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Systems Optimisation


Admission requirements

Not applicable


This course is an application-oriented introduction to computer-based models for decision making. We will learn how to model (and optimize) large-scale systems in a wide variety of business domains - such as finance, marketing and operations. These models can be applied in the context of production planning, product mix strategy, portfolio optimization, bidding, among others.
The course will cover the basic elements of business modeling: how to formulate a model and how to use and interpret the information a model produces. Thus, the aim of this course is to (1) help students develop and implement optimization models and (2) provide students tools for interpreting and analyzing model-based solutions.

Computer Software
We will use Excel spreadsheets extensively throughout the course. More specifically, we will explore the extensive optimization capabilities built in the spreadsheet.

Course objectives

The following are some of the key topics that will be covered during the course’s lectures:

  • Introduction to decision models.

  • Linear programming formulation.

  • Demonstration of the spreadsheet optimization method.

  • Product mix optimization

  • Transportation planning

  • Understanding the solver sensitivity report

  • Bidding/assignment problems

  • Portfolio optimization


You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

The course has 6 lectures, individual assignments and a written exam.

Assessment method

There are assignments to be submitted individually, but you can discuss them with your classmates. During the class sessions, you will be asked to present your results in class and may receive bonus points for your participation, depending on your performance. There is a closed-book exam for this course.

Your final grade will be determined according to the following components (see the table below). Your final score needs to be at least 5.5 (on a scale of 10) in order to pass the course. In addition, you need to score at least 4 in each component to pass the course.

Individual Assignments 30%
Class Participation 20%
Exam 50%

After the grades are published, the exam will be made available for inspection in the professor's office.

The teacher will inform the students how the inspection of the exams will take place.

Reading list

I recommend the following books (not mandatory) for the course:

  • Winston and Albright, 2001, Practical Management Science: Spreadsheet Modeling and Applications, 2nd Edition (W&A).

  • John F. Barlow, 2005, Excel Models for Business and Operations Management, 2nd Edition.


Every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.

Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.



  • There is only limited capacity for external students. Please contact the programme Co-ordinator.

  • Students are responsible for enrolling/unenrolling themselves for (partial) exams/retakes.

  • Students who do not enroll themselves for an exam/retake by the deadline are not allowed to take the exam/retake.

  • Students fail the course if any of the partial components (except the exam) that make up the final mark of the course is assessed below 4.0.

  • Students fail the course if the grade for the (final) exam is assessed below 5.0.

  • The final grade is expressed as a whole or half number between 1.0 and 10.0, including both limits. The result is not to be expressed as a number between 5.0 and 6.0.

  • If one of the components of the final mark constitutes a component that assesses attendance or class participation, students cannot take a retake for this component. Therefore, students fail the course if their mark for this component is less than 4.0.

  • Partial grades, inclusive the exam grade will not be rounded. If partial grades will be communicated, it is possible partial grades are rounded, but unrounded partial grades will be used in the calculation of the final grade. The final grade will be rounded at 0.5 (5.49 will rounded down to a 5 and a 5.5 will be rounded up to a 6.0).

  • Students pass the course if the final grade is 6.0 or higher (5.49 will rounded down to a 5 and a 5.5 will be rounded up to a 6.0).

  • It is not possible to do retakes for group assignments. Therefore, if students fail the group assignment component, they fail the course.

  • For courses, for which class participation is an assessment component, students may not be penalised for an absence if the student has a legitimate justification for this absence. The student must notify the program coordinator via email ( of such an absence BEFORE the lecture, describing the reason for missing the lecture. If the student does not notify the program coordinator before the lecture, the student will be penalised. Students may be required to provide further documentation to substantiate their case, and class attendance requirements are only waived under exceptional circumstances such as illness.

  • Students who are entitled to more exam/retake time must report to 10 days before the exam/retake takes place.