Agent-Based Modelling for the Self Learner

What is this tutorial?

Agent-based modelling is a complex systems method to simulate individuals making decisions based on their own characteristics, social influences and situation. For the past few years, colleagues and I have been running ABM short courses. Those courses include a substantial tutorial in NetLogo, freely available specialist software.

Many people wanting to use agent-based modelling are sociologists, public health researchers, geographers, environmental scientists or other disciplinary based scientists who may not have programming experience or access to experienced agent-based modellers. I have adapted the tutorial from the course so that such people can work through building a model of protective behaviour during an influenza epidemic. As well as the Netlogo language and programming environment, the tutorial is intended to teach the way that agent-based models represent the world and good programming practices. At some point, I hope to extend the tutorial into a full textbook.

I hope you find it useful. Comments and suggestions are welcome, by email.

Jen Badham (June 2019)

What do you need?

NetLogo software is freely available for Windows, Mac OSX or Linux, from the developers at: Netlogo.

Download the (pdf) tutorial here. It assumes no background in programming or agent-based modelling but you are expected to be comfortable with standard computer operations such as saving a file.

Some of the models that you will build are also available:



As well as the people acknowledged in the preface, I would like to thank the following people who have provided comments on previous versions of this tutorial or book:


2022 March - Tutorials v1.02 - updated email address
2020 May - Tutorials v1.01 - corrected mobility model snippet 7, various reference and bug fixes
2019 June - Tutorials v1.00