Half of this module is about modelling simple fluid flows; the other half is about mathematical methods. You'll learn how to solve ordinary and partial differential equations such as: Laplace's equation, the wave equation and the diffusion equation; some vector field theory; and Fourier analysis. The fluid mechanical aspects of the module will give you a good understanding of modelling in the context of fluids. To study this module you should have a sound knowledge of ordinary differential equations, vector calculus, multiple integrals, basic particle mechanics and some knowledge of partial differential equations and Fourier series as provided by the appropriate OU level 2 study.
Course facts | |
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About this course: | |
Course code | MST326 |
Credits | 30 |
OU Level | 3 |
SCQF level | 10 |
FHEQ level | 6 |
Course work includes: | |
4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) | |
Examination | |
No residential school |
In simple terms, we think of a fluid as a substance that flows. Familiar examples are air (a gas) and water (a liquid). All fluids are liquids or gases. The analysis of the forces in and motion of liquids and gases is called fluid mechanics. This module introduces the fundamentals of fluid mechanics and discusses the solutions of fluid-flow problems that are modelled by differential equations. The mathematical methods arise from (and are interpreted in) the context of fluid-flow problems, although they can also be applied in other areas such as electromagnetism and the mechanics of solids.
Because of its many applications, fluid mechanics is important for applied mathematicians, scientists and engineers. The flow of air over objects is of fundamental importance to the aerodynamicist in the design of aeroplanes and to the motor industry in the design of cars with drag-reducing profiles. The flow of fluids through pipes and channels is also important to engineers. Fluid mechanics is essential to the meteorologist in studying the complicated flow patterns in the atmosphere.
The module is arranged in 13 units within four blocks.
Block 1
This is the foundation on which the rest of the module is built.
Block 2
The second block starts by investigating the motion of a fluid that is assumed to be incompressible (its volume cannot be reduced) and inviscid (there is no internal friction).
Block 3
This block looks at a class of differential equations typified by the wave equation, the diffusion equation and Laplace's equation, which arise frequently in fluid mechanics and in other branches of applied mathematics.
Block 4
In this block you'll return to applications of the mathematics to fluid flows.
If you are considering progressing to The engineering project (T452), this is one of the OU level 3 modules on which you could base your project topic. Normally, you should have completed one of these OU level 3 modules (or be currently studying one) before registering for the project module.
You can find the full content list on the Open mathematics and statistics website.
Successful study of this module should enhance your skills in communicating mathematical ideas clearly and succinctly, expressing problems in mathematical language and interpreting mathematical results in real-world terms.
The modelling of fluid flows is of significant importance to a number of disciplines, and requires knowledge of a broad range of tools that are essential in applied mathematics. In this module, you'll learn important aspects that govern fluid processes, including the necessary mathematical methods for their modelling and analysis, as well as the physical intuition. Mastering this material will help you develop skills that are desirable qualities in the profile of applied mathematicians, scientists and engineers working in industry and academia.
There is no formal pre-requisite study, but you must have the required mathematical skills.
You can check you're ready for MST326 and see the topics it covers here.
Talk to an advisor if you're not sure you're ready.
You should aim to be confident and fluent with the concepts covered in the Are you ready? quiz here, and follow the advice in the quiz.
The key topics to revise include:
Mathematical methods, models and modelling (MST210) is ideal preparation, otherwise Mathematical methods (MST224).
Module texts, audio-visual materials, access to a website from which all supplementary items are to be downloaded.
A scientific calculator.
You'll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Monterey or higher.
Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.
To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).
Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.
Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It's not available on Kindle.
It's also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you'll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.
Throughout your module studies, you'll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They'll help you by:
Module tutors also run online tutorials throughout the module. Where possible, recordings of online tutorials will be made available to students. While these tutorials won't be compulsory for you to complete the module, you're strongly encouraged to take part.
The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box.
The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone. The Accessibility Statement below outlines what studying this module involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.
Printed materials are provided for the core module text. All of this module's study materials are also online; this includes PDFs of any printed materials, plus some items which are only provided online. Online-only materials include audio/video clips (with transcripts). Online materials also include links to external resources, online forums and online tutorial rooms.
This module has online tutorials. Although not compulsory, tutorials will help you consolidate your learning.
Mathematical and scientific symbols and expressions are used throughout the module and you will be required to use such notation within assessment.
The study materials contain a considerable number of diagrams and some photographs. Reading, interpreting and producing examples of these is an important part of the study of this module and is assessed. Figure descriptions are provided for most figures.
Alternatives for required/assessed research material can be provided to enable you to meet the learning outcomes of the module.
In this module you will be working with specialist reading material which includes mathematical notation. This is delivered both online and in printed form, and also via bespoke and third party software. If you have any concerns about this aspect of the module, please contact us for further advice.
This module has Tutor-Marked Assignments (TMAs), which may be submitted online via the OU electronic TMA system or by post, and an exam that you will take remotely.
You will receive feedback from your tutor on your submitted Tutor-Marked Assignments (TMAs). This will help you to reflect on your TMA performance. You should refer to it to help you prepare for your next assignment.
All University modules are structured according to a set timetable and you will need time-management skills to keep your studies on track. You will be supported in developing these skills. If you are concerned about the time management required at undergraduate level, please contact us before you register on the module to find out what we can do to support you.
This module uses specialist symbols that are not covered by standard accessibility tools. If you decide to prepare your TMAs electronically you may need to use the following specialist software: LaTeX. Alternatively you may hand write your TMAs, then scan and email them, or post them.
Mathematical methods and fluid mechanics (MST326) starts once a year – in October.
This page describes the module that will start in October 2024.
We expect it to start for the last time in October 2028.
This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2028.
This module may help you to gain membership of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA). For further information, see the IMA website.