Due to the Corona virus it is unclear how the programmes will take place. For the latest news please check the course page in Blackboard/Brightspace.


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Modelling Bio-economic Dynamics




Admissions requirements

Classes of 2017 and after: Passing grade for the first-year Statistics and Mathematics Intermediate courses.
Classes of 2016 and before: Passing grade for the first-year Numeracy course.


Humans exploit their natural environment in many ways. This exploitation can become a driving force that ultimately determines the fate of biological resources. The interaction between ecological and socio-economical dynamics has often led to unforeseen catastrophic results. In some cases warning signs were present, but ignored for economic reasons, and disaster ensued.

The collaborative development of dynamical models by mathematicians, biologists, and economists provides a growing insight into the human and biological mechanisms that underlie ecosystem collapses. These models show which factors are crucial in determining the fate of ecosystems. They are used to examine the consequences of scenarios that are too risky, too costly, or simply impossible to study with practical experiments.

This is a course on how to build and study such models. We will study general patterns predicted by strategic models that capture the main features of socio-economic systems and ecosystems rather than detailed, complex models that can only be applied to particular situations. We focus on continuous-time dynamics, described by systems of differential equations, and put the emphasis on the conceptual basis of model building. The software package R is used to examine model dynamics numerically.

Course objectives

  • Design, adjust, and refine dynamical models for interactive ecological and socio-economical dynamics.

  • Analyse models numerically and (when possible) mathematically, and interpret the results in a practical context.

  • Critically evaluate models.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, group presentations, assignments, class discussions.


  • Class participation: 10%

  • Take home exams: 10% each (Friday midnight, weeks 2, 3, 4, 5 )

  • Portfolio on course assignments and theory: 30% (Friday midnight week 7)

  • Group project final report: 20% (Friday midnight week 8)


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

Lecture notes and selection of papers


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


Dr. P. Haccou: p.haccou@luc.leidenuniv.nl


  • Recommended prerequisites: Calculus course

  • 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 course 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.