What influences human performance and safety in the workplace?

Join our online human factors course, which spans disciplines including anatomy, physiology, psychology and biomechanics, to understand how people perform in different circumstances.

Learn how to use human factors to reduce human error, increase productivity, and enhance workplace safety and comfort.

  • Access the latest research and expertise from academia and industry.
  • Gain unique insight into human behaviour at work.
  • Discover the latest interventions designed to increase safety and performance.

Whatever your industry, you’ll gain the tools and knowledge you need to evaluate and improve safety in your own place of work.

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 postgraduate qualifications.

What you’ll 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’ll 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.

Introduction to Human Factors

Watch part one of Dr Amy Irwin’s workshop for an illustrated introduction to Human Factors.

How you’ll study

Online learning

Our distance learning Human Factors in Industrial Practice course is delivered part-time, 100% 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

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:

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

Your tutors

You’ll learn from 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.


This course is assessed entirely online via:

  • your assessment of a real-life case study, identifying the major failings and suggesting interventions
  • your regular contributions to discussion boards
  • a multiple-choice exam, which will be set and accessed online. It will test your knowledge of each of the main topics covered by the course.

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 our:

Build your learning

This course is part of our series of online workplace psychology courses.

Use these short courses to build your skills and earn more credits towards postgraduate qualifications:

All these online courses are part-time and fit around full-time work.


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.

Stephanie Hopps

Human factors is a broad topic, but this course broke it down and linked it directly to industry. It’s really helped me understand how human factors can be applied to my own industry in particular. I’m involved with educating the workforce at Wood, both on site and in the office, and I frequently find myself referring to the presentations and the research papers used and referenced in the course.

Stephanie Hopps, Group HSE Advisor, Wood

Free career support

Access our free careers service while you study.

  • 1:1 appointments
  • CV checks
  • Interview prep
  • Job opportunities

See how our careers service can help you.

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

Apply for this course

Start date
18 September 2023
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