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PX4514: MODELLING THEORY (2017-2018)

Last modified: 16 Nov 2016 18:26

Course Overview

This course was designed to show you what you can do with everything you learnt in your degree. We will use mathematical techniques to describe a fast variety of “real-world” systems: spreading of infectious diseases, onset of war, opinion formation, social systems, reliability of a space craft, patterns on the fur of animals (morphogenesis), formation of galaxies, traffic jams and others. This course will boost your employability and it will be exciting to see how everything you learnt comes together.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 4
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Professor Marco Thiel

Qualification Prerequisites

  • Programme Level 4

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)
  • One of Engineering (EG) (Studied) or Mathematics (MA) (Studied) or Physics (PX) (Studied)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

The course content reflects the learning outcomes and contains the material for the students to realize these. This course bridges the gap between standard courses in physical sciences, where successful mathematical models are described, and scientific research, where new mathematical models have to be developed. Students will learn the art of mathematical modelling, which will enable them to develop new mathematical models for the description of natural systems. Examples from a wide range of phenomena will be discussed, eg. from biology, ecology, engineering, physics, physiology and psychology. A focus will be the critical interpretation of the mathematical models and their predictions. The applicability of the models will be assessed and their use for the respective branch of the natural sciences will be discussed.

Degree Programmes for which this Course is Prescribed

  • BSc Computing Science and Physics
  • BSc Physical Sciences
  • BSc Physics
  • Bachelor Of Science In Geophysics
  • MA Natural Philosophy
  • Master of Physics with Complex Systems Modelling

Contact Teaching Time

44 hours

This is the total time spent in lectures, tutorials and other class teaching.

Teaching Breakdown


1st attempt: Continuous assessment (assignments & projects (80%); oral exam (20%)). 6 to 7 in course assessments (solutions to be presented on the board during tutorials), one presentation of the project, a four page manuscript using LaTeX in the style of PRL.
Resit: Mini modelling project (80%) and oral exam (20%). Only the marks obtained at the first attempt can count towards Honours classification.

Formative Assessment

Formative assessment will be by means of a continuous dialogue with the lecturer and interaction with the same during the problem solving exercises and the developement of models.


Due to the nature of the (primarily) continuous assessment of the course - summative assessment will be on a continuous ongoing basis as project work is marked.

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