Public awareness of hazards and risks has enhanced the importance of safety assessment and management in today’s increasingly litigious society. Risk and safety issues need to be evaluated in a structured and calculated manner but in the light of an overall organisational strategy.
This course aims to provide students with advanced knowledge of risk assessment techniques, the public and individual perception of risk, and how decisions are made in competitive business markets. The course focuses on practical applications of safety methodologies, ergonomics and human factors, and safety and risk management techniques. It will develop students’ skills to undertake safety studies and manage safety and risk to the best national and international standards.
If you are interested in our courses you can join our Linked In group Safety Courses at Heriot-Watt where you can link up with other applicants, current and previous students and potential employers. Applying to join needs approval from the group owner which may take a week or two.
This course can be studied via Online Learning, ideal for those in employment or with other commitments, providing flexible study options that fit around work or family. View our How online learning works pages to find out more. It can also be studied on-campus full-time or part-time.
Visit our Graduate Profiles page to learn what some of our graduates said about their experiences studying Safety and Risk Management at Heriot-Watt University.
Online Learning course - 2½ - 8 years. Most students intend to complete their studies via online learning within 2-3 years.
This MSc degree is accredited as meeting the requirements for Further Learning for a Chartered Engineer (CEng) for candidates who have already acquired an Accredited CEng (Partial) BEng(Hons) or an Accredited IEng (Full) BEng/BSc (Hons) undergraduate first degree. See www.jbm.org.uk for further information.
The MSc and PgDip degrees have also been accredited by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). Graduates are eligible to join IOSH as Graduate members and then undertake an initial professional development process that leads to Chartered membership.
This course and the associate course Safety, Risk and Reliability Engineering, have been developed with the assistance of staff and ex-graduates working in relevant companies. We are also developing links with a wide range of companies in the risk management fields.
In addition, this course is also supported by the Civil Engineering Industry Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from major multi-national employers AECOM, ARUP, Balfour Beatty, Halcrow, Jacobs and WSP Group. This committee convenes regularly and advises on the course content and structure, ensuring quality, up-to-date content and relevance to industry needs.
Hear what graduate, Peter Gennery, had to say about his experience studying online at Heriot-Watt.
Register your interest
The MSc/Postgraduate Diploma in Safety and Risk Management, led by Professor Guy Walker, is only available by attendance-free distance learning.
The programme comprises eight taught courses. Heriot-Watt Online students must first take exams in two courses of the programme, Human Factors Methods and Learning from Disasters. Based on the results from these courses students continue on the programme at MSc or at PG Diploma level.
All courses have written examinations and some have compulsory coursework elements. MSc students are also required to complete a Masters dissertation.
|Semester 1||Semester 2||Semester 3|
|Human Factors Methods*||Human Factors Methods*||Human Factors Methods*|
|Learning from Disasters*||Learning from Disasters*||Learning from Disasters*|
|Risk Assessment and Safety Management||Human Factors in the Design and Evaluation of Control Rooms||Risk Assessment and Safety Management|
|Value and Risk Management||Fire Safety, Explosions and Process Safety||Project Management Theory and Practice|
|Project Management Theory and Practice||Environmental Impact Assessment||Value and Risk Management|
*Human Factors Methods and Learning from Disasters are the online entry courses for this Programme. Online students must successfully complete these two courses before continuing with the remaining six taught courses.
Please find below the course descriptions. For more information on courses, please contact the Programme Leader.
Risk Assessment and Safety Management
Semester 1 or 3 (mandatory)
This courses aims to give students an appreciation of risk from individual and societal perspectives as well as understanding the basic principles of risk assessment and modelling and how safety management works in practice. Subjects include:
The concept and perceptions of hazards and risk. Risk attitudes and impact on decision-making; Interpretations of probability; Quantitative and qualitative aspects of risk; Modelling of decision making under conditions of risk; Inherent Safety; HAZOP; Safety management systems such as BS EN ISO 18000 series and other standards; Application of Safety Management Systems to failed systems and as a preventative tool.
Human Factors Methods
Semester 1 or 2 or 3 (mandatory)
This course will equip students from academic and/or industrial backgrounds with knowledge on, and the means to deploy, a wide range of specialist human factors techniques. The emphasis is on method selection, application, combination and integration within existing business practices. Students will develop a critical awareness of what methods exist, how to apply them in practice and their principle benefits and limitations.
The syllabus includes: Introduction to human factors problems and human factors methods; Task analysis; Cognitive task analysis; Human error identification; Situation awareness assessment; Mental workload assessment; Team assessment; Interface analysis; Design methods; Performance time prediction; Method integration; Human factors integration.
Human Factors in the Design and Evaluation of Control Rooms
Semester 2 or 3 (mandatory)
The course will equip students from academic and/or industrial backgrounds with in-depth knowledge on, insights into, and the means to deploy a wide range of specialist techniques relevant to the ergonomic design and evaluation of control rooms. The emphasis is on key areas of control room operations and on actionable ways to deploy theory on human capabilities and limitations in order to improve performance, safety, efficiency and overall operator well being. The course covers the following key areas:
Introduction to humans and control rooms; Competencies; Training; Procedures; Communication processes; Manning and workload; Automation; Supervision; Shift patterns; Control room layout; Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA); Alarms; The control room environment.
