• Code CYBN6001
  • Unit Value 6 to 12 units
  • Offered by School of Cybernetics
  • ANU College ANU College of Engineering Computing & Cybernetics
  • Course subject Cybernetics
  • Areas of interest Cybernetics
  • Work Integrated Learning Projects
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Ash Lenton
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2024
    See Future Offerings
  • STEM Course

In this course we will start to create practitioners of Applied Cybernetics who can carefully examine new and emerging cybernetic systems, the building blocks they are made from, and the questions they raise for human society and our ecosystems.

Through the course, we will challenge students to take different approaches to studying and understanding cybernetic systems: systems with human, technological, and environmental components. These approaches do not start with identifying and solving problems, but instead start with framing questions about these systems, their building blocks and the dynamic relationships between their human, technological, and environmental components. Students will learn to engage with important terminology and detail, integrate multiple perspectives, question assumptions, and think critically and creatively in order to start with framing questions about emerging cybernetic systems and the future we want to collectively create with them.

This course gives students exposure to conceptual approaches of Applied Cybernetics. It draws on a range of research methodologies from cybernetics, systems thinking, control theory, design thinking, social sciences, humanities, and critical theory. It serves as a foundation for applying cybernetic approaches to cybernetic systems analysis in Semester 2.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Evaluate the key concepts encompassed in cybernetic systems research 
  2. Critically analyse the catalysts and driving principles of sustainability, responsibility, and safety that shape applied cybernetic practice 
  3. Apply a range of techniques, tools, and resources to framing questions in a creative and innovative manner about cybernetic systems 
  4. Practice a collaborative and iterative design approach to individual, group, and cohort projects incorporating feedback and feedforward techniques
  5. Communicate cybernetic methodologies to a diverse range of audiences and stakeholders 

Work Integrated Learning


This course gives students exposure to the conceptual approaches of Applied Cybernetics. Students will start to become practitioners of Applied Cybernetics, who can carefully examine new and emerging systems, the building blocks they are made from, and the questions they raise for human society and our ecosystems.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Tutorial exercise (Engaging with concepts and resources) (10) [LO 1,2,4,5]
  2. Completing practice tasks (30) [LO 3,4,5]
  3. Individual portfolio (30) [LO 1,2,4]
  4. Written analysis task (30) [LO 3,4,5]

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 quantum of work through the semester will be approximately 130 hours per 6 units of course. This will include a mixture of classes, workshops, site visits and seminars, as well as group work, independent reading, viewing, and study. Students will also also participate in whole-of-Institute activities.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be enrolled in the Master of Applied Cybernetics or Master of Applied Cybernetics (Advanced). This course is incompatible with CECS6001.

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

Prescribed Texts


Preliminary Reading

During the semester we’ll introduce a selection of resources for debate, discussion, critique and inspiration. Resource lists will align with the fortnightly themes of the program. Students are expected to engage with all the resources assigned.

Resource lists for this course will include a wide variety of materials, including books, articles, films, art and podcasts. We try to ensure as much as possible that our resource lists reflect a diverse set of voices and perspectives: diverse in terms of gender, ethnicity, time, cultural context and resource format. Where possible, we go back to original sources, being mindful of context, and that there were often multiple people behind a single author’s work.

Resource lists aren’t complete or definitive guides to a topic. At any given time, the resource list represents a snapshot of the influences and discussions shaping the School of Cybernetics. We encourage students to identify and share additional resources, including through the fortnightly team read session.

Here is an indicative selection from across the course.

  • Diana Forsythe (1993) Engineering knowledge: the construction of knowledge in artificial intelligence. Social Studies of Science 23: 445. Paper.
  • Klaus Schwab (2016) The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond. Published on the World Economic Forum website. Blog.
  • Elyssebeth Leigh & Kat Cutay (2017) Aboriginal Engineering: Technologies for an enduring civilisation. Expansion of processes developed by OLT Projects, Engineering Across Cultures and Indigenous Online Cultural Teaching and Sharing. Booklet.
  • Kate Crawford & Vladan Joler (2018) Anatomy of an AI system. Artwork.
  • Brendan Traw & David Aucsmith (1999) Content protection for transmission systems. US Patent 5,949,877. Patent.
  • Seymour Papert (1966) The summer vision project. MIT Artificial Intelligence Group. Memo.
  • 99% Invisible (2019) Episode 361: Built on sand. Podcast.

Assumed Knowledge

The assumed knowledge and requirements to take this course will be documented in the application pack available at https://cybernetics.anu.edu.au/education/masters/.


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 to 12 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
7.00 0.14583
8.00 0.16667
9.00 0.18750
10.00 0.20833
11.00 0.22917
12.00 0.25000
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $830 per unit
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $1060 per unit
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
4311 19 Feb 2024 26 Feb 2024 05 Apr 2024 24 May 2024 In Person View

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