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Systems Thinking in Practice

This diploma course develops your ability to approach and tackle complex, messy problem situations, providing practical tools that will help bring new perspectives and approaches to problem solving. It may well change how you think about a task and situation. You will consider the roles other people play, reflect on your own and others’ practice and assess how the different components within a situation are related. You will develop the skills to think more holistically and to work more collaboratively with others, in order to move towards effective solutions and avoid systemic failures.

Key features of the course
• Encourages fresh ways of thinking about and approaching complex tasks and situations
• Develops the tools and skills needed to tackle problem situation holistically, effectively and ethically.
• The opportunity to top up to our MSc in Systems Thinking in Practice in just one more year.

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 2 years.

Most students study this qualification over two to three years. The minimum time to complete is two years. Because of the demands of study that the diploma will make on you, we recommend that you study no more than 60 credits in any 12-month period. 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 diploma for a maximum of eight years after we have stopped presenting them.

Number of credits

120 credits

Careers or further progression

Career relevance
The knowledge, skills and understanding developed through this postgraduate diploma can be applied in many different situations. They are particularly relevant to managing and innovation in areas of practice that range from business and consultancy to health and social care, environment and development to engineering, technology and information systems. The flexibility in choice of modules allows managers and other professionals from a range of industries covering the private and public sectors to choose complementary modules that will enable them to tailor their learning. Relevance can be found in most organisations where an understanding of complex situations is required. This qualification can be useful for those who wish to demonstrate their capacity to manage more complex situations and problems or by those already working in systems and processes who may need to update their skills. 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 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 120 credits as follows:

60 credits of compulsory modules:

Compulsory modules

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

Plus 60 credits from this list

Please see the module descriptions for any specific entry requirements before making your choice.

Optional modules

Credits Next start
Advanced routing - CCNP 1 (T824) 30 01 May 2017
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
Earth science: a systems approach (S808) 60 27 Jan 2018
Entrepreneurship: experience and perspective (BB846) 15 06 May 2017
Information security (M811) 30 01 Nov 2017
Institutional development: conflicts, values and meanings (TU872) 30 01 May 2017
Leadership and management in intercultural contexts (BB848) 15 06 May 2017
Leading healthcare improvements (K827) 60 07 Oct 2017
MBA stage 1: management: perspectives and practice (B716) 60 06 May 2017
MBA stage 1: management: perspectives and practice (fast-track)* (BXFT716) 60 01 Apr 2017
Making environmental decisions (T891) 30 01 May 2017
Management beyond the mainstream (BB847) 15 06 May 2017
Managing for sustainability (T867) 30 01 May 2017
Managing technological innovation (T848) 30 01 May 2017
Manufacture materials design (T805) 30 01 May 2017
Marketing in the 21st century (BB844) 15 06 May 2017
Multi-layer switching - CCNP 3 (T826) 30 01 May 2017
Network security (T828) 30 01 Nov 2017
Optimising networks - CCNP 4 (T827) 30 01 Nov 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
Strategic human resource management (BB845) 15 06 May 2017
Sustainable creative management (BB842) 15 $[BB842]

*This version is for accelerated study and requires you to devote 20-25 hours a week to your studies.

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, TM893, TU870, TU871, TU875, TUXX870, TUXX871, TUXX872, TUXX875, TXX863*This version is for accelerated study and requires you to devote 20-25 hours a week to your studies.

You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 40 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 can be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Systems Thinking in Practice entitling you to use the letters PG Dip SysPrac (Open) after your name.

You may continue your studies and add a further 60 credits to your postgraduate diploma to gain an MSc in Systems Thinking in Practice (F47).

Remember to mention gradireland when contacting institutions!