Model-based Policy Design and Analysis

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

This course embraces a key purpose of system dynamics modeling: improving the behavior of systems by modifying current decision processes (policies) or introducing new ones that are feasible and with minimal adverse unintended consequences. We will practice the process of policy design and analysis through modeling and experimenting with generic structures. The course content includes a series of (guest) lectures, modeling sessions, and labs. Reading materials include journal articles and book chapters provided by the lecturers.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, the students will be able to:


  • Explain in stock/flow/feedback terms how the fundamental structures of dynamic systems produce behaviors that are problematic from the perspective of public and private policy makers;
  • Explain how institutional factors might influence policy implementation and feasibility.
  • Formulate hypotheses (in words, diagrams, and a set of model equations) as tentative structural improvements to explanatory models of problematic dynamic behavior; and,
  • Explain the process of policy parameter analysis to identify and evaluate potential leverage points for improving model behavior.


  • Perform policy sensitivity analysis to ensure the robustness of a policy recommendation;
  • Establish and apply criteria for evaluating how well a model structure contributes to the explanation of an observed dynamic behavior;
  • Assess data requirements in light of a model's sensitivity to policy parameter estimates;
  • Explain whether and how the institutional and political ground of a system might affect its dynamic response to policy change;
  • Evaluate policy implementation obstacles and modify expected benefits accordingly; and,
  • Produce a written discussion of a model-based policy design and analysis in a way that highlights the proposed structural changes to an explanatory model, the expected dynamics of the proposed changes, and the method of analyzing and testing the policy options.

General competence

  • Conduct research and model-based policy analysis with a high degree of independence, responsibility, and reliability;
  • Participate in theoretical and practical discussions driven by critical thinking;
  • Access and interpret relevant scientific and policy literature;
  • Write and speak effectively about their work and relevant issues;
  • Ask and answer questions and engage in discussion and debate in a classroom setting; and
  • Effectively present their model-based policy analysis in a way that facilitates communication and understanding, particularly to non-technical audiences that include policy makers and their staff.

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Semester of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
GEO-SD302; GEO-SD303; GEO-SD304, or other adequate background in modeling
Recommended Previous Knowledge
GEO-SD304 or other adequate background in modelling
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
Access to the Course
The course is open to graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Bergen if they have taken GEO-SD302, GEO-SD303, and GEO-SD304, or other courses that provide an adequate background in System Dynamics.
Teaching and learning methods
The course consists of live-streamed, recorded, and stored lectures with active participation by students on introductory materials and assignments and with classroom modeling and simulation activities by lecturers and teaching assistants. Course meetings include three lectures and two labs per week over a five-week period.
Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
  • Four homework assignments.
  • Compulsory assignments must be approved before the student can take the exam. Approved compulsory assignments are valid in the current and the following semester.

    Forms of Assessment

    One week take home exam in the last (sixth) week of the course (100% of grade)

    The exam assignment will be given in the language of instruction in the course.

    The exam answer must be submitted in the same language as the exam assignment.

    Grading Scale
    An ECTS grade is provided to the student at the end of the course according to the A-F scale.
    Assessment Semester

    Assessment in teaching semester

    Students with valid absence as defined in the UiB regulations § 5-5 can apply for an extended submission deadline to The application must be submitted before the deadline for submission has expired. Maximum one week extension.

    Reading List
    The reading list will be ready before 1 July for the autumn semester and 1 Decemeber for the spring semester. 
    Course Evaluation
    All courses are evaluated according to UiB's system for quality assurance of education.
    Programme Committee
    The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.
    Course Administrator
    The Department of Geography at the Faculty of Social Sciences has the administrative responsibility for the course