• Swansea University Featured Masters Courses
  • University of Edinburgh Featured Masters Courses
  • Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University Featured Masters Courses
  • University of Glasgow Featured Masters Courses
  • Leeds Beckett University Featured Masters Courses
  • University of Leeds Featured Masters Courses
  • University of York Featured Masters Courses
  • Regent’s University London Featured Masters Courses
De Montfort University Featured Masters Courses
Southampton Solent University Featured Masters Courses
University of Bradford Featured Masters Courses
University of Greenwich Featured Masters Courses
University of Leeds Featured Masters Courses

MSc in Systems Thinking in Practice

Course Description

This MSc course explores the way we think about and approach tasks or situations. Everyone brings with them their own perspective, which means that we all see things in different ways. The discipline of systems thinking in practice will provide you with the tools to challenge your approach to complex situations, consider the roles other people play, and assess how different components within those situations are related. You will also develop the skills needed to think more holistically and work more collaboratively to avoid systemic failures.

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.

This qualification is eligible for a Postgraduate Loan available from Student Finance England. For more information, see our fees and funding web page.

You can take a number of different routes towards your qualification. Please visit our website to see some suggested routes.


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

Stage 1

60 credits of compulsory modules:

Compulsory modules

• Thinking strategically: systems tools for managing change (TU811)
• Managing systemic change: inquiry, action and interaction (TU812)


60 credits from List A:

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

List A – optional modules

• Advanced routing - CCNP 1 (T824)
• Capacities for managing development (T878)
• Conflict and development (T879)
• Continuing professional development in practice (U810)
• Data management (M816)
• Development: context and practice (T877)
• Digital forensics (M812)
• Earth science: a systems approach (S808)
• Entrepreneurship: experience and perspective (BB846)
• Information security (M811)
• Institutional development: conflicts, values and meanings (TU872)
• Leadership and management in intercultural contexts (BB848)
• Leading healthcare improvements (K827)
• MBA stage 1: management: perspectives and practice (B716)
• MBA stage 1: management: perspectives and practice (fast-track)* (BXFT716)
• Making environmental decisions (T891)
• Management beyond the mainstream (BB847)
• Managing for sustainability (T867)
• Managing technological innovation (T848)
• Manufacture materials design (T805)
• Marketing in the 21st century (BB844)
• Multi-layer switching - CCNP 3 (T826)
• Network security (T828)
• Optimising networks - CCNP 4 (T827)
• Problem solving and improvement: quality and other approaches (T889)
• Project management (M815)
• Software development (M813)
• Software engineering (M814)
• Strategic capabilities for technological innovation (T849)
• Strategic human resource management (BB845)
• Sustainable creative management (BB842)

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

Completion of Stage 1 will entitle you to claim the Postgraduate Diploma in Systems Thinking in Practice (E28).


Stage 2

This MSc offers a choice of routes after you have completed Stage 1; a research route or a more business-oriented professional route.

60 credits from either the Research route or the Professional route:

Research route

Compulsory module

• Research project (T802)

Professional route

Compulsory module

• The MSc professional project (T847)

Plus an additional 30 credits from List A in Stage 1 above

The modules quoted in this description are currently available for study. However, as we review the curriculum on a regular basis, the exact selection may change over time.

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 on how to apply.

Visit the MSc in Systems Thinking in Practice page on the Open University website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Arwen Bailey

I decided to change careers when I was 38. I’d been working as an English teacher and manager then I went to work for an agricultural research organisation. I had to start right at the bottom and it soon became apparent, talking to HR, that the best way I could get a promotion was to get a Master’s degree, related to our work in agricultural research for development.
I began with an MSc in International development management - but then I became intrigued by systems thinking so I moved into that and it allowed me to apply for the job I have now as a science editor.
After university I taught English as a foreign language. I spent three years in Japan then I met my husband, who’s Italian, and we set up home in Rome, where I’ve been living for the last 18 years. We have two children.
I first studied with the OU 16 years ago. Things have changed so much since then and now everything is online, which is much better.
I decided to register with the OU because I found the course content appealing and knew The OU had a very good reputation. The real joy of it is the flexibility and being able to squeeze those study hours into my normal working week and not having to stop work to do it.
The very first course I did was a basic one in development management and as the courses progressed though, I started getting into it more and more. By the time I did the research project I was in hook line and sinker.
My tutors were brilliant with a huge amount of knowledge and experience. My study groups would share experiences and give each other support. Some of the OU forums were brilliant. The forums for TU811 and TU812 particularly were really buzzing and stimulating.
As well as promotion at work I wrote the results of my Masters research up as an article and it got accepted in the peer reviewed Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension Then at the end of last year (2014) I heard it had been voted second best journal article of the year. It was wonderful to achieve this.
The best thing about an OU degree is that you study alone but you’re part of a very warm, friendly, community. The whole thing has been incredibly positive for me.


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. Please contact us or visit our website for further information on entry requirements.

Course Fees

UK £6,123 – £9,278 (fees can vary depending on which modules you choose to make up your qualification).

Email Enquiry

Recipient: Open University

Insert previous message below for editing? 
You haven’t included a message. Providing a specific message means universities will take your enquiry more seriously and helps them provide the information you need.
Why not add a message here
* required field
Send a copy to me for my own records.

Your enquiry has been emailed successfully

Share this page:

Cookie Policy    X