Safety and Risk Management (distance learning only) MSc/Diploma
- Delivery: Distance Learning
- Programme type: Taught Programme
- Study location: Edinburgh
- Entry date: January, September
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 programme 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 programme 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. Delivered only by Independent Distance Learning (IDL) this programme is ideal for those in employment or with other commitments, providing flexible study options that fit around work or family.
The Institute for Infrastructure and Environment (IIE)
This programme is delivered by Heriot Watt University’s Institute for Infrastructure and Environment. As a Safety and Risk Management postgraduate student you will be part of the Institute’s Graduate School, connecting you with staff, research associates and fellow students engaging in cutting-edge research in areas such as water management, ultra-speed railways, construction materials, geomechanics and more.
An Independent Distance Learning (IDL) programme - whether at PgDip or MSc level - can be completed in a minimum of 2 years. On average, our PgDip programmes studied via IDL are completed in 2-3 years, while MSc programmes are completed in 2.5-7 years. Most students intend to complete their studies via IDL 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 programme and the associate programme 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 programme 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 programme content and structure, ensuring quality, up-to-date content and relevance to industry needs.
Teaching and research excellence
The School of the Built Environment's teaching staff is engaged in a wide range of research, with 50% of that research recognised as being internationally excellent by the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008).
With a history dating back to 1821, Heriot-Watt is one of the UK’s leading universities, and Scotland’s most international. Find out more about Heriot-Watt University’s reputation, rankings and international profile.
The MSc/Postgraduate Diploma in Safety, Risk and Reliability Engineering, led by Dr. Pauline Thompson, 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 a Masters dissertation.
|Semester 1||Semester 2|
Please find below the course descriptions. For more information on courses, please contact the Programme Leader.
Risk Assessment and Safety ManagementSemester 1 (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 14000 series and other standards; Application of Safety Management Systems to failed systems and as a preventative tool.
Human Factors MethodsSemester 1 (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 RoomsSemester 2 (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 SafetySemester 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 & backdraught; Life threat, human behaviour, evacuation; Fire severity & fire resistance. Probabilistic modelling; Explosions: deflagrations, detonations, fire-balls; Fire related aspects of process safety. Piper Alpha disaster.
Environmental Impact AssessmentSemester 2 (mandatory)
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. The course plan includes:
Introduction to Environmental Impact Assessment; 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 DisastersSemester 2 (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 & Risk Management (M)Semester 1 (mandatory)
The course aims to introduce the concepts of value & 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 & 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 PracticeSemester 1 (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.
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.
Pauline Thompson has been working on our safety MScs since 2002. She teaches three of the courses on each of the two safety programmes, has contributed to most of the other courses within the two programmes and supervises many of the student dissertations on these programmes. Her research includes many aspects of risk analysis and sustainability with applications in civil engineering.
- Degree MSc Safety and Risk Management
- Present Job Chief Occupational Safety and Health Officer, Ministry of Labour in Mauritius
Leckram graduated from the MSc Safety and Risk Management programme in 2014.
Can you tell us about where you work and describe your role?
I have 25 years experience in the field of Occupational Safety and Health. Presently, I hold the post of Chief Occupational Safety and Health officer in the Ministry of labour, Industrial Relation and Employment and I am in charge of the Accident and Prosecution Unit. All accidents at work, fatal or non-fatal are investigated into and court actions are taken if enquiry has revealed a breach of the OSH legislation.
Why did you choose Heriot-Watt and the programme that you studied?
The course content appealed to me and is very relevant to my field and the cost of the programme was affordable.
What was your experience of doing a degree at Heriot-Watt University?
The teaching methodology was well engineered for this distance learning programme and I enjoyed it very much.
Has your degree helped you in your profession?
Yes, it has widened my perspective of safety and helped me in the knowledge of the subject and in my self-confidence, especially when I was called upon to participate in a commission of enquiry to investigate into the death of two children at a water park.
Do you have any advice for students interested in working in your field?
Safety encompasses a very broad spectrum, including science, technology, engineering, ergonomics, human factors, reliability and resilience engineering, etc. In fact safety is in all domains, in all fields and concerns people of all ages, from infancy (safety at home) to old age (safety in homes). I would encourage students to study the maximum in the field of safety as there are so many prospects.
