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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.

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

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) .

Recognition in your country

If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Read recognition in my country.

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.

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.


Minimum - 1 year.

The minimum time to complete is 1 year. The maximum time to complete is 8 years.

Number of credits

60 credits

Careers or further progression

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.

Further enquiries

Tel: (01) 678 5399

Fax: (01) 678 5442


Subjects taught


To gain this qualification, you need 60 credits as follows:

30 credits from:

Core modules Credits

Making strategy with systems thinking in practice (TB871) 30

Managing change with systems thinking in practice (TB872) 30

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules TU811 and TU812

30 credits from:

Optional modules Credits

Making strategy with systems thinking in practice (TB871)30 Managing change with systems thinking in practice (TB872)30 Sustainable creative management (BB842) 15

Marketing in the 21st century (BB844) 15

Leadership and management in intercultural contexts (BB848) 15

Managing technological innovation (T848) 30

Strategic capabilities for technological innovation (T849) 30 Managing for sustainability (T867) 30

Making environmental decisions (T891) 30

Information security (M811) 30

Digital forensics (M812) 30

Software development (M813) 30

Software engineering (M814) 30

Project management (M815) 30

Data management (M816) 30

Development: context and practice (T877) 30

Managing technological innovation (T878) 30

Conflict and development (T879) 30

Institutional development (TU872) 30

Continuing professional development in practice (U810) 30 02

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules B820, B821, B822, B823, B825, B856, B857, BB845, BB846, BB847, BZA820, BZA821, BZA825, BZR820, BZR821, BZR823, BZR825, BZT820, BZT821, BZT822, BZT825, BZX820, BZX821, BZX822, BZX823, BZX825, H807, H808, T835, T837, T839, T840, T846, T850, T851, T852, T853, T861, T862, T863, T882, T883, T889, T890, T894, TD866, TU811, TU812, TU870, TU871, TU875, TUXX870, TUXX871, TUXX872, TUXX875, TXX861, TXX863 and 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.

Remember to mention gradireland when contacting institutions!