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Get to grips with human factors and understand what influences human performance and safety in the workplace.

Human factors uses many disciplines, such as anatomy, physiology, psychology and biomechanics, to understand how people perform under different circumstances. The goal of human factors is to reduce human error, increase productivity, and enhance safety and comfort.

With access to the latest research and experts from academia and industry, you’ll gain unique insight into human behaviour at work. You'll also cover the latest interventions designed to increase safety and performance.

Whatever your industry, this course will equip you with the tools and knowledge you need to evaluate and improve safety in your own place of work.

Introduction to Human Factors

In October 2018, Dr Amy Irwin from the University’s School of Psychology presented a one-hour workshop on Human Factors in Industrial Practice. This is part one of the workshop, where Amy provides an overview of the topic.

What will I study?

You’ll learn about the factors that can enhance and limit human performance and safety at work.

You’ll gain insight into human behaviour:

  • How we work together
  • How we make decisions
  • The impact workplace environment has on our ability to work safely and effectively

You’ll cover the latest research in this area.

Looking to the future, you’ll also explore the development of interventions designed to increase safety and performance in the workplace.

Case studies

An integral aspect of the course is the evaluation of real-life events, including Deepwater Horizon, Apollo 13 and the Tenerife aircraft disaster. You’ll use these case studies to learn what can go wrong, and how workers on the frontline can mitigate or reduce the likelihood of accident or injury.

Topics covered

  • Large-scale disasters from a human factors perspective
  • How the human element can be a positive influence
  • Human factors methods: qualitative and quantitative, from interviews to questionnaires
  • Non-technical skills: teamwork, leadership, decision-making, situation awareness
  • How non-technical skills can enhance safety performance
  • Four key aspects of the workplace environment: heat, light, noise and vibration
  • Workplace design from a psychological perspective
  • Assessing the impact of stress and fatigue on safety and performance
  • Risk assessment and management strategies

By the end of this course, you will be able to…

  • Identify and manage factors that influence human performance and safety.
  • Consider workplace design from a psychological perspective.
  • Assess the impact of stress, fatigue and environmental factors.
  • Enhance safety performance with non-technical skills.

...Interestingly put together and provided practical examples through real-life events. I liked the use of videos and the active discussion board allowed us to share our ideas.

Jacqui Christie, Human Factors in Industrial Practice student

How will I study?

Human Factors in Industrial Practice is a 12-week course, delivered entirely online. You can study with us anywhere in the world and manage your study hours to suit you.

The course is taught at Masters level by human factors experts from academia and industry, including psychologist Amy Irwin. Amy has conducted extensive human factors research within engineering, offshore drilling, agriculture, aviation and healthcare.

You’ll also learn from your fellow students. Studying online alongside professionals who may be based all over the world, you'll be in a unique position to learn about best practices across industry sectors globally.

Your teaching is delivered through MyAberdeen, our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Also available as an app, you can access your learning materials on computer, smartphone and mobile device 24/7.

Your course features a range of resources, including:

  • case studies
  • problem-solving exercises
  • group activities
  • the online resources of our award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library
  • online discussion boards with colleagues and tutors.

...Changed my thinking about how things can go wrong in the workplace. The course has given me evidence-based tools I can apply towards making improvements.

Jacqui Christie, Human Factors in Industrial Practice student

Where will this take me?


Whatever your industry, you’ll gain career-enhancing skills and expertise on this course.

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

Further learning

You’ll earn 15 credits at Masters level (SCQF Level 11) with this course. You can use these credits towards further study. The course is an ideal taster to continue your professional development with:

Find out more about credits.

Course coordinator

Am I ready?

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 2:2 (second-class) degree
  • or relevant experience that supports this level of study.

Apply for this course