Please note! Course description is confirmed for two academic years (1.8.2018-31.7.2020), which means that in general, e.g. Learning outcomes, assessment methods and key content stays unchanged. However, via course syllabus, it is possible to specify or change the course execution in each realization of the course, such as how the contact sessions are organized, assessment methods weighted or materials used.


  • Understand the principles of systems thinking and the development of systems theory.

  • Identify the key characteristics of a complex system and complexity sciences.

  • Understand the nature of cities as far-from-equilibrium systems.

  • Identify interconnections between key concepts of complex adaptive systems, such as balancing and amplifying feedback loops, self-organization and emergence.

  • Get familiar with model-driven exploration and simulation of emergent order.

Credits: 5

Schedule: 19.04.2021 - 17.05.2021

Teacher in charge (valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022): Anssi Joutsiniemi

Teacher in charge (applies in this implementation): Anssi Joutsiniemi

Contact information for the course (applies in this implementation):

CEFR level (applies in this implementation):

Language of instruction and studies (valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022):

Teaching language: English

Languages of study attainment: English


  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Course is built around lecture series on systemic interaction and ontology on urban modelling. Lectures develop the theoretical and historical background of systems thinking in its various forms. The narrative is built on the development General Systems Theory of 1950 s to the most recent trends of systems thinking. Along the course students gets familiar with various families of rule-based modelling connected to cellular automaton, multi-agent systems and network theory.  Lectures are supported with hands-on exercises using general purpose modelling and simulation tools like NetLogo and Processing. Theory of systems is rooted to urban planning practice with examples of operational urban modeling tools such as SLEUTH, CityScope and alike.

Assessment Methods and Criteria
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    • Lectures

    • Class discussions in flipped classroom manner

    • Hands-on modelling exercises

  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Total 135 hours. Tutored studies 35 hrs (lectures, class assignments, feedback reviews), independent study 100 hrs (exercises and assignments).


Study Material
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    • Gleick, James (1987). Chaos: Making a New Science, Penguin Books.

    • Holland, John (1998). Emergence: From Chaos to Order, Helix Books.

    • Batty, Michael (2005). Cities and Complexity. The MIT Press.

  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    The course UrbanGIS needs to be passed

SDG: Sustainable Development Goals

    11 Sustainable Cities and Communities

    15 Life on Land



Registration and further information