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    Department of Computer Science Logo
  • Study Type

    Full time & Part time available

  • Subject Areas


  • Start Date


  • Course Duration

    1 year full-time; 2-3 years part-time

  • Course Type


  • Course Fees


  • Last Updated

    22 October 2019

This course will provide you with the educational background required to become a leader in the field of safety critical systems engineering, whether you are currently a practising - or aspiring - professional in this area.

Products and services are taking on more authority over activities that have the capability to pose a risk to human lives. System safety professionals address a web of interlinked contributing factors to assess the safety of these products or services.

This course will equip you to understand the contribution technology, humans and organisations make to product and service safety. You'll learn how to articulate how and why you believe these aspects have been addressed. You will also learn how to discuss the level of confidence it is possible to have in the mitigation and assurance processes undertaken throughout a product or services lifecycle.

Throughout the duration of the course you will increase your skills in systematic thinking about all these issues. You will be challenged to consider the ethical characteristics of the activities you undertake and decisions you make to ensure that you are able to act professionally and competently. You will have the opportunity to assess a range of scenarios addressing multiple aspects of systems, services, and associated processes, across multiple domains and the lifecycle. We will take you out of your experience base to challenge your existing knowledge, skills and behaviours.

The course employs the extensive research and industrial experience of the developers of the work packages you will address. It brings together safety professionals from many different domains (aerospace, military, automotive, railway, nuclear) to ensure your learning is as varied and as comprehensive as possible.

The MSc in Safety Critical Systems Engineering is highly flexible. We even offer the opportunity for you to undertake taster modules before registering for the full course. In addition, we offer a Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma route through the course, and the ability to transfer between routes. This means that you can pick the best course to suit your circumstances and commitments.

This course is also available as a PGDip in Safety Critical Systems Engineering or a PGCert in Systems Safety Engineering.


This course is recognised by the British Computer Society (BCS) and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) as partial fulfilment of the educational requirement for registration as a Chartered Engineer (CEng).

Course content

The course can be taken on a full or part time basis. If you wish to take the course part-time, you can do this over two or three years, meaning it is very flexible and can easily fit in around work commitments.

Each 10 credit module will require you to attend university for five days. You will undertake intensive teaching sessions based on lectures, case-studies and exercises.


You'll undertake a total of 180 credits for this course. There are 90 credits of taught modules in total throughout the course (both full and part-time options). There is a high degree of flexibility in the order in which you may take the modules. This helps part-time students to fit their study around their professional activities. 

If you are taking the course part-time, you will take an additional 30 credits of critical evaluation, and 60 credits as part of your final project.

If you take the course full-time you will take an additional 90 credits as part of your final project.

Core modules

  • Foundations of System Safety Engineering (10 credits)
  • Systems Engineering for Safety (10 credits)
  • Hazard and Risk Assessment (10 credits)
  • System Safety Assessment (10 credits)
  • Safety Management Systems (10 credits)
  • Safety Case Development and Review (10 credits)
  • Computers and Safety (10 credits)

Option modules

Choose two from:

  • Software Requirements and Architectures (10 credits)
  • Human Factors for Safety (10 credits) 
  • Through Life Safety (10 credits) 
  • Security for Safety-Critical Systems (10 credits)

Research project

In addition to the taught modules, you will undertake an independent study module. For full-time students, this takes the form of a report on an engineering project, totalling 70 pages. For part-time students, the project is split into two reports: a critical literature review of 25 pages and a final project report of 45 pages. You will have the opportunity to pick a project from a list of titles of specialisms within the Department, or you can define a title yourself, in agreement with an academic.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace.

Teaching format

The course is taught through a variety of lectures, seminars and case study exercises undertaken in small groups of around six.

Teaching location

The Department of Computer Science is based on Campus East. Teaching takes place in the specialist CPD suite in the Ron Cooke Hub, also on Campus East. This includes a large seminar room and break out rooms, seating area and refreshment facilities.

About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

Each module has an open assessment associated. This means that you undertake the assessment in your own time away from the University. This open assessment, and any associated work packages, is designed to consolidate and further deepen your knowledge, skills and approaches to the subject matter covered in the module. Of course, it is also designed to assess your progress.

Visit the Safety Critical Systems Engineering - MSc page on the University of York website for more details!




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