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Decision Analysis in Energy Systems


Admission requirements

Required course(s):

None, but completion of Global Challenges: Sustainability is recommended.


The world is becoming more complex every day. Energy is a pillar for the functioning of our society and its management is dependent on data of different types. Preferences from multiple stakeholders (e.g., government, industry, civil society) need to be accounted for as well. In this context, decisions are more needed than ever, and they need to be taken quickly. How can we make sense of all this information to provide sustainability-grounded recommendations for Decision Makers (DMs) to manage energy systems? This course will start answering this question by introducing you to Multiple Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA). MCDA is a discipline that has been specifically developed to help DMs make better decisions.

The students will learn the key concepts of decision quality in the context of sustainability-driven energy systems analysis. This will include the understanding of how sustainability can be applied to assess energy systems at different scales, from a micro (e.g., technologies) to a macro (e.g., countries) scale.
Throughout the Block, we will explore practical MCDA-based case studies which include, among others, sustainability evaluation of different mixes of energy technologies, resilience assessment of countries’ electricity supply, and risk assessment of energy accidents.

Course Objectives


  • Understand state-of-the-art, adaptable and transparent strategies to formulate, model and support better decision-making

  • Learn how to apply MCDA methods of very different types, with a special focus on sustainability and resilience-related challenges

  • Recognize that many MCDA methods exist, each one with its advantages and shortcomings, while being able to sustain when some methods are more adequate than others


  • Learn how to deal with information interpretation and management

  • Understand the different roles of stakeholders in complex decision-making processes

  • Work effectively within and between groups of people

  • Stimulate critical thinking and group interaction


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2021-2022 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

This course delivers a stepwise introduction to the tools needed to support complex decision-making, using surveys and quizzes to shape critical thinking and decision support expertise. The lectures will be interactive and develop the students’ analytical skills for tackling pressing decision-making challenges, primarily in the area of energy systems analysis.

Assessment Method

  • Course participation (10%)

  • Group assignment (30%): Development of a decision-making problem or opportunity to be modelled and analysed by means of MCDA*

  • Individual assignment (30%): Personal reflection on the group assignment, with explanation and insightful discussion of one of the key impacts observed in the developed group work

  • Final Exam (30%): Open and close-ended questions on course material

*Students will have to frame the problem or opportunity, collect data, shape and apply the decision support model, interpret the results and critically reflect on the whole decision-making process.

Reading list

Several readings will be made available throughout the course. These will include journal publications and chapters, including from these key books about MCDA:

  • Greco S, Ehrgott M, Figueira J. (Eds.) Multiple Criteria Decision Analysis: State of the Art Surveys. New York: Springer-Verlag; 2016. (A recent survey of the main families of MCDA methods presented by some of the main researchers in the area)

  • Belton V, Stewart TJ. (Eds.) Multiple criteria decision analysis - An integrated approach: Kluwer Academic Publisher; 2002. (A very approachable book as an introduction to MCDA and some of its methods)

  • Linkov I, Moberg E, Trump B, Yatsalo B, Keisler JM. (Eds.) Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis. Case Studies in Engineering and the Environment: CRC Press; 2021. (A good compendium of MCDA applications in the areas of sustainability and resources management)


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. Marco Cinelli,


Who should attend this course?

Students interested in the development of sound and transparent decision support strategies and systems, with a main desire of learning how to shape and integrate different types of information/data and preferences to aid decision makers making sound decisions.