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2018/19 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

TRAN5350M Transport Modelling In Practice

15 creditsClass Size: 30

Module manager: Dave Milne

Taught: Semester 1 View Timetable

Year running 2018/19

Pre-requisite qualifications

As for entry onto the MSc Mathematical Modelling for Transport programme

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

Modelling applications and software packages are among the most common techniques used to support decision-making for transport planning and policy-making in practice. This module introduces a selection of current and potential future approaches for applying mathematical models to the real world, building on the ideas discussed in the parallel Concepts and Mathematical Tools for Modelling Transport Systems module and providing experience of well established software packages.


The purpose of the module is to introduce mathematically-skilled people to the practicalities of using models to represent transport systems in the real world. The work is organised into three intensive blocks to allow deeper exploration of the issues and greater opportunities for hands-on experience. The themes addressed are: i) understanding transport systems; ii) forecasting travel and the impacts of planning interventions; and iii) designing more desirable transport futures. In each case, the role that model applications can play will be investigated and one particular approach will be used as a case study so that its usefulness and shortcomings in a practical context can be critically assessed. Each block will also include an activity which takes students out of the classroom to allow perspectives to be broadened by real world observation and talking to practitioners.

Learning outcomes
By the end of the module it is intended that students will have developed an understanding of the relationship between conceptual mathematical approaches for representing transport systems and the practical environments in which they need to be applied. They should also have gained first hand experience of using well established software packages (eg SATURN, VISUM) which are commonly used to support decision-making in the transport sector. The skills learned will be directly relevant to securing employment in the transport planning field.

Skills outcomes
Students will learn

- how to use commercial software e.g. SATURN, PTV-VISUM, to model and analyse transport systems.

- how to interrogate such software to gain qualitative and quantitative understanding of the model settings and parameters, algorithm convergence and performance.

- how to identify errors and problems with the model being used

- how to present statistical and graphical results both within these software packages and by exporting data.


Understanding Transport Systems: What evidence can we see around us of transport systems? How do they inter-relate with and support other human systems? What architectural features do they display? How might we create a structural model to aid our understanding of key relationships?

Forecasting Travel and the Impacts of Planning Interventions: What techniques have most commonly been used for forecasting? What issues arise when applying them in the real world? What can we learn from focussing on a case study involving well established software? What insights can practitioners offer? How might forecasting be improved?

Designing More Desirable Transport Futures: How might modelling techniques be applied to design better transport systems? What is the current state of practice and how might it be improved? How might we create an innovative design case study with existing software packages? What can observation and practitioner perspectives add to our approach? What can we learn from the case study process?

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours118.00
Total Contact hours32.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

Background reading
Personal exploration of software packages
Preparation of coursework and for in-class assessment

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Formative feedback will be available after the first modelling exercises (week 4), although these are not formally assessed.

Further formative feedback will be given during the practical classes (week 7) prior to the formal practical assessment.

Summative feedback will be given following the mid-semester assessed practical, before the assessment set in week 11.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
ReportProject Report based on use of the software (2000 words)50.00
PracticalPractical Assessment (In class assessment)50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

The practical assessment (week 7) is completed in one day. It is conducted as an ' In class assessment'. Hence set/hand-in dates. The resit opportunity will take the form of a written report covering the same topic area. The modelling and analysis work for the project report is accomplished during the assessment period week 11/12. Then there is a week for write-up. This restricted time window is a deliberate part of the assessment.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 12/12/2018 16:33:10


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