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DI209-15 Systemic Design

Design Studies
Undergraduate Level 2
Module leader
Adela Glyn-Davies
Credit value
Module duration
10 weeks
100% coursework
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

This module will engage students in the processes and methods of Systemic Design. From Systems Thinking to Practice, this module will prepare students for the processes of dealing with complexity as an aspiring designer. As a basis for sustainable innovation, this module will introduce students to systemic practice towards understanding how to research a system and its models, how to read and scope a system, how to map and synthesise it and scope design interventions in multiple areas of leverage towards systems change. This module will be linked to real life contexts of local and regional communities, where students will be able to engage and research how these groups are experiencing the systems around them whilst prompting them to learn how to recognise design mismatch and map this accordingly.
The module will challenge students to learn how to construct different exploratory and analytical systems maps as well as undertake multi-stakeholder design thinking workshops. As part of this module students will be undertaking critical ethical studies and learning inventive and standardised methods to qualitative research to enable a growing systemic tool kit ready for application in the public and private sector. The focus of the module will be the explication and dissemination of systems narratives through design methods.

Module aims

This module aims to introduce students to concepts of Systems Thinking and Systemic Design. It will aim to foster students' understanding of mapping methods and systems synthesis for application in complex large scale design problems. This learning journey will aim to enable students abilities in dealing with complexity and uncertainty when designing for change through multi-solving methods. As such the module serves a key purpose in the curriculum to bind students emerging interdisciplinary practices with a holistic methodology with options of emerging specialisms in their final year. This module is aiming to prepare students for a plethora of design and change-making occupations in the public and private sector.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

1 / Introduction to systems and complexity and brief setting; 2-3 Guest lectures on systems thinking and complexity science. 4 - 7 Workshops on systems research (qualitative) 8 /Introduction to systems mapping 9/ Pre-submission Symposium 10/ Live presentation, showcase and hand in.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • To demonstrate an understanding of Systemic Design and Systems Thinking.
  • To demonstrate skills in systems mapping and explicating of systems narratives.
  • To develop skills in multi-stakeholder workshop facilitation and presentation.
  • To develop abilities in inventive and standardised qualitative research.
Indicative reading list

View reading list on Talis Aspire

Research element

Students will be undertaking qualitative research into how specific local or regional communities experience the systems around them. This will be done through standardised and inventive methods.


Systemic Design by nature is a multi and cross-disciplinary endeavour, therefore will entail a pluralistic and holistic approach to collaborating disciplines.


The content of this module is drawn from a broad set of international precedents and practitioners allowing for a multi-perspective exploration of design practice.

Subject specific skills

Systems Thinking
Systems Mapping.
Design Thinking.
Systemic Design process.
Facilitation of multi-stakeholder workshops.

Transferable skills

Systems Thinking
Systems Mapping.
Design Thinking.
Systemic Design process.
Facilitation of multi-stakeholder workshops.

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 5 sessions of 2 hours (7%)
Seminars 5 sessions of 2 hours (7%)
Tutorials 5 sessions of 1 hour (3%)
Fieldwork 5 sessions of 1 hour (3%)
Private study 40 hours (27%)
Assessment 80 hours (53%)
Total 150 hours
Private study description

Students are required to undertake asynchronous activities as prompted by the facilitator as well as undertake qualitative research via field studies outside of scheduled contact hours. Alongside this students will work independently on their systems maps and reflective pieces, which will be reviewed mandatory in pitch and crit sessions.


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You must pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Assessment group A
Weighting Study time
Systems Map and Narrative 80% 40 hours

This assignment will consist out of a collection of systems maps that students will be developing and designing through the course of this module. Once synthesised and intersected with your community research this will lead students to explicating of the corresponding systems narrative which will be delivered as part of the live assessment.

Critical and Reflective Research Analysis 20% 40 hours

Student will be undertaking this analysis as a culmination of the brief and will be given a template to critically and reflectively account for their learning process and outcomes.

Feedback on assessment

Live assessment and written rubric.

There is currently no information about the courses for which this module is core or optional.