Model-based Socioeconomic Planning

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

In this course, the students are introduced to system dynamics-based models designed for studying and managing complex, dynamic socioeconomic problems in developing countries. Developing countries often struggle with long-lasting, comprehensive problems that seem immune to quick fixes. Students use the planning models as an aid to identifying the structural origin of such problems and designing and evaluating policies for their alleviation. The model-based analysis extends to macroeconomic, social, and environmental issues. While the focus is on problems in developing countries, some of the model-based insights also apply to problems faced by industrialized countries.

Learning Outcomes

Express knowledge and understanding

Students gain extended knowledge about the application of the System Dynamics method to the identification and solution of dynamic problems in socio-economic domains by way of modelling, simulation and analysis. They gain knowledge about the intimate relationship that exists between structure and behaviour (dynamics) in such. They gain knowledge about the significance of a robust strategy development, the associated policy design and the resulting decision making (i.e. management) in national contexts, - in particular in multi-sector and -disciplinary domains. The students will know of the basic concepts of model based national development planning.

Apply knowledge and understanding

Students will apply their knowledge in a series of comprehensive case studies that will be presented in class, all based on a template model that forms the point of departure for the investigation of various sectors in a national context. Students are challenged to investigate the turbulent socio-economic dynamics arising from an underlying, non-linear structure by way of computer based modelling and simulation. Particular emphasis will be placed on their recognition of dynamic patterns of problem behaviour and the corresponding underlying structures, as well as their ability to propose and evaluate policies to address such problems. Students are trained to distil the essence of their insights and present it in the form of compact causal loop diagrams.

Make judgements

Students learn to make judgements about how well a model structure contributes to the explanation of an observed or hypothesised dynamic behaviour.


Students are encouraged to participate actively in class. The students will be trained both in writing and in oral presentations to explain the relationship between structure and dynamic behaviour in the systems under investigation.

Develop learning skills

The course is putting the student on the track of becoming a skilled modeller, a problem identifier and a policy designer in the context of national development planning. It equips the student with the basic skills and tools to progress in the investigation of systems in ever more complex domains and familiarise the student with relevant scientific literature in the field.

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Semester of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
Recommended Previous Knowledge
GEO-SD302; GEO-SD303; GEO-SD304, or other adequate background in modeling
Teaching and learning methods

Live-streamed, recorded and stored lectures, seminars, and data labs with active participation by students; individual and group assignments as well as project modelling; individual and group support in-person or remotely from teaching assistants and professors

40 hours (lectures) 40 hours (assignment consultations).

80 hours in total

Forms of Assessment

Portfolio assessment with an individual component and a team component: 

  • Individual answers to a questionnaire (25%)
  • Team project consisting of a simulation model and a written report (75%)

All parts of portfolio must be passed in the same semester. The portfolio will be assessed as a whole, and one final grade will be given. 

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
Grading A-F
Assessment Semester
Reading List
The reading list will be ready before 1 July for the autumn semester and 1 December 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 and the study programme.