• Offered by ANU College of Science
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Classification Transitional
  • Course subject Vice Chancellor Postgraduate
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Chris Browne
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Second Semester 2021
    See Future Offerings

Unravelling Complexity is open to students from all academic Colleges. 

'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?, Boulton and Lucas, 2008).  

Unravelling Complexity takes up this challenge by encouraging students from any part of the ANU the opportunity to explore the nature of complex issues, with a focus on drawing connections between disciplines and dimensions of complex problems. ANU researchers will provide insights into the behaviour of complexity by using a broad range of concepts from the social, natural and design sciences and teams from the interdisciplinary ANU Grand Challenges research initiative will provide insights on contemporary complex problems. The course encourages students to build on their existing disciplinary perspectives to develop a broad understanding of effective collaborative approaches to unravelling complex issues.

This courses is co-taught with undergraduate students, but postgraduate students will be assessed separately.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Identify and generalise behaviours in complex problems
  2. Analyse and construct arguments from multiple perspectives, supported by evidence and with intellectual independence
  3. Reflect critically on concepts from the course in relation to contemporary complex problems
  4. Situate and guide disciplinary perspectives and methodologies in an interdisciplinary team
  5. Design, research and defend an extended major work unravelling a complex problem

Other Information

Interested students should register an expression of interest at http://vc-courses.anu.edu.au/apply.

Successful applicants will be provided with a permission code from Science.Enquiries@anu.edu.au .

Indicative Assessment

  1. Tutorial Co-Facilitation and Complexity Primer (30) [LO 1,2,4]
  2. Interdisciplinary Group Project (20) [LO 2,4]
  3. Individual Research Portfolio (~5000 words) (50) [LO 1,2,3,5]

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.


The expected workload will consist of approximately 130 hours throughout the semester including:

  • Face-to face component which will consist of 1 x 2-hour seminar and 1 x 2-hour tutorial each week
  • A 2-hour workshop held the week before your tutorial co-facilitation
  • Independent study, which will include preparation for class, project collaboration and assessment tasks.

Inherent Requirements

To be determined

Requisite and Incompatibility

Incompatible with VCUG3001

You will need to contact the ANU College of Science to request a permission code to enrol in this course.

Prescribed Texts

Resources will be made available on Wattle. A recommended reading list is available on the VC's Courses public website.

Preliminary Reading

During the semester, students will contribute to the Complexity Primer project. Exemplary work from former students can be found on the VC's Courses public website.

Assumed Knowledge

Postgraduate students can take this course at any stage in their program but are required to have at least a Credit average, if applicable.



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

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $3630
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $5580
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.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
7251 26 Jul 2021 02 Aug 2021 14 Sep 2021 29 Oct 2021 In Person View

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