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Complexity and Networks


Admission requirements

This course is an Honours Class and therefore in principle only available to students of the Honours College. There are a few places available for regular students.


Complexity and networks is an emerging field of science, and focusses on investigating the relationships between parts of a complex system and how this affects the collective behaviour of the system. This approach is of critical importance in various fields like (human) biology, economics, health, environmental pollution and social interactions. The approach is based on the notion that an ensemble system is more than the sum of its parts, and thus, that reductionistic approaches –while essential- are not sufficient for our understanding. This honours class will present a number of cases in which the complexity approach has facilitated a deeper understanding of the system, and enhances predictability, offering grip on complex systems.

Course objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will: have a better understanding how the complexity approach has facilitated a deeper understanding of the system, and enhances predictability, offering grip on complex systems.


Mondays 23 January, 13 February, 6, 13 and 27 March, 10 and 24 April, 1, 8, 22, and 29 May; 17:15-21:00


Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), room H1-14/18


1). January 23: Coming together and brief overview of the content of the Honours Class. Introduction: Emerging Complexity and Networks: prof.dr.W.Th.F. den Hollander.
2). February 13: Protein Complexity: dr. Erik Schultes, pending confirmation
3). March 6: Economy and finances: dr.R.Kupers, pending confirmation
4). March 13: The biological clock: prof.dr.J.H.Meijer, dr. J.T.H.Rohling and dr. D. Garlaschelli.
5). March 27: Environmental Pollution: prof.dr.M.Scheffer, pending confirmation
6). April 10: Social Challenges in Rotterdam: Dr.H.Oosterling, pending confirmation
7). April 24: Transportation systems: prof.dr. Peter Ververst, pending confirmation
8). May 8: Pattern formation in mussels and swarms in bird fights: prof.dr.A.Doelman and prof.dr.C..Hemelrijk, pending confirmation
9). May 22: Complex interactions in the immune and endocrine system: speaker(s) to be announced
10). May 29: Island networks: modeling intercommunity social relationships: prof.dr. C.L. Hofman, pending confirmation.

Course Load

This course is worth 5 EC, which means the total course load equals 140 hours.

  • Lectures: 10 lectures of 4 hours

  • Literature reading: 5 hours per session

  • Session organization: 15 hours

  • Assignments & final essay: 40 hours

Assessment method

  • 20% Organising a session

  • 10% Active participation in the sessions

  • 70% Final essay of minimum 2000 words

Blackboard and uSis

Blackboard will be used in this course. Students can register for the Blackboard site two weeks prior to the start of the course.

Please note: students are not required to register through uSis for the Honours Classes. Your registration will be done centrally.

Reading list

The reading materials for the individual sessions will be posted on BlackBoard.


Enrolling in this course is possible from Monday November 7th until Sunday November 20th through the Honours Academy, via this link


Prof.dr. P.J. van den Elsen