Agent-Based Modelling for the Social Scientist

Key information

Start date: 10 February 2020

Attendance dates:

February 2020: 10, 11, 12

Time commitment: 3 days


Stag Hill campus, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH

Contact details:


In this module, you will be introduced to foundation theoretical and practical aspects, 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, you will learn NetLogo as a programming language for agent-based models. Through step-by-step lab sessions, you will learn to develop a detailed model of a social phenomenon (e.g. a market, virus spread). You will also learn the major features of programming in NetLogo through practical application. You will acquire basic to intermediate programming skills in NetLogo as well as engaging with the step-by-step development of a model.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

  • Understand the foundations of social simulation (K)
  • Understand application areas of agent-based modelling (C and K)
  • Understand different implementations of social phenomena (C and K)
  • Be able to program in NetLogo (K, P and T)
  • Be able to provide a basic model specification and a basic implementation (P)


Code Description
C Cognitive/analytical
K Subject knowledge
P Professional/practical skills
T Transferable skills

Course content

  • What is agent-based modelling?
  • Basics of agent-based model implementations
  • Approaches to behaviour rules i.e. game theory, BDI and social psychology
  • Running and analysing experiments
  • Sensitivity analysis and robustness tests
  • Verification and validation
  • Intermediate use of NetLogo

Learning and teaching methods

  • Lectures
  • Practical workshops
  • Group discussion

Course leader

Corinna Elsenbroich

Corinna is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology. She joined the Centre for Research in Social Simulation  in August 2008 as a Research Fellow. Her academic background is in Philosophy (LSE BSc MSc) and Computer Science (KCL PhD), whe...

Reading list

Gilbert, N. (2008), Agent-Based Models, Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences, Sage Publications, pp.153

Gilbert, N. and Troitzsch, K. (2005) Simulation for the Social Scientist, Oxford University Press.

Squazzoni, F, Jager, W. and Edmonds B. (2014) Social Simulation: A Brief Overview, Social Science Computer Review, 32(3).

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements for this module.

Fees and funding

Price per person:


Government and commercial sector applicants


Education and charitable sector applicants



How to apply

You can apply for this module through our online store.

Apply now

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