Systems Thinking and Modelling Practice

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This course currently has no scheduled dates. To express interest in this course or to discuss bespoke options for yourself or your organisation, please submit an expression of interest or contact the Short Courses Team on +61 2 5114 5573 or


5 days

Delivery mode




Standard price


Defence price


  • Accelerate your career, learn new skills, and expand your knowledge.

  • First in Australia for research excellence and impact.

  • Top 50 in the world. 2020 QS World University Rankings.


This short course incorporates our three-day Addressing Complex Problems course, which introduces the most appropriate ways of visualising the interrelationships between the various parts of real-world problems, from straightforward well-behaved problems to those that continually change over time and are resistant to corrective action. The course provides solid foundations for developing strategies and managing problems including those for which conventional reductionist ways of thinking are ineffective. The last two days of the course build on the skills developed in the Addressing Complex Problems course. The Systems Thinking and Modelling Practice course forms the basis of the micro-credential ZEIT8244 Systems Thinking and Modelling Knowledge course that may be used to gain credit towards a postgraduate program (see Masters credit section below).

No prior knowledge is assumed.

Course content


The nature of problems including well-behaved, complex, and wicked problems | Human ability to solve problems | A problem-solving framework for complex problems | Introduction to problem-solving tools

Addressing well-behaved problems

Identification of stakeholders | Definition of problem statement | Functional decomposition of well-behaved problems | Functional decomposition exercise (in groups): Stakeholders; Constraints; Need statement; Operational scenarios; Measures of effectiveness; Support concepts; and Context diagrams

Addressing complex/wicked problems

The difference between well-behaved problems and complex/wicked problems | Systems thinking language | Understanding the problem | Tools for solving complex problems | Causal loop diagramming (CLD) | CLD exercises | Using archetypes to think about complex problems | reflecting on holistic complexity | Creative thinking methods | Decision making and strategy development (ACTIFELD, Field Anomaly Relaxation) | Further archetypes | Using stock and flow diagrams | Anylogic training | Exercises and discussions

Learning outcomes

Skills/competencies/knowledge that would be gained through this course:

Who should attend

The course is valuable for anyone faced with continually changing problems in public or private sector organisations or communities.


Dr Sondoss Elsawah

Dr Sondoss Elsawah holds MSc in Operations Research and PhD degree in Computer Science from UNSW. She's a post-doctoral researcher at UNSW and an adjunct fellow at the Australian National University. Her research and teaching interests include using systems thinking and system dynamics, modelling and simulation, and interdisciplinary knowledge to support problem solving and learning in complex problematic situations. She sits on the executive committee of the Australian/NZ Modelling and Simulation Society, and the organising committee of the 21st International Congress on Modelling and Simulation (Modsim 2015). She has published widely including journal articles, conference papers, book chapters and technical reports. She has attracted research grants from Government and industrial agencies in Australia and overseas, including the Australian Research Council (ARC) and US National Scientific Fund (NSF).


“Every engineering or project manager needs to do this course”
“This course has shown me how our organisation has never been able to produce a reliable system … and now I know what we need to think about”
“I wish I knew this stuff earlier in my career”
“Now I get it”

Cancellation policy

Courses will be held subject to sufficient registrations. UNSW Canberra reserves the right to cancel a course up to five working days prior to commencement of the course. If a course is cancelled, you will have the opportunity to transfer your registration or be issued a full refund. If registrant cancels within 10 days of course commencement, a 50% registration fee will apply. UNSW Canberra is a registered ACT provider under ESOS Act 2000-CRICOS provider Code 00098G.