PROJMGNT 7047 - Systems Fundamentals

North Terrace Campus - Trimester 1 - 2018

The content of the course focuses on exploration of complex systems and the key aspects of these and the benefits for managing complex projects appropriately. There is recognition of reductionist thinking and its benefits and disadvantages; General Systems theory is discussed; Checkland's soft system methodology and Senge's system dynamics provide a context and specific skills. Major topics addressed include Network of essentially parallel systems; Emergence; Self-organisation; Inhabiting the complexity space between order and chaos; Power laws and Paretian behaviour; Scale free and fractal behaviour; Self-organised criticality; Tiny initiating events; Prigogine's dissipating structures theory; Kauffman's fitness landscape; the Environment driving system scope and structure; Dynamism; Attractor cages & Phase space; Path history; Systemic and cascading risk and black swan events; Sense making and common meaning; Identifying leverage points; Systems intelligence.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PROJMGNT 7047
    Course Systems Fundamentals
    Coordinating Unit Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation & Innov Centre
    Term Trimester 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Intensive: 36 to 40 hours
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Assessment Assignments, reports
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Indra Gunawan

    Program Director Contact Details: Project Management
    Name: Assoc. Prof. Indra Gunawan

    Teaching staff

    Trimester 1

    Name: Prof Stephen Cook
    Researcher Profile:

    Trimester 2
    Name: Assoc. Prof. Indra Gunawan
    Researcher Profile:
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes

    On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

    1 Identify what a complex system is and how they differ from simple and complicated systems;
    2 Use key aspects of complex systems and the benefits of particular approaches in managing complexity;
    3 Recognise whether a proposed system or project should be primarily in a controlled space or in the innovation space on the edge of chaos in order to gain the benefits;
    4 Recognise the benefits of system dynamics and its use in identifying leverage points in systems;
    5 Apply these advanced and uncommon skills to address societal problems;
    6 Investigate international best practice.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources

    The University’s preferred textbook supplier is Unibooks:

    Text book:
    There is no text book required for this course.
    Recommended Resources
    Course Notes, Readings and PowerPoint Slides
    These are all available electronically for enrolled students by download from MyUni.

    Library Resources
    The University of Adelaide’s Barr Smith Library provides a range of learning resources including texts, journals, periodicals, magazines, and access to online databases and information services. It also offers a virtual library which is accessible via the University’s website. Access to the Library's electronic resources.

    Other resources: Project Management Institute
    If you are a member of the PMI you will “gain exclusive access to PMI publications and our global standards*, networking options with our chapters and online communities of practice, and leadership and volunteer opportunities. You’ll also receive discounts on certification exams and renewals, as well as our professional development offerings.” Student membership details

    * Log in to access complimentary read-only PDFs of all of PMI's published standards or take advantage of discounts on paperback editions.

    Online Learning
    MyUni is the University of Adelaide's online learning environment. It is used to support traditional face-to-face lectures, tutorials and workshops at the University. MyUni provides access to various features including announcements, course materials, discussion boards and assessments for each online course of study.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course is offered in blended learning mode with the face-to-face component offered as intensives.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    As a guide, a 3 unit course comprises a total of 156 hours work (this includes face-to-face contact, any online components, and self directed study).
    Learning Activities Summary

    This is a draft schedule and session dates are a guide only. The timetable may be changed during the course delivery if necessary.

    Welcome and Introduction: Getting to know each other. Course expectations.
    1 Why learn about systems and complexity?
    The rapid, inexorable increase in system complexity; complexity science and systems practices; some example of complex projects. SE as an approach to tackle complexity.
    2 The rise of systems approaches: Historical journey through the prevailing worldviews over the last 3000 years and how these reflected and informed the rise of the systems movement and systems approaches to problem solving.
    3 Introduction to complex systems: Reductionism, General Systems Theory, identifying complex systems. Examples of complex systems.
    4 Implications of Complex Systems: Nature of SoS; implications of SoS; requisite variety; examples of complex systems
    5 Classifying system challenges
    6 A framework for complex systems ideas
    7 Complex systems propositions 1: Emergence, self-organisation, edge of chaos, chaordic systems, double-loop learning
    8 Complex systems propositions 2: Fractals, scale-free behaviour, power laws
    9 Recap on first Intensive block
    10 Introduction to methodologies
    11 Contemporary system engineering
    12 Panarchy & cycles of change
    13 Soft system methodology
    14 Systemic risk
    Tiny initiating events
    Systemic and cascading risks
    15 Norman’s Complex System Engineering
    Assessment 5 – Individual Presentations
    16 Phase space: Phase space, path history and attractor cages
    17 Evolutionary Learning Labs
    Systems dynamics
    Leverage points
    Tools for complex systems
    18 Complexity Leadership
    19 Course Wrap-up
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary

    An overview of the course assessment appears in the following Table. Details appear in the following section:

    #Assessment TaskTask TypeLengthWeightingLearning Outcomes
    1 Short report Individual 1,500 words max 15% 1-3
    2 Short report Individual 1,500 words max 15% 1-3
    3 Project plan Group 1 person 5,000 words min
    2 people 7,000 words min
    3 people 10,000 words min
    30% 1-6
    4 Report Individual 3,000 words max 30% 5
    5 Class presentation Individual 5-10 Slides; 3 min presentation 10% 1-6
    Total 100%
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Students should attend all classes in order to pass the course. There is considerable experiential learning in workshops during the intensive classes that build your knowledge and thus enable you to be successful in this course.  

