2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue
TRAN5191M System Dynamics: Modelling Policy
15 creditsClass Size: 30
Module manager: Prof Simon Shepherd
Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable
Year running 2023/24
This module is approved as an Elective
Module summaryThis module develops an understanding of the structure and dynamics of complex systems and how systems dynamics models can be used to address systems problems primarily in the field of transport. Students will learn how to apply causal loop techniques enabling them to communicate ideas and model structures effectively. Practical application skills will be developed through coursework based on the VENSIM system dynamics platform and coursework aimed at developing both qualitative and quantitative modelling techniques applied to real life policy examples such as policies designed to influence the adoption rate of alternative fuel vehicles.
ObjectivesTo develop students’ understanding of the concept of system dynamics and systems thinking within a transportation context. To understand how to conceptualise a system dynamics model, and how to form basic causal loop diagrams, and stock-flow models.
On completion of this module students will understand how to conceptualise a model and understand the structure and dynamics of complex systems. They will be able to apply causal loop techniques enabling them to communicate ideas and model structures effectively. Students will understand the underlying behaviour of dynamic systems and the concepts of stocks and flows. Practical application skills will be developed through coursework based on the VENSIM system dynamics platform and coursework aimed at developing both qualitative and quantitative modelling techniques applied to real life policy examples e.g. policies to affect the take up of alternative fuel vehicles.
Students will develop a whole systems thinking approach to evaluate transport policies for particular problems via examples developed as part of the course. They will learn how to present systems or models via causal loop diagrams.
Students will develop and build their own model using the system dynamics software VENSIM. The approach has been used in many transport fields and is transferable to other fields including business and health. Students will develop their ability to analyse complex problems through coursework and workshops.
Introduction to system dynamics:
The structure and behaviour of dynamic systems. Introduction to the modelling process. Fundamental modes, Growth, Goal seeking, Oscillation. Interaction between fundamental modes.
Causal loop techniques:
Basics of causal loop techniques. Examples of mental models of traffic problems
Stocks and flows and how to use VENSIM:
Stock and flow models. Introduction by example to bath tub and population models. S-Shaped growth and delay structures. How to use VENSIM. Getting familiar with the software tool.
Transport application (1) Urban model:
The MARS Land Use Transport Interaction model will be described in detail.
Transport application (2) : Guest Lecture from relevant organisation
Transport applications (3):
Review of a range of applications in the literature to demonstrate the use of system dynamics in relevant scenarios–including examples of good practice models from all sectors (air, public transport, freight etc).
The remaining contact time will be used for tutorials and computer workshops where the models required for coursework will be developed and discussed.
|Private study hours
|Total Contact hours
|Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)
Private studyStudents will be provided with a reading list which will point them to literature that will enable them to understand how causal loop diagrams and stock-flow models have been applied to various transportation problems over the last decade. Students will develop and build their own model using the system dynamics software VENSIM. Students will develop their ability to analyse complex problems and enhance report writing and presentation skills through coursework and workshop work.
Opportunities for Formative FeedbackStudents will be monitored via two courseworks. The first will develop their understanding of causal loop diagrams and be based on group work in class.
The second coursework involves understanding a piece of work from a journal paper and developing a model from the information in this paper. Progress will be monitored via tutorial sessions built into the timetable.
Methods of assessment
|% of formal assessment
|Project report 3,000 words (plus model)
|Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)
Coursework 1 –Qualitative model : the students will write up the development of their causal loop diagrams from the group work included in the lectures. This will display their understanding of causal loop diagrams and development of complex mental models. It will evidence their report writing skills and as the models are developed in teams it will develop communication and team-working skills. Word limit: 1000 words Coursework 2 : Quantitative model : The students will build their own model using the VENSIM tool. The model will be based on a recent journal article. They will write up the model building process and illustrate policy impacts from using their model. This will evidence ability to study and present complex model results demonstrating their written communication skills. It will also evidence their understanding of how to build a quantitative model and their understanding of stocks and flows and dynamic processes. Word limit 3000 word: report plus submission of model (80%)
Reading listThe reading list is available from the Library website
Last updated: 28/04/2023 14:56:45
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