This module can  be taken as a Short Course for Credit.
Please go to the 'Upgrade to a professional qualification' section for more information.

Applicants must have completed 60 credits worth of study from the Systems Thinking Practice MSc before undertaking this course 

      The background to the systems worldview is multi-disciplinary and can be found in anthropology, biology, engineering sociology, psychology, informatics and economics amongst others.


    This module enables the student to understand the underpinning philosophy and theory of systems science and systems thinking, enabling them to draw upon concepts from one discipline to provide insight into others, as well as to "join up" thinking across disciplines so as to avoid the artificial separation that discipline-oriented thinking can lead to. It is this multi-disciplinary approach that enables one to gain insight and achieve resolution into the most complex issues faced by society today

    At a glance

    • Dates
      • Please enquire for course dates
    • LocationOnline
    • Cost£1,490

    What you will learn

    On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

    • Describe the philosophical underpinnings of the systems paradigm and the synthetic worldview, comparing and contrasting with reductionist and analytical approaches.
    • Critically assess various systems thinking methodologies and approaches from the perspective of understanding, knowledge and viewpoints, relating them to philosophical concepts such as ontology and epistemology.
    • Discuss the inter-relationships between systems thinking approaches and justify them from a foundational perspective.

    Core content

    The module consists of a number of units considering the following areas:

  • Unit 1 – Analytical and synthetic worldviews.  The reductionist/analytical approach and its domains of successful application.  The integrative/synthetic approach and its challenges.  Scientific reductionism and holistic metaphysics as complementary views of reality.  The nature of experimentation.


  • Unit 2 – Understanding, knowledge and epistemology.  The relationship between understanding and knowledge.  Descriptive understanding (what has happened?), explanatory understanding (why did that happen?), predictive understanding (what could happen?) and prescriptive understanding (what should we do?).  Epistemological basis for knowledge.  Information.


  • Unit 3 – Beliefs, truth and values.  Ontologies and assumptions (stated, implicit, hidden, unknown).  Inductive and deductive arguments.  Ambiguity and viewpoints.  Inclusivity, Davidson’s Principle of Charity.


  • Unit 4 – Multi-methods and application.  Return to purpose.  Selection of methods dependent on context.  The benefit of multiple views and perspectives.


  • Unit 5 – Integration and Conclusions.  An overview of the systems worldview, looking at its application in a number of domains.  Crossovers, commonalities and dangers

  • Upgrade to a professional qualification

    When taken as a Short Course for Credit, 10 credit points can be put towards the Systems Thinking Practice MSc

    Find out more about short course credit points.

    Who should attend

    The course is aimed at:

    • Systems Analysts and Engineers of all disciplines
    • Managers/decision makers/policy makers
    • Individuals who need critical thinking skills to achieve successful outcomes in a complex working environment.

    How to apply

    To apply for this course please use the online application form.

    Read our Professional development (CPD) booking conditions.