The science behind how people interact, react, and move in crowds 

Module details

  • Offered to 2nd Year students in Spring Term - Mondays 16:00-18:00
  • Offered to 3rd Year students in Autumn Term - Thursdays 16:00-18:00
  • Planned delivery: Online - Live
  • 1-term module worth 5 ECTS
  • Available to eligible students as part of I-Explore

Why do crowds move in the way that they do? Can we predict this behaviour? Will this change during emergencies such as fires or terrorist attacks? Crowd science can answer these questions by combining concepts from maths, physics, engineering, design, computing, sociology and psychology. In this module you will be introduced to the basic principles of crowd science and work on a group project to develop solutions to a real-word design problem. 

You will learn to define the topics of pedestrian and evacuation dynamics and explain their importance when designing infrastructure. The module also teaches you about the main properties of crowd behaviour, the main theories of human behaviour in emergencies, and the hydraulic model of evacuation to calculate total evacuation times. By the end of the module, you will be able to differentiate between the different algorithms used for pedestrian dynamics simulation models, and present design solutions for real-world problems to a multidisciplinary audience. 


Learning outcomes

  • Offered to 2nd Year students in Spring Term, Mondays, 16:00-18:00  
  • Offered to 3rd Year students in Autumn Term, Thursdays, 16:00-18:00  
  • 1 Term module worth 5 ETCS 
  • Available to eligible students as part of I-Explore 

Indicative core content

The first half of the course will teach you the science of crowds: how they behave, how they can be modelled and measured, and the impacts that design changes can have on them. This will involve you learning elements of maths, physics, engineering and design, computing, sociology and psychology. This part of the course will allow you to analyse crowds and building designs through pedestrian dynamics concepts. 

This part of the course will be delivered through online videos and face-to-face workshops. The workshops will begin with discussions between students and lecturers to clarify the concepts introduced in the online videos, which you will watch before the start of each workshop session. The workshops will involve both individual and group activities. For example, you may take part in pedestrian dynamics experiments, use simulation models or evaluate journal papers. 

The second half of the project is a group design project - you will work to develop crowd-science based design solutions to one particular real-life design problem. You will select the topic from a list of options provided by the lecturers. For example, you could be tasked with designing a new Olympic Village to ensure optimal crowd flows, or proposing how to optimise evacuation procedures in a particular building at Imperial College London. You will be expected to attend the face-to-face sessions each week where you will present progress updates on your design solutions and receive feedback on them. In the final session of the course, you will present your design solutions to the rest of the class. 

Learning and teaching approach

The first five weeks of the course will follow a 'flipped classroom' approach, where you will watch a series of short, pre-recorded lecture videos. This will be followed by:  

  • Weekly remote workshop sessions 
  • An online quiz 
  • A group project 

During this course, you will receive feedback during the weekly scheduled sessions, during the discussions of different concepts, and during the group project. You will receive verbal feedback during (remote) presentations, and written feedback on the project content and presentation overall. 



  • Group Project (max. 5000 words) (40%) 
  • Reflective writing (400-500 words) (10%) 


  • Attendance and contribution (10%) 
  • Presentation skills (assessed in online) (10%) 


  • Quizzes based on lecture material (30%) 

Key information

  • Requirements: It is compulsory to take an I-Explore module during your degree (you’ll take an I-Explore module in either your 2nd or 3rd year, depending on your department). You are expected to attend all classes and undertake approximately 105 hours of independent study in total during the module. Independent study includes for example reading and preparation for classes, researching and writing coursework assignments, project work and preparing for other assessments 
  • I-Explore modules are worth 5 ECTS credit towards your degree; to receive these you will have to pass the module. The numerical mark that you obtain will not be included in the calculation of your final degree result, but it will appear on your transcript  
  • This module is designed as an undergraduate Level 6 course 
  • This module is offered by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering