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Complex systems

Anticipate, control and manage the complexity of the unexpected

Smart cities, infrastructure and ecosystems are complex systems, susceptible to abrupt, large-scale, disruptive dynamics. Gain the expertise to model, analyse and design strategies for crisis forecasting and management.

Master of Complex Systems

Learn more about our Master of Complex Systems degree, the only of its kind in the southern hemisphere.

What are complex systems?

Complex systems are composed of large numbers of diverse interacting parts that can be prone to unexpected and often disruptive dynamics. 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, or the emergence of a new pathogen in a remote village can give rise to a devastating global epidemic.

Systems engineers are tasked with modelling, analysing and designing resilient strategies for crisis forecasting and management in technological, socioeconomic and socioecological systems. You can apply these skills to a wide range of industries.

Why study complex systems with us?

  • Our Master of Complex Systems is the only degree of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. It will develop your skills in quantitative modelling and computational simulation of system dynamics.
  • Leverage the research strength of the Centre for Complex Systems and tailor your learning to your professional interests.
  • As a Master of Complex Systems graduate, you’ll be able to develop your career in major multinational research and development companies, government and crisis management agencies, or large health, construction and transport organisations.
  • Demand for such expertise is increasing and will allow you to operate across discipline boundaries, in environments outside the experience of most professionals.


Master of Complex Systems will help you to develop your skills in quantitative modelling and computational simulation of system dynamics.

You will develop further specialised technical knowledge in one of five specialisations:

  • Biosecurity
  • Ecology
  • Engineering
  • Transport
  • Research Methods.

You will also undertake an industry-based capstone project focused on modelling a complex problem and delivering a novel solution related to your area of specialisation or vocational objectives.

Your prior qualifications or, in some cases, work experience may enable you to reduce the number of credit points required to complete your degree.

To see how it works, read about credit for previous study for your Master of Complex Systems.

At the master’s level, this degree will take two years full time to complete (96 credit points). This program can also be taken as a:

2020 postgraduate guide

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Staff profile

Mikhail Prokopenko
Professor Mikhail Prokopenko, Director, Centre for Complex Systems
“My research is about how to alleviate crises by analysing and computationally modelling the critical phenomena intrinsic to self-organisation. Ultimately, this will increase the robustness and resilience of a diverse range of complex systems, from digital circuitry to power grids and social networks, resulting in increased productivity, lower maintenance costs, less downtime and greater overall safety and reliability.”
Academic profile