Applications are now open for the September 2023 cohort. Expressions of interest should be submitted by the deadline of 26th June 2023, with full applications submitted by the deadline of 10th July 2023.

This apprenticeship meets the requirements of the Level 7 Systems Thinking Practitioner Standard . Eligible organisations will be able to use up to £18,000 of their Apprenticeship Levy to cover the cost of the course tuition fees. View Fees and Funding information, or find out more about Master's Apprenticeships.

Resilience, sustainability, engineering, and security within contemporary societies require ways of thinking and communication that support the identification and resolution of complex, wicked problems.
The broad purpose of the Systems Thinking Practitioner occupation is to support decision-makers in strategic and leadership roles to understand and address complex and sometimes even ‘multi-layered’ problems through provision of expert systemic analysis.

This is an exciting, new, and very practical apprenticeship, and the benefits of this are: personal skills development, practical application in the workplace, employer support, a minimum of 20% off the job hours to support the training, and Cranfield expertise and support for the apprentice through to successful completion of the apprenticeship.

Upon successful completion of the Apprenticeship, you will be awarded the Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) in Systems Thinking Practice, which can be used if you would like to move onto our MSc programme.


  • Start dateSeptember
  • DurationUp to three years part-time
  • DeliveryA selection of compulsory and elective modules with an end point assessment of an 8,000-word project report and presentation
  • QualificationPgDip
  • Study typePart-time
  • CampusCranfield campus and virtual learning

Who is it for?

This apprenticeship will enhance the knowledge and benefit those currently;

• Delivering expert problem-solving and solutions for multi-layer/multi-organisation/multi-government problems.

• Engaging with colleagues, peers, stakeholders and decision-makers, to facilitate the creation of shared methods of defining, interpreting and understanding the system of interest (e.g. models, pictures, stories, maps).

• Identifying patterns, dynamics, power and inter-relationships within and affecting the system, using systems thinking methodologies; applying appropriate tools, techniques and drawing on relevant theory (e.g. systems science, complexity science, social psychology, action research) with rigour to yield new insights and alternative perspectives.

• Engaging with key actors to co-design suitable experiments and interventions – activities, policies, new products or services, new governance, structures, or processes – to address the challenges; evaluating relative fitness and efficacy.

• Exploring outcomes, consequences and facilitating learning with others.

• Ensuring intervention and engagement methods are ethical and legal.

• Taking the role of co-learner and participant within the system under scrutiny; acting as a ‘reflexive practitioner’ aware that they are engaged in iterative work, and also that their own activity will influence the system they are working in.

Why this course?

The ever changing external climate we now find ourselves in has changed how organisations work and their decision making process. Systems Thinking has become critical to success; organisations need to focus on their systems and the need for adaptability and resilience like never before.

The apprenticeship will help you develop your knowledge and application of systems thinking to support organisational viability and the development of appropriate governance and decision making processes for organisations.

It is taught through a blend of on-site and remote teaching methods supported by workplace practice to develop appropriate skills and behaviours. Three modules are taught on Cranfield Campus with others combining face-to-face lecturing, workshops, and group work. 

Three modules begin with a short Cranfield Campus based study are completed and then continue to completion through practice in the workplace, with remote mentoring by Cranfield academic staff. One core module and the elective modules are taught through our learning portal providing flexibility to the student. 

Full use will be made of blended learning, combining distance learning material via Cranfield’s Virtual Learning Environment with online and onsite workshops. A wide variety of remote learning methods and materials will be used across the course.

Whilst you are undertaking the apprenticeship, we will endeavour to ensure that all modules and teaching is conducted using strict safety and well-being protocols in line with Government and University instructions.


Course details

In this section

Course delivery

A selection of compulsory and elective modules with an end point assessment of an 8,000-word project report and presentation


Keeping our courses up-to-date and current requires constant innovation and change. The modules we offer reflect the needs of business and industry and the research interests of our staff and, as a result, may change or be withdrawn due to research developments, legislation changes or for a variety of other reasons. Changes may also be designed to improve the student learning experience or to respond to feedback from students, external examiners, accreditation bodies and industrial advisory panels.

To give you a taster, we have listed the compulsory and elective (where applicable) modules which are currently affiliated with this course. All modules are indicative only, and may be subject to change for your year of entry.

Compulsory modules

All the modules in the following list need to be taken as part of this course:

Fundamentals of Systems Thinking

Introduction to Systems Methods

Dialogue and Collaboration

Systems Practice

Systems Leadership and Organisational Behaviour

Systems Research Methods

Systems Thinking Development and Exploitation


Elective modules (Year One)

A choice of the modules in the following list can be taken as part of this course:

Formal Representation of Systems

Complex Systems

Systems Thinking for Social Change

Elective modules (Year Two)

A choice of the modules in the following list can be taken as part of this course:

Philosophy and Theory of Systems Thinking

Architecting Enterprises

Requisite Variety for Organisations

Teaching team

You will be taught by Cranfield's leading experts with capability expertise, industry knowledge and collective subject research, including:

Your career

The primary opportunity for apprentices is to complete their studies and continue upwards on their career within their current organisation and have a much greater awareness and expertise in Systems Thinking. The course also aims to ensure that apprentices are better prepared to tackle the current and emerging demands of the increasingly complex demands of the world we live and in.

How to apply

Next steps

If you would like to find out more general information about the course and your eligibility to attend the programme, if you'd like specific information on the course please contact the course director Dr Natalie Clewley.

For employer related enquiries, fees and funding, and the expression of interest/application process, please contact our Apprenticeships Team

Employers: Please complete our Expression of Interest form.
Prospective students: Please ask your employer to submit an Expression of Interest form to indicate their willingness to sponsor you.

Applications for apprenticeship routes have to come via the Expression of Interest form. Apprenticeship applications received via the application button on the non-apprenticeship pages will not be processed.

Under the Apprenticeship Levy scheme employers can fund apprenticeships for any new and current staff with the right to work in the UK and whose main place of work is England. This programme meets the requirements of the Level 7 Systems Thinking Practice (STP) PGDip. Eligible organisations will be able to use their Apprenticeship Levy to cover the cost of the programme. If you think you could qualify for sponsorship under this scheme please consult the information pages on becoming an Apprentice.