InstructorJ. Colchester
TypeOnline Course
Student Enrolled10
Certificate70% of quiz marks
(5 ratings)

Systems Theory Introduction

This course is a comprehensive introduction to the area of systems thinking and theory that is designed to be accessible to a broad group of people. The course is focused on two primary achievements; Firstly providing students with the key concepts that will enable them to see the world in a whole new way from the systems perspective, what we call systems thinking. Secondly, the aim is to provide you with the standardized language of systems theory through which you will be able to describe and model systems of all kind in a more coherent fashion whilst also being able to effectively communicate this to others. This course requires no prior specific knowledge of mathematical modeling or science, as we will be starting with the very basic model of a system and then building upon this to create more sophisticated representation.


The course is broken down into four main areas. Firstly we will start the course with an overview of systems thinking to make a clear distinction between or traditional methods of analytical reasoning and the alternative method of synthesis that forms the foundations of system thinking. Next we will delve into systems theory to start building our model of a system, clearly defining what exactly a system is and is not. During the rest of this section, we will build upon this model by adding the concepts of efficiency, functionality and talking about energy and entropy.
In the third section of the course, we will develop our model into a more powerful framework by adding the concept of the system’s environment, discussing systems boundaries, synergistic interactions between systems and the emergence of hierarchical structure out of these synergies. In the last section we will look at different models for capturing how systems change over time what is called system dynamics, here we will explore the ideas of feedback loops, causal loop diagrams and the phenomena of homeostasis. Finally, we wrap up the course with a discussing of systems science, looking at how and why it is of relevance to us. By the end of taking this course, students should have gained a whole new perspective on the world call systems thinking and will have gained an understanding of the formal language of systems theory that can be used within a wide variety of applications


Being an introductory course it is design to be of relevance to a broad group of people but will be of particular relevant to those in engineering, management, science & mathematics or I.T. No prior knowledge of mathematical modeling or science is required before taking this course (although it would be a bonus) all that is required is a good understanding of the English language

Section 1Systems Thinking Overview
Lecture 1Systems Thinking
Lecture 2Systems Thinking Summary
Lecture 3Synthesis & Analysis
Lecture 4Synthesis & Analysis Summary
Lecture 5Dr. Russell Ackoff
Lecture 6Sets & Systems
Lecture 7Sets & Systems Summary
Section 2System Model
Lecture 8Module Overview
Lecture 9Functions
Lecture 10Functions Summary
Lecture 11Efficiency
Lecture 12Efficiency Summary
Section 3System’s Environment
Lecture 13Module Overview
Lecture 14Boundary & Environment
Lecture 15Module Summary
Lecture 16Relations & Synergies
Lecture 17Module Summary
Lecture 18Synergies: Examples
Lecture 19Emergence
Lecture 20Emergence Summary
Lecture 21Hierarchy & Abstraction
Lecture 22Module Summary
Section 4System Dynamics
Lecture 23Module Overview
Lecture 24System Dynamics
Lecture 25Dynamics Summary
Lecture 26SD Examples
Lecture 27Homeostasis
Lecture 28Homeostasis Summary
Lecture 29Systems Science
Lecture 30Systems Sciences Summary
Lecture 31Systems Science Continued
Section 5Conclusion
Final Quiz