COMMGMT 3508 - Systems Thinking for a Complex World

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2023

This course adopts a systems thinking perspective to explore the challenges and opportunities of managing in complex organisational and social environments. Building on skills and knowledge gained throughout the program, the course provides a framework in which to explore the essential `messiness? of living systems and the complexity and unpredictability of outcomes. Assessment will focus on the use of environmental and organisational information to diagnose problems, to propose alternative solutions and then to consider possible outcomes to complex business problems.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code COMMGMT 3508
    Course Systems Thinking for a Complex World
    Coordinating Unit Management
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites INTBUS 2001
    Incompatible COMMGMT 2504
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Mr David Pender

    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. Demonstrate an understanding of the complex and multi-dimensional nature of the issues we face, locally and globally, and the role of connectedness and diversity;
    2. Explicate the structural components of systems and how they shape system behaviour;
    3. Explain how different kinds of ‘leverage point’ affect the outcome of systemic interventions;
    4. Identify and address the standard patterns (‘archetypes’) of system dynamics that may give rise to the unintended and perverse consequences of our interventions in systems; and
    5. Engage effectively with ‘messy’, uncertain environments and the apparently intractable problems that emerge from complex, ‘living’ systems
    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)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.

    1, 2, 3

    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.

    2, 3, 4, 5

    Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills

    Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.

    2, 3

    Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness

    Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.

    4, 5

    Attribute 5: Intercultural and ethical competency

    Graduates are responsible and effective global citizens whose personal values and practices are consistent with their roles as responsible members of society.

    1, 4

    Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence

    Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.

    4, 5
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Details are available on MyUni.

    The required text is inexpensive (around $30). all other materials are supplied either on MyUni or by download links.

    Students will require access to a laptop or tablet for the simulations.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    There are weekly 3 hour seminars.

    The seminars are a combination of information delivery by lecture, active and problem based learning methodologies and class activities. Example cases are drawn from business, international trade and aid, social policy, government and social issues.

    Seminars are dependent on preparation which is all contained on MyUni.

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

    Out of class preparation, completion of exercises and assignments requires approximately 4 hours per week (in addition to seminar times)
    Learning Activities Summary

    No information currently available.

  • 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

    Assessment Assessment type
    5 discussion boards Formative Individual
    3 class activities Formative Group
    2 class activities Summative Group
    Research report on a systems archetype Formative/summative Individual
    Evaluative report on set case Summative Individual


    25% Discussion boards 
    30% Class activities
    25% Research report
    20% Evaluative report

    Assessment Detail

    No information currently available.


    No information currently available.

    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.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.