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MSc in Systems Thinking in Practice - Learning Outcomes

Educational aims

In this MSc, we aim to:

  • introduce systems methodological approaches, concepts and theories, and apply them in contexts of your choice
  • define the distinctive ethical nature of systems practice and relate it to many different fields
  • enable you to understand how systems ideas can be used in a field of your choice
  • equip you with the skills to design and carry out systemic inquiries to improve situations in domains of your choice
  • provide opportunities for you to gain experience in systems practice through a project of your own choice that may contribute to professional development
  • enable you to gain independence and confidence in your use of systems techniques in real-world situations so that you can work both with and without guidance.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

On completion of this MSc, you'll be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the following:

  • key systems concepts and multiple traditions of systems thinking in practice
  • the concepts of practice and its ethical and systemic dimensions
  • the many ways in which systems thinking can be applied in different fields of research and professional practice
  • the nature of research traditions within technological and systems contexts
  • the transformative potential of systems thinking in practice

Cognitive skills

On completion of this MSc, you'll be able to:

  • reflect on the use of systems concepts and techniques in the real world
  • develop awareness of ethical behaviour in a given situation
  • holistically analyse and take creative action in a range of application domains
  • identify and define conceptual and practical problems in terms of systems thinking in practice research.

Practical and/or professional skills

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

  • design systemic inquiries, using and building upon concepts from systems approaches
  • manage relationships with stakeholders, taking an ethical and critical approach to issues of politics and power in the situation and with your own practice
  • apply systems concepts and techniques to real-world situations
  • evaluate systemically your experience as a systems thinking practitioner.

Key skills

On completion of this MSc, you'll be able to:

  • learn in familiar and unfamiliar situations and translate that learning to 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 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 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 the 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 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 (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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