Modelling and Simulation for Social Systems

Abstracting the world in the form of models and mimicking its behaviour using simulation allows people to better understand the impacts of policy and decision making within a complex and interconnected world. Simulation models of managed systems can be used for forensic analysis, diagnostics, prediction, and learning and insight generation. 

Modelling and Simulation for Social Systems (M&S3) is a Research Initiative whose members are involved in Simulation and Modelling and Simulation Gaming for policy and decision making.

M&S3 Research Initiative lead - Dr Jonathan Moizer

Dr Jonathan Moizer is an Associate Professor in Business Operations and Strategy within the Faculty of Business. His research and consulting interests include the use of computerised simulation for both policy analysis, decision making and learning. He has particular interest in the use of system dynamics modelling as a simulation approach. 

To find out more about M&S3 contact Dr Jonathan Moizer


Initiative aims and objectives 

The aim of M&S3 is understand how management policies are designed and decisions taken.

Our objectives are to:

  • carry out applied and theoretical research in the fields of simulation modelling and gaming
  • increase the levels of awareness of good modelling practice within public, third sector and industry settings
  • influence how current (executives and managers) and future (students) problem owners frame thinking around management policy development and decision making.
Our diverse group prepares students for the world of policy and management decision making, consults and advises business and public bodies, and collaborates with co-researchers both nationally and internationally. We would welcome contact from individuals and organisations seeking consultancy support and advice, or collaboration on research challenges. We would also encourage enquiries from prospective doctoral students. 

M&S3 Comprises two emerging themes:

1) Simulation and Modelling for Policy Evaluation and Decision Analysis, where models are built to test alternative assumptions about the world and their robustness. Applications can include problem domains where the outcomes of different interventions merit explanation.

The modelling approaches include, inter alia, system dynamics, agent based modelling, discrete event simulation, socioeconomic, econometrics, stochastic frontier analysis, and data envelopment analysis. Modelling applications would include, among other things, financial, economic, demographic, social and economic policy evaluation, and supply chain management.

2) Simulation Gaming and Gamification for Learning and Insight, where simulation games or gaming principles are used to help people learn about policy development and/or decision making within social systems. This strand of research is pedagogic (students) and andragogic (executives and managers) and seeks to measure levels of generative learning that immersive simulations can bring about.

The gaming approaches include, inter alia, system dynamics flight simulators, agent based modelling, spreadsheet based models, and massively multiplayer online role-playing games. Modelling applications include, among other things, economics, strategic awareness, entrepreneurship, soft skills development, and auction and latecomer strategy.

Meeting in Vilnius to kick-off new Erasmus+ project 

M&S3 lead, Jonathan Moizer, recently attended the ‘Kick-Off’ meeting of the EU funded YOU ACE project in Vilnius, Lithuania. This project seeks to equip young people from disadvantaged groups across Europe with the skills necessary to become active citizens and work in entrepreneurship. Jonathan and Faculty of Business colleagues - Jonathan Lean, David Carter and Shaofeng Liu secured €43,450 for their work within the project. Plymouth will lead project activities around assessing the training needs of the young people involved in the project. A consortium of partners from five countries are working together to develop a suitable training mechanism.

To find out more about the ACE project please contact Dr Jonathan Moizer.


Partner representatives from left to right: Alessandro Gariano (Enjoy Italy); Aiste Kumponaite (JVSA, Lithuania), Piotr Juchniewicz (WSBT, Poland); Evangelia Papaioannoy (IAEAE, Greece); Jonathan Moizer (UoP); Anna Dziadkiewicz (WSBT, Poland)

From left to right: Martin Rich (Cass Business School), David Andrew (Queen Mary University of London), Jonathan Moizer (University of Plymouth), Michel Parsons (University of South Wales).

M&S3 at the Games and Simulation enhanced Learning (GSeL) Conference

The Plymouth GSeL Conference was recently held on 3 November 2017. Nearly 100 delegates, mostly from across UK universities, attended. Thought provoking presentations were delivered at the plenary and parallel sessions on how games can support the achievement of transformative education. M&S3 lead Jonathan Moizer was a member of the conference organising committee and also chaired a parallel stream with presentations from Martin Rich (Cass Business School) - Opportunities and Barriers to Low Cost Online Roleplaying Simulation in Leadership Education; Michel Parsons (University of South Wales) - Keeping it Real: Integrating Practitioners in a Public Relations Crisis Simulation; and David Andrew (Queen Mary University of London) - The Importance of Simplicity in Simulation Design.

Visit the conference website

Contact Jonathan Moizer for any enquiries

M&S3 members receive intermediate structural equation modelling training 

Following an introductory session in September 2017, M&S3 again invited Cardiff University's Professor Paul Bottomley, Dr Rob Angell and Dr Mark Toon, down to Plymouth to deliver a second module - this time on structural equation modelling at an intermediate level - on 15 December 2017. Participants learnt how to design models that most quality (3*/4*) journals are now asking authors for. Topics covered included: (i) multi-group analysis (moderation with a categorical variable), (ii) latent interaction effects (moderation with a continuous latent variable), and (iii) simple mediation. The course had a practical focus with AMOS programming taking centre-stage. The course was specifically for those who had taken an AMOS course before.

Professor Mike Kennedy

Using System Dynamics for Education and Pedagogy

Mike Kennedy, Visiting Professor, University of Bologna recently presented his research on the use of System Dynamics modelling in Education Policy and Pedagogy to an audience of Plymouth academics and postgraduate research students. Educational modelling is an area of research in which Mike is widely published. During questions and answers Mike was able to advice specific audience members on how to incorporate System Dynamics into their own pedagogic research. 

Modelling and Simulation for Social Science inaugural event

Tuesday 11 July, 2017

M&S3's inaugural event took place at Mast House, Plymouth in July 2017. The membership - comprising researchers at different stages of their research careers - was in full agreement on the aspiration to engage in, involve others in and disseminate good simulation and modelling practice. Presentations covered a broad range of including the importance of gamification, the impact of gamification on entrepreneurship education, macroeconomic modelling and education policy. 

Find out more about the event and the topics discussed

Academics from Cardiff University deliver Structural Equation Modelling training at Plymouth

Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) is a popular research methodology and features in many peer reviewed academic journals. A "hands on" two day introductory course on using SEM using AMOS software was organised by Dr Jonathan Moizer (M&S3 Research Initiative Coordinator). This was delivered between 7 - 8 September to 25 University Faculty of Business academics and postgraduate research students by Cardiff University academics – Professor Bottomley, Dr Rob Angell and Dr Martin Toon (L to R in the photo).  Participants learnt how to (i) specify and test their constructs (i.e. measurement scales) and (ii) integrate latent variables into a (quasi) causal framework to test the hypothesised associative relationships between constructs.

Academics discuss new gamification app developed for teaching and research

Professor Mauro Figueiredo showcased new ERASMUS funded MILAGE LEARN+ App at iSPER MS3 event.

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