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 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

This distance learning human factors course is delivered flexibly, 100% online.

You can learn with us anywhere in the world, no student visa required, and manage your study hours to suit you.

Your teaching

This course is taught at Masters level.

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 available, including:

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

Your tutors

This course is delivered by the School of Psychology.

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 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.

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. This includes time for independent study, as well as teaching and assessments.

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 at fixed times

There may be some activities scheduled for fixed times. This could include coursework and assessments with deadlines, or online meetings with your tutor. 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 course coordinator 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:

Wherever you are in the world, you’ll feel part of our very special Aberdeen learning community.

Your course coordinator

Dr Amy Irwin

Amy is an Applied Psychologist and your Course Coordinator. She leads our Applied Psychology and Human Factors group and Non-Technical Skills in Agriculture group. Amy has collaborated extensively with industry and government contacts in pioneering human factors research within engineering, offshore drilling, agriculture, aviation and healthcare.

View Amy’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:

PgCert Human Factors and Organisational Psychology

Earn human factors certification online. Study flexibly with expert psychologists and and learn to make workplaces safer.

View PgCert Human Factors and Organisational Psychology

PgCert Psychology in the Workplace

Explore occupational psychology online with UK university psychologists. Choose from a range of online workplace psychology courses and build a graduate qualification tailored to you.

View PgCert Psychology in the Workplace

Masters in Psychological Studies

A full-time, on-campus MSc programme designed to introduce graduates from other disciplines to the study of psychology, as a first step to pursuing a career in this area.

View MSc Psychological Studies

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.

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.

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

Entry requirements

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.

Visa requirements

You do not need a student 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, IELTS UKVI 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 Academic/LanguageCert Academic SELT

  • 70 overall
  • 60 for listening, reading and speaking
  • 65 for writing

LanguageCert International ESOL B2 Communicator (Written and Spoken) – Online / In-centre

  • Overall High Pass
  • 33 for listening, reading and speaking
  • 38 for writing

Oxford ELLT Digital – English Language Level Test Online

  • 7.0 overall
  • 5.0 for listening, reading and speaking
  • 6.0 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

We recommend:

  • 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 for 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 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 studies 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.

Fee payment

Your course fee needs to be paid in full before you start your course.

We accept payment via Visa Debit, Visa Credit and Mastercard.

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.

Student card

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 2:2 UK undergraduate degree (or equivalent), or
  • relevant experience that supports this level of study.

Apply for this course

Start date
23 September 2024
Added to your wishlist