Postgraduate Diploma in Systems Thinking in Practice - Learning Outcomes

Educational aims

In this diploma, we aim to:

  • introduce systems methodological approaches, concepts and theories, and apply them in the context of a domain of interest chosen by you e.g. alleviating environmental problems, building sustainable communities, designing and building information systems, the management and provision of local authority services, developing effective governance, etc.
  • define the distinctive nature of systems practice, and relate it to your domain of interest.
  • guide you in your application of systems techniques to ‘real-world’ situations.
  • equip you with the skills to design and carry out systemic inquiries and to engage with others to improve situations in your chosen domains.
  • demonstrate the importance of ethics, social learning and critical thinking in systems practice.
  • enable you to contextualise your own traditions and practice among those of others, drawing on your chosen domains.

Learning outcomes

The qualification provides opportunities for you to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, qualities, skills and other attributes in the following areas:

Knowledge and understanding

On completion of this diploma, you’ll 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
  • systemic approaches to improving situations in your chosen domain of interest
  • the strengths and weakness tools and framework devices used extensively in your domain of interest
  • the transformative potential of systems thinking in practice

Cognitive skills

On completion of this diploma, you’ll be able to:

  • make effective methodological use of key systems concepts
  • integrate key systems methods and concepts from systems thinking and other approaches in the context of your domain of interest
  • 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 diploma, you’ll be able to:

  • design systemic inquiries, using and building upon concepts from systems thinking approaches
  • appreciate the perspectives of stakeholders, taking an ethical and critical approach to issues of politics and power in the situation and with your own practice
  • apply systems thinking in practice to real-world situations in the context of your domain of interest
  • manage relationships with stakeholders, taking into account the variety of perspectives and role-specific concerns.

Key skills

On completion of this diploma you will be able to:

  • learn in familiar and unfamiliar situations and use that learning in other contexts
  • communicate effectively using written and diagrammatic presentations
  • 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 module texts with supporting study material provided via reference texts, online forums and web based resources. You will 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 forums when required.

You engage with what is taught by attempting the assignment questions, which are completed at fixed intervals throughout each module. Your understanding is reinforced by support from tutors in the form of feedback based on your assignment answers and a summary of your strengths and weaknesses for each assignment.

Formal assessment of the taught modules is by way of continuous assessment in the form of tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) (two to three for each of the compulsory 30-credit modules and a similar proportion across the rest of the curriculum) and the end-of-module assessments (EMAs) for the compulsory modules will take the form of a written assignment.

The principles and methods will be described in the module texts with many examples. You will be provided with practical activities to develop your cognitive skills in the field of systems practice. These skills will be assessed in the TMAs and examinations of the various modules. TMAs will be 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 they will have already gained some of these key skills in the workplace. You are expected to work largely under your own direction, reflecting on your own performance, identifying your own learning needs and developing learning strategies. Using the self-assessment questions in the module texts you can assess your own progress and ask for help if needed. You are encouraged to reflect on the response to your TMAs in order to improve your understanding and your performance in future assessments.

The programme introduces you to various situations from which you can learn. TMAs 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 module specific issues and related topics of wider interest. These skills are delivered through the core study materials with worked examples and exercises. The emphasis is on supported individual learning.

Formal assessment of the modules is by way of continuous assessment in the form of tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) (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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