MSc in Systems Thinking in Practice

The Open University

Program Description

MSc in Systems Thinking in Practice

The Open University

MSc in Systems Thinking in Practice

This MSc course builds on your diploma studies and provides you with the opportunity to carry out an investigation into an aspect of systems thinking that is of personal or professional interest to you or conduct a more academic in-depth research project. Both routes will enable you to extend your knowledge of recent research in your chosen area and become competent in relevant research methods. It will also develop your capability to plan, organise and carry out an extended independent study at masters level.

This MSc course looks at the way you think and naturally approach a task or situation. Every person brings with them their own perspective, which means that we all see things in different ways. The discipline of systems thinking in practice will provide you with the tools to challenge your approach to complex situations; to consider the roles other people play; to assess how all the different components within that situation are related; and to provide you with the skills to think more holistically and to work more collaboratively to avoid systemic failures.

Educational aims

In this MSc, we aim to:

  • introduce systems methodologies, 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.

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. Associate Lecturers (part time 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 conference 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 Systems. 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 electronic conferencing 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 TMAs (three for each of the 30-credit modules in the core and a similar proportion across the rest of the curriculum).

Career impact

Those with technical interests and responsibilities will find this masters qualification useful to them in their work. It will also provide the opportunity for those wanting to progress to demonstrate their potential to develop new skills. The flexibility of the choice of module allows you to tailor the content to your needs and can be applicable in a wide range of industry sectors; in particular manufacturing, IT and science. The study of systems thinking and practice provides knowledge and understanding that is equally applicable in the public and private sectors. If you are self employed you may also find the knowledge developed by studying this combination of modules provides the opportunity to take a more objective and innovative view of the systems they have already created and how to change these for the future.

Entry requirements

You need to complete the Postgraduate Diploma in Systems Thinking in Practice (E28) in order to be able to study the MSc in Systems Thinking in Practice.

The MSc offers you the choice of a ‘research’ route or a ‘professional’ route to this qualification. Both routes help you to develop essential skills for systematically and successfully addressing systems thinking issues in your own organisation and in a wider context.

If you are interested in a more business-oriented qualification, you can take The MSc professional project (T847) and complete your qualification with a module from a short list of relevant options.

Read more about this programme on the Open University website here

This school offers programs in:
  • English
The Open University
Duration & Price
This course is Online
Start Date
Start date
Aug. 2017
1 year
Part time
Full time
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Start date Aug. 2017
United Kingdom
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Duration 1 year
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