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MSc in Systems Thinking in Practice

This MSc has the development of skills in holistic thinking, and appreciation of multiple perspectives at its core. These skills are relevant to many different domains: e.g. health, business, local government, environment, development, engineering, organisation change and IT management. You’ll gain insights into the range of ways in which other people think about particular situations and how to apply a wide range of concepts, tools and techniques developed by systems thinkers. You’ll also learn to appreciate and develop your own ways of thinking in practice, becoming aware of how you can act to bring about improvements in messy situations.

Key features of the course

  • Offers you the choice of a research route or a professional route.
  • Both routes develop essential skills for addressing systems thinking issues systematically in your own context, and extend your knowledge of recent research and research methods.
  • Concludes with either a substantial piece of independent study on a topic of professional interest to you, or a more academic in-depth research project.

Masters degree

Course code
F47
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
180
How long it takes
Minimum – 3 years
Read more about how long it takes
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Course cost
Postgraduate loan available
See Fees and funding
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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Course details

Modules

To gain this qualification, you need 180 credits as follows:

Stage 1 (120 credits)

60 credits from:

Module Credits Next start
Making strategy with systems thinking in practice (TB871)

TB871 builds capability for making strategy within your own chosen area of (professional) practice using ideas and tools from five traditions of systems thinking.

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Register
30 01 May 2021
Managing change with systems thinking in practice (TB872) NEW

This module is about effecting whole-system change. Rather than passively accepting change, this module will equip you with skills to shape the nature and direction of change.

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Register
30 01 Nov 2021
Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules TU811 and TU812.

60 credits from:

Module Credits Next start
Advance your independent learning (YXM830) NEW

This flexible module guides you through an in-depth exploration of a topic of your choice and enables you to construct a rigorously researched personal answer.

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Register
30 06 Feb 2021
Continuing professional development in practice (U810)

This module allows you to evaluate and assess 150 hours prior learning and identify and progress appropriate development opportunities for future continuing professional development. 

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Register
30 01 May 2021
Creating and sustaining value (B872)

Critically explore the ways organisations create, sustain and expand value in an increasingly complex and dynamic business environment.

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Register
30 01 May 2021
Data management (M816)

Discover the data management principles, practices and technologies required to develop policies, procedures and systems that control, protect, deliver and enhance the value of an organisation’s data asset.

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Register
30 01 Nov 2021
Digital forensics (M812)

M812 covers the history of forensics, both criminal and criminal digital law, digital investigation techniques for desktop and mobile devices as well as forensic readiness.

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Register
30 01 May 2021
Entrepreneurship in context (BB851) NEW

This module will equip you with an entrepreneurial mindset and help you learn about entrepreneurship as well as different forms of entrepreneurial practice.

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Register
15 06 Nov 2021
Global development in practice (D890)

Discover the conceptual framework for analysing the contexts in which development takes place and development management practice

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Register
60 04 Oct 2021
Information security (M811)

Explore the professional and technical skills necessary to understand, document, manage and implement strategic and operational aspects of your organisation's information security.

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Register
30 01 Nov 2021
Institutional development: conflicts, values and meanings (TU872)

This module analyses institutions, identifies their significance for development, examines how to build inter-organisational relationships, and explores the skills of mapping, modelling, negotiation and brokering.

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Register
30 01 May 2021
Leadership and management of public services (BB852) NEW

In this elective module you’ll study the many dimensions of managing public services, which may be public, private for-profit or not-for profit.

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Register
15 01 May 2021
Making environmental decisions (T891)

T891 ‘Making Environmental Decisions’ teaches you to use a systems framework to integrate environment with other considerations when making decisions in complex environmental management situations.

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Register
30 01 Nov 2021
Managing for sustainability (T867)

This module will increase your understanding of delivering and supporting sustainability management in your workplace or support your personal interest in this subject.

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Register
30 01 May 2021
Managing in a changing world (B870)

This module will encourage you to develop, as well as challenge, your current knowledge and skills in order to deal with contemporary and rapidly changing areas of management and marketing.

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Register
30 01 May 2021
Manufacture materials design (T805)

Introducing materials processing from the perspective of a design engineer, this module explores how to make components, focusing on the interactions between manufacturing, materials and design.

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Register
30 01 May 2021
Network security (T828)

T828 presents the opportunity to jointly study the Cisco CCNA Security and Cyber Security Operations. You will explore information systems security management and secure internetworked systems.

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Register
30 01 Nov 2021
Project management (M815)

Postgraduate module for aspiring project managers and practicing project managers who wish to develop their knowledge and skills of managing technological projects. APM accredited.

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Register
30 01 May 2021
Software development (M813)

Gain the fundamental knowledge and understanding, and analysis and synthesis skills that you will need to develop software artefacts fit for a real-world organisational context.

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Register
30 01 May 2021
Software engineering (M814)

Explore the advanced concepts and techniques used throughout the software life cycle, for the effective production and management of large, complex, and long-lived software systems.

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Register
30 01 Nov 2021
Strategic capabilities for technological innovation (T849)

This module draws on a range of theoretical perspectives from both strategic and innovation management to produce a multi-layered, practical, approach to strategic management of technological innovation.

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Register
30 01 May 2021
Sustainable creative management (BB842)

This module explores creative, innovative and sustainable ways of developing and managing organisations and offers practical approaches for developing yourself, your team and your organisation.

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Register
15 01 May 2021
Technology innovation management (TB801) NEW

The module examines innovation from a management perspective, enabling you to develop understanding of how you contribute to the process and management of technological innovation.

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Register
30 01 May 2021
Understanding global development (DD870)

This module introduces global approaches to contemporary development issues, equipping you with the analytical tools to critically examine and respond to these challenges.

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Register
60 02 Oct 2021
Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules B716, B820, B821, B822, B823, B825, B856, B857, BB835, BB844, BB845, BB846, BB847, BB848, BZA820, BZA821, BZA825, BZR820, BZR821, BZR823, BZR825, BZT820, BZT821, BZT822, BZT825, BZX820, BZX821, BZX822, BZX823, BZX825, H807, H808, T826, T827, T835, T837, T839, T840, T846, T848, T850, T851, T852, T853, T860, T861, T862, T863, T877, T878, T879, T882, T883, T889, T890, T894, TD866, TM893, TU870, TU871, TU875, TUXX870, TUXX871, TUXX872, TUXX875, TXX863 and UYL810

Stage 2 (60 credits)

You will choose either:

  • a research route
  • a professional route

Research route

60 credits from:

Compulsory module Credits Next start
Research project (T802)

This research module enables you to gain an MSc by building on your existing postgraduate diploma. You’ll design your own research and submit a dissertation.

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Register
60 01 Feb 2021

Professional route

60 credits from:

Compulsory module Credits Next start
The MSc professional project (T847)

This highly intensive research based module enables you to design, conduct, analyse and report on a research project of your own choosing.

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Register
30 01 Nov 2021
Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued module T842
Plus another 30 credits from the Stage 1 modules 30  

You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 60 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. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 17 March 2020.

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
Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes.

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.


On completion

On successful completion of the required modules you can be awarded an MSc in Systems Thinking in Practice entitling you to use the letters MSc Sys Prac (Open) after your name. You will have the opportunity of being presented at a degree ceremony.

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.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website. 

Entry requirements

To start Stage 1 of this degree, 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.

How long it takes

The minimum time to complete is 3 years. The maximum time to complete is 8 years.

Career relevance

Those with both professional interests and responsibilities in managing complex situations 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 sectors; including health, education, environment, international development, community engagement, 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.

Careers and Employability Services have more information on how OU study can improve your employability.