Ecological Modelling Online

ECTS credits: 10

Course parameters:

Language: English
Level of course: PhD
Time of year:Autumn 2017

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++ and R using the Universal Simulator 2.0 framework.
  • Choose appropriate 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.

The course follows the Universal Simulator book (freely available at The book R for Everyone by J.P. Lander is recommended.

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

Special comments on this course:
The course is free.

First lecture will be held 4 September 2017.


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


Deadline for registration is 4 August 2017.