System Dynamics, Master's, 2 years

  • Years2 years
  • Intake25
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Study startAutumn
  • ECTS credits120
  • Tuition feeNone


The Degree

The master's programme leads to the degree Master of Philosophy in System Dynamics. It is a two year programme (120 ECTS credits).

Objectives and content

The master´s degree in system dynamics signifies an ability to analyze how and why things change over time. System dynamics builds on the best traditions in science for studying complex dynamic systems to understand how systems´ dynamics originate from the underlying systems´ structure, to investigate how pressing current problems reflect past policies and design alternative policies that may be alleviate these problems. To do so, candidates are trained to develop simulation models that represent the cause-and-effect structure of the systems studied, to derive their dynamics by way of simulation, and to investigate the relationship between the two. This combination of skills encourages collaboration and teamwork in daily decision-making as well as long-range planning.

Programme profile

The Master's Programme in System Dynamics trains students in model-based knowledge acquisition, analysis and policy design in complex, dynamic domains that cut across disciplines and sectors. Research focuses on development issues, natural resources management, socioeconomic problems, and teaching that promotes insightful learning. When students choose thesis topics in these areas, they benefit from a close collaboration with faculty and fellow students.

To determine if System Dynamics is a good choice for you, download a readiness test to your computer from:

Unpack and open the program and go through the test denoted "Master Program in System Dynamics". If you do not achieve an acceptable score, we discourage you from applying for this program at this stage. In case you experience technical problems with the test, download the FAQ at: http://sddownloads.uib.no/readiness_test/FAQ.pdf


The system dynamics method is the subject of study and is also used as a vehicle for teaching throughput this programme. Its theoretical foundation is being presented as well as techniques and software tools. Students learn to apply the principles of system dynamics modelling and to use computer-based tools for simulation, interactive learning environments, and laboratory experiments.

Please see the link to Program Description and Construction for more details.

Master thesis

Students write a thesis during the third and fourth semesters. The thesis is a research project where system dynamics modelling and simulation are applied as a basis for systems analysis (identification of the origin of a dynamic problem) and policy design (including impact and feasibility analysis) aiming at a sustainable problem solution. Before choosing thesis topics, students are expected to consult with and gain approval from supervisors. A sample of recent topics includes:

  • simulation models: AIDS in Tanzania, prison overcrowding in the U.K., urban transportation in China, energy taxation, fluctuations in Colombia's coffee market, skilled labor market in Norway, sovereign debt crisis in Greece;
  • laboratory experiments: young people's understanding of delayed uptake of alcohol in the blood stream, popular misperceptions of energy taxes/urban transportation dynamics/collective action;
  • methodology: eigenvalue analysis of nonlinear system dynamics models, nonlinear and dynamic model optimisation in policy space, synthetic data experiments in social systems.

Please note that in order to write a thesis (take the course GEO-SD351), there is a requirement of an average result of C or better after the completion of all mandatory coursework. Only those who have met the required standards will be able to proceed with the programme.



What you Learn

Required Learning Outcomes

A candidate who has completed his or her programme should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The candidate

  • knows inherent challenges in understanding the dynamics of social systems
  • knows the system dynamics paradigm and alternative methods of analysis
  • knows system dynamics applications to problems in public and private sectors
  • knows how system structure can be portrayed in terms of stocks, flows, and feedback
  • knows behaviors that arise from fundamental structures of dynamic systems
  • knows at least one system dynamics software package and is aware of others


The candidate

  • is able to define problems, observe client perspectives, and assess importance
  • is able to build on theory to formulate hypotheses about problem causes
  • is able to build on and transfer knowledge from related cases
  • is able to analyze hypotheses in terms of realism and ability to explain problems
  • is able to explain behavior, detect weaknesses, and reformulate hypotheses
  • is able to evaluate the usefulness of hypotheses as theories/models for policy analysis
  • is able to identify new policies and to test these by way of simulation
  • is able to assess whether simulated policy options are cost-effective and practical
  • is able to communication with clients to overcome hinders for implementation
  • is able to report to an academic audience showing equations, diagrams, and graphs
  • is able to contribute to the literature and to theory building

General competence

The candidate

  • can engage in discussion with class mates, with colleagues, and with the general public
  • can write and speak effectively
  • can take ethical considerations into account when conducting research and interacting with clients, stakeholders, and colleagues
  • can seek the roots of problems and avoid overconfidence in quick fixes
  • can quickly transfer knowledge from basic models to a multitude of problem areas

Programme structure

Programme structure

First semester (autumn):

  • GEO-SD302 Fundamentals of Dynamic Social Systems
  • GEO-SD303 Model-based Analysis and Policy Design
  • GEO-SD304 System Dynamics Modelling Process

Second semester (spring):

The following courses may substitute for a spring course, with permission of the department:

  • GEO-SD322 Special Topics in System Dynamics, Policy
  • GEO-SD323 Special Topics in System Dynamics, Applications
  • GEO-SD324 Special Topics in System Dynamics, Methodology

Third semester (autumn):

  • GEO-SD309 Model Based Interactive Learning Environments
  • GEO-SD310 Writing course and project description
  • GEO-SD330 Natural Resource Management

Fourth semester:

Master's Programme in System Dynamics (krav 120 SP)
Courses (krav 90 SP)
Mandatory course
Course codeCourse titleSPSR
GEO-SD302Fundamentals of Dynamic Social Systems101
GEO-SD303Model-based Analysis and Policy Design101
GEO-SD304System Dynamics Modelling Process101
GEO-SD308Policy Design and Implementation102
GEO-SD321Model-based Socioeconomic Planning102
GEO-SD325Client-based modeling project102
GEO-SD309Model Based Interactive Learning Environments 103
GEO-SD310Writing course and project description103
GEO-SD330Natural Resources Management103
Elective course
Course codeCourse titleSPSR
GEO-SD322Special Topics in System Dynamics, Policy102
GEO-SD323Special Topics in System Dynamics, Applications102
GEO-SD324Special Topics in System Dynamics, Methodology102
Master Thesis (krav 30 SP)
Mandatory course
Course codeCourse titleSPSR
GEO-SD351Master's Thesis in System Dynamics304
Project proposal
Project proposal, master
Plan for finishing the master's project
Plan for finishing the master's project
SP = ECTS credits, S = Semester, R = Recommended semester

How to Apply

Admission Requirements

Applicants should hold a Bachelor's degree in social sciences, management sciences, natural sciences or engineering sciences. Students from other disciplines, but with a strong interest in System Dynamics, are also invited to apply and will be considered. Applicants should have average grades between A and B and be able to document proficiency in English.

The language requirements for admission to the programme are: TOEFL: minimum 80 (internet based), IELTS > 6.5 or previous degree in English, for example CAE/CPE (copy of degree required). If your first language is English, you will not be required to provide an English language test score. You are considered to be a native speaker of English if you are from Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK, USA or South Africa, and if English was the language in which you gained all your qualifications. 

Application procedure

Follow the guidelines on how to apply depending on which applicant group you belong to.



Who may apply

Self-financing degree students

More information

About the programme

See full study plan


Department of Geography


(+47) 55 58 30 62