Systems Thinking in Health and Social Care
The situations and events that health and social care professionals deal with in their daily practice are complex. Therefore, understanding and approaching problems from a systems perspective in organisations are essential for care professionals. Systems thinking is a powerful approach for focusing on how systems operate and how system components interact and work together within the system as a whole. Systems thinking tools are used to analyse and understand complex and uncertain real-world problems. These tools are used alongside systems engineering approaches to take this understanding and successfully deliver new and improved products and services.
This course is designed to teach students how to apply systems thinking tools and systems engineering approaches to analyse and develop solutions for complex problems in health and social care systems.
This course will first introduce systems thinking and data-driven systems thinking, the tools used to solve complex problems and provide solutions to challenges in health and social care systems. The course will then introduce system modelling and how system modelling can be used to better understand system dynamics, identify and formulate solutions to complex problems and support decision-making in health and social care systems. Next, the course will explore and apply the systems engineering approaches that are used to support systems decomposition, requirement management, verification and validation and stakeholder analysis associated with the development of complex systems. Finally, the course will focus on selecting and implementing change, including multi-stakeholder involvement, implementing change, and evaluating systems development projects using real-world examples from health, social, and care services.
Further information can be found in the University's course catalogue:
This course will be accredited by INCOSE.
This course is for anyone working in health or social care or a computational role who is interested in starting a career in data science OR graduates who are seeking to develop data science skills that can be applied in health, social and care services.
This is an intermediate Masters-level course (SQCF Level 11). It develops your skills and/or provides a broad understanding of the subject in some detail - some foundational knowledge or experience is required. Please see the entry requirements for further details. Masters-level courses are relatively intensive and require independent learning, critical thinking, analysis, and reflection.
As this course is designed mainly for health and care professionals, we expect our students to have qualifications or work experience in such environments (e.g. NHS National Services, Acute/Community/Public health), Third sector organisations, Social Services, Nursing homes, pharmaceutical companies, diagnostic laboratories, etc.). Prior knowledge of systems thinking or systems engineering is not needed, but evidenced prior learning of data science and health, social and care systems is required.
You should be educated to a degree level as this course is catering for those seeking postgraduate academic credit. However, professionals who are involved with managing services and caseloads and have 5 years of work experience may also apply even if they do not hold a degree qualification.
Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:
You must be comfortable studying and learning in English if it is not your first language.
- Demonstrate a critical undesrtanding of the principal theories, concepts and tools of systems thinking and systems engineering.
- Apply holistic thinking and the appropriate techniques and tools to better understand systems dynamics to provide solutions to complex problems.
- Recognise the attributes to different systms, and use a variety of perspectives to critically analyse relatonships and dynamics to resolve complex problems by applying appropriate judgement.
- Demonstrate the ability to effectively communicate about systems, emergence, interactions and uncertainty of systems with peers, more senior colleagues, stakeholders and active partners and understand different perspectives both within the local team and broader health, social and care services sector.
This is a 5-week online course, comprising a total of 100 hours of study.
Assessment is 100% coursework
Course fees for 23/24 are £1,065 but funded places are available for people employed or unemployed in Scotland (residency requirements apply).
Through the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) Upskilling Fund, a limited number of fully-funded places are available on Data Upskilling Short Courses at The University of Edinburgh.
Funded places are available to those who meet SFC fee waiver criteria:
“Courses/provision is open to all Scottish-domiciled/’home fee’ students, which is consistent with SFC’s policy for core funded student places. Students from the rest of the UK (rUK) are not normally considered eligible for SFC funding. If however a university is working with a Scottish/UK employer which has a physical presence or operating in Scotland, rUK employees of that employer would be eligible.”
If you are from outside Scotland, you need to have settled status in the UK and meet other residency criteria:
- be ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for the three years immediately before course start date, and
- have ‘settled status’ in the UK (as set out in the Immigration Act 1971) at the course start date, and
- be ordinarily resident in Scotland at the course start date.
Funding eligibility will be assessed at the point of each application for each course; you may be asked to provide further information if you do not meet the general residence conditions. You can check your likely fee status here. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to discuss your funding eligibility before applying.
Please note that full-time students (including full-time PhD students) are not eligible for funding.
You will receive a certificate of completion after the final assessment date if you have submitted your coursework.
Applications for October 2023 are now closed.
This course is offered as part of Data Science for Health and Social Care, an innovative online programme looking to equip students with the data science skills, capabilities and competencies to realise the value of data in a healthcare setting. You can use credits achieved on this course towards postgraduate study on this programme (MSc, PG Diploma or PG Certificate), subject to approval by the Programme Director.
You may also be able to use credits achieved on this course towards other University of Edinburgh postgraduate programmes, subject to the approval of the relevant Programme Director.