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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.

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 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).

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 2 years.

The minimum time to complete is 2 years. The maximum time to complete is 8 years.

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.

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 120 credits as follows:

60 credits from:

Module 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 module TU811 and TU812.

60 credits from:

Module Credits
Capacities for managing development (T878) 30
Conflict and development (T879) 30
Continuing professional development in practice (U810)30
Creating and sustaining value (B872) 30
Data management (M816) 30
Development: context and practice (T877) 30
Digital forensics (M812) 30
Entrepreneurship in context (BB851) 15
Information security (M811) 30
Institutional development: conflicts, values and meanings (TU872) 30
Leadership and management in intercultural contexts (BB848) 15
Leadership and management of public services (BB852) 15
Making environmental decisions (T891) 30
Managing for sustainability (T867) 30
Managing in a changing world (B870) 30
Managing technological innovation (T848) 30
Manufacture materials design (T805) 30
Marketing in the 21st century (BB844) 15
Multi-layer switching - CCNP 3 (T826) 30
Network security (T828) 30
Optimising networks - CCNP 4 (T827)30
Project management (M815) 30
Software development (M813) 30
Software engineering (M814) 30
Strategic capabilities for technological innovation (T849) 30 Sustainable creative management (BB842) 15

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules B716, B820, B821, B822, B823, B825, B856, B857, BB835, BB845, BB846, BB847, BXFT716, 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, T860, T861, T862, T863, T882, T883, T889, T890, T894, TD866, TM893, TU870, TU871, TU875, TUXX870, TUXX871, TUXX872, TUXX875, 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 40 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!