Fire Safety, Explosions and Process Safety
Semester 2 (mandatory)
Introduces students to the basic principles of fire safety science and engineering, and develops skills in associated modelling leading to an understanding of principal fire/explosion related issues in process safety. Subjects include:
Objectives of fire safety science and engineering; Fire chemistry: stoichiometric burning, ignition, flammability limits; Mechanisms of heat transfer; The burning process; flashpoint, firepoint, flame spread; Fires in enclosures; computer-based models of fire development. Flashover and backdraught; Life threat, human behaviour, evacuation; Fire severity and fire resistance. Probabilistic modelling; Explosions: deflagrations, detonations, fire-balls; Fire related aspects of process safety. Piper Alpha disaster.
Environmental Impact Assessment
Semester 2 (mandatory)
Provides students with the knowledge and understanding of the principles and processes of the Environmental Impact Assessment. By the end of the course, the student should be familiar with the European EIA legislation and its translation into the Scottish planning system, and be able to demonstrate an understanding of the EIA process, the tools and the agents involved in an EIA and the possible problems with using EIA as a decision making tool. . It is also intended that the student will be able to appreciate the purpose of the EIA process from a number of perspectives; that of a developer, an EIA practitioner and a policy maker.
Topics include: Introduction to EIA; European EIA Legislation; Screening and Scoping; Baseline Studies, Analysis and Prediction of Impact; Consultation, Review and Monitoring; Beyond EIA: Strategic and Social Impact Assessment
Learning from Disasters
Semester 1 or 2 or 3 (mandatory)
Gives students an in depth understanding of some of the classic disasters and their consequences by using a range of practical accident investigation techniques. Students will learn to analyse complex histories in order to find the underlying root cause. Topics covered:
Accident models; Root cause and accident analysis techniques concentrating on events and causal factors analysis, barrier analysis, change analysis and the management oversight and risk tree; Review a number of famous disasters including Piper Alpha, Herald of Free Enterprise, Bhopal, Clapham Junction etc.; Identify lessons learned from these disasters; Review some of the major safety lessons from historical disasters; Analyse a real disaster in detail using a number of practical techniques
Value and Risk Management (M)
Semester 1 or 3 (mandatory)
The course aims to introduce the concepts of value and risk management, apply them to strategic and tactical problems and illustrate their tools and techniques through case studies. Subjects included in the course syllabus include:
VRM and the construction procurement process; introduction to value management; value engineering (function analysis and other VE tools); risk and uncertainty in the construction industry; Risk and procurement of PPP projects; risk management framework; sources, events and effects of project risk; tools and techniques of risk management; risk response and mitigation; client briefing.
Project Management: Theory and Practice
Semester 1 or 3 (mandatory)
This course aims to provide the student with an understanding of the concepts and practices of construction project management used to provide value added services to clients. The course develops understanding of the issues related to the management of construction clients and other project stakeholders and how their needs can be co-ordinated, managed and delivered from the project’s design stage through production to occupation and maintenance within the context of client satisfaction and the overarching construction project constraints of time, cost, quality sustainability, health and safety management.
Subjects covered in the course syllabus include: Construction project management concepts; standards and services; organisational structures for delivery of project management services; management strategies for clients and stakeholder briefing; issues related to management of construction project design process, and budget setting; tools/techniques for construction project planning and control of costs, time, risk and quality; issues relating to TQM and health and safety; teamwork and leadership roles.
MSc students are also required to submit a research dissertation, the research topic normally aligns with the research interests of the staff in the School but can be tailored to suit the interests of the student or student’s employer. Distance learning and part time students are encouraged to suggest project topics based on their own work experience.
Applicants to the MSc programme will normally:
- have a good undergraduate degree (minimum 2:2 honours or equivalent) in engineering or a relevant science discipline, or
- demonstrate equivalent academic ability based on industrial experience or membership of a professional institution.
Heriot-Watt Online students must first take exams in two courses of the programme, Human Factors Methods and Learning from Disasters. Based on the results for these entry courses students will continue on the programme at MSc or at PG Diploma level.
Students will additionally have access to the short course 'Introduction to Digital Study and Academic Skills', to prepare for postgraduate study.
English language requirements
Applicants will need a good English Language ability to succeed in their programme. Those for whom English is not their first language should have,
- Achieved a minimum of IELTS 6.5 or equivalent and
- Or have successfully completed courses (of 1 year or more in duration) delivered in English.
Recognition of Prior Learning
We are committed to providing study opportunities to applicants who have a wide range of prior experiences through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). For more information on RPL, please contact the Online Admissions Team (email@example.com) ahead of application. We can only consider requests for RPL at the time of application to a course of study.
|UK / EU / Overseas||£1400||£1800|
Additional fees information
Students pay £1400 per course and £1800 for the Dissertation. This programme consists of 8 courses (modules). MSc students are also required to submit a Masters dissertation.
For questions about Heriot-Watt Online fees, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuition fee loans of £5,500 are available to Scottish distance learning students on taught postgraduate courses. Full-time distance learning postgraduate students can also access a £4,500 living cost loan. Find out more from the Students Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS)
Scholarships and bursaries
We aim to encourage well-qualified, ambitious students to study with us and we offer a wide variety of scholarships and bursaries to achieve this. Over £6 million worth of opportunities are available in fee and stipend scholarships, and more than 400 students benefit from this support.
View our full range of postgraduate scholarships.
Additional scholarship information
Fully funded scholarships for some of the courses contained within the MSc are available to people living and working in Scotland. To find out more information visit the Skills Scotland Scholarship page.