Ecological Modelling Online

ECTS credits: 10

Course parameters:
Language: English
Level of course: PhD 
Time of year: Autumn 2016
No. of contact hours/hours in total incl. preparation, assignment(s): 40 hours online in the class room + 40 hours for assignments + 200 hours for your own modelling project. Ideally, your own modelling project is an integrated part of your PhD project.
Capacity limits: 16 participants

Objectives of the course:
Learn how to create you own ecological models, both in principle and concretely, using the Universal Simulator.

Learning outcomes and competences:
At the end of the course, the student should be able to:

  • formulate models on paper, composed of inputs, outputs, processes, state variables and driving variables, organised into a meaningful hierarchy of sub-models and their interactions
  • implement sub-models in C++ using the Universal Simulator 2.0 framework
  • choose appropritate generic sub-models for ecological processes (such as population dynamics, dynamic life tables, food web interactions, epidemics) and relevant processes in physiology and the environment.

Compulsory programme:
Assignments in the first half of the course; presentation of own project during the course.

Course contents:
Lectures, student presentations, assignments, individual supervision on own modelling project.

Previous experience with programming or modelling is not required but will make the learning curve less steep.

Name of lecturer:
Niels Holst

Type of course/teaching methods:
Lectures, assignments, student presentation, individual project work.

A textbook for the course is being written by Niels Holst. Chapters will be added during the course. The students will have an influence on the topics treated in the textbook.

Course homepage:

Course assessment:
The student must make a final presentation of his/her model at the end of the course (before Christmas)

Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University

Special comments on this course:
The course is free.

First lecture will be held 5 September 2016.


Deadline for registration is Sunday, 4 September 2016.

For registration and questions please send an email to Niels Holst (

Comments on content: 
Revised 05.11.2018