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Course content

Programme Background

Public awareness of hazards and risks has enhanced the importance of safety assessment and management in today’s increasingly litigious society. Worldwide the burden of responsibility for health and safety is shifting towards those who own, manage and work in industrial and commercial organisations. Legal reform is tending to replace detailed industry specific legislation with a modern approach in which, where possible, goals and general principles are set and the onus is on organisations to show how they manage to achieve these goals.

The management of safety and risk needs to be integrated into the overall management of the organisation. It should be appropriate and cost-effective without dampening the innovative entrepreneurial spirit of employees with inflexible bureaucratic rules and procedures. An organisation’s exposure to potential hazards needs to be managed so as to reduce the chance of loss and mitigate any effects. Risk and safety issues need to be evaluated in a structured and calculated manner but in the light of an overall organisational strategy.

The MSc/PG Diploma programme in Safety and Risk Management 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 focus is on practical applications of safety methodologies, ergonomics and human factors, and safety and risk management techniques.

All of these skills will be drawn together to undertake complex qualitative and quantitative risk assessments. The core of the programme is the management of safety, but it is set within a broader remit where safety issues are part of a general risk management system with a balance of financial, quality and environmental concerns. The overall aim of the programme is to develop students’ skills and personal qualities to be able to undertake safety studies and manage safety and risk to the best national and international standards.

Professional Recognition

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) undergraduate first degree. See 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. for further information.

Programme Content

The MSc/Postgraduate Diploma in Safety, Risk and Management is only available by attendance-free distance learning. The programme comprises eight courses. All courses have written examinations and some have compulsory coursework elements. MSc students are also required to complete an individual project (dissertation).

For the project component of the programme distance learners are likely to develop something based in their country of residence with advice and supervision from staff in the School. This may well include work with a local company or may involve independent study. Individual arrangements will be set up with each student.

For more detailed information on this programme please contact the Programme Leader before applying (see above).


• Risk Assessment and Safety Management
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.

• Human Factors Methods
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.

• Human Factors in the Design and Evaluation of Control Rooms
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.

• Fire Safety, Explosions and Process Safety
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.

• Environmental Impact Assessment
Provides the candidate 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.

• Project Management Theory and Practice
Provides students with an understanding of the concepts and practices of construction project management used to provide value added services to clients within the constraints of time, cost, quality sustainability and health and safety management.

• Learning from Disasters
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.

• Value and Risk Management.
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 study.

Visit the MSc/Dip Safety & Risk Management - distance learning only page on the Heriot-Watt University website for more details!





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