second order linear PDEs (known as Equations of Mathematical Physics): elliptic equations (Laplace's equation), parabolic equations (heat equations) and hyperbolic equations (wave equations). We will study also various topics from real and complex analysis used for solving such equations: the Sturm-Liouville problem, maximum principle for harmonic functions, Fourier series, generalised functions (distributions).

Module aims

The module aims to provide a general understanding of the theory of linear PDEs and methods of solution the most important types of such equations arising in applications to Physics and Geometry.

Module learning outcomes

On completion of the course students should be able to (learning outcomes):
1. use the method of characteristics to solve first-order partial differential equations;
2. classify a second order PDE as elliptic, parabolic or hyperbolic;
3. use separation of variables for suitable boundary value problems for second order linear PDE;
4. have a basic knowledge and understanding of the theory of Fourier transforms and distributions and applying them to obtain fundamental solutions of Sturm-Liouville problems;
5. use Green's functions to solve elliptic equations;

Module information

1. Linear Differential Operators
2. Method of Characteristics
3. The one-dimensional wave equation
4. The Sturm-Liouville problem
5. Fourier transforms and distributions (generalised functions)
6. Parabolic equations
7. Hyperbolic equations
8. Elliptic equations

Learning and teaching methods

The module consists of 25 lectures, 5 classes. In the summer term 3 revision lectures are given.


  • Levandosky, Julie L.; Strauss, Walter A.; Levandosky, Steven. (2008) Solutions manual for partial differential equations: an introduction, Danvers, MA: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Hillen, Thomas; Leonard, I. Ed; Van Roessel, Henry. (2012) Partial differential equations: theory and completely solved problems, Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley.
  • Olver, Peter John. (2014) Introduction to partial differntial equations, Cham: Springer.
  • Walter A. Strauss. (December 21, 2007) Partial Differential Equations: Wiley.
  • Pinchover, Yehuda; Rubinstein, Jacob. (2005) Introduction to partial differential equations, New York: Cambridge University Press.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Written Exam Test 1
Written Exam Test 2
Exam 120 minutes during Summer (Main Period) (Main)

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
20% 80%


Coursework Exam
0% 100%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Professor Hadi Susanto, email, Dr Georgios Papamikos,
Dr Hadi Susanto (, Dr Georgios Papamikos,



External examiner

Dr Tania Clare Dunning
The University of Kent
Reader in Applied Mathematics
Available via Moodle
Of 36 hours, 32 (88.9%) hours available to students:
4 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information
Mathematical Sciences

Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.