A body has non-uniform circular motion when its trajectory is a circumference and its angular acceleration is constant. In this section, we are going to study:

Non-uniform circular motion equations

The equations for the non-uniform circular motion, also known as uniformly accelerated circular motion are the following:



  • φ, φ0: Angular position of the body in the studied moment and at the initial moment respectively, its unit in the International System (S.I.) is the radian (rad)
  • ω, ω0: Angular velocity of the body at the considered moment and at the initial moment respectively. Its unit in the International System (S.I.) is the radian per second (rad/s)
  • α: Angular acceleration. Its unit in the International System (S.I.) is radian per second squared (rad/s2)
  • t:  Instant of time under consideration. Its unit in the International System (S.I.) is the second (s)

Although the former are the main equations of the non uniform circular motion, and the only ones necessary to solve the exercises, it is sometimes useful to know the following expression:


The previous formula allows us to relate velocity and angular distance traveled if the acceleration is known, and can be deduced from the previous ones, as you can see next.



You can easily remember the equations for the non-uniform circular motion, since they are similar to those of the u.a.r.m., but considering angular quantities, rather than linear.

Relationship between angular and linear quantities

The non-u.c.m. is a circular motion, and as such, the angular and linear quantities are related through the radio R.

Linear quantity Relationship Angular quantity
distance traveled (s)
linear velocity (v)
 tangential acceleration (at)
normal acceleration (an)

From the previous table the following linear quantities can be easily deduced:




Finally, remember that the total acceleration of a body can be expressed as a function of its intrinsic components, giving us its magnitude:


Deduction of equations

To obtain the equations of non-uniform circular motion we proceed in the same way as we did with the uniformly accelerated linear motion (u.a.r.m.), but considering angular magnitudes, rather than linear. We will consider the following properties:

  • Angular acceleration is constant (α=constant)
  • Additionally, this implies that the average and instantaneous angular velocities of the motion always have the same value

It is, therefore, about determining an expression for the angular velocity, and an another for the angular position (we already know that the angular acceleration is constant). Considering the above restrictions, we get:


This first equation relates the angular velocity of the body with its angular acceleration at any moment in time and it is a straight line (ω) whose slope coincides with the angular acceleration and whose y-coordinate at the origin is the initial angular velocity (ω0). We need to get an equation that allows us to obtain the position. There are different methods to deduce it. We will use the Merton´s theorem: already used in the u.a.r.m., which allows us to say that the angle traveled in a non-uniform circular motion, matches the corresponding to a u.c.m. with angular velocity equal to the arithmetic average of the final and initial angular velocities of the time interval under consideration.

ωm=ω+ω02φ=φ-φ0=ωm·tφ-φ0=ω+ω02·t[1] y [2]φ-φ0=ω0+α·t+ω02·tφ=φ0+ω0·t+12·α·t2

Where have we applied:

1 ω=ω0+α·t2t=t-t0=t0=0t

Now... ¡Test yourself!

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