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Postgraduate course

Model-based Analysis and Policy Design

  • ECTS credits10
  • Teaching semesterAutumn
  • Course codeGEO-SD303
  • Number of semesters1
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Resources

Main content

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Teaching semester


Objectives and Content

This is an introduction to System Dynamics analysis of non-linear, dynamic systems with emphasis on the relationship between system structure and behaviour, and on policy design and implementation. Students learn to build, simulate and test models of social, natural and hybrid systems, to analyze the structural causes of problem behavior and to develop and evaluate policies aimed at addressing such problems. The students gain a deep understanding of the intimate relationship between structure and behaviour in complex, dynamic systems; how structure gives rise to behavior and how the resulting behaviour may feed back to change the relative significance of the structural components of the system. This enables the students to analyze problems and to develop and evaluate policies of their own choice. The students also learn to distil the essence of a modelling experience and to communicate their analysis and design conclusions in the form of a compact executive summary.

Learning Outcomes

Express knowledge and understanding

Students gain extended knowledge about the System Dynamics method with particular emphasis on model based problem identification and analysis as well as hypothesis formulation and analysis in policy design. They also gain knowledge about the intimate relationship that exists between structure and behaviour (dynamics) in non-linear systems and the shifts in causal loop governance that may take place in such systems. They gain knowledge about the significance of a robust strategy development, the associated policy design and the resulting decision making (i.e. management). The students will know of the basic concepts of systems dynamics theory, methods, techniques and tools.

Apply knowledge and understanding

Students will apply their knowledge in a series of comprehensive case studies that will be presented in class. Students are challenged to investigate the turbulent dynamics arising from an underlying, non-linear structure by way of computer based modelling and simulation. Particular emphasis will be placed on their recognition of dynamic patterns of problem behaviour and the corresponding underlying structures, as well as their ability to propose and evaluate policies to address such problems. Students are trained to distil the essence of their insights and present it in the form of compact causal loop diagrams.

Make judgements

Students learn to make judgements about how well a model structure contributes to the explanation of an observed or hypothesised dynamic behaviour.


Students are encouraged to participate actively in class. The students will be trained both in writing and in oral presentations to explain the relationship between structure and dynamic behaviour in non-linear systems.

Develop learning skills

The course is putting the student on the track of becoming a skilled modeller, a problem identifier and a policy designer. It equips the student with the basic skills and tools to progress in the investigation of systems in ever more complex domains and familiarise the student with relevant scientific literature in the field.

Required Previous Knowledge


Recommended Previous Knowledge

GEO-SD302 or other adequate background in modelling

Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap

GEO-SD203 - 10 ects

Access to the Course

The course is open to students enrolled in the Erasmus Mundus master program and to graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Bergen if they have taken GEOSD302 or another course that provides an adequate introduction to System Dynamics.

Teaching and learning methods

The course is comprised of live-streamed, recorded and stored lectures with active participation by students on introductory material and case studies, and with classroom modelling and simulation activities both by lecturer and teaching assistant. Course meetings include three lectures and one lab per week over a five-week period. The exam is in last week of the course.

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

4 case studies.

Forms of Assessment

7 days take home exam (100% of grade).

Grading Scale

An ECTS grade is provided to the student at the end of the course according to the A-F scale.

Assessment Semester


Reading List

The reading list will be ready before 1 June for the autumn semester and 1 Decemeber for the spring semester.

Course Evaluation

All courses are evaluated according to UiB's system for quality assurance of education.

Programme Committee

The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses

Course Coordinator

Course coordinator and administrative contact person can be found on Mitt UiB.

Course Administrator

The Department of Geography at the Faculty of Social Sciences has the administrative responsibility for the course

Exam information

  • Type of assessment: Take home exam

    Assignment handed out
    14.03.2023, 09:00
    Submission deadline
    20.03.2023, 14:00
    Withdrawal deadline
    Examination system
    Digital exam