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The University of Southampton

MANG2007 Problem Structuring Methods

Module Overview

This module provides an introduction to problem structuring methods (PSMs): methods which can be used to assist individuals and teams in developing their understanding of the messy problems which are the reality of organisational life. Such methods tend to be qualitative rather than quantitative, and focus on building models, often pictorial or diagrammatic, in which the “wild and wicked” complexity, uncertainty and subjectivity of real problems are represented and “tamed”.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • a variety of problem structuring methods and their use within organisations.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • evaluate the suitability of methods for problem structuring and solving and their use within organisations.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • use team-work skills;
  • use problem structuring and solving skills;
  • use qualitative modelling skills;
  • use systems thinking skills;
  • use, at a basic level of competence, a variety of problem structuring methods;
  • participate actively in the facilitation and management of change in organisations.


• Introduction to problem structuring methods (PSMs). • Soft systems methodology (SSM). • Cognitive mapping and strategic options development and analysis (SODA). • The strategic choice approach (SCA). • Drama theory and metagame analysis. • Systems thinking and problem structuring.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Two hours of lectures per week, supported by one hour of weekly classes.

Wider reading or practice40
Preparation for scheduled sessions20
Completion of assessment task40
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

J. Rosenhead & J. Mingers. (editors) (2001). Rational Analysis for a Problematic World Revisited: Problem Structuring Methods for Complexity, Uncertainty and Conflict. 



Class discussions


MethodPercentage contribution
Case study  (2500 words) 30%
Examination  (2 hours) 70%


MethodPercentage contribution
Case study  (2500 words) 30%
Examination  (2 hours) 70%


MethodPercentage contribution
Case study  (2500 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase the mandatory/additional reading text as appropriate.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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