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Course content

Railway risk and safety management are both vitally important worldwide, for not only the ongoing operation of existing railways, but also for the design and the development of new systems. Much work is being done by companies involved in both mainline and urban transportation systems to improve safety, for the public, their passengers and their workforce. The prevention of the loss of life and livelihood associated with railway crashes and incidents are high priorities for all organisations involved.

This programme in Railway Risk and Safety Management (RRSM) is the first of its kind in the UK and is jointly delivered by the Universities of Birmingham and York. You will benefit from the expertise of two leading UK universities and spend around half of your time with the Birmingham Centre for Rail Research and Education(BCRRE) and half at the High Integrity Systems Engineering Group (HISE) in York.

The programme will give you a deep and robust understanding of the approaches to managing safety and risk in transport systems and related projects. The York modules are highly structured around the general topics of risk and safety management, while the Birmingham portion of the programme focuses on railway systems and the application of risk management principles in this sector. As a result, this course will give you a thorough education and knowledge which can take you into many areas of engineering and business management, as well as in safety-specific functions of railway or transportation organisations.

  • Application deadline for full time study is Wednesday 31st May
  • Application deadline for part time study is Friday 30th June

The development of the RRSM programme was sponsored by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation.

Course details

The Railway Risk and Safety Management programme is delivered jointly by the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) at the University of Birmingham and the High Integrity Systems Engineering (HISE) Group at the University of York. We recognise that each transport sector and mode has its own specific features but seek to ensure that a common approach is taken to the generic issues involved in ensuring dependable operations. As a result, you will develop a deep and robust understanding of approaches to manage safety and risk in transport systems and projects, taking advantage of expertise from two leading UK universities.

The programme consists of a series of taught modules which cover the topics of safety and risk management, safety systems, railway technologies, railway systems and operation, ergonomics and business management for the railway industry. These are supported by learning about research skills and then followed by an individual research project, supervised by academic experts in the specific field of the project. Part-time and distance-learning students follow the same syllabus as full-time students but complete the taught modules in a sequence that suits their work-commitments.

The full-time study periods are:

  • Master of Science Degree: 12 months full-time, 24–36 months part-time
  • Postgraduate Diploma: 10 months full-time, 24–36 months part-time
  • Postgraduate Certificate: 4 months full-time, 8 months part-time
  • Continuing professional development options: 1 week modules

Learning and teaching

Teaching takes place in week-long blocks of time which allows for deep learning to be achieved from immersion in the subject. The primary method is classroom-based lectures and these are enriched by industrial speakers, group exercises, assignments, site visits, study excursions and working weekends throughout the year. A several day European study tour is also part of the MSc programme.

BCRRE is privileged to work with many colleagues from the railway industry who regularly contribute seminars and talks. Not only do these enrich amd embed your learning, they provide excellent opportunities for networking with others in the industry.

Several lectures are given by industrial speakers. Further learning is achieved through individual literature review, as part of assignments, or in group exercises.


This postgraduate programme is intended for those who wish to establish or enhance their career in the safe operation of transport systems. Companies employing graduates include mainline railways, metros, tram systems and automated people movers. Safety is high on the agenda of transport operators around the world and our graduates are in high demand.

Visit the Railway Risk and Safety Management - MSc/PGDip/PGCert page on the University of Birmingham website for more details!





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