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Course module: NWI-MM002A
Environmental and Ecological Modelling
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleNWI-MM002A
Credits (ECTS)3
CategoryMA (Master)
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Science; BioWetenschappen;
prof. dr. ir. A.J. Hendriks
Other course modules lecturer
prof. dr. ir. A.J. Hendriks
Other course modules lecturer
Contactperson for the course
prof. dr. ir. A.J. Hendriks
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2017
KW1  (04/09/2017 to 12/11/2017)
Starting block
Course mode
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesYes
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-
After completing the course, you should be able to handle research and management models for environmental, ecological and water issues in internships and jobs, at a basic MSc-level, in particular
1. systematically analyse issues (day 1, 8)
2. critically select model types and orderly follow modelling phases (day 1, 4-7)
3. thoroughly understand and dominant equations and modules (day 2, 4-7)
4. easily estimate of parameter values from overarching principles (day 3, 4-5)

If we prepare an outdoor trip, we check the weather forecast, as projected by meteorological models. Political parties submit their programs for calculation of the expected economic benefits. Mathematical models now also have become indispensable in environmental and ecological sciences. At the BSc level you obtained most information from standard text books. At the MSc level however, you are expected be able to deal with many loose, incomplete and contradictory data. In addition to statistical tools taught in other parts of the curriculum, in this course you will learn to develop and interpret mathematical models, needed for abstract thinking, quantitative assessments and projections of the future.
With the information acquired in this course, graduates should be able to work as:
- researchers that develop models for scientific questions
- consultants that apply models for practical issues
- managers that base their decisions on uncertain model output

The course starts with an introduction, discussing the relevance, types and stages of modelling. You will be made familiar with a few equations often applied in ecology and environmental science. These equations are the building blocks of models that you build yourself in the second part of the course.
Starting with pre-cooked exercises, you will gradually learn to build your own model for a given system, going through different the stages of model development (design, implementation, sensitivity analysis etc.). We will address different environmental problems, including eutrophication and chemical pollution (food chain accumulation).
The assignments are linked to "hot" ecological concepts, such as "allometric size scaling" and "alternative stable states". Guest-lectures demonstrate how models are used in different settings, ranging from fundamental research to consultancy. Your progress is monitored by the products (answers on questions, models built) handed in during and after assignments.
The course concludes with an exam testing knowledge and skills acquired during all sessions.

Entry level

This course requires basic mathematical handling skills at the level taught in the BSc Biology.

• Manual
• Syllabus/book
• Additional material
all provided via Blackboard
Teaching formats

• 0.2 hours guided individual project work
• 13 hours lecture
• 32 hours laboratory course
• 15 hours problem session
• 20 hours individual study period
Extra information teaching methods: The course has been set up in cooperation with didactic experts according to a concept that allows for efficient learning by students with active working attitude. Surveys of earlier editions have shown that the course is generally considered difficult but doable and rewarding, with a strong positive correlation between the number of sessions attended and the marks obtained in the exam. Hence, attending computer practicals is obligatory while lectures are highly recommended. In addition, progress is monitored by checking products to be handed in during each session.
Additional comments
The relevance of the course is explained in the Preface and Section 1.1 of the book. With the background acquired in this course graduates should be able to work as:

• researchers that develop models for scientific questions
• consultants that apply models for practical issues
• managers that base their decisions on model output and its uncertainty
Test information
Combination of written exam and project.
BSc Environmental Science(s), Biology, Chemistry, Moleculair Sciences or Natural Sciences.
The course is part of the MSc Biology and MSc Environmental Sciences.
Required materials
Course guide
Additional material all provided via Blackboard
Instructional modes
Course occurrence

Lab course
Attendance MandatoryYes




Test weight1
OpportunitiesBlock KW1, Block KW2

Kies de Nederlandse taal