Study Human Factors Engineering (HFE) online.

Learn from experts in psychophysics, industrial psychology, and HFE on this online short course that fits around full-time work.

  • Understand how people interact with engineering systems and processes.
  • Discover why good designs fail.
  • Explore the ways equipment design, individual behaviours, and organisational behaviours all contribute to the safety of systems, buildings, workplaces and products.

You’ll gain vital professional knowledge, skills and a career boost as an engineer in any sector of industry. And you’ll have all the advantages of part-time online learning, wherever you’re based.

You can use the credits you earn on this short course towards our MSc Safety and Reliability Engineering and MSc Safety and Reliability Engineering for Oil and Gas.

What you’ll study

The issues in Human Factors Engineering (HFE) can be grouped into three main areas:

  • Man-equipment interfaces and interactions
  • Organisational behaviours
  • Personal behaviour/human error

You’ll examine how failures in these three areas are involved in all major incidents.

First, you’ll look at the human factors associated with designing processes and products. You’ll review a number of major accidents and identify how equipment design, individual behaviours, and organisational behaviours contributed.

You’ll learn tools and techniques that you can use to analyse individuals, workplaces and organisations, minimising injuries and loss, and achieving performance improvements.

You’ll then consider the role of equipment and system design, including man-machine interfaces. You’ll discover the effect design has on individual behaviour.

Moving on to human error, you’ll look at error types, the impact of environmental factors, Critical Task Analysis and Human Reliability Assessment.

Finally, you’ll examine organisational behaviours, exploring the strengths and weaknesses of leading and lagging indicators in promoting a culture of workplace safety.

At each stage, you’ll complete practical assessments led by industry practitioners with specialist HFE expertise.

By the end of this course, you’ll be able to...

  • Explain the role of people, equipment design and organisational factors in major accident events.
  • Identify types and classifications of human error.
  • Reflect on the effect of equipment design and organisational influence on the behaviour and actions of people.
  • Complete critical task analysis and human reliability assessments.
  • Create systems that minimise the likelihood of major incidents.
  • Determine the performance of human-machine interface designs.

How you’ll study

This Human Factors Engineering course is delivered part-time online. You can study with us anywhere in the world and manage your study hours to suit you.

Part of our MSc in Safety and Reliability Engineering, this course is taught at Masters level.

Online learning

Your teaching is delivered through MyAberdeen, our online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It holds all the materials, tools and support you’ll need in your studies. Take a look around MyAberdeen.

You can access your learning materials on computer, smartphone and laptop, 24 hours a day. You’ll find a range of resources at your fingertips, including:

  • video lectures
  • online tutorials
  • reading materials
  • the online resources of our award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library
  • discussion boards with colleagues and tutors.

Your tutors

You’ll learn from experienced academics and researchers in engineering and psychophysics, and experts in HFE and industrial psychology.

Industry input

You’ll benefit from direct input from an Industry Advisory Board. It constantly reviews course content to ensure you’re gaining the latest industry knowledge and are up to speed with emerging trends, technologies and career opportunities.


You’ll be assessed entirely online.

This course usually combines online assessment with a written exam that you attend in person. However, due to Covid-19, in-person exams will not take place until January 2022 at the earliest.

Your course coordinator

Where this will take you

Towards a Masters

You’ll earn 15 credits at Masters level (SCQF Level 11) with this course. You can use these credits towards further study, including our:

Masters in Safety and Reliability Engineering

  • Available to study online or on campus.

Masters in Safety and Reliability Engineering for Oil and Gas

  • Accredited by the Energy Institute, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology, and the Joint Board of Moderators.
  • Available to study online or on campus.

Build your learning

We offer a range of specialist online Engineering courses you can use to build your skills.

Many carry credits you can build up into postgraduate qualifications, including Masters degrees:


This course is designed to develop the careers of engineers in all sectors of industry, and other professionals involved in the design of systems, processes, buildings, workplaces or products.

Your employer or professional institute may recognise this course for Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Talk to your employer or institute to find out more.

Free careers advice

We’ll help you explore your career potential and connect with job opportunities around the world.

You can access our free careers service while you study.

From interview training to CV clinics, we’re here with tailored, impartial and professional advice.

Entry requirements

This course has no formal entry requirements. You decide if it’s suitable for you.

The course is delivered at Masters level. At this level, you’d usually have at least a UK-equivalent:

  • 2:1 (upper-second-class) honours degree in Engineering, Geosciences, Economics, Business, Law
  • or other science, technology or commercial degree
  • or three years’ relevant experience that supports this level of training.

Apply for this course

Start date
24 January 2022
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