Facts & figures
The idea that a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazonian jungle may lead to a tornado in Texas sounds strange.
And yet this concept, known as ‘the butterfly effect’ is commonly used to describe the behaviour of complex systems.
At their core, complex systems comprise a number of large diverse interacting agents, including humans (society), animals or microorganisms (ecosystem), neurons (brain) and substations or sensors (power grids).
When in the presence of external shocks and stresses, these interactions can often create unexpected, large-scale, and apparently unpredictable behaviours.
For example, a single malfunction in a local substation can lead to cascading state-wide electricity grid failures, while the emergence of a new virus in a remote location can give rise to a devastating global pandemic.
As the only degree of its kind in the southern hemisphere, our Master of Complex Systems has been developed to equip professionals with skills to deal with the complex challenges posed by our interconnected world and rapidly changing technology, such as pandemics, climate change, population growth, and security.
The degree has been designed following consultations with international and Australian industrial and health security leaders.
It provides the necessary expertise to model, analyse and design resilient technological, socio-economic and socio-ecological systems as well as skills to develop optimal strategies for crisis prevention, forecasting and management.
I was looking for a program that would equip me with strong data handling and analysis skills and I was instantly fascinated by the field of complex systems when I stumbled across it.
I was interested in how the field seeks to answer big, open-ended questions about our world through a multi-disciplinary approach, in a way that is relevant and mathematically rigorous.
My industry experience supporting operations in the tech advisory and sales industry gave me a solid foundation in data collection, cleaning, analysis and communication. My strong understanding of Excel meant picking up Python and Matlab was accessible.
From my current role in sports consulting, I see the business need for reliable, accurate information that is presented in a compelling way.
I am happy to guide my studies towards my interests while continuing to build my skills in coding, machine learning and analysis.
I was attracted to the Master of Complex Systems program primarily due to its transdisciplinary nature and emphasis on analytical skills with real-world applicability.
I hoped that participation in this program would not only facilitate the development of strong mathematical, data management, and research skills, but also afford the opportunity to explore domain-specific applications through the selection of a specialisation.
My previous degree in cognitive systems from the University of British Columbia provided excellent theoretical foundations in areas such as social psychology, systems theory, and game theory, which have proven to be very useful in contextualising the mathematical materials presented in my complex systems coursework.
Most of all, both work and study with the cognitive systems program has afforded disciplinary flexibility and the ability to draw inferences across many fields.
I am very interested in social-ecological systems and eusocial insects; upon graduation, I hope to apply my skills in the fields of sustainability or agroecology, particularly in the areas of beekeeping, food security, and ecological and supply chain resilience.
I found the topic of complex systems to be a fascinating and it provided me with a new way of looking at a lot of familiar disciplines in a new light.
The range of specialisations within the degree demonstrated that complex systems as a whole could be applied to a variety of different areas.
It also offered me with a way to combine my science and commerce backgrounds.
I previously worked in inbound marketing and business analysis for several start-ups and small businesses.
This experience helped me to consider the applications of what was taught towards business and organisational systems.
I was also able to pursue several research projects during my degree with organisations such as CSIRO, which complemented my previous research experiences as a physics honours undergraduate.
I am now a data scientist and can confidently attribute the Masters of Complex Systems with helping to develop my range of technical abilities including data processing, programming skills and visualisation.
I was recommended the complex systems program by a research supervisor at a laboratory I worked at after completing my Bachelor of Science degree.
I graduated specialising in geophysics and remote sensing but really enjoyed building maps and seeing the neighbourhood interactions between organisations, people and nature in a spatial context.
Coming from a research background, I elected to study the Research Methods specialisation so I could both work on what I was interested in and understand academic research better.
I undertook many research units as part of the course, and I was even able to get my research published with the support of the complex systems researchers.
I am interested in furthering my career in research administration which will allow me to draw upon my respective backgrounds in complex systems as well as cartography.
The degree also provided me with a new perspective on how to approach things and an analytical mindset to question the underlying properties which leads to observed phenomena.