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European Social Simulation Association Summer School in Social Simulation 2019

17-21 June 2019
at James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK
for PhD students and early career researchers from academia and beyond
From Simulation in Social Sciences - Lecture 6

The Tenth European Social Simulation Association’s annual Summer School in Social Simulation will take place in Aberdeen in 2019, during the week of 17-21 June. The theme is “Agent-Based Modelling of Human-Environment Interactions.”


The summer school is aimed primarily at Ph.D. students and early career researchers from academia and beyond (e.g. industry, policy), regardless of disciplinary background or specialism. Social simulation is an inherently interdisciplinary activity that thrives on collaborations among experts from various domains.

A maximum of 30 participants will be accepted. They will be working in small teams, with the task of delivering a working agent-based model by the end of the week. The model will address a research question identified at the beginning of the summer school.

Topics covered

By the end of this course, participants will have been exposed to:

  • The full modelling lifecycle with agent-based models
  • Developing formal representations of complex social systems
  • Writing simple agent-based models in NetLogo
  • Designing simulation experiments with NetLogo
  • Preparing an agent-based model for running on the cloud
  • Using data with agent-based models

Course Organizers and Lecturers

Course Leaders

Gary Polhill is the current president of the European Social Simulation Association and has been working on various projects using agent-based modelling for over twenty years.

Matt Hare has extensive experience in academia and as a consultant on participatory modelling for environmental resource management. He is an advisory board member of The International Assessment Society.

Doug Salt has a background in industry as a professional computer scientist. He studied for a PhD in ontologies before joining the James Hutton Institute in 2016 to work on an EU project.

Guest Lecturers

Thomas French, Sandtable, UK. Thomas French is CTO of Sandtable, an agent-based modelling company in London, where he focuses on developing Sandman ( – a cloud-based platform for scalable, agile agent-based modelling. Before Sandtable, he completed a PhD in Informatics at the University of Edinburgh where he worked on simulation optimisation problems.

Patrycja Antosz (University of Groningen, NL) is a methodologist and data analyst with a background in sociology and psychology. As a researcher, for the past decade she has been using multi-methods approaches to advise policy decision-making on local, national and international levels. As a modeller, she focuses on constructing theoretically-grounded, evidence-based agent communities.

George van Voorn holds a double PhD (2009) in biology and mathematics from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg. His background is in environmental modeling, particularly in the development and application of numerical techniques for detecting tipping points, and the quality assessment of environmental and health economic models used for policy evaluation. He is currently employed at the Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands, as a tenured researcher in the DeSIRE programme.

Bruce Edmonds is the Director of the Centre for Policy Modelling and Professor of Social Simulation at the Manchester Metropolitan University. He is interested in far too many things for his own good, but this includes Populism (he is coordinator of the EU H2020 project on this and all aspects of agent-based social simulation.


The theme of the summer school is agent-based modelling of human-environment interactions. This emphasizes a key strength of agent-based modelling: its ability to bring together social and environmental dynamics in tightly coupled models, offering system-level insights that other approaches struggle to achieve. It also highlights that agent-based modelling is an inherently cross-disciplinary activity, and frequently takes on an integrative role in inter- and trans-disciplinary research projects. For this reason, there is a strong emphasis on collaborative work in ESSA summer schools.

An open access article outlining our strategy for agent-based modelling at the Institute is available at


The course will comprise a mix of lectures, guest talks, and individual and collaborative work, and will run the full week from Monday through Friday. A provisional programme is outlined below. Yellow shaded cells represent lectures, blue individual lab work, green group lab work.

Session/Day Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
First thing Welcome and registration Recap Recap Recap Recap
Morning Introduction to agent-based modelling NetLogo: code tab Working with shell Analysing data in R Presenting and writing up a model
Late morning NetLogo: GUI tab

Guest Lecture Formalizing theory and simulating agent decision-making

Designing experiments with ABMs

Guest Lecture/ lab

Calibration, Validation and Sensitivity analysis

Guest Lecture/ lab NetLogo: Info tab Software licences
Afternoon Working with stakeholders Coupling with other models Guest lecture/lab: Running ABMs on the cloud Data visualization and communication Presentations of group work
Late afternoon Specifying a model Using empirical data with agent-based models Preparing a model for running

Guest Group Session

Avoiding pitfalls with ABM

Reflection of good practice and lessons learned

Awards and close

Evening Dinner Optional dinner Dinner Optional dinner  


Fees for the summer school are £450 for registered students; £550 otherwise. Lunches and two evening meals are included.

Venue and Accommodation


The James Hutton Institute’s Craigiebuckler Site

Located in Aberdeen’s west end, the Institute’s site at Craigiebuckler sits in beautiful grounds dating back to 1826, when the mansion house (now part of the Institute’s buildings) was built as a summer residence by James Blaikie, the first Lord Provost of Aberdeen. The grounds contain a number of trees from all over the world, as was fashionable during the Victorian era, which the Institute still maintains.

The estate was bought by Thomas Bassett Macaulay in the 1930s, on behalf of the newly formed Macaulay Institute for Soil Research, which had the remit of improving the productivity of Scottish agriculture. In 1987, MISR was merged with the Hill Farming Research Organisation (HFRO) in Edinburgh, to create the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, which itself merged with the Scottish Crop Research Institute in Dundee to form the James Hutton Institute in 2011.

Accommodation (see map above for locations)

Expensive but convenient

More reasonably priced

  • Bed and Breakfast accommodation is available on the Great Western Road 2-3km from the Institute at prices from £50-£100 per night

Budget options


Contact Us

To apply to participate, please use the form below; for all other enquiries, you can contact us at

Please also use this address to let us know if you have any dietary or accessability requirements or any other requirements you think we need to know about.


Find Us

You can reach us:



The ESSA Summer School 2019 has been sponsored by Sandtable.

Apply to participate

(PayPal invoice for payment will follow on receipt of application)


Printed from /events/european-social-simulation-association-summer-school-social-simulation-2019 on 24/09/22 11:33:25 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.