Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Engineering : School (School of Engineering)

Undergraduate Course: Systems Engineering: Thinking and Practice 5 (SCEE11017)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Engineering CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Year 5 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummarySystems Thinking is a way of thinking used to address complex and uncertain real world problems. It recognises that the world is a set of highly interconnected technical and social entities which are hierarchically organised, producing emergent behaviour. The idea of a system as 'a set of parts which, when combined, have qualities that are not present in any of the parts themselves' is a very productive way of looking at the world - which turns out to be full of systems. Large engineering endeavours are nearly always complex systems which include, for example, people, processes, information, organisations and services, as well as software, hardware and complex products. In order to understand and manage these activities it is essential that a systems approach is taken to ensure that all aspects are understood, and their interactions are optimised to ensure successful delivery. A characteristic of complex systems is that of 'emergence'. Emergent behaviour arises when system elements interact with each other and their environment, and indeed only exist when the components of a system are able to interact. Emergence brings with it the risk of unintended consequences - a major cause of embarrassing system and project failures - but it is also possible for skilled systems engineers to create higher value for less cost by using emergence to deliver desired system qualities.The course will build on this Systems Thinking to show how the techniques of Systems Engineering can be used, and where the limitations of traditional methods become apparent and new data-driven approaches are needed.
Course description The course is made of two modules, covering each of two main subjects: Systems Thinking and Systems Practice.
The questions and topics that these two models will cover:
1. Systems Thinking:
- What is a system? Systems Thinking?
- Complex and Complicated systems: what is the difference and how should each be approached?
- Emergent Behaviour of Complex Systems and Unintended Consequences
- Mission-oriented project design in human-centered organisations
- Core dimensions of Environmental and Social Governance in/of Complex Systems
2. Systems Practice:
- Why big projects go wrong? How systems engineering can help?
- The tools of systems engineering
- Is the classical systems engineering model relevant in today's digital environment?
- The diversity of socio-technical systems and stakeholders involved
- Use of futures design for strategic system alignment and expectation management
Summative assessment for this course will be conducted through two types of coursework;
- Team; Students work in teams to analyse an existing case study and evaluate the options to apply systems engineering techniques.
- Individual; The students carry out systems partitioning exercise and carry out risk analysis for two systems management options.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  35
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 12, Online Activities 8, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 8, Revision Session Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 68 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework 100%
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Developed understanding of systems thinking to enable them to take a systematic, evidence/data-led approach to management of complex systems;
  2. Understood the implications of emergent properties of systems, and developed a critical perspective on how this may have both beneficial and adverse consequences;
  3. Learnt lessons about how large and complex projects and programmes can go wrong and analyse what can be done through systems thinking to avoid cost and time over-runs and failure to meet objectives;
  4. Examined how the techniques of systems engineering can contribute to the successful delivery of large and complex projects and programmes;
  5. Demonstrated how to make the appropriate choice of systems engineering tools tailored to the characteristics of the challenges at hand, working individually and as part of a team.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsProgramme Management,Systems Thinking,Complexity,Systems Engineering,Emergent Properties
Course organiserDr Matjaz Vidmar
Tel: (0131 6)50 7792
Course secretaryMr Tom Lawford-Groves
Tel: (0131 6)50 5687
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information