Postgraduate Certificate in Systems Thinking in Practice - Learning Outcomes

Educational aims

In this certificate, we aim to:

  • introduce systems concepts and theories that can be used to make sense of complex situations
  • define the distinctive nature of systems practice
  • enable you to use a range of systems ideas in your own practice
  • equip you with the skills to design and carry out systemic inquiries to improve situations
  • demonstrate the importance of ethics, social learning and critical thinking in systems practice
  • show how multiple stakeholder perspectives can be taken into account in systems practice
  • enable you to contextualise your own traditions and practice among those of others.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

On completion of this certificate you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the following:

  • key systems concepts and multiple traditions of systems thinking in practice
  • the concept of practice and its ethical and systemic dimensions
  • a range of systems thinking approaches
  • learning and its role as a form of systems thinking in practice
  • the transformative potential of systems thinking in practice

Cognitive skills

On completion of this certificate you will be able to:

  • frame complex situations, both holistically and analytically
  • design inquiries and actions to improve situations
  • engage in reflective practice, including an awareness of the links between your own tradition and those of others
  • develop awareness of ethical behaviour in a given situation.

Practical and/or professional skills

On completion of this certificate you will be able to:

  • make effective use of systems ideas
  • design systemic inquiries with a sensitivity to the context within which you are working
  • build issues of ethics, critical thinking, politics and power into your practice
  • manage relationships with clients and other stakeholders, taking into account the perspectives of all groups.

Key skills

On completion of this certificate you will be able to demonstrate the following key skills:

  • learn in familiar and unfamiliar situations
  • communicate effectively using diagrammatic presentations as appropriate
  • seek relevant information from appropriate sources
  • develop ways of improving complex and problematic situations

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

You gain knowledge and understanding mainly from the study texts, with supporting material provided via reference texts, forums and web-based resources. You will be able to assess your own progress and understanding by using the in-text problems and exercises within each unit. Tutors, who are selected for their knowledge of the subject area and experience in its practical application, support your learning by phone, letter, email or online discussion forum when required.

The principles and methods will be described in the study texts with many examples. You will be provided with practical activities such as blogging to develop your cognitive skills in the field of systems practice. These skills are delivered through the core study materials with worked examples and exercises. The emphasis is on supported individual learning.

Your skills will be assessed in the assignments and examinations of the various modules. Assignments are carefully designed, complex pieces of work, which will test your ability to analyse situations and demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of systems practice. The programme is aimed at people with a professional interest in using systems thinking. It is assumed that you will have already gained some of these key skills in the workplace. The programme does, however, provide the opportunity for demonstration and further development of these skills through a research project.

You are expected to work largely under your own direction, reflecting on your own performance, identifying your own learning needs and developing learning strategies. You are encouraged to reflect on the response to your assignments in order to improve your understanding and your performance in future assessments.

The programme introduces you to various situations from which you can learn. Assignments develop your skills in learning, communication, and understanding of problematic and complex situations. Communicating this activity to your tutor in a coherent form is a requirement of assignments while tutor feedback on these supports your learning.

You will be encouraged to participate with other students and tutors using online discussion forums to discuss both study specific issues and related topics of wider interest.

Formal assessment of the modules is by way of continuous assessment in the form of tutor-marked assignments (two to three for each of the compulsory 30-credit modules and a similar proportion across the rest of the curriculum).

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