Fundamentals of geographic and environmental modelling

lgeo2130  2019-2020  Louvain-la-Neuve

Fundamentals of geographic and environmental modelling
Note from June 29, 2020
Although we do not yet know how long the social distancing related to the Covid-19 pandemic will last, and regardless of the changes that had to be made in the evaluation of the June 2020 session in relation to what is provided for in this learning unit description, new learnig unit evaluation methods may still be adopted by the teachers; details of these methods have been - or will be - communicated to the students by the teachers, as soon as possible.
5 credits
30.0 h + 30.0 h
Deleersnijder Eric; Remacle Jean-François (compensates Deleersnijder Eric); Vanwambeke Sophie;
Elementary calculus and statistics

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :

  • Identify and characterize a model and understand the mathematics of a process-based model;
  • Translate a physical, environmental and/or spatial process into mathematical language;
  • Grasp all steps of a modelling process, from the statement of a question to the validation of results;
  • Start engaging with professionals of environmental modelling and management in various settings.
Contribution to the acquisition and evaluation of the following learning outcomes of the programme in geography (general and climatology):
  • AA 1.1, AA 1.2, AA 1.4, AA 1.6, and particularly AA.1.7 and AA 1.8
  • AA 3.3, AA 3.4
  • AA 4.1, AA 4.2
  • AA 5.5
  • AA 6.1, 6.2
Most importantly, these learning outcomes are central to this course:
  • AA 4.3, AA 4.4, AA 4.5

The contribution of this Teaching Unit to the development and command of the skills and learning outcomes of the programme(s) can be accessed at the end of this sheet, in the section entitled “Programmes/courses offering this Teaching Unit”.
The course includes two parts. The first half focuses on differential models. The  second half looks into spatial modelling and modelling practice. The course starts by a general introduction on modelling.
The following topics are dealt with:
·       How to model? The various steps of modelling;
·       Typology of models;
·       Differential models: linear ordinary differential problems (e.g. first order decay);
·       Differential models: non-linear ordinary differential problems (e.g. population modelling, prey-predator populations, epidemiological model);
·       Differential models: space-time dependency;
·       Spatial models: making space explicit, self-organising systems (e.g. epidemic diffusion, erosion processes);
·       Spatial models: interacting, spatially-explicit objects: agent-based models (e.g. land use change)
How to model? Model validation.
Teaching methods
Classroom lectures and practical sessions, involving active learning methods.
All lectures are in English. The course material and practical notes are in English and French.
Evaluation methods
Homeworks and practical reports; written exam.
Other information
Prerequisites LGEO1342 - Geographical Information Systems (or similar); LGEO1341 - Statistical modelling (or similar); Mathematics (or similar)
Online resources
Slides, lecture notes and additional reading material on Moodle (
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Master [120] in Chemistry and Bioindustries

Master [120] in Geography : General

Master [120] in Agricultural Bioengineering

Master [120] in Environmental Bioengineering

Master [120] in Agriculture and Bio-industries

Master [60] in Geography : General

Master [120] in Forests and Natural Areas Engineering