    Course results are subject to moderation by the ECIC Board of Examiners

    Appropriate use of the Internet in assignments
    Avoiding Plagiarism is not just referencing sources used within an assignment. It is taking the source information and critically evaluating it against other sources, your own views and original research on the matter, and how that fits the hypothesis of your assignment topic. It is Plagiarism when there is little or no original content in the assignment, regardless of citing sources. For more information, read the extensive resources on Avoiding Plagiarism at the University’s Writing Centre.

    The University’s Writing Centre provide excellent guides to assist in appropriate referencing and avoiding plagiarism

    Due to an increasing number of students infringing the University’s Academic Honesty Policy, Turnitin is used to check assignments.

    Turnitin Quick Start Guides

    Assessment Detail
    Assessment 1: Individual Assignment 1
    Weighting: 15%
    Task: Analyse one of the following examples and report:

    1. Why the problem situation complex? (Hint: use the profilers discussed in the course);
    2. What are the major challenges that will need to be overcome to achieve a successful outcome?
    3. What methodologies, tools and techniques might you use from the set provided in this course to assist in the management of this system? (Reading ahead and use of the literature is encouraged.)

    Choose from examples provided in MyUni

    Length and Presentation: 1500 words max in report format.

    Assessment 2: Individual Assignment
    Weighting: 15%
    1. Why do we study complexity when a reductionist approach offers a simpler alternative?
    2. What are the consequences if we do not recognize complexity? Provide two examples to illustrate your points.
    3. Comment on the use of systems techniques to address the following problems:
    • Acquiring a large tract of land for a new facility.
    • Dealing with student plagiarism

    In addressing this question:
    • Describe the problem context
    • Analyse and comment on why the issues is complex
    • Discuss your recommended choice of methods to understand the issue better
    • Choose tools to manage the issue and describe how you would operate these
    • Describe how the project manager exercises governance

    Length and Presentation: 1500 words max in report format.

    Assessment 3: Group project plan
    Weighting: 30%
    Task: Form groups and select a complex system problem. (Note: Make sure it conforms to the definition of ‘complex system’ given in this course.) 

    Describe the system or problem in detail covering political, economic, social, cultural, technological, legal and environmental aspects. Outline the context of the problem including its interactions with external systems and the major characteristics that will impact your choice of methodologies, methods, tools, techniques and processes.

    Develop an approach to managing this system or problem using concepts and methodologies taught in this course and other relevant approaches. Prepare the outline of a project plan that describes how you propose to implement improvements to the system of interest in order to achieve your desired outcomes.

    Length and Presentation:
    Minimum length:
    1 person – 5,000 words
    2 people – 7,000 words
    3 or 4 people – 10,000 words.

    Assessment 4: Individual Assignment
    Weighting: 30%
    Task: Reflect on what you have learned from this course by identifying four topic areas and discussing how your newly-acquired knowledge of these areas will help you in dealing with complex system problems.

    The idea with this assessment is to choose four concepts (or more if you really want to) from the course such as “how does knowing a system is complex help me”, “systems engineering”, “systemic risk” or “tiny initiating events” and discuss how learning about them has increased you capability to deal with complex problems; particularly the ones you are likely to find in project management. It is useful to illustrate your learning with examples. You can use one example problem context for all four (or more) or a different one for each concept.

    Length and Presentation: 3,000 Words Maximum

    Assessment 5: PowerPoint Presentation
    Weighting: 10%
    Due Date: Presentation in class
    Task: You are to select any topic from Systems Fundamentals and present a PowerPoint session.
    Length and Presentation: 5-10 PowerPoint slides, presentation 3 minutes
    All text based assignments must be submitted via MyUni.
    Please refer to step by step instructions: MyUni Learning Centre

    There are a few points to note about the submission of assignments:
    • Assignment Submission:  Assignments should not be emailed to the instructor; they must be lodged via the MyUni Course site (unless specified to do both). Note that assignments may be processed via TURNITIN, which is an online plagiarism prevention tool.
    • Cover Sheet:  Please include in the assignment a completed University of Adelaide Assessment Cover Sheet providing details of yourself and your team members (if applicable), your assignment, the course, date submitted, etc. as well as the declaration signed by you that this is your (your team’s) work.  Note that the declaration on any electronically submitted assignment will be deemed to have the same authority as a signed declaration.
    • Backup Copy of Assignments:  You are advised to keep a copy of your assignments in case the submitted copy goes missing.  Please ensure that all assignment pages are numbered. If your assignment contains confidential information, you should discuss any concerns with the Course Lecturer prior to submission.
    • Extensions of Time:  An application for Assessment Extension should be made well before the due date of the assignment to the Course Lecturer.  Normally, extensions will only be granted for a maximum of two weeks from the original assignment submission date.  Extensions will only be granted in cases of genuine medical, compassionate or extenuating circumstances.
    • Failure to submit: Failure to submit an assignment on time or by the agreed extension deadline may result in penalties and may incur a fail grade.  Note that a late penalty of 5% of the total available marks for that assessment item will be incurred each day an assignment is handed in late (Unless otherwise stated in 'Assessment Related Requirements' or 'Assessment Detail' above). Assignments handed in after 14 days from the due submission date will fail even if a 100% mark is granted for the work.

    Resubmission & Remarking

    Resubmission of an assignment for remarking after reworking it to obtain a better mark will not normally be accepted.  Approval for resubmission will only be granted on medical or compassionate grounds.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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