Course Title: Whole of Systems Thinking

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Whole of Systems Thinking

Credit Points: 12.00

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)

Course Coordinator: Prof. Roger Hadgraft

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 8019

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: City campus, Building 57, Level 3

Course Coordinator Availability: by appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

No assumed prerequisite knowledge other than the ability to work in a team, research in the library, prepare written reports and present orally.

Course Description

This course will introduce the basic concepts of systems thinking and explore their centrality to the challenges of sustainability and planning for the future. Blending theory and practice, you will work with case studies and examples in the fields of energy, transport or logistics. Further it will introduce you to complexity theory and how it affects our understanding of the world.
Once you understand the systemic reality of our world, you will act differently, in a way that takes into account complexity and uncertainty. Planning and strategy will have to take on new forms. This course explores complexity in more depth, particularly in relation to the behaviour of individuals, organisations and communities.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

You will acquire an understanding of the essential theoretical basis of systems thinking and its application to a range of problems of relevance to practical engineering.
This course will advance your development in the following broad capabilities:
• using appropriate techniques and resources
• identifying, formulating and solving problems
• discussing social, cultural, global and environmental responsibilities of the professional engineer, and the need to employ principles for sustainable development
• using a systems approach to complex problems, design and operational performance
• conducting an engineering project
• being creative and innovative
• communicating effectively with engineers and with the community at large
• functioning effectively as an individual and in multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural teams with the capacity to be a leader or manager as well as an effective team member
You will be assessed for your achievement of:
• identifying, formulating and solving problems
• communication and team work capabilities.

Upon successful completion of the course, you will be able to:
1. Explain with examples the nature of complexity underlying systems of all kinds
2. Explain tools and methods of system thinking and link with sustainability
3. Solve problems by applying an eco-design approach
4. Demonstrate the use of visual mapping and influence diagrams and the principles of soft system modelling
5 Explain the nature of complexity and uncertainty as applied to organisation management and strategic decisions

Overview of Learning Activities

Project work, in groups, supported by lectures and tutorials.

Overview of Learning Resources

One Prescribed Text-book. Additional Learning Resources will be available on-line through “My RMIT”

Overview of Assessment

Assessment for this course will be through:
• Project proposal
• Project report
• Poster
• Presentation