Mastering systems thinking in practice
Mastering systems thinking in practice

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Week 4: Representing systems of interest


This course has talked about the characteristics of systems and how to think about them. But a big question is always: ‘How do I capture my and other people’s thinking in a useful way both for myself and to share with others?’ In other words how do I understand and engage with perspectives on complex situations? That task is central to systems practice and many techniques, approaches, methods and methodologies have been devised or applied by systems theorists and practitioners. For the purposes of this course you will only look at representing (or modelling) systems qualitatively by using visual means (most notably diagrams and language) and not through using mathematics (i.e. computer-based quantitative models).

The mathematical modelling of systems of interest is beyond the scope of this course but if you are interested in studying this aspect of systems thinking in practice then you should look at the free OpenLearn course, Systems modelling [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

Watch the following video which introduces the idea of structuring complexity using diagrams.

Download this video clip.Video player: mstp_1_video_week4_intro.mp4
Copy this transcript to the clipboard
Print this transcript
Show transcript|Hide transcript
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

By the end of this week, you should be able to:

  • describe the characteristics and purposes of a number of diagram types used to represent systems of interest by systems practitioners.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371