IMS5005 Decision support systems - Semester 2 , 2006 unit guide

Semester 2, 2006

Chief Examiner

Dr Rob Meredith


Caulfield : Dr Rob Meredith


This unit is intended to provide students with a detailed introduction to the development and use of information systems in supporting management and decision-making. Students will learn of the nature of management work and how this affects the development of systems intended to support management decision-making. A number of commonly used decision support modelling techniques will be explored. Topics covered include: managers and management, decision making, judgement heuristics and cognitive biases, DSS development methods, personal decision support systems, influence diagrams, the role of modelling in Decision Support, systems dynamics, data warehousing and business intelligence.


At the completion of this unit, the students will:

have knowledge of:

  • the scope and application of information systems applied to decision support,
  • the nature of management and decision making in general,
  • the major approaches to the development of decision support systems;

have an understanding of:

  • the process of decision support system development,
  • the various major approaches to IT support for managers;

have the skills to:

  • document an 'unstructured' decision process,
  • understand managerial problem solving activity;

have developed attitudes which allow them to:

  • work closely with managers,
  • communicate and foster realistic expectations of the role of information systems in management and decision support.


Before attempting this unit you must have satisfactorily completed IMS9001 and IMS9049 or equivalent.

Students studying this unit will need to have an understanding of the role of a system analyst (IMS9001) and a basic understanding of personal productivity software (IMS9049). In addition they will need an understanding of the processes and techniques used to develop traditional transaction processing systems (IMS9001).

Unit relationships

IMS5005 is a core unit in the Business Intelligence specialisation of the Master of Information Management & Systems.

Texts and software

Required text(s)

There is no compulsory text for IMS5005. However, the following two texts are general textbooks that cover the DSS area. They both have chapters or sections that address some IMS5005 sessions.

Mallach, E.G. (2000) Decision Support and Data Warehouse Systems Boston: McGraw Hill (ISBN 0-07-289981-6).

Marakas, G.M. (2003). Decision support systems in the 21st Century (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall (ISBN 0-13-101879-5).

In addition to the texts listed above, extensive reading will be made available to students using the library's digital scanning service, and subscription to electronic versions of relevant journals.

Textbook availability

Both texts are available in the Caulfield Library, and can be purchased from a number of bookstores, including Amazon.Com. No specific edition is required. Readings referred to above will be made available via the unit webpage.

Software requirements

The unit will make use of several decision support related software packages including Microsoft Excel, ProClarity, iThink, and IDEdit. This software will be made available in the student computer laboratories where the tutorials for this unit are scheduled. It is recommended that students have their own recent copy of Microsoft Office (at least compatible with the version in student laboratories) for assignment work.

Hardware requirements

Students studying off-campus are required to have the minimum system configuration specified by the faculty as a condition of accepting admission, and regular Internet access. On-campus students, and those studying at supported study locations may use the facilities available in the computing labs. Information about computer use for students is available from the ITS Student Resource Guide in the Monash University Handbook.

Recommended reading

The complete list of readings for this unit are available from the unit website, at

Library access

You may need to access the Monash library either personally to be able to satisfactorily complete the subject.  Be sure to obtain a copy of the Library Guide, and if necessary, the instructions for remote access from the library website.

Study resources

Study resources for IMS5005 are:

Printed lecture notes provided at each lecture, selected printed readings as appropriate and the unit website, located at, where all lecture notes, tutorial materials, assignment specifications and other material will be posted.

Unit website

Structure and organisation

Week Topics
1 Introduction to subject and overview of the decision support systems area
2 Managers and Management
3 Overview of decision making, descriptive views of decision making
4 Normative decision making
5 Judgement heuristics and cognitive biases 1
6 Judgement heuristics and cognitive biases 2
7 DSS development methods 1
8 DSS development methods 2
9 Personal decision support systems
10 Simulation modelling
Non teaching week
11 Ethics and Decision Support
12 Industry Speaker
13 Unit review, conlusion, controversies and futures


The timetable for on-campus classes for this unit can be viewed in Allocate+


Assessment weighting

Assessment for the unit consists of 2 assignments with a weighting of 50% and a three hour examination with a weighting of 50%. Read this section VERY carefully.

Assessment Policy

To pass this unit you must:

  1. Achieve an overall result of at least 50% for the unit
  2. Obtain at least 40% of the available assignment marks
  3. Obtain at least 40% of the available examination marks

Where a student fails to obtain at least 40% in both the assignment work and examination, the student will receive an overall grade no greater than 44-N.

Your score for the unit will be calculated by:

(0.3 x Assignment 1 Result) + (0.2 x Assignment 2 Result) + (0.5 x Examination Result), with the caveat noted above where a result no greater than 44 will be entered should the assignment work, or examination results be less than 40%.

Assessment Requirements

Assessment Due Date Weighting
Assignment 1: Document Decisions End of Week 7 30%
Assignment 2: Essay End of Week 12 20 %
Exam Exam period (S2/06) starts on 23/10/06 50 %

Assignment specifications will be made available on the IMS5005 web site under Assignments.

Assignment Submission

Assignments will be submitted by paper submission to your tutor. Students must submit assignments by Friday 5pm of the week due, with the appropriate cover sheet correctly filled out and attached.

Extensions and late submissions

Late submission of assignments

All applications for extensions must be made in writing to the unit leader and approved prior to the due date. Medical certificates or appropriate proof supporting your application will be required. Work without a formal extension may be accepted up to one week late, with a penalty of loss of 5% of marks per day (weekends count as one day).

