Course Details:

This course is part of the CECAN Module for policy analysts and evaluators. The syllabus was developed to enhance skills nationally and internationally in the evaluation of complex policy and programmes.

Agent-based modelling is a computational simulation method for understanding complex systems. An agent-based model is a computer model simulating the interrelationships and interactions of components of a system over time. These models are particularly good at modelling the heterogeneity and interaction of a population, tackling emergence and feedback loops and dealing with non-linear dynamic relationships. The course will cover aspects of model purpose and design, the use of data for model calibration and validation, and consider how to interpret and communicate modelling results in the social sciences and policy research.

Intended Audience:

Policy analysts, commissioners of evaluation, professional evaluators, social science postgraduate students and researchers.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this session, participants will have gained:

  • An understanding of the basics of agent-based modelling;
  • An understanding of how agent-based modelling can be used to model complex adaptive systems;
  • An understanding of how agent-based modelling can be used in policy analysis and evaluation.

Reading List:

Gilbert, N. (2008), Agent-Based Models, Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences, Sage Publications, pp.153.

Gilbert, N. and Troitzsch, K. (2005) Simulation for the Social Scientist, Oxford University Press.

Squazzoni, F, Jager, W. and Edmonds B. (2014) Social Simulation: A Brief Overview, Social Science Computer Review, 32(3).

Tutor Biographies:

Dr Corinna Elsenbroich, is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology (University of Surrey) and part of the CECAN team. Her research interests are in complexity social science, in particular methods to tackle complex causality. She teaches Evaluation Research and courses on Agent-based Modelling, Process Tracing and Qualitative Comparative Analysis.

Dr Jennifer Badham originally trained as a mathematician and developed an interest in applying mathematical modelling methods to social policy while working for government and nongovernment health organisations in Australia. Her main research interest concerns the way that social structures affect transmission – of disease, information, beliefs and behaviour. She is currently working at Durham University developing models for COVID-19 policy planning in NE England.

Course Fees:

Government / Commercial Sector: £200, Staff at Education / Charitable Institutions: £165, All Students: £130

How to Book:

Reserve your place by registering and paying via our Eventbrite page.


CECAN Ltd is the commercial arm of the ESRC funded Centre for Evaluating Complexity across the Nexus (CECAN). It offers access to innovative policy evaluation approaches and methods to support decision makers.