There is an increasing demand for personnel to be able to cross the divide between the technical expertise of safety engineering and the management of an organisation and its employees.
To be effective in this role requires a good understanding of many complex safety issues whilst appreciating the wider picture. In addition the contribution of safety related losses in a business strategy is often overlooked. For example, minor slips, trips and manual handling operations account for the largest proportion of staff time lost to work-related ill-health and injury.
It is thus important that a safety and risk manager should have a good understanding of the major safety issues likely to affect the function of the organisation.
For MSc level entry applicants must have:
- Minimum of 2:2 honours degree or equivalent academic qualification in cognate and semi-cognate subject area. For PG conversion programmes, non-cognate degrees will be considered. Corporate (or chartered) membership of relevant professional institutions will also be considered.
For PG Diploma level entry applicants must have:
- Third class honours degree in a cognate or semi-cognate subject area PLUS 2 years of relevant experience at an appropriate level completed post qualification.
- Cognate or semi-cognate ordinary degree PLUS 3-4 years of relevant experience at an appropriate level following graduation.
- Candidates who do not meet the above entry requirements or have no formal academic qualifications will be considered individually based on their CV and interview. Admission via this route will be at the discretion of the Director of Admissions and the number of successful applicants will be restricted.
There is no entry at PG Certificate level except through exceptional agreement with approved learning partners.
Non-graduating study at masters level:
- Entry is based on CV or on formal academic qualifications or graduate (or incorporated) membership of a relevant professional institution.
English language requirements
If English is not the applicant’s first language a minimum of IELTS 6.5 or equivalent is required with all elements passed at 6.0 or above.
Applicants who have previously successfully completed programmes delivered in the medium of English language may be considered and will be required to provide documentary evidence of this. Examples would be secondary school education or undergraduate degree programme. A minimum of at least one year of full time study (or equivalent) in the medium of English language will be required.
Distance learning students
Please note that independent distance learning students who access their studies online will be expected to have access to a PC/laptop and internet.
|Scotland / Non-UK EU||£1050|
* If you are unsure which category you fall in to, you should complete a fee status enquiry form, which allows us to assess your fees.
** Fee per course
Additional fee information
** £1050 per course. This programme consists of 8 courses. MSc students are also required to submit a Masters dissertation.
For Independent Distance Learning fees, please check the IDL Tuition and Exam Fees document.
Scholarships & bursaries
- Alumni Scholarship Scheme
- Carnegie-Cameron Taught Postgraduate Bursaries
Applicants must be Scottish by birth, have at least one parent born in Scotland or have been continuously resident in Scotland for a period of three years for the purpose of secondary or tertiary education.
- Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan
International (Commonwealth citizens)
- Department for International Development (DFID) Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme(SBE)
International (Commonwealth citizens)
- Department for International Development (DFID) Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme
- East Lothian Educational Trust
Applicants must be a resident of the old county of East Lothian (ie excluding Musselburgh, Wallyford and Whitecraig.)
- India Scholarship(SBE)
Students who have applied via the Heriot-Watt India office. Please note that this award is available for study at our Edinburgh campus only.
- Leverhulme Trade Charities Trust
Restricted to residents of the UK who are a son, daughter, spouse, widow or widower of a commercial traveller, chemist or grocer.
- Local Education Authority Awards
- Mexican Scholarships
- Music Scholarships
- Part-time Fee Grant (SAAS)
See SAAS residence conditions.
- Postgraduate Student Allowance Scheme (SAAS)
EU and UK applicants who meet the SAAS criteria on eligible courses
- Remission of Fees (families of staff)
Spouses/civil partners and children of members of staff, also retired members of staff of the University
- Royal Caledonian Schools Trust
Applicants must be of Scots parentage (conditions apply - see below)
- SFC Key Skills Funded Places (SBE)(SBE)
Applicants resident in Scotland who accept an offer for an eligible Programme
- Scotland's Saltire Scholarships
Citizens of Canada, the People's Republic of China, India or USA (2 awards for each country)
- Sports Scholarships
- Staff Scholarships
Employees of Heriot-Watt University
- The Consumer Affairs UK Scholarship Programme
All currently enrolled students
- The Muirhead Trust
Scottish, female applicants for science and engineering courses
- West Lothian Educational Trust
Individuals must have originated in West Lothian or have lived there for the last 3 years.