University of Technology Sydney

49004 Systems Engineering for Managers

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2024 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Engineering: Professional Practice and Leadership
Credit points: 6 cp

Subject level:


Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


Systems engineering is generally defined as an interdisciplinary field of engineering that focuses on the design and management of complex systems over their life cycles. This subject introduces the basic concepts of complex systems theory and systems thinking. In particular, it focuses on the fundamental theoretical and practical knowledge required to analyse or design and manage complex adaptive systems - like power grids, communication and transport networks, computing webs, megaprojects, ecosystems, climate and economy - that evolve and adapt over time. In delivering a sustainability-centred project, students use diverse quantitative and qualitative approaches and tools to understand and address the complexity that has always been part of natural systems and has become inherent in modern human-made systems.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

1. Apply systems thinking and approaches to analyse complex natural and human-made systems, and to design engineered solutions. (C.1)
2. Synthesise research findings to ideate engineering solutions to complex sustainability requirements within urban contexts. (C.1)
3. Organise team work, manage interdisciplinary collaboration, and assess own and other team member’s contributions. (E.1)
4. Apply professional written and verbal communication skills to present research findings and recommendations to peers and broader audiences. (E.1)

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

  • Design Oriented: FEIT graduates apply problem solving, design thinking and decision-making methodologies in new contexts or to novel problems, to explore, test, analyse and synthesise complex ideas, theories or concepts. (C.1)
  • Collaborative and Communicative: FEIT graduates work as an effective member or leader of diverse teams, communicating effectively and operating autonomously within cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural contexts in the workplace. (E.1)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

Engineers Australia Stage 1 Competencies

Students enrolled in the Master of Professional Engineering should note that this subject contributes to the development of the following Engineers Australia Stage 1 competencies:

  • 2.3. Application of systematic engineering synthesis and design processes.
  • 3.2. Effective oral and written communication in professional and lay domains.
  • 3.6. Effective team membership and team leadership.

Teaching and learning strategies

This subject uses a variety of teaching and learning activities. These activities consist of weekly online lectures and tutorials, and a real-life group project with discrete activities that facilitate individual assessment.

The lectures are interactive and students are encouraged to actively participate in them by making comments and raising questions. Lecture notes will be made available before the lecture. Complementary material – e.g. readings, videos, exercises - will be made available both before and after lectures.

The tutorials, project and presentations complement the theory and applications presented in the lectures and represent a key component for realising the aims of the subject.

Students will be required to undertake one project during this subject. This project will involve a critical assessment in systems engineering and will require independent research, analysis and comment. Students will work in small teams – within larger groups - to complete the report and presentations required for the delivery of the project. They will be required to engage in interdisciplinary collaboration within the 49004 cohort and with other professionals in other fields.

The primary goal of the tutorials is to work through the different phases of the project while being able to get feedback from the lecturer, the tutors and fellow students. The aim of this process, is to have students develop understanding and confidence in handling the material and the research required to provide an engineered solution to the problem proposed.

By scanning current media, students will also be required to analyse present problems in the wider community through the lens of systems thinking. This weekly exercise aims to emphasise the relevance and applicability of the concepts presented in this subject to current real-life situations.

Because of its comprehensiveness, there will be only one project that will run the full extent of the session.

Content (topics)

Topics covered in the subject include:

  • Systems concepts and systems thinking theories, methods and tools
  • Complex systems theory
  • System dynamics: causal loop modelling; stock flow diagrams; system archetypes
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration to address complexity
  • Selection of sustainability alternatives based on subjective preferences
  • Communication of engineering solutions to diverse audiences


Assessment task 1: Group Project


This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):

1, 2, 3 and 4

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

C.1 and E.1

Type: Project
Groupwork: Group, group and individually assessed
Weight: 70%

Assessment task 2: Journal


This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):

1 and 4

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

C.1 and E.1

Type: Journal
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 30%

Minimum requirements

In order to pass the subject, a student must achieve an overall mark of 50% or more.

Required texts

There is no required textbook but it is highly recommended that you refer to the books in the recommended texts list.

Recommended texts

There is no set textbook.

Meadows, D.H., ed. Diana Wright Sustainability Institute, 2008, Thinking in Systems: A Primer, White River Junction, VT, Chelsea Green Publishing (available

Maani, K.E. and Cavana, R.Y., 2007, Systems Thinking, Systems Dynamics: Managing Change and Complexity – 2nd edition, Pearson Education New Zealand

Stasinopoulos, P., Smith, M.H., Hargroves, K.C., Desha, C., 2009, Whole System Design: An Integrated Approach to Sustainable Engineering, New York, Earthscan

INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook: A Guide for System Life Cycle Processes and Activities, 2015, 4th edition, Wiley

Hitchins, D., 2007, Systems Engineering: A 21st Century Systems Methodology, Chichester, England, John Wiley & Sons

Stevens, R., Brook, P., Jackson, K., Arnold, S., 1998, Systems Engineering: Coping with Complexity, Hertfordshire, England, Prentice hall Europe

Fogler, H.S., LeBlanc, S.E., Rizzo, B., 2014, Strategies for Creative Problem Solving – Third edition, Upper Saddle River, NJ, Prentice Hall

Allenby, B.R., 2012, The Theory and Practice of Sustainable Engineering – International Edition, Upper Saddle River, NJ, Pearson as Prentice Hall

Graedel, T.E. and Allenby, B.R., 2010, Industrial Ecology and Sustainable Engineering – International Edition, Upper Saddle River, Pearson as Prentice Hall