UK Nonlinear News, May 1996

University College, London

MSc in Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos

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A number of places on this MSc are still available for Oct. 1996 entry. Candidates who wish to be considered for EPSRC studentships must submit their applications as soon as possible.
Contact J. Stark at the address below.

The study of nonlinear dynamics is one of the most exciting and fastest growing branches of the mathematical sciences. It is having an increasingly important impact on a variety of applied subjects ranging from the study of turbulence and the behaviour of the weather, through the investigation of electrical and mechanical oscillations in engineering systems, to the analysis of biological and economic phenomena. It has also fired the public¹s imagination under the popular name of "chaos".

The Centre for Nonlinear Dynamics and its Applicationsis a leading interdisciplinary centre established at University College London to act as a focus for research in the theory of nonlinear dynamics and its applications across science and engineering. It is based within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering under the directorship of Professor J.M.T. Thompson, FRS, whose seminal book on "Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos" has played a fundamental role in stimulating the application of nonlinear dynamics to problems in engineering and the sciences.

In October 1993 the Centre instituted a new one year course in Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos, leading to the award of the degree of Master of Science by the University of London. This course is designed to fill a growing demand for individuals with expertise in the modern techniques of nonlinear dynamics. Hitherto, postgraduate courses in the UK in this field were only offered within mathematics departments, focused on the more mathematical aspects of the subject and were largely targeted at students whose first degrees were in mathematics. By contrast the new MSc at UCL is much more practically oriented and is designed to appeal to those with a background in engineering or the applied sciences who are keen to apply the techniques of nonlinear dynamics to problems in their own subjects.

The course includes lectures on the theory and the applications of nonlinear dynamics; substantial time spent exploring archetypal systems using modern computing facilities; a variety of case studies of applications; and a major project undertaken by the student. There is an opportunity to undertake experiments, for instance using mechanical or electronic oscillators, and (subject to approval by the course director) to choose options from amongst suitable courses taught by other departments at UCL, or even by other colleges of the University of London. The course can be taken on either a full-time or a part-time basis, lasting respectively one and two calendar years.


The aim of this MSc is to teach students in engineering, mathematics and the sciences the fundamentals of the modern theory of nonlinear dynamical systems and to provide them with the tools required to apply this theory to practical problems within their own subjects. Students successfully completing the course will be capable of analysing the dynamics of a nonlinear system in a logical and structured fashion in order to draw useful conclusions about its overall behaviour. They thus have a firm basis from which to go on to a career in industry, or to embark on further research in a variety of disciplines.


The course concentrates on fundamental concepts and on practical techniques. Emphasis is placed on the use of appropriate examples and case studies, drawn from a wide range of subjects, to illustrate various themes. Students are encouraged to explore such examples using a variety of computer techniques and undertake a substantial project, which in most cases concentrates on some application of nonlinear dynamics to a problem in science or engineering.

Although nonlinear dynamics inevitably makes use of a wide range of modern mathematical techniques from areas such as topology and differential geometry, previous knowledge of these is not assumed. Any advanced mathematical tools needed are taught as required.

Entrance Qualifications

These are kept as broad as possible. The standard entrance requirement is a good first degree in any reasonably numerate discipline such as engineering, physics, chemistry, computer science and mathematics. Applicants with qualifications in other subjects (including possibly economics or biology) are considered provided they have a sufficiently strong mathematical background. It is particularly hoped to attract mature students onto the course, such as practising engineers keen to acquire new skills. All students are required to have a good working knowledge of English and some familiarity with computers is advantageous, but not essential.

Financial Support

The Centre receives an annual quota of UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) studentships for this course. These are allocated on a competitive basis; students who wish to be considered for such an award should indicate this clearly at the time of their application for a place. Only UK and EEC residents are eligible for EPSRC awards, and only the course fees are included in the case of non-UK students.

Further Information

More information is available at

This includes:

Application Procedure

Application forms, details of fees, and general information regarding postgraduate study at University College London can be obtained from:

Dr. Jaroslav Stark (
Centre for Nonlinear Dynamics and its Applications,
University College London, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT, UK.
Telephone: 071-391-1368, Facsimile: 071-380-0986.

See also courses at: [Bath] [Edinburgh] [U.C.L.] [Michigan]

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Last Updated: 3rd May 1996.