Open Thinkering


TB871: Starting my next MSc module

Note: this is a post reflecting on one of the modules of my MSc in Systems Thinking in Practice. You can see all of the related posts in this category

I’ve also separated out TB871 from TB872 so that posts from each module are also grouped separately. You can get an RSS feed for any category from this blog by appending /feed to the url.

A circular map of module TB871 showing weeks of study and assessment

After deliberating over it for quite a long time, on the last day it was possible to register for my next MSc module, I decided to do so. The first module I studied for this qualification, TB872, was hard. It was doubly so as it’s essentially the second module, which for some reason I was allowed to take first. I’m assured by my tutor, Pauline Roberts, the same as I had for the last module, that I should TB871 easier.

This module (TB871: Making strategy with systems thinking in practice) starts from today, May 1st, and runs October 15th, when my End of Module Assessment will be due. I’ll then have the option to choose from quite a range of modules to study afterwards, from technical stuff like Network Security through to things that are probably more my kind of thing such as Sustainable Organisations: Theory and Practice.

TB871 seems a lot more, dare I say it, systematically organised than TB872. As the module study guide describes it:

TB871 consists of six blocks of study over 20 weeks, followed by 4 consolidation weeks. There are two parallel streams of learning – a primary Tools stream and a complementary People stream. The Tools stream is where you will gain practical knowledge of, and some confidence in, using a range of established systems approaches for interaction with complex situations. The People stream is where you will gain an awareness of how such practice is shaped by the often idiosyncratic ways people think and interact. The two streams run through all six blocks of the module. Together they are designed to develop your capabilities as a systems thinking practitioner.

In terms of what is covered in the Tools stream and the People stream:

The six blocks of the Tools stream are:

  • Block 1 Systems and strategy
  • Block 2 System dynamics
  • Block 3 Viable system model
  • Block 4 Strategic options development and analysis
  • Block 5 Soft systems methodology
  • Block 6 Critical systems heuristics


The six blocks of the People stream are:

  • Block 1 Encountering unknowns and knowns
  • Block 2 Working with metaphors
  • Block 3 Facing up to perception, projection and bias
  • Block 4 Working with individual differences
  • Block 5 Facilitating encounters with STiP
  • Block 6 The gathering (bringing together the People stream and the Tools stream)

The following is an activity model of how it all comes together, again taken from the module study guide:

An activity model showing how the Tools and People stream of module TB871 come together

The two course texts for this module are

I’ve introduced myself to my fellow students in the forums. There are some that took TB872 with me, which is good, but also people studying different qualifications (modularity is great!) and from all around the world doing all different kinds of jobs.

As oppoesd to the previous module, I’m going in with my eyes open for this one. I know what’s expected of me, how distance learning works, and how it feels. Thankfully, having moved house the week before TB872 started and also the week after it ended, I don’t have any of that additional stress to deal with!

Now, which box did I put those books in… 😅

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