Module code: SOCM052

Module provider


Module Leader


Number of Credits


ECTS Credits



FHEQ Level 7

JACs code


Module cap (Maximum number of students)


Module Availability

Semester 2

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 4

Independent Study Hours: 126

Lecture Hours: 10

Laboratory Hours: 10

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework 1 MODEL ANALYSIS (1500 WORDS) 60

Alternative Assessment


Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module overview

Students will be introduced to foundational theoretical and practical aspects of social simulation. The module covers the process of agent-based modelling, from conceptualising a research question, where to obtain data, operationalisation and formalisation of data, model implementation, and model analysis and interpretation. In addition to the theoretical content, the student will learn NetLogo as a programming language for agent-based models. On the basis of a detailed model of a social phenomenon (e.g. a market, virus spread) that is developed step-by-step in lab sessions, the major features of programming in NetLogo are learned through practical application. Through this guided implementation the student will acquire basic to intermediate programming skills in NetLogo as well as engaging with the step-by-step development of a model. Workshops in Weeks 4 and 8 will be interactive sessions for students to deepen knowledge and develop their models.

Module aims

To understand basic features of social simulation

To understand a range of modelling techniques, e.g. system dynamics, micro-simulation, agent- based modelling

To understand particular features of modelling social phenomena, e.g. networks, neighbourhoods, social influence

To understand different kinds of agents, e.g. behavioural, reactive, cognitive

To understand foundations of model conception, specification, implementation, verification and validation

To learn programming in NetLogo to an intermediate level

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Understand the foundations of social simulation K
002 Understand and evaluate different kinds of social simulation KC
003 Understand application areas of social simulation C
004 Understand different implementations of social phenomena C
005 Be able to program in NetLogo KPT
006 Be able to provide a basic model specification and a basic implementation P

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Module content

Indicative content includes:

Basic concepts of social simulation
Social simulation techniques (eg. system dynamics, microsimulation, agent-based modelling)
Basics of agent-based model implementations
Approaches to behaviour rules (eg. game theory, BDI)
Running and analysing experiments
Sensitivity analysis and robustness tests
Verification and validation
Intermediate NetLogo

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to integrate theoretical knowledge of social simulation with practical skills for the implementation of simulation models. The lectures provide theoretical content, the lab sessions hone programming skills and facilitate the application of theoretical understanding to model building.

The learning and teaching methods include:

4 day intensive course over 20 hours, comprising lectures and lab sessions for learning NetLogo as a programming language
Workshops (2 2h in weeks 4 and 8)

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge, analytical capacity and practical skills of social simulation. The dual learning outcome of the course (theoretical and practical), are mirrored in the assessment strategy consisting of an implemented model and a theoretical/critical essay engaging with the model and the relevant literature. The model is a practical implementation of a social phenomenon, e.g. an extension of an existing model. The essay is a report on the model design and implementation, a positioning of the model in relevant literature and an analysis of the results.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

An implemented model (40%): The model could be an extension of a classic model (e.g. implementing new migration regimes into a segregation model) or an idea developed independently by the student. The model needs to be accompanied by a description of its domain of application and research question, a description of how it works, what can be investigated with it and initial results. (Week 10)


A 1500 Model Analysis (60%): The analysis is a critical engagement with the model built in the previous assignment. It will contain a literature review, position the model within the relevant literature and analyse, describe and interpret the results of the model. (Week 12)


Formative assessment and feedback

Formative assessment will be provided in the lab sessions and individual supervision. The lab sessions are focussed on learning programming in NetLogo and in doing so will provide the student with immediate feedback and help to develop their programming skills. Students are invited to discuss their conceptual models in one-to-one sessions to get feedback on feasibility and scope. The essay assignment has written feedback and students are invited to one-to-one sessions to discuss this feedback and how to learn from it for future assignments.

Reading list


Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2017/8 academic year.