• Offered by Research School of Computer Science
  • ANU College ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science
  • Classification Transitional
  • Course subject Vice Chancellor Postgraduate
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Shayne Flint
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in First Semester 2014
    See Future Offerings

Universities serve to make students think: to resolve problems by argument supported by evidence; not to be dismayed by complexity, but bold in unravelling it'.  (What are universities for? by Geoffrey Boulton and Colin Lucas).   This course takes up this challenge by offering latter year students from any part of the ANU the opportunity to explore a series of complex issues. The connections between economic, historical, social, legal, scientific, engineering and environmental and moral dimensions of complex problems will be explored.    

The course will examine the linked themes of  'collapse' and 'resilience'.  Case studies will include the collapse of empires, contemporary development, health and environmental issues, engineering and network failures and the moral and legal dimensions of all these issues.  

The course will encourage students to share their existing disciplinary perspectives to develop deep understandings of how to go about effective team based approaches to unravelling complex issues.


Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

• Enhanced ability to identify and generalise archetypical behaviours in complex problems"
• Analyse and provide direction on complex issues"
• Compare and contrast different methodologies for analysing complex issues"
• Ability to apply multiple methodologies in order to holistically unravel complex issues."
• Reflect on theory from the course by connecting personal and real-world experiences"

Other Information

This course requires an application, as positions are strictly limited. Please apply online at http://vccourses.anu.edu.au/home/apply . Successful applicants will be provided with a permission code
from the Research School of Engineering."

Indicative Assessment

• Individual Learning Portfolio (3,000-word, 35%) that unravels a complex problem"
• Group Project (15-page, 20%) that distills and provides direction on a complex issue"
• Jigsaw Tasks, including Tutorial Co-Facilitation (90-min, 15%), Research Paper (1,500-word,
20%) & Peer Review (10%) to develop peer learning of the course material"

Postgraduate students will be asked to complete a more substantial Individual Research Paper
(3,000 words) and present an extended (10-min) presentation of their Learning Portfolio. The
extended marking criteria is outlined on each assessment sheet."

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


Four hours contact a week, made up of a 2-hour seminar (highly recommended) and a 2-hour
tutorial (compulsory). In addition, a 1-hour workshop (compulsory) is held the week before your
tutorial co-facilitation."
Approximately six hours independent learning a week is required to engage in the course content."

Requisite and Incompatibility

You will need to contact the Research School of Computer Science to request a permission code to enrol in this course.

Prescribed Texts

    Preliminary Reading

    Before the course starts students should browse the open access course web site (http://vccourses.anu.edu.au/uc). Examples of past student assessment items are available and all students
    should read at least one of the pre-readings:"
    • Bammer, Gabriele and Michael Smithson 2008, Uncertainty and risk: multidisciplinary
    perspectives, Earthscan"
    • Brown, Valerie, John Harris and Jacqueline Russel 2010, Tackling wicked problems through the
    transciplinary imagination, Earthscan"
    • Bar-Yam, Yaneer 2004, Making things work: solving complex problems in a complex world,
    NECSI Knowledge Press"
    • Harris, Graham 2007, Seeking sustainability in an age of complexity, Cambridge University Press"
    • Mitchell, Melanie 2009 Complexity a guided tour, Oxford University Press"


    Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

    If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Students continuing in their current program of study will have their tuition fees indexed annually from the year in which you commenced your program. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

    Student Contribution Band:
    Unit value:
    6 units

    If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

    Units EFTSL
    6.00 0.12500
    Domestic fee paying students
    Year Fee Description
    1994-2003 $1572
    2014 $2946
    2013 $2808
    2012 $2808
    2011 $2808
    2010 $2778
    2009 $2778
    2008 $2778
    2007 $2400
    2006 $2400
    2005 $2400
    2004 $2058
    International fee paying students
    Year Fee
    1994-2003 $3450
    2014 $3762
    2013 $3582
    2012 $3582
    2011 $3582
    2010 $3576
    2009 $3450
    2008 $3450
    2007 $3450
    2006 $3450
    2005 $3450
    2004 $3450
    Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

    Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

    ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

    The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
    Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

    First Semester

    Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
    4607 17 Feb 2014 07 Mar 2014 31 Mar 2014 30 May 2014 In Person N/A

    Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions