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.
Build credits towards a Masters degree
This online course is part of:
You can use the credits you earn on this short course towards either of these MSc qualifications.
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 distance-learning Human Factors Engineering course is delivered flexibly online. You can study with us anywhere in the world and manage your study hours to suit you.
This course is taught at Masters level.
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.
You’ll learn from experienced academics and researchers in engineering and psychophysics, and experts in HFE and industrial psychology.
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.
This course usually combines online assessment with a written exam that you attend in person at the end of term.
However, as a result of Covid-19, in-person exams will not take place until the September 2023 term at the earliest.
Until then, we’ll use alternative online assessments.
Online assessment will take place throughout the teaching term.
Types of assessment for this course may include:
- online quizzes
- timed online open-book assessments.
Your assessments will have submission deadlines, either during or at the end of the course. Your course coordinator will let you know when your assessment deadlines are, so you can plan your study time accordingly.
From September 2023 - Return of exams
We may reintroduce in-person exams for this course from the September 2023 term onwards.
If exams are reintroduced, you’ll be assessed via a mix of online assessments and a final, in-person exam. We can help you find an exam centre in your area for this exam if you are not able to attend exams on-campus in Aberdeen.
There may be a fee for sitting an exam at an external examination centre.
We’ll keep you updated as to assessment methods well in advance of any changes.
The course totals approximately 150 hours of study and assessment time. That’s around 10 – 15 hours per week.
This is an indicative guide to the time required for a typical student at this level to achieve the learning outcomes.
You can largely set your own study hours each week to cover the materials. MyAberdeen is available 24/7, so you can log in and study when it suits you.
Activities with deadlines
There will be some activities scheduled for fixed times, such as assessments with deadlines or meetings with your tutor. But otherwise, you can access and work through the course at your convenience.
Our first-class support structure will ensure that you aren’t alone in your studies. You’ll have contact with your tutors throughout your course. This could be by email, MyAberdeen, online call, or phone. You can use social media and discussion boards to chat with your fellow students too.
We provide a wide range of services to support you in your studies and beyond:
- Careers and Employability Service
- Disability support
- IT support
- Library support
- Student Support Service – help with finances, stress, wellbeing and non-academic issues
- Student Learning Service – study support, with advice sessions available via phone or Skype
- Aberdeen University Students’ Association (AUSA) – run by students for students
- Toolkit – clever apps and free training that can make your study life easier
Wherever you are in the world, you’ll feel part of our very special Aberdeen learning community.
Your course coordinator
Dr Waheed Afzal
Waheed is a Chartered Chemical Engineer, Chartered Scientist, and Member of the Institution of Chemical Engineers. He heads our Masters degrees in Advanced Chemical Engineering and Process Safety.View Waheed’s profile
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 our:
Masters in Process Safety
Become a qualified process safety engineer, ready to work in any chemical processing sector. Join an IChemE-accredited online degree you can fit around full-time work.View MSc Process Safety
Masters in Safety and Reliability Engineering
Become a world-class safety engineer, wherever you’re based, with our accredited online MSc. Train online with internationally experienced safety engineers and learn direct from industry.View MSc Safety and Reliability Engineering
Build your learning
We offer a range of specialist online Engineering and technology courses you can use to build your skills.
Many carry credits you can build up into postgraduate qualifications, including Masters degrees:
This course will help you progress in your career as:
- an engineer in any sector of industry, or
- a professional involved in the design of systems, processes, buildings, workplaces or products.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
Your employer or professional institute may recognise this course for CPD hours. Talk to your employer or institute to find out more.
Free career support
Access our free careers service while you study.
- 1:1 appointments
- CV checks
- Interview prep
- Job opportunities
We welcome students from all over the world.
This course has no formal entry requirements. You do not need to provide proof of your qualifications.
But you do need to check the entry guidance above to understand the level of teaching delivered, to decide if this course is right for you.
If you do not have qualifications from the UK, check the equivalent teaching level for your country.
You do not need a visa to study online with us.
English language requirements
Teaching is delivered in English.
You do not have to provide proof of your English language skills to join this course. But we want to make sure that you can use English well enough to study successfully.
Recommended level of English
For this course, we recommend the following level of English language proficiency.
These are our Postgraduate Standard requirements, and these are minimum scores.
IELTS Academic and IELTS Online (not IELTS Indicator or IELTS General Training)
- 6.5 overall
- 5.5 for listening, reading and speaking
- 6.0 for writing
TOEFL iBT and TOEFL iBT Home Edition
- 90 overall
- 17 for listening
- 18 for reading
- 20 for speaking
- 21 for writing
- TOEFL DI code is 0818
Cambridge English: B2 First, C1 Advanced, or C2 Proficiency
- 176 overall
- 162 for listening, reading and speaking
- 169 for writing
LanguageCert International ESOL B2 Communicator (Written and Spoken)
- Overall High Pass
- 33 for listening, reading and speaking
- 38 for writing
PTE Academic (online test not accepted)
- 62 overall
- 59 for listening, reading, speaking and writing
For full information about language requirements, see our English Language Requirements page.
You will need access to:
A computer (PC, laptop or Mac) operating on either:
- Windows 10 or later
- macOS 10.15 (Catalina) or later.
Most teaching materials are smartphone- and tablet-friendly. But we recommend a proper laptop or desktop for completing assignments comfortably.
Reliable internet access
- a wired connection
- a minimum download speed of 2 Mbps so you can take part fully in live sessions.
Speakers or headphones
- We recommend a headset with built-in microphone and earphones if you’re likely to study in an environment with background noise.
- A webcam is optional, but you may like to use one from some interactive sessions.
We’ll give you access to Office365 applications. This means you can use online versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and install these programs on up to five personal devices.
If your course requires specialist software, we’ll provide you with access to this and a licence that lasts throughout your studies.
See our detailed IT requirements for more information.
When you study with us, you can expect a first-class support structure so that you’re never alone in your studies.
But learning online does mean you have to motivate yourself and manage your own time.
Your most important commitment to your course will be time – the time to work through, reflect on and understand your teaching materials.
Before you start a course that involves a high degree of independent study, we recommend looking at the time you will be able to devote to your course each week:
- Be realistic
- Create a weekly schedule as a guide
If you have any questions about studying online, get in touch with our friendly team. We’re here to help.
Your course fee needs to be paid in full before you start your course.
We accept payment via Visa Debit, Visa Credit and Mastercard.
If your course features an in-person exam, you may have to pay a fee depending on where you sit your exam.
It’s free to sit exams on campus at the University of Aberdeen.
If you sit an exam at another university, exam centre or a British Council Office, they may charge you for this service. This is a fee that you pay directly to the service provider when booking your exam with them. It is not a fee that you pay to us.
Ways to save
You may be able to get help funding this course via:
- discounts – if any discounts are available for this course, they’ll appear in the section below
- employer sponsorship – we accept full and partial fee payments from sponsors.
Find out more about funding options.
All our students are entitled to a University of Aberdeen student card. This gives you access to a range of student discounts around the city and online.
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