The Open University since 2006
Alternatively you can skip the navigation by pressing 'Enter'.
More or Less: How many cows for a fiver?Friday, 2nd December 2016 16:30 - BBC Radio 4 BBC Radio 4
More or Less: How many cows for a fiver?Sunday, 4th December 2016 20:00 - BBC Radio 4 BBC Radio 4
The Secret History of Our Streets - London: Arnold CircusTuesday, 6th December 2016 22:00 - BBC Four
The Secret History of Our Streets - London: Arnold CircusThursday, 8th December 2016 00:45 - BBC Four
Colour: The Spectrum of Science: Episode 1: Colours of EarthAvailable until Saturday, 31st December 2016 23:00Dr Helen Czerski explores the golds, whites, reds, blues and much more in the first episode of the series. Read more: Colour: The Spectrum of Science: Episode 1: Colours of Earth
BBC Inside Science - 2016/2017 series: Alzheimer's research, Lucy, Glowing bandage package, Supernovas to HollywoodAvailable for over a year
The Secret History of Our Streets - London: Reverdy RoadAvailable until Saturday, 31st December 2016 01:30
All in the Mind - Autumn/Winter 2016: Pathological demand avoidance, wisdom and stand-up comedy anxietyAvailable for over a year
I-SPY: Find out more about the research on Internet infidelityIf you enjoyed our I-SPY series and want to dig deeper, find out more about the research on... Read more: I-SPY: Find out more about the research on Internet infidelity
Take the photographic memory testCan you capture scenes just by looking at them? Find out with our photographic memory test. Launch now: Take the photographic memory test
Exploring equality and equity in educationThis free course, Exploring equality and equity in education, considers the complexity of social... Try: Exploring equality and equity in education now
Organisations and management accountingThis free course, Organisations and management accounting, examines the nature of organisations,... Try: Organisations and management accounting now
This free course, Systems engineering: Challenging complexity, examines system engineering and why it is important. You will learn to identify and evaluate the importance of relationships within the process and assess the relative importance of stakeholders. You will also be able to classify a systems engineering project in terms of the balance of demands, choice and constraints.
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- evaluate a specific example or case of a product development process in terms of the ‘waterfall’ life cycle model of software development
- classify new product developments as: fault correction, enhancements, new but similar products, radically different, revolutionary or iconoclastic products
- analyse the causes of a systems failure
- identify and evaluate the importance of the relationships of the factors leading up to system complication and complexity
- answer the question ‘why is systems engineering important?
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Why is systems engineering important?
- 1.1 Introduction: what is the problem?
- 1.2 The Phoenix project
- 1.3 Example 1 The Workcenter that didn't
- 1.4 Example 2: The Bridge of Sighs (and Wobbles)
- 1.5 Increasing complication, complexity and risk: the underlying relationship
- 1.6 Increasing complication, complexity and risk: mystery and mechanics
- 1.7 Increasing complication, complexity and risk: a spectrum of systems intractability
- 1.8 Increasing complication, complexity and risk: are systems becoming more complex?
- 1.9 Increasing complication, complexity and risk: summary
- 2 What is engineering?
- 3 What is systems?
- 3.1 Introduction
- 3.2 Systems concepts: system
- 3.3 System concepts: holism
- 3.4 Systems concepts: structure
- 3.5 Systems concepts: dynamic behaviour: input-transformation-output
- 3.6 Systems concepts: dynamic behaviour: control
- 3.7 Systems methodologies for managing change
- 3.8 Systems methodologies for managing change: hard systems approach
- Stage 1: Problem definition (what is the problem?)
- Stage 2: Analysis of the existing situation (where are we now?)
- Stage 3: Identification of objectives and constraints (where would we like to be?)
- Stage 4: Generation of routes to objectives (how could we get there?)
- Stage 5: Formulating measures of performance (how will we know when we have arrived?)
- Stage 6: Developing the options (what would the options be like?)
- Stage 7: Option testing (how well will each work?)
- Stage 8: Choice (OK, let's go)
- 3.9 Systems methodologies for managing change: soft systems approach
- 3.10 Systems techniques
- 3.11 Summary
- 4 What is systems engineering? The career of a concept
- 4.1 Beginnings
- 4.2 The use of systems analysis in public policy
- 4.3 The use of systems engineering in organisations
- 4.4 The use of systems engineering in organisations: different organisational arrangements
- 4.5 Methodologies associated with information technology
- 4.6 Systems engineering: the recent development of a discipline
- 4.7 Summary
- 5 The orignial course team's approach to systems engineering
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
Systems engineering: challenging complexity
The aim of this course is to answer five questions:
Why is systems engineering important?
What is modern engineering?
What is systems?
What is systems engineering?
What approach to systems engineering does the course adopt?
This OpenLearn course provides a sample of level 3 study in
This free course includes adapted extracts from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Systems (Computer) courses or view the range of currently available OU Systems (Computer) courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Tuesday, 29th March 2016
Last updated on: Tuesday, 29th March 2016
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
If you enjoyed this, why not follow a feed to find out when we have new things like it? Choose an RSS feed from the list below. (Don't know what to do with RSS feeds?)
Remember, you can also make your own, personal feed by combining tags from around OpenLearn.
All our alternative formats are free for you to download, for more information about the different formats we offer please see our FAQs. The most frequently used are Word (for accessibility), PDF (for print) and ePub and Kindle to download to eReaders*.
- Word (3.5 MB)
- PDF (4.1 MB)
- ePub 3.0 (2.7 MB)
- ePub 2.0 (2.7 MB)
- Kindle (1.8 MB)
- RSS (703 KB)
- HTML (2.7 MB)
- SCORM (2.7 MB)
- OUXML Package (89 KB)
- OUXML File (300 KB)
- IMS Common cartridge
*Please note you will need an ePub and Mobi reader for these formats.