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  • 65th in the world

    Ranked 65th globally for engineering and technology by the 2021 QS University Rankings by Subject.

  • 1st for employability

    Our graduates are ranked 1st in Australia and 4th globally for employability by the 2022 QS Graduate Employability Rankings.


In response to COVID-19, the University of Sydney has reviewed the availability of courses to be delivered remotely. 

This course will be available for students to study remotely whilst the Australian border remains closed due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Please note that some units of study that are not essential to completing the degree may not be available to be studied remotely.

About this course

Our Master of Complex Systems degree will provide you with the expertise to model, analyse and design resilient technological, socioeconomic and socioecological systems, as well as develop strategies for crisis forecasting and management.

Smart cities, megaprojects, power and data grids, ecosystems, communication and transport networks are all complex systems that generate rich interactions among components with interdependencies across systems.

This interdependent behaviour creates challenges for designing and managing complex systems.

Complex systems are composed of numerous diverse interacting parts, making them susceptible to unexpected, large-scale, and apparently uncontrollable behaviours. Small changes can generate large, amplified effects.

For example, a single malfunction in a local substation can lead to cascading state-wide electricity grid failures; and the emergence of a new pathogen in a remote village can give rise to a devastating global epidemic.

Our Master of Complex Systems will develop your skills in quantitative modelling and computational simulation of system dynamics, complementing your existing skills in engineering, computer science, information technology, physics, mathematics, health, biology or business.

These unique skills will enable you to operate across discipline boundaries, providing key input and insights to help solve complex global challenges.

As an expert in complex systems, you could pursue a career in major multinational research and development companies, government and crisis management agencies, health, construction or transport organisations.

You will undertake an industry-based capstone project and have the flexibility to tailor your learning to your professional interests with the choice of four specialisations:

Commonwealth Supported Places

Commonwealth Supported Places (CSP) are available for postgraduate study for eligible domestic students. This means that your course fees are subsidised by the Australian Government and you pay a student contribution amount (SCA). CSPs are limited in number and are allocated based on academic merit.

Subject areas
Shared pool

Entry, fees, funding & how to apply

Depends on your qualification, citizenship status
The details on this page based on your selections are a guide only, and are subject to change.

Your entry requirements

English language proficiency

Find out if you need to prove English language proficiency (depends on your country of origin and educational background).

For academic requirements check the ‘Admission requirements’ section on this page.

Your fee

How to apply

You can apply online via the application portal. When you are ready to apply, select the ‘Apply’ button on this course page. Visit the How to apply page for other important information. 

Applying for a Commonwealth supported place (CSP)

There is no separate application required to apply for a CSP. Once you apply for admission, if you are successful in securing a CSP, you will receive notification via an offer of admission.

A Commonwealth supported place (CSP) is not guaranteed as there are a limited number of CSPs available for postgraduate courses. The number of available CSPs for a course can change each semester/year. CSPs are also not automatically awarded for course transfers and upgrades.

CSPs are awarded for the duration of a course based on academic merit determined by the University and eligibility criteria specified by the Australian Government. Learn more about CSPs. If you do not qualify for a CSP you may be offered a domestic fee-paying place.

Closing dates:

Semester 1 - 31 January of the commencing year
Semester 2 - 15 July of the commencing year

We strongly encourage applicants to apply as early as possible, offers are made on a rolling basis and places are limited. Separate scholarship deadlines apply - check the scholarships website for details.

Starting date

Semester 1 (February) and Semester 2 (August)

You can apply online via the application portal. When you are ready to apply, select the ‘Apply’ button on this course page. Visit the How to apply page for other important information. 

Closing dates:

Semester 1 - 15 January of the commencing year
Semester 2 - 25 June of the commencing year

We strongly encourage applicants to apply as early as possible, offers are made on a rolling basis and places are limited. Separate Scholarship deadlines apply. Please check the relevant websites for details.

Starting date

Semester 1 (February) and Semester 2 (August)

What you'll study

Study plan for this degree

Candidates for the Master of Complex Systems complete 72 credit points, consisting of:

  • 24 credit points of foundation Core units;
  • 24 credit points of Complex Systems Core units;
  • 6 credit points of Capstone Core;
  • 6 credit points of Advanced Computing units;
  • 12 credit points of Elective units.


Units of Study

Admission requirement

To be eligible for admission, an applicant is required to have:

  • a pass in bachelor's degree with a credit average (65 percent) in a quantitative discipline*; or
  • an honours bachelor’s degree, from the University of Sydney, or qualifications deemed by the faculty to be equivalent; or
  • a University of Sydney Graduate Diploma in Complex Systems with a credit average (65 percent), or equivalent qualification. Units completed in the graduate diploma can be credited to the master's program.

*A quantitative discipline includes data science, computer science, mathematics, statistics, engineering, physics, economics, finance or other disciplines that are deemed equivalent. As a guideline, the curriculum of a quantitative discipline should include some study of mathematics or statistics at the tertiary level.

For qualifications awarded outside Australia, equivalencies and entry requirements are determined based on the country, institution and qualification.

Reduced Volume Learning
The course is designed to complement the candidates' background, proficiencies and aims. A matching equivalent volume of learning is specified throughout the four foundational units, which can be waived for The University of Sydney's undergraduates with relevant qualifications (AQF Level 8 in a quantitative discipline or AQF Level 7 in cognate disciplines which incorporate computational or complex systems modelling at a senior level, such as Engineering, Computer Science, Mathematics or Physics) or equivalent qualifications, resulting in the Reduced Volume of Learning (RVL).

Credit for previous study

For more information about the University’s credit policy, please see the Credit for Previous Studies page.

Career pathways & prospects

Career pathways

Master of Complex Systems graduates will be suitable for careers in major multi-national research and development companies, government and crisis management agencies, and large health, construction and transport organisations, or continue on an academic research pathway.

These graduates can operate across discipline boundaries, in environments outside the experience of most professionals, providing key modelling input and insights to resolution of complex challenges across the globe.

Domestic students

International students

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.