9am - 5:45pm
Monday 10 February - Wednesday 12 February 2020

Agent-based Modelling for the Social Scientist

In this course, you will be introduced to foundational theoretical and practical aspects of this approach. The course 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, you 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 you will acquire basic to intermediate programming skills in NetLogo as well as engaging with the step-by-step development of a model.

from £395.00 to £595.00

University of Surrey

You will learn

  • To understand basic features of simulation modelling in the social sciences
  • To be able to think about a social problem in an agent-based modelling relevant way
  • To understand particular features of modelling social phenomena, e.g. networks, neighbourhoods, social influence
  • To be able to conceptualise different kinds of agents, e.g. behavioural, reactive, cognitive
  • To be able to engage in the research process of modelling including model conception, specification, implementation, verification and validation
  • To learn programming in NetLogo to an intermediate level


This course is offered in collaboration with the Centre for Research in Social Simulation, one of the first research groups to use agent-based modelling in the social sciences.

Course Contents

Indicative content includes:

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

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this course, particpants will be able to:

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

Key: C-Cognitive/Analytical; K-Subject Knowledge; T-Transferable Skills; P- Professional/ Practical skills

Preparatory Reading

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

Gilbert, N. and Troitzsch, K. (2005) Simulation for the Social Scientist, OUP.

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


Varies according to status:

  • £595- Government/commercial sector
  • £495 - Educational/charitable sector 
  • £395 - Students.


*Participants on the course will include some students completing the MSc in Social Research Methods*

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