Institution / Open University In Ireland
City scape

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.

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.


Minimum - 1 year.

Most students study this qualification in one to two years. The minimum time to complete is one year. There is no maximum time to complete but we cannot guarantee that the same selection of modules will continue to be available. Modules can count towards the certificate for a maximum of eight years after we have stopped presenting them.

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.

There is more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU’s Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.

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 List A:
List A: compulsory modules

Credits Next start
Managing systemic change: inquiry, action, and interaction (TU812) 30 01 Nov 2017
Thinking strategically: system tools for managing change (TU811) 30 01 May 2017

An additional 30 credits from List A, or from List B:

List B: optional modules

Credits Next start
Capacities for managing development (T878) 30 01 May 2017
Conflict and development (T879) 30 01 May 2017
Continuing professional development in practice (U810) 30 06 May 2017
Data management (M816) 30 01 Nov 2017
Development: context and practice (T877) 30 01 May 2017
Digital forensics (M812) 30 01 May 2017
Information security (M811) 30 01 Nov 2017
Institutional development (TU872) 30 01 May 2017
Making environmental decisions (T891) 30 01 May 2017
Managing for sustainability (T867) 30 01 May 2017
Managing technological innovation (T848) 30 01 May 2017
Problem solving and improvement: quality and other approaches (T889) 30 01 May 2017
Project management (M815) 30 01 May 2017
Software development (M813) 30 01 May 2017
Software engineering (M814) 30 01 Nov 2017
Strategic capabilities for technological innovation (T849) 30 01 May 2017

Subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules B820, B821, B822, B823, B825, B856, B857, BZX820, BZX821, BZX822, BZX823, BZX825, H807, T835, T837, T839, T840, T846, T850, T851, T852, T853, T860, T861, T862, T863, T882, T883, T890, T894, TD866, TU870, TU871, TU875, TUXX870, TUXX871, TUXX872, TUXX875, TXX863

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.


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) .

Remember to mention gradireland when contacting institutions!