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System Safety Engineering with Automotive Applications - MSc

Course Description

This MSc course has been developed for the Jaguar Land Rover Technical Accreditation Scheme.

The course is available on a part time basis, taking typically four years to complete. Students take 12 Assessed Modules over 3 years, 5 of which are Core (C) and 7 Optional (O), plus a project on a SSE topic within the automotive domain (over the final year). See the Project tab for more details.

This modular MSc is designed to prepare students for work in the demanding field of Safety Systems Engineering (SSE) by exposing them to the latest science and technology within this field. In the core module phase, the course focuses on the principles and practices in SSE across a range of domains, including automotive. In the optional module phase, the course focuses on specialist SSE and automotive topics. The projects are also designed to consider SSE topics within an automotive context.

The discipline of SSE developed over the last half of the twentieth century. It can be viewed as a process of systematically analysing systems to evaluate risks, with the aim of influencing design in order to reduce risks, i.e. to produce safer products and services. In mature industries, such as aerospace and nuclear power, the discipline has been remarkably successful, although there have been notable exceptions to the generally good safety record, e.g. Fukushima, Buncefield and the Heathrow 777 accident.

Various trends pose challenges for traditional approaches to SSE. For example, classical hazard and safety analysis techniques deal poorly with computers and software where the dominant failure causes are errors and oversights in requirements or design. Thus these techniques need extending and revising in order to deal effectively with modern systems. Also, in our experience, investigation of issues to do with safety of computer systems have given some useful insights into traditional system safety engineering, e.g. into the meaning of important concepts such as the term hazard. The optional modules allow students to investigate such areas as the contribution of software, human factors or operational factors within an automotive engineering context in more depth.

Learning Outcomes
The course aims to provide participants with a thorough grounding and practical experience in the use of state-of-the-art techniques for development of safety critical systems, together with an understanding of the principles behind these techniques so that they can make sound engineering judgements during the design, deployment and operation of such systems. Graduates completing the course will be equipped to participate in safety-critical systems engineering related aspects of industry and commerce.

New areas of teaching will be developed in response to new advances in the field as well as the requirements of the organisations that employ our graduates.

The course aims to equip students with knowledge, understanding and practical application of the essential components of System Engineering, to complement previously gained knowledge and skills. A York System Safety Engineering with Automotive Applications graduate will have a knowledge and understanding of the essential areas, as represented by the core modules, knowledge and understanding on a number of specialist topics, as represented by the optional modules. and an ability to identify issues with the safety process in a particular project, identify responses to this gap and evaluate the proposal, as represented by the project.

Transferable Skills
Information-retrieval skills are an integrated part of many modules; students are expected to independently acquire information from on-line and traditional sources. These skills are required within nearly all modules.

Numeracy is required and developed in some modules. Time management is an essential skill for any student in the course. The formal timetable has a substantial load of lectures and labs. Students must fit their private study in around these fixed points. In addition, Open Assessments are set with rigid deadlines which gives students experience of balancing their time between the different commitments.

All students in the University are eligible to take part in the York Award in which they can gain certified transferable skills. This includes the Languages for All programme which allows students to improve their language skills.


The MSc System Safety Engineering with Automotive Applications project for part-time students is 60 credits in length:
-Literature survey on a subject to determine the state of the art in that area
-A gap in the state of the art identified in the first part is addressed, a proposal made and evidence provided for the proposal. This project is completed in September of a student's fourth year

The Project(s) enable(s) students to:
-Demonstrate knowledge of an area by means of a literature review covering all significant developments in the area and placing them in perspective
-Exhibit critical awareness and appreciation of best practice and relevant standards
-Investigate particular techniques and methods for the construction of safe systems, possibly involving the construction of a prototype
-Evaluate the outcome of their work, drawing conclusions and suggesting possible further work in the area

The project(s) address(es) a technical problem concerned with real issues in the automotive domain. It should, if possible, include the development and application of a practical method, technique or system. It is a natural progression from the taught modules, and builds on material covered in them. It addresses the problem from an automotive system safety perspective, including hardware, software or human factors. It will typically have an industrial flavour, students are encouraged, with the help of their managers and academic staff, to select a project which is relevant to their own work.

The project begins at the start of the Autumn term after completion of the taught modules, and lasts 12 months part-time. There are three weeks attendance at York during the project, for progress assessment and access to library facilities: in October near the start of the project; and in the following January and July.

Visit the System Safety Engineering with Automotive Applications - MSc page on the University of York website for more details!

Entry Requirements

Typically applicants for the MSc in Systems Safety Engineering with Automotive Applications will have achieved a first degree in a numerate, technical discipline. This course is specifically directed at those with at least two years of industrial experience and applicants who do not have a first degree but who have relevant industrial experience will be considered on a case by case basis.

Last Updated

14 February 2017

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