MEK4400 – Theory of Hydrodynamic Stability

Course content

The Orr-Sommerfeld equation, stability of linear flow, stability criteria for inertial stability, stability of stratified flows, Couette flow, Poiseuille flow and boundary layer flow, stability of flow between coaxial rotating cylinders, stability criteria for the onset of thermal convection, non-linear effects, the Landau equation, transition to turbulence.

Learning outcome

To provide an introduction to the theory of hydrodynamic stability. The course can be used in a master or doctoral study in fluid mechanics, oceanography, meteorology or branches of physics and astrophysics.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Recommended previous knowledge

MEK3230 – Fluid Mechanics, MEK4300 – Viscous Flow and Turbulence, MAT-INF3360 – Introduction to Partial Differential Equations (continued). It will be useful to have knowledge about complex functional theory.

Overlapping courses

10 credits overlap with MEK9400 – Theory of Hydrodynamic Stability

9 credits with ME301.

*The information about overlaps is not complete. Contact the department for more information if necessary.


4 hours of lectures per week.

Upon the attendance of three or fewer students, the lecturer may, in conjunction with the Head of Teaching, change the course to self-study with supervision.


Final oral or written examination. The form of examination will be announced by the teaching staff by 15 October/15 March for the autumn semester and the spring semester respectively.

Examination support material

Written examination: Rottmann's formula list + approved calculator.
Information about approved calculators (Norwegian only)

Language of examination

Subjects taught in English will only offer the exam paper in English.

You may write your examination paper in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Students who can document a valid reason for absence from the regular examination are offered a postponed examination at the beginning of the next semester.

Re-scheduled examinations are not offered to students who withdraw during, or did not pass the original examination.

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Taught according to demand and resources. If you want to attend the course, please send an e-mail to


According to demand and resources.

Teaching language


The course is given in English. If no students have asked for the course in English within the first lecture, it may be given in Norwegian.