This policy is strict because comments or guidance will be given on assignments as they are returned, and sample solutions may also be published and distributed, after assignment marking or with the returned assignment. 


It is your responsibility to structure your study program around assignment deadlines, family, work and other commitments. Factors such as normal work pressures, vacations, etc. are seldom regarded as appropriate reasons for granting extensions. 

Requests for extensions must be made by email, in writing or in person to the unit leader at least two days before the due date. You will be asked to forward original medical certificates in cases of illness, and may be asked to provide other forms of documentation where necessary. A copy of the email or other written communication of an extension must be attached to the assignment submission.

Grading of assessment

Assignments, and the unit, will be marked and allocated a grade according to the following scale:

Grade Percentage/description
HD High Distinction - very high levels of achievement, demonstrated knowledge and understanding, skills in application and high standards of work encompassing all aspects of the tasks.
In the 80+% range of marks for the assignment.
D Distinction - high levels of achievement, but not of the same standards. May have a weakness in one particular aspect, or overall standards may not be quite as high.
In the 70-79% range.
C Credit - sound pass displaying good knowledge or application skills, but some weaknesses in the quality, range or demonstration of understanding.
In the 60-69% range.
P Pass acceptable standard, showing an adequate basic knowledge, understanding or skills, but with definite limitations on the extent of such understanding or application. Some parts may be incomplete.
In the 50-59% range.
N Not satisfactory failure to meet the basic requirements of the assessment.
Below 50%.

Assignment return

We will aim to have assignment results made available to you within two weeks after assignment receipt.


Feedback to you

You will receive feedback on your work and progress in this unit. This feedback may be provided through your participation in tutorials and class discussions, as well as through your assignment submissions. It may come in the form of individual advice, marks and comments, or it may be provided as comment or reflection targeted at the group. It may be provided through personal interactions, such as interviews and on-line forums, or through other mechanisms such as on-line self-tests and publication of grade distributions.

Feedback from you

You will be asked to provide feedback to the Faculty through a Unit Evaluation survey at the end of the semester. You may also be asked to complete surveys to help teaching staff improve the unit and unit delivery. Your input to such surveys is very important to the faculty and the teaching staff in maintaining relevant and high quality learning experiences for our students.

And if you are having problems

It is essential that you take action immediately if you realise that you have a problem with your study. The semester is short, so we can help you best if you let us know as soon as problems arise. Regardless of whether the problem is related directly to your progress in the unit, if it is likely to interfere with your progress you should discuss it with your lecturer or a Community Service counsellor as soon as possible.

Plagiarism and cheating

Plagiarism and cheating are regarded as very serious offences. In cases where cheating  has been confirmed, students have been severely penalised, from losing all marks for an assignment, to facing disciplinary action at the Faculty level. While we would wish that all our students adhere to sound ethical conduct and honesty, I will ask you to acquaint yourself with Student Rights and Responsibilities and the Faculty regulations that apply to students detected cheating as these will be applied in all detected cases.

In this University, cheating means seeking to obtain an unfair advantage in any examination or any other written or practical work to be submitted or completed by a student for assessment. It includes the use, or attempted use, of any means to gain an unfair advantage for any assessable work in the unit, where the means is contrary to the instructions for such work. 

When you submit an individual assessment item, such as a program, a report, an essay, assignment or other piece of work, under your name you are understood to be stating that this is your own work. If a submission is identical with, or similar to, someone else's work, an assumption of cheating may arise. If you are planning on working with another student, it is acceptable to undertake research together, and discuss problems, but it is not acceptable to jointly develop or share solutions unless this is specified by your lecturer. 

Intentionally providing students with your solutions to assignments is classified as "assisting to cheat" and students who do this may be subject to disciplinary action. You should take reasonable care that your solution is not accidentally or deliberately obtained by other students. For example, do not leave copies of your work in progress on the hard drives of shared computers, and do not show your work to other students. If you believe this may have happened, please be sure to contact your lecturer as soon as possible.

Cheating also includes taking into an examination any material contrary to the regulations, including any bilingual dictionary, whether or not with the intention of using it to obtain an advantage.

Plagiarism involves the false representation of another person's ideas, or findings, as your own by either copying material or paraphrasing without citing sources. It is both professional and ethical to reference clearly the ideas and information that you have used from another writer. If the source is not identified, then you have plagiarised work of the other author. Plagiarism is a form of dishonesty that is insulting to the reader and grossly unfair to your student colleagues.


Communication methods

Communication with unit staff can be made through email, or by requesting a meeting time. Contact details for all staff are listed on the unit website. Students are encouraged to form discussion groups, and participate fully in class discussion during lectures and tutorials.


Notices related to the unit during the semester will be placed on the Notices Newsgroup in the Unit Website. Check this regularly. Failure to read the Notices newsgroup is not regarded as grounds for special consideration.

Consultation Times

For consultation, email the unit leader with a requested time.

If direct communication with your unit adviser/lecturer or tutor outside of consultation periods is needed you may contact the lecturer and/or tutors at:

Mr Rob Meredith
Phone +61 3 990 32396
Fax +61 3 990 31204

All email communication to you from your lecturer will occur through your Monash student email address. Please ensure that you read it regularly, or forward your email to your main address. Also check that your contact information registered with the University is up to date in My.Monash.

Last updated: Jul 18, 2006