Short courses


Systems Thinking

  • 7 hours
  • 1 day
  • 26 Jul 2022


This one-day online workshop introduces you to the benefits of using a systems thinking approach.

The course introduces the perspectives of holism, hierarchy, partitioning, life cycles and subjectivity

It also looks at how to apply systems thinking tools such as systems dynamics and soft systems methodology.

The course is run by the UCL Centre for Systems Engineering (UCLse) within UCL's Department of Space and Climate Physics (Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL).

Who this course is for

This workshop is particularly relevant to anybody who is looking for new approaches to managing complexity in projects, organisations or businesses.

Course structure

The workshop will be held online, from 9am to around 4:30pm, with four blocks of interactive lectures and group exercises.

It's run regularly throughout the year.

Background to systems thinking

How many systems have you used today since getting up? Have you travelled? Made phone calls or sent emails? What about banking, shopping or going to the doctor's? 

We spend our lives interacting with all kinds of systems, which are often complex mixes of technology and people. How can we use them as effectively as possible? 

We can start by understanding them better, though this is often easier said than done - which is where systems thinking approaches come in.

Instead of looking at the parts of the system each in isolation (a reductionist approach) systems thinking helps us understand behaviour emergent from component interactions

Even in a simple system there can be a number of subtle cause-and-effects that we have to deal with if we want to change or improve things. Learning about systems thinking means learning about these behavioural properties and characteristics. 

It gives you a framework to help make sense of complexity - to analyse the system, understand it better and to make changes that improve its effectiveness.

Learning outcomes

This course will help you be able to:

  • understand and discuss the properties of systems
  • classify systems against a range of criteria
  • understand and discuss the principles of systems thinking
  • apply a number of techniques to understand systems in a holistic way

Course team

Raúl Leal Ascencio

Raúl Leal Ascencio

Raúl holds a Master's degree in Science and a Doctorate in Engineering and is currently the Commercial Manager for the Centre for Systems Engineering at UCL. He has over 40 publications on engineering modelling and electronics. Previously he managed the research programme for a university engineering department for six years and he was a consultant in technology management and development for over ten years. Raúl is involved in Project Management, Systems Thinking and Systems Engineering teaching at postgraduate level and provides training and consultancy for industry in the defence, aviation and space industries.

Course information last modified: 8 Apr 2022, 08:33