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Postgraduate Certificate in Systems Thinking in Practice

This certificate may change the way you think about the situations you face. You will learn to think more holistically, understanding the roles other people play, taking account of the interconnectedness of all the components making up the problem situation and working more collaboratively. You will find out how to relate the ideas of key systems thinkers to your own practice. The discipline of systems thinking gives you the tools to challenge your approach to complex situations; to assess how all the different components within a situation are related; to consider the roles other people play; to recognise that each person brings with them their own perspective on a situation and to work with those multiple perspectives.

Key features of the course

  • Deepens your understanding of the nature of complex and messy problem situations and how they can be tackled
  • Helps you develop new ways of thinking about and approaching situations that cross multiple discipline and skill boundaries
  • Provides skills to think more holistically and work more collaboratively to avoid systemic failures.

This certificate is the first stage of a study programme that progresses to a postgraduate diploma and finally a masters degree. You can step off at any point, or study the whole programme.

Certificate

Course code
C72
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
60
How long it takes
Minimum – 1 year
Read more about how long it takes
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Course cost
See Fees and funding
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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Course details

Modules

To gain this qualification, you need either both 30-credit core modules:

Core modules Credits Next start
Managing systemic change: inquiry, action, and interaction (TU812)

Develop your understanding of systemic inquiry, systemic action research and social learning in order to extend your skills of project, programme and change management.

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Register
30 01 Nov 2018
Thinking strategically: system tools for managing change (TU811)

Improve your management skills by exploring different approaches to engaging with complex situations and by developing your understanding of how cognitive processing shapes practice.

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Register
30 01 May 2019 FINAL

Or one 30-credit core module plus a 30-credit optional module from the following list:

Optional modules Credits Next start
Capacities for managing development (T878)  

This module builds the competence and confidence to manage development, local and global, more effectively, and bring about greater social equality and justice. 

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Register
30 01 Nov 2018
Conflict and development (T879)

Combining theoretical concepts with practical tools, this module explores the causes of conflict, the impact conflicts have on development, and actions that can help mitigate conflicts.

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Register
30 01 Nov 2018
Continuing professional development in practice (U810)

This module allows you to evaluate and assess 150 hours prior learning and identify and progress appropriate development opportunities for future continuing professional development. 

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Register
30 03 Nov 2018
Data management (M816)

Discover the data management principles, practices and technologies required to develop policies, procedures and systems that control, protect, deliver and enhance the value of an organisation’s data asset.

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Register
30 01 Nov 2018
Development: context and practice (T877)

This module provides a conceptual framework for analysing the complex, contested contexts in which development takes place, and a critical analysis of development management practice.

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Register
30 01 Nov 2018
Digital forensics (M812)

This module will help you understand how to conduct investigations to correctly gather, analyse and present digital evidence to both business and legal audiences.

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Register
30 01 May 2019 FINAL
Information security (M811)

Explore the professional and technical skills necessary to understand, document, manage and implement strategic and operational aspects of your organisation's information security.

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Register
30 01 Nov 2018
Institutional development (TU872)

This module analyses institutions, identifies their significance for development, examines how to build inter-organisational relationships, and explores the skills of mapping, modelling, negotiation and brokering.

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Register
30 01 Nov 2018
Making environmental decisions  (T891)

Defining environment to include biophysical, social, political, economic factors, this module uses a systems framework to integrate environment with other elements in environmental decision-making situations.

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Register
30 01 Nov 2018
Managing for sustainability (T867)

This module will increase your understanding of delivering and supporting sustainability management in your workplace or support your personal interest in this subject.

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Register
30 01 Nov 2018
Managing technological innovation (T848)

This module explores the processes that underpin technological innovation an understanding of which is crucial whether you are a user or producer of technological innovation.

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Register
30 01 Nov 2018
Project management (M815)

In this online module you’ll explore the whole life cycle of projects, from initiation, through to planning, scheduling, execution, handover and review.

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Register
30 01 May 2019 FINAL
Software development (M813)

Gain the fundamental knowledge and understanding, and analysis and synthesis skills that you will need to develop software artefacts fit for a real-world organisational context.

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Register
30 01 May 2019 FINAL
Software engineering (M814)

Explore the advanced concepts and techniques used throughout the software life cycle, for the effective production and management of large, complex, and long-lived software systems.

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Register
30 01 Nov 2018
Strategic capabilities for technological innovation (T849)

This module draws on a range of theoretical perspectives from both strategic and innovation management to produce a multi-layered, practical, approach to strategic management of technological innovation.

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Register
30 01 Nov 2018

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules B820, B821, B822, B823, B825, B856, B857, BZX820, BZX821, BZX822, BZX823, BZX825, H807, H808, T835, T837, T839, T840, T846, T850, T851, T852, T853, T860, T861, T862, T863, T882, T883, T889, T890, T894, TD866, TU870, TU871, TU875, TUXX870, TUXX871, TUXX872, TUXX875, TXX861, TXX863, UYL810.

You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 20 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.


We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 8th June 2018.

Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills
Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes.

Credit transfer

If you have already completed some successful study at postgraduate level at another institution you may be able to transfer credit for this study and count it towards this Open University qualification. If you wish to apply to transfer credit you must do so as soon as possible as it may affect your choice of OU modules. If you are awarded credit for study completed elsewhere, you may find that you need to study fewer OU modules to complete your qualification with us.

Visit our Credit Transfer site for more information and details of how to apply for credit transfer.


On completion

On successful completion of the required modules you will be awarded a Certificate in Systems Thinking in Practice entitling you to use the letters PG Cert SysPract (Open) after your name.

You may continue your studies and add a further 60 credits to your postgraduate certificate to gain a Postgraduate Diploma in Systems Thinking in Practice (E28) and a further 60 credits to gain an MSc in Systems Thinking in Practice (F47) .

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Essential Documents website. 

Entry requirements

To start this programme, you should normally hold a UK bachelors degree, or equivalent. It may be possible to demonstrate your ability to study at postgraduate level by successfully completing a module and linking your studies to the programme at a later date.

Your spoken and written English must be of an adequate standard for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we recommend that you will need a minimum overall score of 6 and minimum score of 5.5 in each of the four components: reading, writing, speaking and listening under the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Please see the IELTS website for details.

Our badged open course, Succeeding in postgraduate study, will introduce you to the nature of Master's level study. It offers essential preparation for pursuing your learning at this level – and is free.

How long it takes

Most students study this qualification in one to two years. The minimum time to complete is one year. There is no maximum time to complete but we cannot guarantee that the same selection of modules will continue to be available. Modules can count towards the certificate for a maximum of eight years after we have stopped presenting them.

Career relevance

The knowledge and skills developed through this postgraduate certificate course will provide benefits in a wide variety of economic sectors to you as well as to your employers or other organisations. Applications exist in any organisation where complex processes exist and where a change is required, including, for example, health services, environmental and development management, manufacturing and IT. Managers at all levels will find the ability to approach complex problems from a systems perspective to be a useful addition to their management and leadership skills portfolio. If you are self-employed you may also find the knowledge developed enables you to take a more objective and innovative view of the systems you have already created and how to change these for the future.

Careers and Employability Services have more information on how OU study can improve your employability.