Explore organisational safety and risk management from a psychological perspective.

Join our School of Psychology online to learn about the concepts of safety and risk, and how they apply in organisational settings.

With access to the latest research in the field, you’ll build your expertise in:

  • organisational safety culture
  • systems approach to safety
  • attitudes towards risk, and
  • risk normalisation.

This course bridges theory and application, providing you with a unique opportunity to learn more about the psychology underpinning core concepts within today’s industry.

Who can join this organisational safety course?

This distance-learning course is ideal for anyone looking to understand and manage the factors influencing safety and risk within their company or organisation.

A stepping stone towards a career in industry, Human Factors, or ideal CPD for those already on the career ladder, it’s a great fit for professionals in industries including:

  • Aviation
  • Energy – including renewables, nuclear, and oil and gas
  • Farming
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Rail and bus
  • Water.

Build credits towards a postgraduate certificate

This online course is part of:

You can use the credits you earn on this short course towards this postgraduate qualification.

What you’ll study

You’ll cover the following topics in this course.

Organisational safety culture

  • The attitudes, perceptions and behaviours relevant to safety commitment within an organisation.
  • Exploring the managerial commitment to safety, safety systems, work pressure and incident reporting.

Risk perception and management

  • The concept of risk perception and the perception of hazards.
  • Attitudes towards risk.
  • The relationship between risk perception and decision making.
  • Methods of risk assessment and management.

Risk normalisation

  • Theories of risk habituation and normalisation.
  • Using real-world incidents to seek to understand the factors influencing risky behaviours and situations.

Systems approach to safety

Recent research into organisational safety has emphasised the need for a complex systems approach to understanding safety. You’ll look at:

  • evaluation of both adverse incidents and normal working practice
  • understanding of performance variability
  • consideration of the regulatory environment
  • evaluation of the sociotechnical context, and
  • building in safety through design.

Developing a proactive approach to safety

  • Identifying issues via safety climate assessment.
  • Learning from near misses.
  • Evaluating hazards.

Each section of the course will draw on the latest psychological and human factors research. You’ll also be introduced to incident assessment approaches to help structure and apply your learning to real-world case studies.

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

  • Evaluate risk and safety within the organisational workplace.
  • Explain important aspects of the concept of risk, including risk perception, habituation and normalisation.
  • Describe the theory and application of core concepts in organisational safety.
  • Apply incident analysis techniques to real world case studies, and present findings in a manner suitable for industrial audiences.

How you’ll study

Online learning

This distance learning organisational safety 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:

  • pre-recorded lectures to stream or download
  • videos
  • podcasts
  • slide shows
  • case studies
  • reading materials, drawn from the latest research and industrial papers
  • 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 our School of Psychology.

You’ll learn from uniquely experienced academics and researchers, including Senior Lecturer, Dr Amy Irwin. Amy leads the Applied Psychology and Human Factors group at the University of Aberdeen.

This course is assessed entirely online via coursework.

Assessments are spread throughout the 11 weeks of the course, including:

  • two discussion boards, where you’ll be set questions and asked to discuss these and share your responses with your peers
  • two multiple-choice online tests designed to test your recall of course content
  • a short, industrial report, designed to assess your presentation of academic material in a manner suitable for an industrial audience.

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 tutors via MyAberdeen and email. 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 teaching team

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

Dr Oliver Hamlet

Oliver is a Teaching Fellow in our School of Psychology. His research specialisms lie predominantly within human factors and organisational psychology. Oliver has a particular interest in human performance, non-technical skills, organisational culture, safety and accident/incident investigations.

View Oliver’s profile

Where this will take you

Towards a postgraduate certificate

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

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


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

It could help you target your career towards Human Factors consultancy roles.

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

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.

Learning resources

Access to all the books and resources you need are included in your tuition fee. They’ll be made available to you online and you do not have to buy your own copies.


You may wish to set aside a small budget for printing, depending on how you like to work.

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
27 January 2025
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