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Complexity and Networks


Deze informatie is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Admission requirements

This course is an (extracurricular) Honours Class: an honours elective in the Honours College programme. There are limited spots available for non honours students. Admission will be based on motivation.


Complexity and networks is an emerging field of science. It focusses on the relationships between different parts of a complex system (such as the human brain, networks of trading banks, public transportation, healthcare and energy consumption) and investigates how these relationships affects the collective behaviour of the system. Such an integrated approach is of critical importance in various fields like (human) biology, economics, logistics, social sciences and environmental sciences. The approach is based on the notion that a system is more than the sum of its parts. Consequently, reductionistic approaches -while essential- are not sufficient for our understanding. This Honours Class presents a number of examples in which the complexity approach has facilitated a deeper understanding of complex systems, offering a better grip on predictability and controllability. The class is open to students with a broad interest in complexity and does not require any specific expert background.

Course objectives

The course objective is that upon successful completion, the student needs to have a better understanding on how the complexity approach has facilitated a deeper understanding of the system, and enhances predictability, offering grip on complex systems.


Tuesdays: January 23; February 13; March 6, 13 and 27; April 10 and 24; May 8, 22 and 29
between 17.15-21.00 hours (17.15-18.00 hours get-together with soup and rolls. The session is scheduled from 18.00-21.00 hours). (not definite)


Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), room H1-14 and H1-18


Guest lectures (provisional)

1). January 23: Coming together, introduction into the topic “Complexity” and brief overview of the content of the Honours Class. Prof.dr. Joke Meijer and Dr. Erik Schultes (LUMC).
2). February 13: Prof.dr.W.Th.F. den Hollander: Synchronisation (LU: W&N) and Dr. Jos Rohling: The Biological Clock (LUMC)
3). March 6: Dr.Roland Kupers: Implications of complexity for public policy and System assumptions of populism seen through a lens on complexity.(NewEconomicMetrics BV and Oxford University)
4). March 13: Prof.dr. Jacco Wallinga: Infection dynamics: using theory and data to control infectious diseases.(LUMC)
5). March 27: Dr. Peter Winkelman: From red to teal-Dynamic and Evolving Organisations. (Justice Department)
6). April 10: Dr. Diego Garlaschelli: Reconstruction of networks from partial information (LU: W&N) and Dr. Andrea Gabrielli:A complex network approach to the functional brain from fMRI data (Rome University)
7). April 24: Dr Erik Schultes: Data interoperation and the promise of complex theory (LUMC and DTLS)
8). May 8: prof.dr.Arjen Doelman: The dynamics of patterns under slowly varying circumstances: the ecology of desertification and prof.dr Han van der Maas: Complex psychological systems (UL: W&N)
9). May 22: Prof.dr. Peter Vervest: Public Transportation (Erasmus University) and Prof.dr Cees Diks: Complexity in economics and finance.(UvA)
10). May 29: Final session

Course Load

This course is worth 5 EC, which means the total course load equals 140 hours.

  • Lectures: 10 lectures of 4 hours

  • Literature reading: 5 hours per session

  • Session organization: 15 hours

  • Assignments & final essay: 40 hours

Assessment method

  • 20% Organising a session

  • 10% Active participation in the sessions

  • 70% Final essay of minimum 2000 words

Students need to get a pass for each item

Blackboard and uSis

Blackboard will be used in this course. Students can register for the Blackboard site two weeks prior to the start of the course.

Please note: students are not required to register through uSis for the Honours Classes. Your registration will be done centrally.

Reading list

The reading materials of the individual sessions will be posted on Blackboard and distributed by email.


Enrolling in this course is possible from Monday November 6th until Thursday November 16th 23.59 hrs through the Honours Academy, via this link. It is not necessary to register in uSis.


dr. Nelleke Gruis