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Environmental Modelling



EES:Methods, S:Methods, GED:Methods, ID:Methods, PSc:Methods

Admissions requirements

Classes of 2017 and after: passing grade for the first-year Statistics and Mathematics Intermediate courses, but also see remarks below.

Classes of 2016 and before: Passing grade for the first-year Numeracy course.

Calculus is recommended.


Mathematical models are important tools for studying complex systems. Models provide insight in which factors have important effects, and which are less influential in determining the outcome of complex interactions. They allow you to examine the consequences of scenarios that are too risky, too costly, or simply impossible to execute in execute in reality. The process of model building itself often enlarges the insight in a complex system significantly, because it forces you to make prior knowledge and assumptions about the system explicit.

This is a course on how to develop and analyse mathematical models for the physical, chemical, and biological processes that occur in the natural environment. We focus on continuous-time dynamical systems, which are modelled with systems of differential equations.
The emphasis is on the conceptual, mathematical basis of model building. We will use computer simulations in R to examine model results.

Course objectives

After this course students should be able to:

  • Design, adjust, and refine models.

  • Analyse basic ecological models, and derive predictions based on results.

  • Critically evaluate models.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, work groups, computer labs, discussions.


Class participation: 10%
Two portfolio’s, consisting of reports on weekly individual assignments: 50% total
Individual peer review: 10 %
Group project draft report: 10%
Group project final report: 20%


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Chapter 2 of: A Practical Guide to Ecological Modelling. Using R as a Simulation Platform, by K. Soetaert and P.M.J. Herman, Springer 2010. Chapter 2 is called “Model formulation” (p. 15-69). A pdf of this chapter can be purchased at:


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr. P. Haccou,


  • Participants should have a sufficient proficiency and interest in mathematics, and be prepared to amend their mathematics skills when necessary. Students with poor mathematics skills are advised not to choose this course.

  • Under special conditions, students who have a passing grade for the Statistics and the Mathematics Basic courses may be able enroll in this course. If you wish to do so you should contact the instructor for an intake interview at least one month before the start of the course.